How to get more from your time in class

Student writing on notebook

Studying to be a CA calls for a different approach and can take a little bit of getting used to.

Whether you are a TC, TPS or TPE student, the time you spend in class is about more than just turning up and sitting through your lectures. We strongly recommend that you become an ‘active’ rather than a ‘passive’ learner to get the most from your time in class. 

1. Do the pre-course work

Doing the pre-course work is a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t think it’s important. Particularly for students at TPS and TPE level, the pre-course work is what we assume you already know, so that we can build on it in class. If you don’t tackle the pre-course work, there is real risk you could come to class and find things really challenging.

The CA course is like a house of cards – you need a firm foundation in place in order to reach the top. Remember too that all of the assumed knowledge from TC is examined at TPS and TPE, so it makes sense to ensure you know it!

We won’t leave you to your own devices with pre-course work, as there are clear timetables and study plans to help you work through the material at an appropriate pace.

2. Participate

Being an active learner will give you a real advantage, and this is particularly so during class time. This is about really listening and engaging with what is being taught. Don’t allow yourself to drift off – see if you can jot down the key points from a particular session to keep them fresh in your mind.

Remember, there’s no need to write lots and lots of notes in class, but we would recommend making a note of anything that you feel unsure about. Follow this up by asking questions. Talking to your tutors is another essential way you can participate and take full advantage of the time you have with them. You can also direct your questions through the student blog email or Twitter account, and we'll ensure you get an answer. 

3. Act on feedback

Your tutor team are on hand to give you lots of useful, practical advice. However, it’s down to you to put that advice into action in order to improve your approach. If, for example, a tutor recommends that you look at a question or problem in a new way, then follow that advice to the letter.

4. Respect others

At ICAS, we encourage professionalism in all our students no matter what level of study they are at. Your professionalism comes across in how you speak, act and treat others. Remember that there are other people in class who may not be as familiar with the material as you and who may be learning it for the first time. Don’t distract them! Other ways you can be more professional in class are:

  • Being honest, reliable and responsible.
  • Treating people the way you like to be treated yourself.
  • Taking the time to prepare properly, and keeping up-to-date with information relevant to your course.

5. Don’t go it alone

If you are finding things tricky we really want you to tell us rather than suffering in silence. As well as speaking to your course tutor, you can also speak to your manager or nominated Training Principal at your firm. There is also lots of information available in the CA student handbook and on the Education pages. You can also message us on Twitter via @ICAS_students or email at any time.

More often than not, the person you’ll talk to will have been through something similar themselves, and can be a great source of advice.

February 2017

Thurs 16th February

On this day in history, the Medici family were announced as the official bankers of the papacy in 1412, in Italy. They were noted for pioneering banking and accounting procedures such as developing double entry and debit / credit tracking.

The Medicis were thought to be the richest family in Europe at the time, with a wealth horde comprised of lands and gold, and they were the bank of choice for most wealthy families in Europe; their chosen currency, the florin, became widely used for commercial and trade activities.

The vast amounts of money held by the church allowed the family to invest and extend their business, and it was alleged that they even gave the Pope of that period the money to buy his cardinal hat.

They even paid a ransom for Pope John XXIII to be released from prison - when he died he left the family a finger of St John the Baptist in his will! They definitely ran a lucrative business; at the time, you had to pay 10% of your earnings to the church, which the Medici bank collected.

Receiving a saint's finger and buying the pope's hat are bizarre working practices, and modern day banking cultures pale in comparison!

People flocked to the bank as they wanted an account with the Pope's financial institute of choice, and it stayed afloat due to the introduction of limited liability, where regional bank managers held shares in the business. They also avoided giving loans to royalty because of the low returns or non-payment!

Modern day accounting was shaped in part due to their innovations and ability to spot lucrative money-generating activities.

Receiving a saint's finger and buying the pope's hat are bizarre working practices, and modern day cultures pale in comparison! In today's blog, we examine the more unusual work activities around the world, including mandatory exercise and getting into the steamiest room imaginable with your work colleagues - how does your work match up?

HMRC has released details of the weirdest expense claims by taxpayers, so we also take a look at these bizarre attempts recorded on tax returns - claiming for pants and cats anyone?

