The 'black money' harvest and other Autumn features

By CA Student Blog

5 December 2016

We like to reference important periods and facts about history in the blog introduction, but recently, history is being made just about every day: in November, India decided to eradicate corruption by banning and withdrawing 500 and 1000 rupee notes (approximately worth £12 each), virtually overnight.

This ‘economic experiment’ occurred with four hours’ notice, resulting in huge queues at banks in the seventh-largest economy in the world. Since then, ordinary people and businesses have been hugely affected, as the move meant that 86% of the currency in circulation was now illegal tender.

One can only imagine the headache this will produce for accountants; the measure is designed to tackle tax evasion in a cash economy (90% of India’s transactions are in cash) as few people pay tax – in 2013 this was reported as 1% of the population contributing towards income tax. Even houses are bought in cash.

There is also a limit on the amount of cash that can be exchanged for the new notes – 4,500 rupees per transaction. Deposits that accrue to 250,000 rupees will be investigated by tax authorities, and proof of paid tax.

If you cannot prove that tax has been paid, then the authorities have the right to charge the full amount plus a 200% fine. It’s a monumental task and likely to affect smaller businesses and traders to a greater extent.

The move has resulted in some odd purchasing habits in the last-minute rush to offload cash. Some are purchasing gold or other valuables to turn their cash into assets, but oddly, it has also resulted in 100,000 iPhones being sold in three days.

Considering that there is around 0.034 grams of gold, 16 grams of copper, 0.35 grams of silver and 0.00034 grams of platinum in each mobile, it seems that people are accruing precious mineral wealth as well as status symbols.

Several thousand people have been demonstrating in a ‘day of rage’: "We are protesting against the undeclared financial emergency imposed by the government and the hardships people across the country are facing because of this illegal decision," said Manish Tiwari of the Congress party in an interview with the AFP news agency.

The actions may herald a move to digital payments, but there are fears that GDP will fall by 2%, thus. The rush to produce new notes has resulted in typos, printing errors and people aren’t too keen on the highlighter pink colouring. The defects now raise the risk of counterfeiting as they are being kept as legal tender.

India has no official national language due to the numerous languages spoken within the country, so some citizens were also less than pleased to find the new 2,000 rupee notes sporting Devanagari numerals – a Madurai resident in Tamil Nadu filed a public interest litigation calling for the notes to be rendered invalid as the language use violates the Indian constitution.

At the moment, the immediate benefit of this disruption seems to go to Apple and similar global vendors, who are cashing in on the ‘black money’ harvest.

What do you think of these moves? Will they tackle tax? Will it herald a move to the digital economy? While you ponder, check out today’s blog, where we bust office jargon, revisit the Autumn Statement, talk corporate governance and executive director pay, and tell you all you need to know about FRS 102 for Financial Reporting.

The joys of costing: part 1

There are several topics that might come to mind when students think back to their good old Business Management (BM) Days. A straw poll of former BM students revealed that absorption and marginal costing still give some nightmares! Check out this handy Back to Basics for a refresher course. 

What you need to know about FRS 102 for Financial Reporting

Student conundrum: Within the Financial Reporting material, how much do I need to know about FRS 102 and how it might be examined?

2016 Autumn statement summary

CA Students are in the unique position of learning a curriculum that adjusts itself in response to government decisions; the recent Autumn Statement, which is now to be abolished, made several major announcements that will affect certain aspects of a chartered accountant’s knowledge in the years to come – find out what happened, and what it means.

Get in touch

Got any jargon words you want to rant about or add to the list? Get in touch with @ICAS_students over at Twitter or email us on

November 2016

Monday 28 November 2016

Anyone with a love for numbers and symmetry will enjoy this fact: today is the 333rd day of the year, due to being a leap year, and there are now 33 days remaining until the end of the year!

Three is also the number: 

  • of dimensions we can perceive.
  • that non-human mammals can count to (‘food’, ‘water’, also ‘my food’?).
  • of phases for the moon.
  • of harmony or completion - per Pythagoras who believed that numbers had celestial attributes, which he taught at his holistic, vegetarian school of maths.
  • of levels in the CA qualification.
  • of articles in today’s blog.
  • of buses likely to turn up after waiting an hour.

Today we look at ten ways to beat your exam stress and revisit the 2016 changes to audit thresholds for different companies – how did they change and why?

We finish off with our guide to mastering mortgage basics for those students who are currently renting, and what all those different types of mortgages mean!

Ten ways to beat exam stress

CA exams can be intense and stress can sometimes get the better of us; whether you are studying for TC, TPS or TPE, here are 10 ways you can keep the stress at bay. 

Changes in audit thresholds

The UK Government announced an increase in the audit exemption threshold at the beginning of 2016. It was confirmed that all companies classed as small for reporting requirements will also be exempt from audit. Find out how this relates to your learning and your type of workplace. 

