Inside ICAS: Mark Allison - Quality through Education

Student writing on paper
Mark Allison By Mark Allison, Executive Director, Education

9 November 2015

Mark Allison, ICAS Executive Director, Education explains his role at ICAS and the high standards behind a CA qualification.

A few years ago we were teaching an introductory accounting class and feeding back results of a mock exam. The class had done particularly poorly. One student, with a straight face, announced that it was not possible for him and the rest of the class to have done so poorly as they had all been on a firm’s internal training course where they had been told every day, to the soundtrack of Tina Turner, that they were “Simply the Best”.

ICAS is world-class – but how do we prove it?

If you read corporate strategy documents, including ICAS straplines, you will see much use made of superlatives. Can ICAS really claim that the CA Qualification is world-class, gold standard, premium, excellent or indeed “Simply the Best”?

ICAS has 20,000 members who work in over 100 countries and much of the activity of the ICAS Boards, Committees and Executive Team is based around the maintenance of quality. To ensure high standards of quality ICAS needs benchmarks to measure against.

My role as Executive Director of Education

One of the principal responsibilities I have as Executive Director, is to ensure that the CA qualification is benchmarked against and meets or exceeds all reasonable comparable standards. Firstly I need to find these standards, and then to ensure that the benchmarking is thorough and objective.

This is important because the CA qualification needs to travel with you, as future members, to wherever your career takes you. It would be distinctly unhelpful for you to arrive for a new job in Berlin, Hong Kong, or Toronto and find that the qualification you had worked so hard to achieve, was not recognised.

A commitment to quality

Over the years we have developed our understanding of what it means to be able to claim high quality standards. At the simplest level this revolves around the number of reviews and checks on technical material. And sometimes we have not made enough of those checks and annoying errors appear.

On the wider scale, however, we are one of the few Institutes in the world that reviews and changes its syllabus every year. We also update the underlying teaching materials and exams annually as well. This makes the content and assessment of the CA qualification current - not something that all Institutes can claim.

Some years ago ICAS brought in the position of lay members to monitor the activities of boards and committees. These individuals are independent of the staff, and the members, and cast their professional oversight on what we all do. A simple application of Good Corporate Governance practice perhaps, but also an opportunity for ICAS to learn from the best practices existing in other arenas.

Independent recognition

We took this approach further in 2013 by becoming a credit rating and awarding body on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). This puts the CA qualification, and its component parts, on a footing with other qualifications that you already have. To achieve recognition on the SCQF requires quality assurance procedures, with independence and objectivity in areas that caused ICAS to review and refine our processes. Look around and you will not find many other professional accountancy bodies having their qualification recognised on an independent national qualification framework.

Defining standards for the profession

Further afield in Europe, ICAS, and I was there as they say, was a founding member of the European Common Content Project. This provides a benchmark standard around Europe for professional accountancy qualifications incorporating bodies in Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, England, Ireland and Scotland. An ICAS view in such an initiative was not to accept a standard set by others but to take a leading part and to define the standard. That is something we still do 14 years later. We hope in the near future to expand this group to other European countries.

And it’s not just in Europe. Throughout the world we have a number of reciprocity agreements. These mean that the CA qualification is recognised formally by an Institute (and in some cases a government). To achieve such reciprocal agreements requires the setting up of an initial benchmark, and the measuring of a qualification against it. We have always taken a leading part in developing the benchmark then ensuring that the CA qualification matches it and in holding others to account to ensure their qualifications achieve the agreed standard.

And on other stages too we ensure we meet appropriate benchmarks. The UK Government through the Financial Reporting Council annually audits our qualification against the requirements of the Companies Act. The worldwide body of accountants, IFAC, regularly reviews the CA qualification against International Education Standards. One of my proudest achievements was, as Chairman of the International Accounting Education Standards Board, guiding the rewrite of those standards.

Simply the best? – well, quite probably, yes.

February 2018

Monday 19 February: Are you saving for retirement?

The likelihood of younger generations having a comfortable amount of savings to fall back on in retirement is concerningly low.

The consensus is that young people just aren't saving and rely heavily on their pension to provide an income when they get older. Generally, this isn't enough.

Auto-enrolment in pension schemes has led to a rise in workers having a safety net for retirement. In 2016, 78% of eligible employees were enrolled in a workplace pension, up from just 55% in 2012.

However, while this is good news overall, it is estimated that people need a minimum of 70% of their current income to sustain them comfortably in their twilight years and research from Aon has suggested that most members of a direct contribution pension scheme will be £1,400 a year short upon retiring.

In an interview with the BBC's Business Daily podcast, behavioural economist Dan Ariely emphasises the importance of starting to save as early as possible and offers some practical advice.

Listen to the full podcast now.

Get in touch

Do you think you save as much as you need to? What prevents long-term financial planning for young people? Tell us by emailing or tweet @ICAS_students.

In today's blog, we cover the second part of what you need to know about costing and look at how partial exemption comes into play for TPS students. We also examine the Bitcoin market and what ethical dilemmas it presents.