And we investigate the move to criminalise student loan evasion, with arrests in New Zealand and stricter regulations touted for Britain. How will the selling of the student loan log book to private debt collection companies pan out?

The weirdest expense claims sent to HMRC

January saw the self-assessment deadline come to pass and HMRC, perhaps fearing the worst, decided to share some of the rather odd claims that have been denied over the years - including Armani jeans for decorating.

Alternative employee well-being: saunas and mandated push-ups

It’s been a long week, and it’s time for some team bonding to strengthen relationships – but how would you feel about taking your clothes off and jumping in the sauna?

From student to loan evader?

Should student loan defaulters be treated like tax evaders? The New Zealand method could gain traction in the UK as loan debt rises to £70bn.

Mon 13th February

Good news for students looking to work in financial planning and analysis in the future; the latest research by finance recruitment specialists, Robert Half, reveals that this role is in line for an increase in pay as demand for specialist skills grows. 

Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director, said: "The rise in starting salaries is a reflection of organisations taking on business transformation projects, financial planning and risk mitigation which is adding additional strain on the limited supply of professionals with these skills. 

"To win the growing war for talent, businesses need to offer competitive salaries, opportunities for development and a supportive company culture to remain an employer of choice.”

The CA Salary Survey 2016 showed that 36% of CAs received an above-inflation pay rise last year, bringing financial controllers' wages to an average of £89,600 per annum.

Risk managers, financial controllers and financial project managers are expected to see increases as well, which is great news for our students as the roles make use of the varied and expertise skills you learn as a CA! 

Financial sector leaders also stated that they expect current employee salaries to rise, along with increased bonuses. 

The report also revealed that two-thirds of leaders in the financial sector expect the salaries of current employees to rise and 38% predict bonuses will increase. The CA Salary Survey 2016 showed that 36% of CAs received an above-inflation pay rise last year, bringing financial controllers' wages to an average of £89,600 per annum. 

This is considerably better news than the Brussels think tank announcement that a 'hard Brexit' could eradicate 30,000 London jobs and £1.5 trillion of assets. 

The think tank Bruegel has issued estimates of a 30% drop in London's share of European wholesale finance markets largely due to the potential inability to sell products and services in EU states. So, at the end of news last week, we could say pay might increase but London-based jobs could decrease! 

In today's blog, we get into a brighter mood by looking at Valentine's day in numbers and exploring the custom (and big business) around the world and hear from ICAS Policy Leadership tax team on ways to save tax by 5 April (and spend it all on chocolate?). 

We examine the rise in inflation and how this will affect consumer spending levels and speak to former student Suzy Kerton on her MBA initiative seeking to eradicate sexist language and myths from the world of business.

Inflation set to rise and rise? 

What does the rate of consumer spending, the falling price of oil and a forecast warning from the Bank of England all add up to? The annual inflation rate in developed countries is at its highest level since 2014, according to research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Valentine's day in numbers

Roses are red, violets are blue, the numbers add up for couples of two. With the season of love upon us, we round up 14 fun facts in numbers about Valentine's Day; black bean sauce and 'obligation chocolate' anyone?

Interview with Suzy Kerton CA: Dispelling sexist business myths

Following on from our look at the hurdles faced by female CAs, we caught up with Suzy Kerton CA to discuss her MBA initiative, dispelling sexist myths and language in business.

5 ways to save tax by 5 April

Are you studying ITP, TPS or TPE? Check out this great policy leadership resource by Donald Drysdale on five ways to save tax. 

Tutor Duncan McKellar said: "Working in tax can involve dealing with client’s self-assessment compliance (as those of you just finished completing 2015/16 Personal Tax Returns will no doubt be aware!), but it can also involve putting forward simple planning strategies to try to help clients plan their affairs in the most tax-efficient manner. 

"Students working towards the ICAS Tax Professional qualification get the opportunity to study some of these strategies with a view to being able to provide ‘value added’ advice to clients on tax exposure. 

"The following article explores five tax planning opportunities for clients in business and also gives a useful overview of some of these ITP topics in a practical context. If you are a CA student studying for TPS Tax or TPE you will also be aware of some of these points and can expand your knowledge using this article."