Mastering mortgage basics: part one

Home ownership is in decline, indeed The Guardian reported that home ownership in England was at its lowest level in 30 years; gone are the days of no deposit mortgages and lower prices, but when you have enough money saved, you then face the decision of tracker versus fixed, multiple interest rates and little explanation of how they work for your individual situation.

Autumn Statement 2016: ICAS reaction

Anton Colella, Chief Executive of chartered accountancy body ICAS, said: “There is much in today’s Autumn Statement which will be roundly applauded in the boardrooms of Britain, but the elephant in the room remains the unknown consequences of Brexit." Read on to find out more. 

Thursday 24 November 2016

In 1962, on 24 November, the pre-cursor to most modern satirical news programmes – That Was the Week That Was – was first broadcast to a captivated audience amidst the ongoing Profumo Affair

The programme lampooned the establishment and influenced the likes of Spitting Image and Have I Got News for You, as well as being cast as an influencing factor in the shock election success of the Labour Party in 1964.

In recent years, it’s seemed like whole plotlines of satirical programmes such as The Thick of It and Brass Eye have been played out across the headlines and within real-life political or media machinations, so it’s perhaps fitting that today’s blog looks at how high scandal runs all the way down to a chartered accountant’s work, and where ethical responsibilities lie.  

We take a look at the accountant’s duties on money laundering (cut down from a mammoth 505 pages for you!), and a fascinating video taken from a 2002 Capitol Hill session on corporate responsibility and accountability for your extra-curricular viewing.

A special note of good luck to all those students who are receiving their TC exam results on Friday, and those who are about to sit them in the following weeks! If you want to keep fit while pulling those long hours at a desk, then check out our deskercise feature: simple and quick ways to keep circulation flowing and those brain cells pumping!

P.S It’s a month until Christmas Eve… just had to get that in there!

Overall accountant responsibilities on money laundering

The law on anti-money laundering (AML) is contained in two main pieces of legislation – the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) and the Money Laundering Regulations 2007. For accountants in practice, there is also guidance from the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies issued in 2008. Between them, they amount to 505 pages, so here is a summary of your basic responsibilities as an accountant.

Staying active while studying

It’s exam-time, and as important as it is that you master the subjects necessary to become a chartered accountant, it’s just as important to stay healthy while you study. Your studyspace can also become your home gym, and these exercises are aimed at keeping you active while hitting the books!

Video: Corporate responsibility

A fascinating look back to 2002 at Capitol Hill in the US, when the Corporate Accountability Act was debated at the Senate Commerce Committee, with a look at Enron and associated companies which brought corporate responsibility and accounting scandals into a new light.

Monday 21 November 2016

Music-lovers and audiophiles can pin down the day they owe to recorded sound – November 21, 1877, when Thomas Edison announced his invention of the phonograph!

There had been several precursors to the phonograph (also known as a Gramophone), but Edison’s refined and reinvented the recording device for a wider audience, by adding the ability to playback the recorded sound.

The key to development is sometimes taking an existing idea and pushing it to the logical limits, and it’s upon this basis that a number of successful businesses and products have been launched. As a CA, you will be expected to find the end-solution to an issue or problem, so it helps to think in the same as Edison: find the limits and keep on looking for something that may have been missed.

This sentiment chimes well with our first feature of today’s blog; the seven priorities for the future financial services workforce – what will people need to know and how will they implement it? We also have a reminder on the TC content for your upcoming exams, as well as a visit to the realms of zero tax for our PoT students.

And for those of you who enjoyed our office politics feature, we’re back with our concluding part on why cooler heads prevail!

Seven priorities for the future financial services workforce

The workforce of the future will be increasingly versatile, mobile, digital and automated. To keep up and stay attractive, financial services organisations will need to rebuild trust with their workers, says PwC.

How to prepare for office politics pt 2

In the second part of our how-to feature on dealing with office politics, we look at the importance of networking, relationships and the value of mistakes for effective working styles with colleagues.

Tutor tip: Zero-rate tax

Principles of Taxation students will be aware of the method used to determine the VAT rating of goods and services using the Schedules in the VAT Act 1994. The tutor team are often asked to explain the logic behind allocating certain items to the reduced rate, zero rate or exempt groups.

This interesting article from the BBC sheds some light on the murky world of zero-rates of VAT.

Studying for TC? It's time to get back to basics

For some of you, the TC exams are only a few weeks away, which means that many of you will be spending a lot of time at your desks revising. ICAS tutors have put together a series of Back to Basics guides to many of the key topic areas at TC.

Thursday 17 November 2016

Even before the shock election of businessman-turned-reality TV star Donald Trump to the office of US President last week, our financial markets were already facing turbulence. 

The UK's Brexit vote, which took so many professional pollsters, pundits and papers by surprise, saw share prices and currencies facing record dips, with the pound plummeting in reaction to a political and economic world, which is increasingly impossible to predict.

Whether it's ongoing regional conflicts in the Middle East, uncertainty and instability within the Eurozone, declining oil prices, or epidemics like Ebola; anything that happens in the world can affect the world economy. 

