How to get more from your time in class
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Thursday 14 September: Reminder: Get your BE1 completed
Have you completed your Business Ethics 1 component yet? It's due by 31 October 2017.
Business Ethics is a compulsory course completed over three components, the first of which is an interactive CABLE learning day. You must have completed this by the end of your training year but the date of receiving materials varies by type of training contract.
The BE1 material will be available on your CABLE workspace alongside your TC / TPS course materials. Deadline for completion is 31 October in the year following your enrolment, although early completion is encouraged.
This is a compulsory part of your CA qualification.
Get in touch
Do you have any questions about your BE1 component? Are there other reminders you'd like to see on the blog? Let us know at the CA Student Blog by contacting email@example.com or tweet @ICAS_students.
In today's blog, we revisit some tried and tested methods of keeping you on top of your studies as exams approach. Find out how to pull together your achievement log, make sure you're making full use of practice questions and stay motivated as the end of the year comes into sight.
Your achievement log is not a hurdle at the end of training - it is your personal account of everything you’ve learned and achieved at your training firm. Here are some useful tips and tricks to help make completing your achievement log that little bit easier.
Practice questions are an essential part of your studies. Here’s how to get the most from using them for mocks or the real thing.
Whether you are at TC, TPS or TPE level, finding (and keeping!) the motivation to keep going can be a challenge. However, with the right drive, you are much more likely to go the extra mile with your studies and be more focused on your success. Here are six ways you can boost your motivation levels.
Monday 11th September: UK universities topping the global charts
Oxford and Cambridge top the global university charts but fears have surfaced that studying in the UK will become less attractive for international students as Brexit looms.
The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2018 report two UK universities taking both the first and second place slots for the first time. All but one of the UK's Russell Group of 24 higher education bodies appear in the top 200.
Universities are scored annually according to; the quality of teaching and research, the number of featured citations, the amount of industry income generated, and international outlook. The rankings are audited by PwC.
Vice-Chancellor of the Univerisity of Oxford, Professor Louise Richardson, said: "To be judged the best university in the world for the second successive year, against a backdrop in which Britain’s role in the world is uncertain and the place of universities in society open to question, will be a great source of pride for everyone at Oxford, and, I hope, for the whole country."
These results were released just a week after research from the Office for National Statistics suggested that the number of non-EU students remaining illegally in the UK after graduation is not as high as previously believed. The government's Migration Advisory Committee has launched a review into the societal and economic impact of international students studying in the UK.
At present, EU funding contributes around a fifth of Oxford's research grants and a quarter of the University of Cambridge's.
2018 World University Rankings: THE
|1||University of Oxford, UK|
|2||University of Cambridge, UK|
|= 3||California Institute of Technology, USA|
|= 3||Stanford University, USA|
|5||Massachussetts Institute of Technology, USA|
|6||Harvard University, USA|
|7||Princeton University, USA|
|8||Imperial College London, UK|
|9||University of Chicago, USA|
|= 10||ETH Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Switzerland|
In today's blog, we focus in on exam time as one of our TPE examiners shares their advice for good business writing and we take a look at why mock exams can be so useful. We also examine some common career mistakes for young professionals to help you stay ahead of the curve.
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.
Millennial employees are a growing demographic within the workforce, however, the job market is quite possibly more competitive than ever and banking on the appeal of 'new talent' may not be enough. What career missteps should you be avoiding?
Mock exams and tests of progress are a key indicator of how well you understand and can communicate the material of your course. Ahead of the real exam, make sure you are using these opportunities to achieve your full potential.
Thursday 7th September: Should all leaders embrace diversity?
How important is diversity to effective leadership? This is one of the many questions we'll be seeking to answer at the exclusive ICAS Young Leaders Summit in London, 14 September 2017.
Get in touch
How does your workplace promote diversity? Do you have any ideas you would like to express on the blog on how you would action a plan to increase diversity within the profession? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @ICAS_students.
In today's blog, we have put together the ultimate TC welcome pack! For all our new lovely students, we have a feature on how to make the transition from a university-style of learning to Test of Competence, and introduce all the terms you are likely to encounter in your first year. We also look at the five study habits you should rid from your life for a successful learning experience.
TC Level Controller, Joanne Lloyd-Jones introduces the TC level for new students and discusses how to navigate the course to your best advantage.