Thurs 9th February

With the Criminal Finances Bill 2016-17 moving to the report stage for review by the House of Commons, we investigate the rise of financial fraud and examine how CAs can make a difference in today's blog.

The bill will have an opportunity to be reviewed before its third reading and move to the House of Lords in preparation for Royal Assent in Spring. One of the major changes is the introduction of Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs). 

The orders allow for the UK to confiscate property and assets (including bank accounts), where the owner is unable to explain how they purchased it. HMRC and the Serious Fraud Office will work together to assess assets worth more than £100,000; it is hoped the measure will highlight illegal or questionable sources of income. 

"Unexplained wealth orders will help make the UK an even more hostile place for the corrupt and the criminal and their proposed introduction has received universal support from law enforcement and civil society groups," said a Home Office spokesperson.

“The introduction of this measure complements a range of investigative powers available to law enforcement agencies. Of course, our ambition is to use UWOs where the evidence or investigation requires us to do so."

In many instances, even when they are picked up, corporates prefer to resolve the situation privately to avoid the public scrutiny that comes from going to court.

2016 was a big year for fraud in general, with millions of credit cards being cancelled due to scams and cyber attacks. The bill may actually help identify where this money ends up, through unexplained purchases and no obvious source of legal income. 

Research by BDO found that the overall level of reported fraud in the UK increased more than 31% to a five-year high of £2bn. Kaley Crossthwaite, Partner and Head of Fraud, said: “Sadly, the findings of this research are just the tip of the iceberg and many frauds continue to go on undetected. 

"In many instances, even when they are picked up, corporates prefer to resolve the situation privately to avoid the public scrutiny that comes from going to court.”

On the upside, the value of last year money laundering showed a sharp decrease, falling from £201.6m to £98.9m, thanks to increased awareness and regulatory measures.

Read our advice for reporting suspicious activity and hear from Ken Murray CA, Head of Forensic Accounting at Police Scotland in our anti-money laundering podcast.

In today's blog, we also take a look at how best to survive a long working week and frequently asked questions on achievement logs - if you're in your final year, find out what to do with deferred competencies!

Achievement logs shouldn't be a slog

All students have to complete an online achievement log to accurately record their practical experience but it doesn’t have to be difficult! 

Our achievement logs manager, Matt Gorrie, deals with the most commonly asked questions from students so you submit your achievement log in record time! 

This is especially important if you have completed your TPE exams and training contract, and would like to become an ICAS member in 2017.

UK financial fraud increases by 40% 

New data from the Office for National Statistics reveals a 40% increase in UK financial fraud from September 2015-2016. Fraud relating to finances, including card fraud or online scams, is largely unreported by the general public, suggesting that the real figure is far higher than reported...

10 tips for surviving a long workday

Long working days are reducing across the industrialised world, but trainee CAs will have occasion to burn the midnight oil as you tackle a training contract and studies at the same time. You need our survival guide for avoiding burnout! 

What CAs need to know this week

Looking at how business, accountancy and politics has unfolded this week.

Mon 6th February

We were intrigued by the news that Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) will be launching a mental health programme in a few month's time to tackle stress and associated issues for its members. 

Their members can currently access a dedicated support group, but will soon be able to access training and awareness in dealing with mental health. 

"We don't have any data about mental health in the accounting profession, but we know anecdotally that it is an issue," said Sue Ashe, speaking on behalf of CAANZ.

"The project will provide access to mental health support for members in their individual capacities as well as in their roles as colleagues, employers and as service providers to clients."

This holistic approach to work is a positive development and demonstrates a progressive move towards safeguarding members' health. 

The Scottish Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association (SCABA) provides similar support to ICAS members. As well as financial assistance, the group can deliver practical support and guidance; the SCABA team includes a support worker with experience in the NHS, social work and the benefits system. 

In today's blog we examine the roots of the '99% economy' and how it has become enmeshed with political leanings; how much truth is there in the claims?

We also have practical advice on how to approach TPE business analysis, with a look at how product recalls can affect the trajectory of a company. 

TPE students commencing their block 1 should check out CABLE as soon as possible: the new material is being launched from today so peruse at your earliest convenience! If you're unsure of how to use CABLE, check out our guide on getting the most from the platform.

