When you get to the Strategic Professional level of ACCA, you can choose the subjects that appeal to you most, but which ones should you choose? Keep on reading for information and advice that might help you decide.
What modules can I choose from?
At Strategic Professional you have to do two compulsory subjects:
- Strategic Business Leader (SBL)
- Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)
You also have to pick two of the following:
- Advanced Financial Management (AFM)
- Advanced Performance Management (APM)
- Advanced Taxation (ATX)
- Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)
These are specialised exams, covering in depth articular areas of professional accountancy.
You also have to complete the Ethics and Professional Skills Module, ideally before you start any other subject, as it’s been proven to show that those who do ESPM first have a higher chance of passing their other Strategic Professional exams.
So which one should I choose?
Research shows that you’re more likely to pass a particular Strategic Professional exam if you did well in the related subject from your Applied Skills exams*. The Strategic Professional Exams take the subjects from Applied Skills to a more advanced level.
- Financial Management goes on to Advanced Financial Management
- Performance Management goes on to Advanced Performance Management
- Taxation goes on to Advanced Taxation
- Audit and Assurance goes on to Advanced Audit and Assurance
Advanced Performance Management (APM)
This subject builds on topics covered in Performance and Financial Management in Applied Skills. It partly overlaps with topics in Strategic Business Leader as well. You’ll do well in this exam if you’re good at exercising professional judgement when selecting and applying strategic management accounting techniques in different business contexts. The exam requires a mix of written analysis and calculations.
Example job roles that benefit from choosing APM: Management accounting, Financial business partner, business consultant, working within a finance team in a business in industry.
Advanced Tax (ATX)
Simply put, this is tax but at an advanced level. Ideal for those who excelled at the Applied Skills Tax exam. You will need to have detailed knowledge of tax, and this will be rigorously tested. You’ll need to be completely familiar with the way tax calculations are carried out, and be able to interpret information that’s given to you in a different format. You’ll need to be able to do calculations, explain what has happened, explain relationships, and give appropriate advice. However, in practice, TX (UK) is weighted towards numerical calculations, whereas ATX (UK) is weighted towards narrative explanations.
Example job roles that benefit from choosing ATX: Tax manager, tax director, auditor, working in accountancy practice.
Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)
You’ll need to have built a solid knowledge from both the AAA subject and SBR to consider doing this subject. It is essential that you complete the SBR exam before the AAA as it will provide complimentary background knowledge for the exam. It is based on practical scenarios and deals with real-life challenges that an audit manager might face. You will be asked questions that incorporate high level SBR knowledge, risks, and how to use an audit approach to mitigate risks. You’ll need to be able to show that you can think practically and demonstrate scepticism in your interpretation.
Example job roles that benefit from choosing AAA: Auditor, external auditor working in accountancy practice.
Advanced Financial Management (AFM)
Building on knowledge from Applied Skills Financial Management (FM), you’ll need strong maths skills and a high level of technical knowledge and techniques. You’ll have to understand and explain the professional judgement expected of a senior financial executive or advisor, in recommending decisions relating to the financial management of an organisation in private and public sectors.
Example job roles that benefit from choosing AFM: Corporate finance, banking, chief financial officer, treasury.
Things to consider when choosing your options
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when trying to decide which one to choose:
- What experience do you already have?
- How did you do in your Applied Skills exams?
- What topics actually interest you?
- Which subject suits the work you do now?
- Which subject will advance the work you do, and potentially open new career avenues?
Which two go best together?
It’s a tricky question to answer, but here are the best combinations.
ATX and AAA. These two options pair well for anyone working in practice and wanting to progress in this career path.
AAA and AFM. This is a great pairing for those who are thinking about becoming a Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
AAA and APM. For someone who is focused on leading a large internal finance team, which also has an internal audit department, AAA and APM are great options.
Need more information?
Hopefully this blog has given you some helpful information to assist you in your decisions, but if you would like more advice, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. You can also check out our ACCA Strategic Professional page for more information, to buy your course, and book exams.