"Markets crave known facts and fret about variables, seeing potential risks in all unknowns," wrote Peter Goodman in the New York Times. "An enormous portion of the map is now draped in uncertainty, effectively impervious to calculation." 

This week, The Telegraph warned of mass instability in the markets, and the threat of the end of an era of global economic co-operation. Following Trump's win, mortgage rates spiked in the USA as investors abandoned bonds for stocks - this was the opposite of what market analysts had predicted. 

Trump's promises to cut tax will benefit corporations, hence the stock market remained optimistic while interest rates rose. These effects can be felt further afield, too - Mexico's peso fell sharply against the dollar, reflecting pessimism about future trade with the US, while the Japanese yen rose. 

With investors flocking to traditional safe havens like gold, the long-term consequences of this instability are even harder to predict. For investors, it is often wise to grit one's teeth and ride out the storm - the massive 600 points wiped off the Dow Jones index post-Brexit have now, a few months later, been mostly regained. 

While optimism might seem to be in short supply in our chaotic political landscape, as budding CAs, one thing is sure - we will need to keep our wits about us, and steel our nerves to deal with whatever comes next.

In today's blog, we bring you six top tips for presenting financial information - giving you the tools to keep your meetings dynamic, effective and full of energy. Elsewhere, we explore the notion of 'false economies' - why you sometimes pay more to get less, and how to shop smart to avoid paying hidden fees and charges. The world is unpredictable - arm yourself with knowledge!

How to present financial data

Bring your meetings up to speed with our top tips for planning, communication and getting the best out of your colleagues.

Studying for TC? It's time to get back to basics

The TC exams are only a few weeks away, which means that our TC students will be spending time revising. ICAS tutors have put together a series of Back to Basics guides on many of the key topic areas at TC for a helping hand.

False economies

Ever get the feeling you've been had? Always counting the last pennies in your pocket? You might have fallen into the trap of a false economy. We'll show you what to look out for and what to avoid!

Monday 14 November 2016

You may have picked up a Gillette razor today as part of your morning ablutions, but did you know that on this day in 1906, King Camp Gillette (his real name) first patented the inexpensive disposable safety razor?

He soon adopted the ‘razor and blades business model’, where an item is sold cheaply to increase the market. He was a man ahead of his time; after working at the Crown Cork and Seal Company in the 1890s, Gillette noted that the cork seals on bottles were discarded once opened, and believed he too could build a viable business on disposable products.

There were safety razors in existence at this time, but none used thin, stamped steel. The disposable razor was born!

Can you think of other products that have adapted to the disposable market? Where do you see this going in the future as markets now look to non-disposable items such as the KeepCup for coffee?

In today’s blog we take a look at how to prepare for office politics, the policies and procedures around money laundering, and a look back at the VW scandal and how it affected their business.

Happy reading!

How to prepare for office politics

Navigating office politics can often feel like tiptoeing through a minefield. You can learn to deal with 'bad politics' in the workplace without allowing others to take unfair advantage of you. 'Good politics' meanwhile can help you to promote yourself to your managers and superiors, and further your aims within a business. Read our tips to help you prepare for the political aspects of working life.

Anti-money laundering: Policies and procedures

All businesses must establish policies and procedures that create a culture in which relevant staff in the business are aware of their responsibilities under the UK anti-money laundering regime and where they understand what they are required to do if they suspect money laundering. Read on to find out more.

Autumn Statement 2016: What are the recommendations from ICAS about tax?

It’s Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement next Wednesday (23 November). But what are we expecting to be announced, and what would ICAS like to see change?

ICAS wrote to HM Treasury with its policy suggestions on the Autumn Statement last month. This included particular focus on HMRC’s Making Tax Digital initiative, devolution and tax policy, and the need for a tax regime that offers fewer opportunities for avoidance.

In this article by Donald Drysdale, you can find out more about the tax changes that are expected to be announced by The Chancellor and how it could impact CAs and the business world. Read on to find out more.

Thursday 10 November 2016

On this day in history, it is said the renowned encounter between Henry Morton Stanley and David Livingstone took place, when Henry happened upon David at Ujiji near Lake Tanganyika in Central Africa and uttered the phrase ‘Dr Livingstone, I presume?’ 

It might be fabled and perhaps unlikely to have happened in that manner, but nevertheless, Livingstone’s reputation preceded him due to his work as an anti-slavery advocate and bid to end the East African Arab-Swahili slave trade. He also played an important part of commercial expansion into the continent, so he truly was a man ahead of his time! *

We know that there are budding CAs amongst our students who will also lead great changes across the globe, so in a few years’ time, we expect to be writing about your own historical achievements on these very pages!

In today’s blog, we go inside the TPS exam panel for everything you need to know and visit the books that could change your life in one reading. We also have a great interview with Ruth Jakobsen CA, leading Strategic Finance and Business Development at

Happy reading!

*Bonus fact: Livingstone is the ancestor of one of our very own lecturers! Can you guess who?