TPE in practice: product recalls

Are you familiar with how to analyse business issues and what you should look out for in terms of skills practice? Students embarking on TPE classes in February and March will no doubt be eagerly completing their pre-course work and wondering exactly what the level is all about...

Analysis: Who are the 99%?

There has been much talk of the '99%' in recent years, but what is it, and where did the term come from? The ongoing divide between the '1% elite' and the rest of the world has been a point of some contention for years and has been a significant contributing factor to the rise of populism in recent times.

Top tips for using CABLE to your advantage

CABLE is the online learning tool designed to guide you through course material. Nena and Roddy from the ICAS team bring you their top tips for getting the most from this great resource.

Five financial hubs that run the world

Our list of five European locations which attract global benchmarks in financial services and technology.

Thurs 2nd February

Theresa May became the first foreign leader to personally extend the hand of friendship to President Trump last week. Now we ask: Just how important are 'special relationships'?

Negotiating a mutually beneficial compromise between a vision of a free-trade Britain and the protectionist 'America First' ideal is the task that faces politicians on both sides of the pond, for better or worse.

In the past, co-operation between the US and UK has largely depended on the relationship between the residents of 10 Downing Street and the White House. Think Bush and Blair, or Thatcher and Reagan, caught on camera in social settings as often as governmental offices. 

Diplomacy is the highest end of networking; building personal connections in order to maintain inclusion with exclusive opportunities. It is a skill that every CA can bank on and one that the Prime Minister will need in spades.

For a refresher on how you can make a good impression on the right people, read our tips for getting noticed at networking events.

In other news, ICAS Executive Director of Education, Mark Allison, updates us on the latest expansion to freedom of movement for our future and current CAs. We also share our top tips for de-cluttering your digital life and find out which are the biggest, most valuable corporations in the world.

Happy reading!

Increasing free movement for CAs

Have you envisioned yourself working across the globe as you build your CA career? The freedom of movement for CAs is being extended across Europe to enhance the status of the ICAS qualification and strengthen reciprocity agreements.

Who runs the world? Top ten global corporations

The new list of corporates dominating the economy is out, with surprising additions and a sharp move away from the power of financials.

De-clutter these five digital dumps

A cluttered office or messy workstation can have a negative impact on productivity and add to stress in the workplace. But what about your digital desktop?

January 2017

Monday 30 January

It turns out that we might have been a few seconds away from nuclear disaster after it was revealed that Trident’s guidance system suffered a glitch off the US coast; resulting in a fired missile going off-course.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was quick to put the brakes on any more information being exposed to the general public, but US officials decided to tell CNN that the event did happen in June 2016, and required the missile to self-destruct in flight.

One wonders how the auditors reacted when costing up the Trident misfire, as well as any potential fallout; if you excuse the pun!

None of this information was offered to MPs when Theresa May put forward the case for a £40bn renewal of Trident – information that would certainly be very pertinent to any assessment of contracts and equipment!

The Daily Mail reported in 2012 that the MoD employed more accountants than Army Officers. An MoD spokesperson told the Mail there were over 500 qualified military and civilian accountants during the period: 

The MoD has increased financial discipline to get the annual budget of around £35bn back on track. In addition to one of the largest budgets across Whitehall we have one of the biggest balance sheets, including nearly £130bn of assets. 

“Accountants help manage hundreds of equipment projects to ensure value for money for the taxpayer and ensure that over 250,000 military personnel and civilian staff receive their pay and pensions.”

Indeed, accountants for the military are involved in the procurement of defence equipment as well day to day contracting issues, but in 2016 it was reported that the MoD had failed to meet IFRS requirements on leasing in contracts, as well as needing to improve IAS 17 compliance (which our FR students study as part of the CA qualification). The MoD might need a refresher in financial reporting

Meanwhile, in today’s blog, we have the TPS examiner’s report hot off the press, looking at how the exam was marked and what students should look out for when resitting exams. This is informative reading for anyone looking to achieve bigger marks, and we certainly haven’t omitted any pertinent facts!

TPS Level Controller, Lauren O’Brien explains options available to those who will be resitting TPS exams, and what resources are available to you. 

We also start our countdown to the ICAS Admission Ceremony, where we hope to see all of our new members!