Different studying styles work for different people - you may favour highlighters, post-it notes or just good old reading and repetition. But are your studying habits working against you?
To help with your TC revision, we've put together a glossary of important terms to use as an aid. Remember that your course materials and notes from class are invaluable resources too!
Monday 4th September: Hasta la vista PPI!
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has chosen an unlikely candidate to star in a £42m advertising initiative, two years ahead of saying "hasta la vista" to PPI for good.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has been hired as the face of a new marketing campaign to raise awareness about the deadline to claim compensation for mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI).
Members of the public have until 29 August 2019 to find out whether they are entitled to a refund. New measures have also made it possible for customers who previously had a claim rejected to receive some recompense if the provider in question earned a high commission from selling PPI.
Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive of the FCA, said: “Our campaign aims to cut through the noise on PPI. We want to encourage people to decide whether to find out if they had PPI and whether to complain or not. Our message, and Arnie’s, is ‘do it now’ and I urge people to make a decision before the deadline on 29 August 2019."
The 18 banks, building societies, and credit card providers, have the largest number of PPI complainants and are funding the campaign and have also agreed to several new measures to make the process of submitting a PPI complaint easier for customers. These include:
- An online complaints system;
- simplified paperwork;
- extra support for vulnerable customers;
- and free PPI checking processes.
Over £27.4bn has been claimed so far in the UK on PPI policies sold with loans, credit cards, store cards and mortgages over two decades.
In today's blog, cook up a storm for the time-pressed, take a peek behind the scenes at CABLE and provide a comprehensive glossary for TPS!
We continue our series of healthy quick-cook / prepare meals for CA Students on the go. Free your time for studying, work, or pleasure!
You’ll be familiar with CABLE, the CA Blended Learning Environment, as it forms a crucial part of some courses and is an essential study resource for others. Here, eLearning Instructional Designer Roddy Munro gives you a peep behind the scenes at CABLE.
To help with your TPS revision, we've put together a glossary of important terms to use as an aid. A more in-depth guide to common abbreviations and phrases can be found in your course materials.
Thursday 31st August: Innovation, dedication, and most of all - CA collaboration!
ICAS invited 2015 One Young CA Indy Hothi and Co-Founder of One Young World Kate Robertson for an ideas exchange on what it means to be a young leader in today's world.
You can join us for an exclusive networking opportunity for CA Young Leaders on 14 Sept. The Young Leaders Summit will be held in the stunning Leadenhall Building, otherwise known as 'The Cheesegrater', in London. Enjoy fascinating keynote speakers at this unique opportunity for CAs.
Get in touch
What makes a good leader? How important is it to innovate in today's world? How can you innovate during your training contract? Tell the CA Student Blog at email@example.com or tweet us @ICAS_students.
In today's blog, we help you tackle two key accounting concepts, and examine how credit scores are calculated, and how they can be improved. We also hear from 2016 One Young CA winner, Rimla Akhtar on the valuable lessons she learned from the One Young World summit.
One of the fundamental accounting concepts taught in Financial Accounting is the dual aspect, which gives rise to ‘debits and credits’. If you've not previously studied accounting, this infographic will help you navigate the first progress test.
How is your credit score calculated and what affects it? Find out how to manage yours for access to financial products such as a mortgage.
Every year, Chartered Accountants Worldwide (CAW) sponsors a delegation of young leaders from their member bodies to take part in the One Young World Summit. The event brings together young people from all over the world who have the desire and drive to affect change on a global scale.
Monday 28th August: Did technology put a dent in Provident Financial?
Last week, shares in a FTSE 100 company plummeted by 66% on the back of one announcement, and hours later the Chief Executive resigned.
Provident Financial announced several key pieces of bad news on Tuesday 21 August, leading to a catastrophic drop in market value from £2.58bn to £791m overnight.
Following a recent strategy shift to replace 3,800 part-time, self-employed debt-collection agents with 2,500 full-time 'customer experience managers' using apps, the company has not met all targets for paying investor dividends.
After Provident announced that shareholders would not be receiving their half-year (and likely not full-year) payments, the market reacted badly. Next came a domino effect of damaged profit prospects, a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) investigation into its Vanquis Bank division and, finally, the resignation of Chief Executive Peter Crook.
The incident has raised some questions over the wisdom of rapid digital transformation initiatives. A former Manager at the company told the BBC: "The previous Home Credit model, using local self-employed agents who were friends and relatives of the customers, ensures affordable appropriate borrowing.