Inside ICAS: Leading the TPS exam panel

Mark Allison, Executive Director, Education talks about the work that goes into creating the TPS examinations at ICAS, and how the papers are developed and reviewed.

Top Books for a Better Life

It’s the time of year when many people feel inclined to curl up by the fire with a good book. Here are our recommendations to make your long, dark evenings and study downtime an enjoyable learning or self-improvement experience.

Ruth Jakobsen CA: So Moneysupermarket has grown into a widely-used resource and comparison site, putting power in the hands of British consumers and demystifying complicated financial products such as mortgages. Find out how former ICAS student Ruth Jakobsen got involved with developing their key businesses.

Monday 7 November

In today’s blog, we look at the ABCs of TPS pre-course work, complete with a handy infographic to download and print.  

We also look at the two years since the independence referendum and all that has happened in tax matters – how familiar are you with SRIT and the impending use of devolved powers in Scotland? No matter where you live and work in the UK, devolved powers are likely to affect the way some of your clients operate.

TC students will see their November diet candidate instructions arriving this week, so check your inboxes and be sure to acknowledge that you have received them. Please contact us if you do not receive them by the end of the week.

And good luck to everyone sitting mocks and exams this week for TC – may the accounting force be with you!

Infographic: The ABC of TPS pre-course work

Our guide to what you need to do before commencing TPS - in a few simple steps! There’s no getting away from the fact that you have quite a lot of work to tackle before you even get to the classroom. However, if you follow our three simple steps you’ll be able to organise your work and be prepared for your course.

AML Awareness - Three stages of money laundering

Money laundering has one purpose - to turn the proceeds of crime into cash or property that looks legitimate and can be used without suspicion. Here are some of the most common ways this is achieved.  Money laundering (or more accurately the rules on anti-money laundering!) are covered  throughout your ICAS studies and so this article will be of interest to each and every one of you.

What the post indyref tax landscape means to CA students

Two years ago, Scotland voted not to leave the UK: what have the subsequent 24 months meant for CAs and students?

Scottish Rate of Income Tax: What you need to know

SRIT is the Scottish Rate of Income Tax. Under powers created in the 2012 Scotland Act, Holyrood will receive a percentage of income tax paid on certain sources of income by Scottish taxpayers. 

This revenue will become part of the Scottish Government’s budget and the block grant to the Scottish Government from Westminster will be reduced accordingly.

Thursday 3 November 

In today’s blog we explore new legislation to target money laundering and tax evasion, and hear about the important of career mentoring at all ages and stages of your CA career.

We also have practical tips for those who are keen to start househunting, including on how to save money and use your financial acumen as a CA Student Member.

Across the ICAS website this week there will be a special focus on money laundering and tighter regulations. Keep an eye out for the following content:

  • Thursday: Addressing admin matters of policies and procedures, record keeping and training.
  • Friday: The role of the Money Laundering Reporting Officer and the requirement to report to the National Crime Agency.

Top househunting tips

Lecturer Susan Harris is familiar with the househunting process having done so for her own property, and has gleaned fantastic tips for our students looking to get a foot on the ladder. Here’s where your accruing CA skills will also prove handy!

New legislation announced to target money laundering and tax evasion

The Criminal Finances Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 13 October as a key element of one of the most significant changes to the UK's anti-money laundering and terrorist finance regime in over a decade. Find out more about these changes to the industry.

The importance of career mentoring

American author and businessman Zig Ziglar said: “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could, because someone else thought they could.”

You will have already put a huge effort and commitment into your time as a CA Student Member.  Passing your exams and becoming an ICAS member will give your career the best start. However, you can give yourself a further hand up the ladder by finding a good mentor.

Business Ethics

We know it's also a big ethics period for our students, and apart from the very important class and assignment info you should read, you can catch up on the Power of One, moral courage, and the importance of ethics in business in our Ethics category.

October 2016

Monday 31 Oct 2016

Samhain greetings to our CA stooooodents!

It’s Halloween, a day that gets the tills ringing; in fact Mintel reported that Brits are set to spend £310m on this ghostly season in costumes, food, decorations and those finishing touches to send a chill down your spines.

The day celebrates All Saints’ Day, thought to be based on the Celtic festival of Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season and the day when ghosts, spirits and faeries could enter our world.

Nowadays, it’s shot into position as the third most important date for retailers, after Christmas and Easter. And this is likely to be an even bigger year for spending as two in five people will buy something to mark the event; notably driven by millennials who are more likely to celebrate the season of strange goings-on.

In today’s not-so-scary blog, we check out how FRS 102 is examined, look at the Porters 5 forces at work in the Unilever row and BPP’s advice for students.

Former student Tom Warwick CA takes position at the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games

Former ICAS student, Tom Warwick CA has been appointed as Head of Finance & Commercial for the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The Islamic Solidarity Games is a multinational, multi-sport event held by the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF) to bring Islamic countries together, attracting young people and encouraging solidarity between them.