Happy reading!

Countdown to the Annual Admission Ceremony 2017

There are now just 54 days left until we welcome our newly-qualified (NQ) members to the ICAS family, at a special free ceremony in Edinburgh. 

You can also bring three guests, free of charge, which means our future CAs and current students are most welcome!

Join us to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work and level of achievement each newly qualified member has undertaken and to discover how ICAS can further support you throughout your lifetime as a CA.

Hear from ICAS Chief Executive, Anton Colella, ICAS President, Ken McHattie and other inspirational speakers as we welcome you into ICAS membership. This is your chance to get down to some important networking!

To join the celebration, follow ICAS on Twitter and Instagram and use the hashtag #ICASclassof2017.

Please note, if you have passed TPE but not yet signed up to be a member, you will need to wait until your training contract is complete and logbook signed off.

TPS resits: What you need to know

In this article, TPS Level Controller Lauren O’Brien explains the options for resitting TPS exams, the process to follow over the next few weeks, and the resources available to help you.

How to use the TPS examiner's report

Recently sat your TPS exams? Find out what materials and feedback are available for retakes, and how the examiner’s report is used to achieve more marks.

Help for resitting ABS exams

Are you feeling a little unsure after your ABS exam? It is a fact of life that some students will fail their ABS exam at each diet. But never fear, we're here to help!

Thursday 26 January

We wanted to pick up on the UK’s intentions to leave the single market, in a bit more detail for our CAs of tomorrow, as it could mean operating in a vastly different landscape to that of the present.

Prime Minister Theresa May has both allayed and stoked fears about the UK’s plans to leave the single market and customs union, by announcing that there will be a complete break from the EU, as well as immigration rules and the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The Independent highlighted how the ECJ has introduced and upheld workers’ rights, including working time directives, annual leave, maternity rights and discrimination laws, and that's just for starters.

May has assured that these will not be scrapped, but there is no solid protection that would deter future powers from removing them altogether. She spoke of a continued relationship with the EU, however: “We will continue to be reliable partners, willing allies and close friends,” she said.

Read our round-up from Theresa's speech and the potential effects of Brexit.

In today’s (non-controversial!) blog, we deliver tips and tricks for using your classroom calculator, and revisit ethical conundrums for CAs; find out how to introduce safeguards and avoid conflicts of interest. To ease you into your weekend we’ve got the top 10 podcasts for your listening and development pleasure!

Casio Fx85: tips and tricks

The calculator is one of the most important tools you will use during your time as a CA student, besides your brain. Our education team share their tips and tricks for getting the most out of the CA calculator of choice.

Safeguards and conflicts of interest

Executive Director, Education, Mark Allison takes a look at safeguards and conflicts of interest as part of essential ethics for chartered accountants and trainees. Great reading for Business Ethics study as well as TC, TPS and TPE levels.

The top 10 podcasts for CAs

A saving grace for commuters everywhere, podcasts have become a staple of consumable media. Eleanor O'Neill rounds up our pick of the best on-demand audio shows for CAs.

Five big questions for CAs from Davos

In the same week that Theresa May publicly addressed plans for Brexit and Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States, economic and political leaders gathered in Davos for the 20th World Economic Forum (WEF). CA Today has rounded up the top five most important questions for CAs raised at the event.

Monday 23 January

The annual meeting of the world’s most powerful people in politics, business and even films completed on Thursday last week. In case you missed it, here are the key events:

President Xi Jinping attended Davos for the first time (the first Chinese president to do so in history), quoting Charles Dickens’ quote about the consequence of the industrial revolution: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, before referencing parallels in modern times such as refugee crises.

He was clear that the Chinese nation does not believe globalisation is the reason behind wealth disparity and economic failures; he regards these are not the “inevitable outcome of economic globalisation but rather the consequence of excessive chase of profit by financial capital and grave failure of regulation.”

It also meant we heard a powerful Chinese proverb: “Honey melons hang from bitter vines, sweet dates grow on thistles and thorns.” The message was clear; the world must tackle difficulties to reap the rewards, and that all rewards come with difficulty. Read our article on the slowdown of globalisation to find out what’s going on.