"Drafting in customer experience managers working on phone apps has meant that the all-important relationship between agent and customer has been broken."
What lessons can be learned from this? The first is testing a new model before full roll-out, and the second is identifying the triggers for reduced cash flow - in this case, it appears fewer face to face interactions with customers has had a direct impact on dividends.
Get in touch
In today's blog, we examine the impact of the gig economy in the UK and offer a guide to setting goals. You can also check out our suggestions for easy and nutritious meals to keep you going through exams.
The rise of the gig economy has led to an estimated 26% rise in self-employed people in the UK. Research from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has revealed this trend is costing £4bn a year in lost income tax and benefit payouts.
Goal setting is an integral part of advancing your own career, development and academic success. But are your goals truly SMART?
We’re continuing our series of time-saving tips to ensure you’re piloting your way to optimum success with mind and body. This time, we share some time-saving and health-boosting recipes.
Thursday 24th August: How fair are different charges from pension providers?
A study of pension providers in the UK has revealed that the average annual management fee charged to savers is 0.95% of their pot, with the highest sitting well above 10%.
In an assessment of around 1,800 pension transfers at 20 different providers, Legal & General were shown to charge the least for management fees with an average annual cost to customers of 0.39%. On the other hand, data from Now Pensions revealed an average charge of 10.4%, making it the highest of providers included in the study.
While the UK average remains below 1% and fees for workplace pensions are capped at 0.75%, PensionBee claims that the current system remains largely unfair to low-earners and young people.
Clare Reilly, Head of Corporate D evelopment, said : “The new Robin Hood Index shows us that some providers still insist on making it really difficult to save for retirement. We see that opaque fees, archaic paper systems and shocking charges continue to plague savers in 2017."
Get in touch
In today's blog, we countdown the best countries for young CAs to consider undertaking a secondment. We also take a look at new upskilling opportunities from ICAS, CAI and Oxford University.
A recent report from HSBC and YouGov found the best places for UK expatriates to work abroad. If a secondment opportunity becomes available for you once qualified, will you be considering one of these countries?
As advances in FinTech continue to garner both interest and concern from long-standing financial institutions, the academic world is arming professionals with the knowledge they need to thrive.
ICAS offers qualified CA members the opportunity to upskill their financial expertise through a number of specialist diplomas offered in partnership with Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI).
Monday 21st August: What was the GAAR Advisory Panel's opinion on their first case?
Ever since the GAAR was introduced in 2013 advisers have been waiting to see an opinion from the GAAR Advisory Panel. ICAS Head of Taxation (England and Wales) Susan Cattell looks at the first opinion to be issued.
What is the GAAR?
The general anti-abuse rule (GAAR) was introduced by Finance Act 2013 following a report by the GAAR Study Group (headed by Graham Aaronson) which recommended that the government should introduce a narrowly focused general anti-abuse rule targeted at abusive tax avoidance schemes.
The purpose of the GAAR is to deter taxpayers from entering into such schemes and to deter advisers from devising and promoting them. If a taxpayer does use a scheme, the GAAR permits a counteraction of the tax advantage which the scheme was intended to provide.
The case before the GAAR Advisory Panel
The case involved a company and its two directors, Mr X (51% shareholder) and Mrs Y (49% shareholder). The company wished to reward its key employees, Mr X and Mrs Y, in a way which avoided the payment of taxable remuneration. The scheme involved the purchase of gold by the company and transactions using an employee benefit trust (EBT). According to the company, the result of the scheme was that the two directors were not taxable on approximately £150,000 each and the company was entitled to an immediate deduction of approximately £300,000 in computing its taxable profits.
The GAAR Advisory Panel is independent of HMRC; its two main functions are to approve the HMRC GAAR guidance and to provide opinions on cases referred to it by HMRC, where HMRC wishes to invoke the GAAR. In most cases anonymised versions of the opinions will be published shortly after the opinion is given; the panel members who considered the case are not named in published opinions.
On this occasion, the panel actually issued three opinions because HMRC had made three referrals relating to the company, Mr X and Mrs Y. In each case the opinion of the panel was that:
“The entering into of the tax arrangements is not a reasonable course of action in relation to the relevant tax provisions; and the carrying out of the tax arrangements is not a reasonable course of action in relation to the relevant tax provisions.”