Tom's career started at EY, where he discovered the joys of working abroad and spent four years travelling and performing international audits. He was previously the Program & Planning Manager responsible for the budget and on-site operations of the Olympic Village during Rio 2016 and was a member of the London 2012 team.

Porters, Tesco and Unilever

The stand-off between Tesco and Unilever is generally seen as having been something of a PR coup for the troubled supermarket chain, but the underlying negotiating position of each firm is worth looking at in more detail.

How is FRS 102 examined?

Student conundrum: Within the Financial Reporting material, how much do I need to know about FRS 102 and how it might be examined? We have the answers including a handy table to split out differences.

Inside BPP – how we work with ICAS

Martin Taylor, CEO of BPP Professional Qualifications, explains how ICAS and BPP work in partnership to deliver the CA qualification, with tips for students on success in their studies.

Business Ethics

We know it's also a big ethics period for our students, and apart from the very important class and assignment info you should read, you can catch up on the Power of One, moral courage, and the importance of ethics in business in our Ethics category.

Thursday 27 Oct 2016

In today’s blog we look at the list of top 25 jobs across the UK and spot how many use the skills of a CA – which routes here would you be interested in? 

We talk to former student Nick Stannard on his journey to working with Warner Bros. in LA and how the qualification has formed the ‘bread and butter’ for his career. And we can't let you move towards TPE exams without a reminder of our six tips for better business writing, by a TPE examiner.  

We also take an ethical look at downloading and illegally streaming: where do you stand, and how do you incorporate ethics into your everyday training as a CA on a personal and professional level?

Will you work a top job?

How does the CA qualification stack up against the list of top jobs? We looked at the list for 2016 to highlight the number of opportunities open to our students after graduation.

Better business writing for TPE

A successful CA must have excellent communication skills; one of our TPE examiners looks at how better business writing can improve your performance in the TPE exam.

Nick’s ticket to adventure

Nick Stannard wanted a career packed with exciting global opportunity, so studying to become a CA was his first step. Speaking from his office at the Warner Bros studio in LA, former ICAS student Nick has advice for the next generation. 

The ethics of copyright violation

What would you consider to be the morality and ethical issues of illegally downloading or streaming online? Ethics is an important foundation for the training and work undertaken by our CAs and ethical behaviour is at the heart of ICAS because it is trust that allows business relationships to flourish. As a CA student member, you are already bound by the ICAS Code of Ethics...

Monday 24 Oct 2016

Anyone following the HSBC ‘red alerts’ in previous weeks, citing a major market crash on the horizon (even greater than the 2008 crash) will find something eerie in the timing of the potential crash.

On this day in 1929 was the infamous Black Thursday stock market crash, which saw Dow Jones plummet 12.8%.

This was almost nothing compared to the 19 October crash in 1987, when 22.6% was wiped from Dow Jones. The trigger warnings for the ’87 crash have been appearing in recent weeks; Citigroup managing director Thomas Fitzpatrick pointed out the similarities and added that investors are not adequately hedging US election risk. On 11 October, the Dow lost 200 points (1.1% decrease), which is sounding the warning bell for investors everywhere.

Speaking of historic losses, tutors Graham Foster and Ally Millar give the business management lessons that can be picked up from the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and their recall of all handsets after a fiery introduction to the market.

In today’s blog we look at the tests of control and substantive testing – a prime tenet for principles of audit and reporting. We’ve also got TPE exam dates and related information; ensure you’ve already actioned your candidate instructions.

Anyone who’s been a bit confused by notice periods can read our great summary by tutor Amanda McKenzie - is it 14 or 28 days?

Good luck to all those sitting TC exams this week – your hard work will pay off! We look forward to seeing you achieve your goals.

Samsung lessons in business management

Tutors Graham Foster and Ally Miller discuss the business management lessons from Samsung,  following its decision to recall and cease production of the Galaxy Note 7.

Notice period conundrums

Tutor Amanda McKenzie looks at notice periods, including notice periods relating to the removal of a director/auditor, classes of shares and ordinary and special resolutions.

Tests of control and substantive testing

Tests of control and substantive testing come up in the Principles of Audit and Reporting course, and are a topic that can sometimes be confusing. In this short article, we set out the key differences between the two tests.

TPE Exam dates

Please remember that this information won't give exact exam venues, only the city. To find out the venue you'll need to download your Candidate Instructions.

Thursday 20 Oct 2016

Fancy footwork and exam techniques

We recently discussed the money-making activities of Charles II, who sold Normandy, prominently attached to the French landmass, straight back to the French. Well, his father had a few money-making activities of his own.

During his time in power, when there was no regulated or implemented tax system (England was the least taxed country in Europe at this point), he revived a forgotten law in 1630 called the Distraint of Knighthood, which required all men earning more than £40 a year from land, to present himself at the King’s coronation to be knighted. Sounds great, eh? He actually used it to fine all the men who had not attended his coronation - in 1626!