Oxfam highlighted the inequalities that have resulted from ‘bitter vines’ with their report on the eight men who own as much money as the bottom 50% of the world. 

There is a clear problem with wealth distribution, but one might question Bill Gates inclusion on the list for starters, given his $28 billion charity spending and future plans to leave 95% of his wealth to ending epidemics and improving the world.

The digital economy was also up for debate, when Joseph Stiglitz urged for an end to corruption through a digital economy. 

He said: “The fact that you can hide ill-gotten gains so easily in these secrecy havens really provides incentives for people to engage in this activity as they can get the economic returns and then enjoy the benefits of those returns. 

"If there were not these secrecy havens, then the benefits from engaging in these kinds of illicit activity would be much diminished.”

We also heard from Trump aide Anthony Scaramucci who sought to allay fears about trade wars and nationalism, while Matt Damon sought investors for to improve the world’s access to clean water.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan announced that a hard Brexit (such as leaving the single market) would cause businesses to relocate from Britain to Hong Kong, Singapore, or New York, rather than the EU. The announcement runs against Theresa May’s speech where she reiterated the UK’s plans to leave the single market and end our membership of the free-trade area.

There are major fears that losing ‘passporting’ rights in London will cause financial centre to flee – the rights currently mean that a business can buy and sell in EU and European Economic Area nations through a passport. There are currently 336,421 passports held throughout the UK.

The slowdown of globalisation?

As world leaders in business, politics and academia gather in Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) 2017 conference, minds have turned to the recent backlash against globalisation and what a move away from it may mean.

When CAs couldn’t get a mortgage

Imagine being unable to apply for a loan or hire purchase agreement without finding a husband or gaining the signature of male relative, first. And that these practices regularly happened within the UK in the last 50 years?

Do this one thing as a CA student…

Lecturers offer a single piece of advice to students. It might seem that from the minute you start the TC pre-course briefing, everyone has some advice for you and suggestions about what you should be doing at every level.  

Back to basics: Corporation tax computation

In this guide, we aim to provide you with a checklist of the steps to allow you to confidently calculate a corporation tax liability from the start point of a set of accounting results. Included how to calculate quarterly payment dates – great for ITP, TPS and TC students. (And anyone else who would like a refresher!)

Thursday 19 January

In today’s blog, we feature the ‘How to Handbook’ on social media tips to bolster your career (and how to avoid unintentional negative promotion!), and examine how the relationship between real-time politics and economics has become so enmeshed that one tweet could wipe billions off a stock market.

This is particularly relevant right now, as President-Elect Trump will take up his position in the White House tomorrow – read our article on the ‘Trump Trigger’ for reasons as to why some investors are nervous about the power of his social media feed.

Historically, 20 January has witnessed many key prestigious and monumental events, such as the first Parliament of England summoned by the Earl of Leicester in 1265, the abdication of Edward Balliol as King of Scots in 1356, and the Dutch King Willem II was crowned in 1840.

The date has been both auspicious and unfavourable at the same time; notable for powerful figures moving in and out of place. As of tomorrow, we can add to that list with the first black President of the USA to leave office, and the inauguration of the first business-based President with no political or military experience.

These are interesting times we live in!

Back to Basics: Business Management Strategy

Business Management (BM) flows throughout the whole of the CA qualification, so it’s only right that we take it back to basics for in-depth analysis. This print-out and keep guide details Porters, SWOT and PEST, as explained by Lauren O’Brien, TPS Level Controller.

Trump Trigger App

An app that contacts you every time President-Elect Trump tweets on your stock holdings? The future of contextual notifications for everyday investors is about to change with ‘Trump triggers’.

How to Handbook: Six social media tips for your career

Social media is the platform through which you promote your personal brand, intentionally or otherwise. Here are a few top tips for presenting the best version of yourself across LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and beyond.

Monday 16 January

There will be an increase in strained faces over the next few weeks while business owners and financial staff will be racing to beat the tax return deadline of 31 January.

You might think that accountants could possibly be the first group of people likely to get their return in, when in fact research shows that people working in fishing, forestry and agriculture are the least likely to file a late return (62 in every 10,000), while accountants and lawyers are only the second least likely to file a return (106 in every 10,000 are late).