Get in touch
In today's blog, we look at the potential for blockchain to safeguard against financial corruption and offer our top tips for interviewing for a new position in your organisation. We also recommend CA students about to take on their tax exams get Back to Basics on the blog.
Blockchain offers a uniquely secure record of ownership and empowers users with control over their own data. Earlier this year, David Cameron cited the technology as a possible solution to governmental and business corruption around the world.
Are you looking to move up in your organisation at the end of your training contract? Has a position just opened up that you know you would be perfect for? Then it's time to prepare for an internal interview by asking yourself these five key questions.
Brush up on some of the essentials before your exam with a look at our Back to Basics series.
Thursday 17th August: Finance Professionals aren't as scary as chefs
Financial service professionals are some of the scariest people in the UK, according to a recent survey by Fletchers Solicitors.
Of the 2,000 people polled, 64% considered bank managers, accountants and bookkeepers to be the most intimidating individuals to face as a client or customer, placing just second behind hospitality professionals like chefs and bartenders.
Conversely, 73% of respondents found doctors and nurses to be perceived as the most likeable professionals by the UK public.
This could be a concerning statistic when considering the level of trust that is often put in the individuals who manage finances, both personal and professional. The ability to exercise emotional intelligence and use good communication skills can go a long way in ensuring a good working relationship.
Soft skills are a highly sought after advantage in many sectors and are considered on par with technical knowledge by some employers.
Alex Kenny, Marketing Director at Fletchers Solicitors, said: “Perhaps those who work in industries that provide care and support such as health and education could teach others how to improve their delivery and customer handling skills.
“When selling a product or service there must be a general level of approachability between provider and client and the customer should feel at ease, whether at a restaurant dining table or providing customer services. An anxious or stressed client can also lead to miscommunications and even in some cases problems such as medical negligence.”
Get in touch
In today's blog, we continue our in-depth look at the basics of basis periods and give you some tips on figuring out ABS. We also share some pictures from the recent ICAS London Summer Social, a networking event for CA students and newly-qualified CAs.
We continue our back to basics series on basis periods for sole traders with a look at overlapping profits, ending trade and the practicalities of choosing an accounting date.
Our tutors share tips for Assurance and Business Systems on day one of class or revision day, but they are useful for everyone sitting ABS. Use these advice gems to get ahead in class and studies.
ICAS students and newly-qualified CAs gathered on the banks of the Thames for the 2017 ICAS London Summer Social networking event last week. Were you there to take in the stunning City landmarks and enjoy the sparkling company of your up-and-coming peers?
Monday 14th August: Ten years on from the financial crisis
It has been 10 years since the first signs of the global financial crisis made themselves known, when French bank BNP Paribas froze three of its biggest funds.
Get in touch
In today's blog, we look at the nitty gritty of your qualification, including how to complete achievement logs, what you need to know for TPS exams and a vlog on how to use tax legislation books!
Thursday 10th August: Extra help with VAT
Tutor Duncan McKellar highlights a great resource for tax students in today's blog:
The TPS Taxation course builds on the basics of VAT which are taught as part of TC Principles of Taxation (‘PoT’). Topics like VAT on land and buildings, partial exemption and international trade are all part of this coverage and can be tricky concepts to get your head around.
As VAT is one of the few indirect taxes covered in your CA studies, it can take a bit of getting used to the concept of tax being charged on sales, as opposed to tax due on income or capital receipts.
For me, it has always been a case of trying to stick to the basic principles covered in PoT when trying to understand the more complex concepts such as the option to tax.
This series of articles on Accounting Web covering the option to tax, includes great basics as well as complex aspects. It also introduces the ‘transfer of going concern’ which is covered as part of the TPE course.
Get in touch
In today's blog, we cover the basics of working out basis periods for new businesses and take a look at some of the opinions of business rates. We also share some insights on cybersecurity from CA Today.
For entrepreneurs starting their own business, it is possible to choose whatever accounting date suits the business – but tax is paid for the fiscal year, running from 6 April to 5 April. We go back to basics on the rules of the start of trade and what this means.
Business rates have been subject to growing dissatisfaction recently, as changes to the amounts owed impacts small business owners. What are they and how do they function?
With cybersecurity a bigger issue than ever before, firm’s “penetration testing” teams are working to stay one step ahead of the criminals.