He essentially instigated taxation without consent, several times over, including ‘Ship Money’ in 1634, making the residents (rich and poor) of coastal counties and inland counties pay to support the Royal Navy. Anyone who refused to pay was imprisoned!

The need for tax professionals has been around for centuries: with that in mind we wish good luck to everyone receiving their ITP results tomorrow – well done on completing the exams and we hope you get every success you worked for!

Five tips for good TC exam technique

While your revision is a vital part of getting a good exam result, your technique in the exam is just as important. Good exam technique is not just about what you know, but how you apply your knowledge in the exam itself. Developing your exam technique minimises the potential for stress and helps you perform to the best of your ability on the day.

Working with clients: part 3

For those of you who have been following our ‘Working with clients’ series, you already have 14 great tips at your disposal covering project timelines, best practice on projects and establishing great working relationships. In the final part of our series, we look at those extra touches that can help you reach for success.

Rachel Corsie CA: Fancy footwork

Keen followers of US football, or soccer as they prefer to call it, may be familiar with our former student turned professional footballer, Rachel Corsie. We speak to the Seattle Reign FC champion about her experiences of the qualification, and the lasting legacy it created.

Reminders for TPS students approaching new classes:

  • TPS Afin / Tax to Dec 2016: Complete TOAKS by 9am, 24 Oct, and complete the PCT by 9am, first day of class.

Monday 17 Oct 2016

Happy sales anniversary to the city of Dunkirk! 

The Dunkirk area, famed for its part in the second world war, was in dispute for several centuries; when it was captured and lost by various forces from Spain, the United Netherlands, England and France. After a lengthy war between Spain and France, it was re-captured by the Franco-English forces. 

Dunkirk, along with Fort-Mardyck was awarded to England in 1658 as part of the alliance. England saw how to make a profit however; four years later in 1662, Charles II sold Dunkirk back to France on 17 October for £40,000 (around £3m in today’s currency). 

It would be hard to imagine what a similar sale would go for today – how would you go about valuing it? Thinking caps on for our budding auditors!

In today’s blog we take a look back at ordinary shares, valuation and ex-div and take a dive into NIC charges for our PoT students. We’ve also refreshed our top student apps for work on the go!

Why does the value of an ordinary share fall when that share becomes 'ex-div'?

Up to the 'ex-div' date, the purchaser of a share is buying two things. These are the right to the dividend that has been announced and the right to future dividends.

When a share becomes 'ex-div', the purchaser becomes entitled only to future dividends. The fall in price when a share becomes 'ex-div' should, in theory, be equal to the announced, but as yet unpaid dividend.

For even more information, check out our Back to Basics on the valuation of ordinary shares.

Know your NIC

National Insurance Contribution is one of the taxes that is often forgotten about – by both students and taxpayer! Fiona Winter, one of our PoT tutors, explains why.

NIC rates are all available in your rates sheet so there is no need to learn the figures, but you must know what type of NIC applies in different situations and how this is paid. Here is a handy summary of the of the key NIC charges.

Top five apps for CA Students

We round up the best five apps for CA students - from apps that help you stay focused while studying, to a handy guide to accounting terms. You can bet that the majority of CA students have a smartphone or a tablet device, but did you know that there are lots of apps which could streamline your life? We’ve done the research for you and created our list of the top five student apps.

Thursday 13 Oct 2016

Anyone who remembers Paddington Bear from their childhoods will be interested to know that on this day in 1958, the children’s favourite and Peruvian native, made his debut in English literature. 

Licensing Biz’s 2015 Power List of most influential brands listed Paddington as the 4th most valuable global character brand – so big, in fact, that AFC Investment Bank advised on the sale of Paddington’s Intellectual Property Rights to StudioCanal, who now take full ownership of the brand: an interesting transaction to evaluate and process!

In today’s blog we speak with former student Daniel Martin, the CA who is having a golden time in the desert as GM of Armaguard Valuables Management.

We also continue our cooking feature with a new set of quick-cook healthy recipes – we’d love to see your photos of your own creations or feature your own suggestions, so send them in and join the conversation.

And if you aren’t sure about whether odd things happen, or it’s just a glitch in the matrix; the Bank of America have confirmed there’s a 50% chance we’re already living in it. Are your studies just a simulation?

Happy reading! 

We live in the matrix…

According to research by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, there is a 20-50% chance that we currently live in a virtual reality world and experience life as a simulation.

Daniel Martin: The tools to progress your career

Former student Daniel is based in Abu Dhabi and works as General Manager for Armaguard Valuables Management (AVM), a joint venture between the Armaguard Group, based in Australia and New Zealand and Etihad Aviation Group, based in the United Arab Emirates capital, Abu Dhabi.

Cooking for the busy student pt 2

We continue our series of healthy quick-cook / prepare meals for CA Students on the go. Free your time for studying, work, or pleasure!

CA Career Conversations Birmingham

We were delighted to see students attending our Career Conversations event in Glasgow – our next one is in Birmingham on 20 Oct, and it’s absolutely free to our students! You can also bring non-members at a cost of £25 each.