Perhaps the accountants and lawyers are just working on information for the agricultural workers’ tax returns! And not to inspire a gender war, but HMRC have also released data showing that men are more likely to file a tax return in time, than women.

Tax skills in the UK are highly prized due to our extensive tax code, and changes to the tax system (such as requiring quarterly returns from 2020) will no doubt require even more CA specialised skills for the future!

In today’s blog, we catch up with former student Lyndsay Henderson, who tells us about her experience and how the CA qualification helped her on the way to founding her own company.

We already mentioned Brexit last week (as does just about every other publication in the UK, currently!), but it heavily features again this week due to its inclusion in World Economic Forum discussions at Davos.

Find out what the experts will discuss, and the global key priorities for 2017; from climate to managing economic change.

We’ve also got the best methods for making a good impression on your training contract and great advice on how to tackle your TPS assumed knowledge coursework.  

Happy reading!

World Economic Forum 2017 global risks

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) fears for the fate of the global economy for 2017 – and have signalled that the Brexit Leave vote and Donald Trump’s election were symptoms of widening divisions in society, driven by rising income inequality.

WEF will be meeting in Davos for their annual meeting this week (17-20 January), and presiding over several events designed to examine wealth disparity and the increase of populist politics.

Find out what the top risks for the world economy are likely to be.

Lyndsay Henderson: From FTSE 250 to realising dreams

Lyndsay Henderson CA, the founder of Stellation Ltd, illuminates her journey from qualifying with ICAS to business ownership.

After completing her maths degree at the University of Edinburgh, Lyndsay knew she wanted to continue using her analytical and problem-solving skills and apply them to the business world...

Five ways to make a good impression during your training contract

The beginning of your training contract can be a daunting time, with so much to learn and lots of new faces to meet. 

Making a great first impression isn’t down to luck, as there are lots of things you can do to ensure you get off to a great start.

How to tackle TPS assumed knowledge work

Aimed at students who will be sitting a first attempt at TPS exams in June 2017, TPS Level Controller Lauren O’Brien explains the ins and outs of the TPS pre-course work.

Thursday 12 January

On this day in 1915, the US House of Representatives rejected the proposal that women should get the right to vote. It was another five years before it was finally granted. 

To put that in context, the US, like the UK (who only granted votes to women of certain economic and education status in 1918), is still to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of women’s rights to vote!

It is amazing to think how such a big change happened just last century, and even more amazing to think we will be witness to another historic event in just a few years – Brexit. 

If you haven't had a chance to read it, check out this interesting article on UK SMEs finance expectations and the potential impact of Brexit by David Menzies, ICAS Director of Insolvency.

And on 17 January 2017, ICAS will be hosting a new breakfast event, ‘The Big Brexit Debate’ in Edinburgh, which is free to all students. The early morning discussion (concluding by 9.30am) will feature opposing views on what tactics should be used to secure the best deal for Britain, as well as what impact is being felt by the economy.

Today’s blog is about helping you start the year right; firstly, we look at the secrets behind public speaking, and how to command a room with purpose, before delving into the ongoing BHS liquidation matters, with key Afin concepts at work. 

Last, but not least, we go inside directors’ responsibilities with lecturer Chris Cunnane – a must-read for Business Law students.

The secrets behind public speaking

Some people can command control of a room when they speak, or deliver important presentations with such ease that you suspect they practice every weekend. In fact, everyone can learn these skills so read on to discover the secrets behind great public speaking and how to win over your audience.

BHS Liquidation: Afin concepts at work 

by Jennifer Cloke, tutor

For students who have recently finished their studying for Advanced Finance, or are about to start it in the next few months, the case of BHS makes for very interesting reading!

The most recent revelations concentrate on the depth of the investigation by the company’s liquidators.

They particularly focus on the legal duties of the directors at the point of insolvency which (as module 2 of the AFIN course mentions) require their primary duty of care, once insolvent, to be to the creditors of the company, not the shareholders. 

The Guardian (BHS liquidator pores over details of Green and Chappell property deals) mentions various provisions of the Insolvency Act 1986, as well as the risk faced by the directors of BHS of disqualification under the Company Directors’ Disqualification Act 1986.

Further reading: Best Hope for Survival

Back to basics: The Responsibilities of Directors

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.