Monday 7th August: The new kid on the Blockchain
You've heard of Bitcoin, the digital currency synonymous with Blockchain endeavours around the world, but what exactly is 'Bitcoin cash'?
Bitcoin (BTC) is just one of many digital payment systems used for cyber transactions but one that has gained popularity and prominence in recent years.
Now, newcomer Bitcoin Cash (BCC) has officially branched off from the system as a separate entity after attempts by industry leaders to find a working solution for a universal approach to the cryptocurrency failed last week.
The emergence of BCC comes after two years of debate around the size of the currency blocks that can be transferred in BTC. At present, Bitcoin has a 1-megabyte block limit favoured by some developers as the small size makes the network more difficult to hack.
Bitcoin cash has a chance to become the dominant cryptocurrency.
However, many of those preoccupied with 'mining' Bitcoin (verifying transactions) believe bigger blocks will make the network faster and easier to scale in the future.
Bitcoin Cash blocks will be sized at eight megabytes and will carry over the cyber memory of its older counterpart, seemingly solving the issue. However, some large Bitcoin exchange platforms, including sector giant Coinbase, have said they will not back the new currency at all.
Peter Borovykh, Blockchain Solution Architect at BlockchainDriven, told Business Insider: "Bitcoin cash has a chance to become the dominant cryptocurrency contingent upon its ability to gain trust and support from both current and new players as well as security of its network.
"Due to, an at least temporary, solution of the scalability issues, Bitcoin Cash could attract more new capital to the entire crypto space, thus helping increase overall market cap."
For those with money invested in Bitcoin, this evolution in the market will be a tense waiting game as they wait to see who comes out on top.
Get in touch
In today's blog, we think about future planning as we examine the different methods of innovation and talk to your tutors about life after your training contract. We also look into 'personalised accounting machines' and what they could mean for the profession.
How do we innovate, and how can an innovative practice implement effective change in business?
When your training contract draws to a close, the transition away from 'student' can be daunting and exciting in equal measure. What can you expect from your professional life as a fully-qualified CA?
A new machine learning automation system has been launched by software firm Xero, said to 'transform' personalised accounting experiences for small businesses.
Thursday 3rd August: Why it pays to plan for the unexpected
Colin McLellan CA, CFO of Skyscanner and one of the 2017 35 CAs under 35, has used his CA skills to become an invaluable factor in the growth of one of the UK's most successful online brands. This is how he handles the challenges of his role and manages the unexpected.
"Being asked to help set up [Skyscanner's] joint venture in Tokyo was an unexpected challenge. My role there was as interim CEO and it was the first time I’d had to really immerse myself in every aspect of our business, from product engineering and growth to recruitment and strategy – even down to arranging for a water cooler in the office."
What you focus on is less the day to day and week to week, and more on positioning the business for where it needs to be.
After leading a project with Yahoo! Japan last year that more than doubled the region's monthly visitors and revenue for Skyscanner, Colin was named Finance Director for the company on his return to the UK. More recently, he was promoted to the position of CFO and has again been applying his talents to the C-suite level.
Planning for the long-term presents the unique challenge of expecting and adapting to unpredictable circumstances. However, Colin notes this isn't necessarily a negative aspect of his role.
"There’s probably the assumption that the 'unexpected' is always a bad thing – systems breaking, people leaving and so on, but it can also be a good surprise, such as the business growing faster than had been forecast. That’s a nice thing to happen, but one which brings with it the challenge of scaling every part of the business quickly to cope with higher demand."
Read the full interview with Colin on CA Today.
Colin will be speaking at The ICAS Conference 2017, held in association with Investec Wealth & Investment. CA students receive a special discounted rate of £105pp on tickets for the event.
Get in touch
In today's blog, we revisit the process of computing corporation tax (CT) and offer some advice on how to grow your professional presence on LinkedIn. Also featured is a podcast from Bloomberg, offering insight into the influence of popular culture on the economy.
Writing professional articles is a great way to network, promote yourself and show off your area of expertise. LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to share knowledge and opinions with colleagues on a global scale but how do you make sure your message is visible?
Chart-topping music hits, along with other elements of popular culture, act as a litmus test for the mood and opinions of society as a whole. This information, with the right analysis, can prove invaluable in predicting the stock market.
Calculating the corporation tax (CT) liability of a company involves a number of steps. 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.