We asked our students on Twitter if they were sure of what areas of chartered accountancy they would like to enter, and the majority of our respondents were not sure, or currently pondering. If that describes you, this event could help you gain critical insights about your career path.

Brand new from ICAS, the CA Career Conversations event aims to share the experience and career journeys of experienced CAs with you, the next generation of our profession.

We’ve hand-picked an enviable line-up of influential CAs and business leaders to host the evening. Successful CAs from different business sectors will share the secrets of their success.There will also be plenty of opportunity to network.

Reminders for TPS students approaching new classes:

All pre-course tests should be completed by 9am, on the first day of your class, with the exception of Tax which does not have a test.

  • TPS FR / Tax to Dec 2016: complete the tests of assumed knowledge (TOAKS) by 9am on 17 Oct, and the PCT for FR only by 9am, on the first day of class.
  • TPS Afin / ABS to Dec 2016: Complete the TOAKS by 9am, 17 Oct, and complete the PCT by 9am, first day of class
  • TPS Afin / Tax to Dec 2016: Complete TOAKS by 9am, 24 Oct, and complete the PCT by 9am, first day of class.

Monday 10 Oct 2016

We’ve been engrossed in Food Unwrapped over the weekend, where they discovered why certain foods come with a hefty price tag and the processes involved that affect prices. 

Fascinating for students thinking of working in audit for the food and drink industry – find out why risotto rice prices at 800 euros a tonne compared to 300 euros a tonne for long grain, and why the growing and yield methods affect this!

In today’s blog we look at Brexit and how to stay on top of the daily announcements: follow our questions for the Government and business insight.

TPE students can take advantage of our advice on how to navigate your TPE feedback sessions for success, and what to expect in the upcoming exams. With only three weeks until the exam, make use of all our resources on, including these.

Brexit latest: What you need to know

On 24 June, the UK woke up to the news that we had voted to leave the EU. Since then there has been a huge amount of discussion about what’s going to happen, how and when.

Here we bring you the latest in what it might mean for you in what is shaping up to be a long journey to our new future.

Making the most out of your TPE feedback

TPE Level Controller, Catherine Devaney, helps you achieve value in the feedback process. During the TPE course, you will receive a face-to-face feedback session in relation to your mock 1 and mock 3 performances. The sessions are delivered by your mock marker and are entirely personal to you.

TPE examination FAQ

We speak to the TPE Examinations Manager, Hayley Reid, about the most common questions related to the TPE exam, including what you should take into the exam, appropriate ID, and how you will receive your exam results.

Back to Basics: Costing Part 1 (TPS)

There are several topics likely come to mind when students think back to their good old Business Management (BM) Days: a straw poll of former BM students revealed that absorption and marginal costing still give some nightmares!

With that in mind, we focus on the different costing methods and modules introduced in BM and get back to basics with costing.

Reminders for TPS students approaching new classes:

All pre-course tests should be completed by 9am, on the first day of your class, with the exception of Tax which does not have a test.

  • TPS FR / Tax to Dec 2016: complete the tests of assumed knowledge (TOAKS) by 9am on 17 Oct, and the PCT for FR only by 9am, on the first day of class.
  • TPS Afin / ABS to Dec 2016: Complete the TOAKS by 9am, 17 Oct, and complete the PCT by 9am, first day of class
  • TPS Afin / Tax to Dec 2016: Complete TOAKS by 9am, 24 Oct, and complete the PCT by 9am, first day of class.

Thursday 6 Oct 2016

It’s the 6th of October, a day that didn’t actually happen in Italy, France, Poland, Portugal and Spain in 1582 – because the countries adopted the Gregorian calendar on 5 Oct and skipped forward to 14 Oct!  

Why was this? The countries moved away from the Julian calendar to correct the length of the year by 0.0002%; the original calendar miscalculated the solar year by 11 minutes resulting in errors every 128 years (which surely would have made the adoption of standard medieval fiscal years an impossibility!).

The changeover didn’t actually happen in the UK until 1752, when the populace apparently rioted for 11 days under the belief that their lives would be shortened. They had gone to bed on Wednesday 2 September and woken up on Thursday 14 September. This would have seemed slightly maddening, given that other adjustments in 1751 meant the year only lasted 282 in days in England.

Previously, the start of the tax year on the Julian calendar was 25 March, which became 5 April in 1753 to avoid losing 11 days of tax revenue. In 1800 this was adjusted to 6 April due to a leap year and one day of revenue loss. And that, dear CA Students and pub quiz enthusiasts, is why we start the tax year on this day!

Keeping on that note, we dive straight into a special interview with the International Tax Manager for Specsavers…

Nicki Eastlake-Bent: ‘Being a CA was a global career passport’

Nicki Eastlake-Bent, International Tax Manager for Specsavers, credits her CA and ITP qualifications with opening doors and giving her the confidence to walk through them.