ICAS Insights: The Big Brexit Debate

We bring the numbers and the heat of political debate together to shed light on how we can get the best deal for British business. We also hear views on what impact Brexit is having on the economy and inquire about the possibility of a different deal for Scotland and whether that is likely or not.

Monday 9 January

There was an interesting announcement last Thursday when the Bank of England claimed economists had suffered a 'Michael Fish' moment when predicting (or not predicting) the 2008 financial crash, and that Brexit predictions may be similarly askew.   

The BoE Chief Economist, Andy Haldane, compared financial forecasts to the 'surprise' weather storm of 1987, when presenter Michael Fish downplayed the likelihood of it happening. Are weather predictions and financial predictions all that different? 

Haldane suggested that there is a disconnect between politics and financial markets, and that this must be reconciled to avoid future surprises. What do you think? 

How much do political 'scare' stories affect the markets or influence economists' decisions? How much should they influence these decisions? Join the conversation on Twitter or let us know on

In the blog today, we get January debt blues under control with our guide on how to make debt a thing of the past. Get inspired and work up the courage to finally cancel that gym membership you signed up for in 2015 and never attended!

Following on from our piece on getting ready for a new year of learning, we look at tools and techniques to become the best learner you can be, including memory tricks and ten ways to get the most out of any lecture or presentation.

And if you have not agreed a useful and achievable new year's resolution for yourself, then take a few minutes to absorb our five ways to get the most from your career for 2017 - these are resolutions you can stick to, and won't involve denying yourself junk food! 

And finally; we spied two of our Edinburgh students competing in Pointless on BBC 1 – not only that, they won! Well done to Ruairidh and Emma who bagged the jackpot with their pointless answer of Percy Montgomery, an all-time high scorer in the Rugby Union world cup! 

Back to Basics: What is Contribution?

The idea of ‘contribution’ is a pivotal one in Business Management, and it actually features in nearly half of the BM modules! Let’s get back to basics with it.

Make your debt a thing of the past

As trainee CAs you will already have an advanced grasp of numbers and financial reports, but it’s possible to neglect your personal budgets; think about those medical staff who indulge in smoking – it’s always easier said than done!

Five new year resolutions for CAs

Alarm clocks have replaced sleigh bells and most businesses are re-opening their doors this week. If you are looking to set your goals for 2017 but don't know where to start, here are a few ideas from CA Today.

How to be a better learner

It’s all very well to follow the good advice about being on time for class and eating a brain-food packed diet, but is there anything else you should be doing to improve your lifelong skills?

Thursday 5 January

Welcome back to a new year of the student blog!

There was an incredible 50,000+ web users accessing over 115,000+ blog pages over 2016, which is mighty impressive given that there are around 3,000 students across the UK!

All of this couldn’t have been possible without the input, feedback and contributions from you, our wonderful hard-working students, so take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back and reflect on how important you are to the ICAS family!

For our first edition to herald a fresh new year of conquering your studies (and other notable achievements), we summarise five tips for study success – erase those negative habits that may have previously hindered the immense computing power of your CA student brain, and look to build positive rewards for a job well done. Studying is always much easier with a possible chocolate bar at the end!

And if you ever felt you were a slave to your work week, then check out our feature on the 60-hour work week – find out how it has reduced across the world, and which cultures just can’t stay away from the office. Careful you don’t go ‘karoshi’ with your work commitments!

Infographic: 2016 at ICAS 

2016 has been an exciting year for ICAS. Here we take a month-by-month look back at some of the highlights. A great read for our recently-qualified CAs who will be joining the ICAS family in March! And we're impressed with the fantastic pass rates (and gold medal winner!) mentioned in here...

Five student tips for the new year

As we ease into the new year, it’s all too easy for previous worries to resurface after the holidays. You may need to move away from a relaxation frame of mind, but there’s no need to reduce the chilled-out factor. Here are quick-fire tips for starting your year right and with success in mind.

Is the 60-hour work week dead?

Ah, the 60-hour work week. How we crave time at our desks or endlessly travelling onwards to the next meeting, like a horizon that keeps slipping away. The bravado of boasting that you haven’t been in home in days or barely had time to eat is coming to an end, at least in a few countries...


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