Back to basics: The joys of costing pt 2

In the second part of our back to basics on costing, we delve into the other types of costing methods that are available to businesses (and explained in the CA qualification). This is a helpful look at methodologies whether you are beginning your business management TC studies, or if you just need a refresh.

The ethics of mining Bitcoin

Exactly how fair is the cryptocurrency market? Is it heavily weighted in favour of those with mining resources? We explore the ethics of mining Bitcoin.

Back to basics: Partial Exemption for TPS

Do you know how to allocate residual input tax for a business? We get back to basics on calculating partial exemption for TPS level. What you will get from this:

  • An explanation of what partial exemption means.
  • An illustration of how the rules work.
  • An outline of the de minimis calculation.

Thursday 15 February: New rules on currency manipulation

Seven European central banks, including the Bank of England, have committed to a new code of conduct designed to prevent currency manipulations.

The FX Global Code is a product of the Global Foreign Exchange Committee and outlines the principles of good practice for participants in the foreign exchange marketplace. It has been established to reassure the public's confidence in central banking bodies after the currency-rigging scandal of 2014.

Current signatories include:

  • Bank of England
  • Bank of Spain
  • Central Bank of Cyprus
  • Czech National Bank
  • National Bank of Austria
  • National Bank of Poland
  • National Bank of Romania

Dave Ramsden, Deputy Governor for Markets and Banking and the Bank of England, said in a statement: “The Bank is strongly committed to supporting and promoting adherence to these codes. We are leading by example in publishing our Statements of Commitment today and will also expect regular counterparties to commit to embedding these principles of good practice in their market activities. Fair, transparent and robust markets, underpinned by high standards, benefit all participants.”

Get in touch

Do you think the FX Global Code is a step in the right direction? Should it be underpinned by regulation? Email your opinion to or share your thoughts @ICAS_students on Twitter.

In today's blog, we are encouraging you to nominate the young CAs (and soon-to-be CAs!) that you feel are representing the ICAS standard of excellence in their work. We also return to the basics of costing and help you evaluate your current career trajectory.

Why you should nominate a Young CA

The ICAS Top 100 Young CAs competition, held in association with Investec Click & Invest, celebrates our brightest young members. Some of 2017's 35 CAs under 35 share why you should nominate the CAs in your network.

Back to Basics: The Joys of Costing Part 1 

There are several topics that are 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.

Is your career on a fast track?

Some people can struggle to self-evaluate their progress at work. How do you know if you're doing a good job? Are you on track to get that bonus? Here are three sure-fire signs that you are fast-tracking your career.

Monday 12 February: Seeing the whole picture

Tutor Chris Cunnane invites TPE students to consider the circumstances around failing businesses and how to spot trouble before things go bust.

When companies fail, members of the public and even some inside the business are often surprised by the seemingly sudden change of fortune. However, there are usually signs of trouble years ahead of time that CAs may be expected to pick up on.

Chris explained: "It is important to demonstrate that you can see the business, not just the numbers. TPE will test your commercial skills as well as your technical skills."

For example, this useful article from the BBC explains the warning signs that construction company Carillion was in trouble. There are four main points:

  • High margins were 'too good to be true'.
  • Late payments to suppliers.
  • Hidden debts.
  • The expected impact of IFRS 15.

These factors show where a healthy professional scepticism may have tipped off anyone watching closely enough to what was about to happen at the company.

Get in touch

Do you think Carillion's collapse could have been predicted sooner? How would you apply your skills to find the best course of action? Tweet us @ICAS_students or email to share your thoughts.

In today's blog, we look at how to manage the impact of negative brand publicity and highlight the available resources for ITP students - very handy in the lead up to Level 2 exams in April this year. We also give you our top tips for beating after-lunch fatigue in the office without touching a drop of caffeine.

Why chocolate puns matter to TPE and TC students

“All publicity is good publicity” - it’s a phrase that’s often used, but it doesn’t always hold true. Find out why chocolate puns and product recall are important to TC and TPE students.

Stay energised at work (without caffeine!)

The afternoon slump plagues office environments around the world. If you find yourself fatigued, unfocused or demotivated after lunch, try some of these quick and easy solutions - coffee not included!

Your ITP study resources in one place

Some of you are currently studying towards your ITP (ICAS Tax Professional) Level 2 exams in April this year. We wanted to remind you about the number of resources that are available to you as you get stuck into your tax books.

Thursday 8 February: Can diversity drive innovation?

Do innovative solutions and processes for business rely on creating an environment for new ideas?

Ahead of Innovation Day on 16 Feb, we look to an exciting Ted Talk on the power of diversity and how ideas can be influenced by the breadth of voices in a discussion.

Rocío Lorenzo explains how a study of 171 companies showed a clear correlation between innovation and diversity, and you could lead in the space too!

If you have recently watched an interesting video that you think should be shared with fellow students, be sure to use our details below to get in touch and share the knowledge.

Watch the video

Get in touch

Do you think you have a diversity of opinions at work? How does it help your organisation innovate for success? Tweet us at @ICAS_students or get in touch via

In today's blog, ICAS Director of Insolvency, David Menzies explains what you need to know for GDPR regulations: the way firms handle data is about to change forever, and every business needs to start adopting appropriate measures. We also meet new ICAS tutor Emma Tollan and tell you how to get involved with the Top 100 Young CAs.