Inside ICAS: What conflict?

In applying the ICAS Ethical Code, students often confuse the issue of “Conflicts of Interest” with the five fundamental principles. A conflict of interest is an example of an underlying or systematic matter. The nature of the conflict can affect the ability of the professional accountant to comply with the fundamental principles.

Tutor Profile: Ali Douglas - from middle market to public sector audit

ICAS Tutor Ali Douglas has made the leap from middle market to public sector audit, gaining some valuable insights along the way. Read his story– there’s plenty of advice for those looking to follow a career in audit.

Monday 3 Oct 2016

A warm welcome to October and the student blog! This is an important month for a lot of our students as many of you will be starting classes or new blocks.

Speaking of, new TC students sitting exams on 26 and 27 October should keep an eye out for your candidate instructions, which are winging their way to you this week with details on how to acknowledge them.

Today we look at whether Price Elasticity of Demand can ever be positive, with lecturer Peter Reid and his examination of microeconomics for TC Finance. And Business Law is relevant throughout the CA qualification as well as your post-qualification career, so check out our great mnemonic on director responsibility.

We hear about the rise of FOMO and smartphone addiction from Deloitte’s new tech study, and there’s a great interview with the 35 under 35 Entrepreneurship category winner of One Young CA; find out what Joel Watt has to say on company start-ups. Could you be the next CA entrepreneur?

What is the Price Elasticity of Demand?

Within the microeconomics material of TC Finance, Price Elasticity of Demand (aka PED) is discussed. The formula is there in the module material, but students often ask: what exactly does PED represent? And why is it normally negative? Are there any circumstances where it could be positive? Peter Reid, one of our Finance lecturers, gives us the lowdown.

The Responsibilities of Directors – Back to Basics

Business Law is relevant throughout the CA qualification as well as your post-qualification career. Use our mnemonic to get back to basics on director’s responsibility, as explained by Chris Cunnane, Lecturer.

A truly entrepreneurial CA: Joel Watt CA

Winner of the ICAS 35 CAs under 35 entrepreneurship category, Joel Watt CA, talks to Eleanor O'Neill about starting companies and taking risks.

Suffering from extreme FOMO?

A new Deloitte study that shows one-third of UK adults check their smartphone during the night has prompted questions over the extent of ‘FOMO’ amongst under 34s. With 91% of 18-44 year olds in the UK owning a smartphone, Deloitte set about identifying the patterns and usage.

December 2016

Thursday 1 December 2016

Welcome to December! It’s now officially winter, and soon you will be getting away for a well-deserved Christmas and New Year break after a tough few weeks of exams.

It is also the start of the Santa Rally month, which is the colloquial name for the traditional surge in stock prices between Christmas and New Year’s Day. There is usually an injection of additional funds into the markets in January as well, due to trades that must be completed for accounting or tax reasons at the end of the year.

There are now promising signs that the stocks markets could be in a for a bumper year after all four market indexes closed at record highs.

"Anytime you get confirmation with all four indices getting record closes, that usually leads to additional buying," said Paul LaRosa, chief technician at Maxim Group.

“It just seems like money is flowing into this market. People are repositioning," explained Paul. “People are encouraged that more investment will come into the United States. Money will come from overseas. Regulation will be lifted. Right now, the light is green.”

This can be owed in part to Donald Trump’s promises to spend on infrastructure and further tax cuts for corporations and individuals, after a spate of overnight futures sell-offs. Only time will tell, but there is hope for buoyancy.

MarketWatch columnist Mark Hulbert has pointed out, however, that “brokers and analysts are rarely fazed by the absence of a strong statistical foundation, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that belief in the Santa Clause Rally persists.” 

Meanwhile, in today’s blog we look at the positives of working for both large and small accountancy firms, with advice for the future. We continue our mortgage basics series with a look at borrowing, deposits, types of mortgages, and where to go for necessary advice when you decide to make that purchase.

We conclude with highly bookmarkable tax toolkits from HMRC (recently updated), which are great as supplementary material for studies as well as for use within the workplace.

Happy reading and stay warm!

Big versus small accountancy firms

The ICAS Education team have a wide range of experience to draw upon as they take you through the CA syllabus. Many of our tutors have worked for The Big Four, but also know what it’s like to work in medium and smaller sized firms as well.

Mastering mortgage basics: part two

In the second part of our feature on mastering the mortgage basics, we investigate all the kinds of mortgages that are available, where to get one and just how much deposit you should save.

HMRC tax toolkits – a great student resource

Throughout your CA and ITP studies you will cover tax and tax returns. Many of you will also work in a role where you are performing tax calculations and completing returns for clients. Check out these toolkits by HMRC, useful for study and work!

American author and businessman Zig Ziglar said: “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could, because someone else thought they could.”

You will have already put a huge effort and commitment into your time as a CA Student Member.  Passing your exams and becoming an ICAS member will give your career the best start. However, you can give yourself a further hand up the ladder by finding a good mentor.


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