Tutor profile: Emma Tollan

Tutor Emma Tollan teaches ABS and PAR subjects and here she takes the time to explain why accountancy and teaching has always been close to her heart, and what opportunities are to be found on a training contract.

What you should know about GDPR

With under five months remaining until the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) come into effect in the UK on 25 May 2018, David Menzies looks at how firms can be preparing for GDPR and how ICAS will provide support in this area.

Five top tips for nominating a Young CA

Do you want to recognise a CA for the ICAS Top 100 Young CAs competition, held in association with Investec Click & Invest? We have five tips for stand-out nominations.

Monday 5 February: The essential task of finance reviews

Do you have an interest-only mortgage? The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has voiced concerns that a fifth of UK mortgage borrowers are risking their homes if they have not arranged a capital repayment plan.

Jonathan Davidson, the FCA's Executive Director of Supervision - Retail & Authorisations, said: "We know that many customers remain reluctant to contact their lender to discuss their interest-only mortgage for a variety of reasons.

"We are very clear that people should talk to their lender as early as possible as this will give them more options when it comes to the next steps they can take. We are encouraged to see that lenders have taken positive steps to engage with and help their interest-only customers.

"However, as the number of maturities start to increase towards 2032, it is important that lenders take time to review and, where possible, improve, their own strategies."

A healthy financial life includes regular reviews of finances, including payment plans, so if you are currently sitting on an interest-only plan then it's a great idea to book a chat with an advisor.

If you are paying both interest and capital, then don't forget to revisit your mortgage advisor when any fixed rate terms come to an end - it could mean a saving and paying off your mortgage on a quicker basis!

Get in touch

Do you undertake regular health checks of your finances? We want to hear your tips and guidance to share with other students and CAs. Send them to @ICAS_students or email and we'll feature your advice!

In today's blog we start the admission ceremony countdown, when we look forward to welcoming our new fully-qualified members to the CA family! To help you prepare we've made a checklist of what you need to do to ensure you're part of this special day.

For those of you at TPS level, we also have materials to help, including the last part of our back to basics on materiality, this time looking at thresholds during audit engagement, and an introduction to using the TPS examiner report.

Back to Basics: Materiality Thresholds

Are you comfortable with the basics of establishing materiality in audits? In the conclusion of our Materiality Back to Basics articles, we look at other thresholds used during the course of the audit engagement.

2018 Admission Ceremony Countdown

We have started our countdown to the 2018 ICAS Admission Ceremony, held on 17 March in Edinburgh, and with less than six weeks to go it's time to checklist entry requirements!

How to use the TPS examiner report to your advantage

Find out what materials and feedback are available for retakes, and how the examiner’s report is used.

Thursday 1 February: Are you too smart to be scammed?

Have you ever had a suspicious email claiming to be from your bank? Do you think you could spot a fraudulent text alert? Apparently, only 9% of British people can.

Research from a Home Office-backed anti-fraud campaign found that just 9% of surveyed respondents could correctly identify real and scam messages from a group of examples. The Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign is concerned that people consider themselves "too smart to be scammed" and are therefore not taking necessary precautions.

Phishing is one of the most common types of financial and identity fraud schemes currently affecting the UK. Usually, an email or text message that appears to come from your bank, building society, or another company that holds your personal data will ask you to follow a link or reply to confirm your details. Scammers will then use that information to access your finances and pretend to be you.

The campaign offers three main pieces of advice:

  1. Never trust a message that asks for your PIN, full password, or for you to move money out of your own account.
  2. Don't click direct links in emails - always visit your bank's site via a browser and address you trust.
  3. If you are asked for personal information, contact the supposed sender directly through a known email or phone number.

Other indicators of a fake message can be poor grammar or spelling, a non-company email address, a strange area code phone number, and unexpected claims like 'you have been locked out of your account'.

You can test your knowledge by reviewing the examples from the campaign's survey yourself.

Take the quiz

Get in touch

Have you ever been phished? Do you think you may be at risk? Tell us @ICAS_students or email

In today's blog, we have a handy checklist on covering methodology for capital allowances, which appears in all three levels of the CA qualification. And the knowledge you acquire as a CA is a powerful tool, but how should you use it? What are the moral issues you need to consider? We examine how to appropriately apply your skills. And finally, if you are resitting a TPS exam, we have a great guide on what you need to know by TPS level controller, Lauren O'Brien.

Capital allowances exam technique checklist

Capital allowances can come up in the TC, TPS and TPE exams. This handy checklist covers the method you should use when practicing capital allowances questions in an exam setting.

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 should you morally use your CA knowledge?

CAs have powerful knowledge at their fingertips, but conundrums can present themselves when asked to use that knowledge for unethical activities. We discuss how to appropriately apply your skills.

January 2018

Monday 29 January: Maybe it's aliens

If you're a budding entrepreneur then you probably fill out a self-assessment tax return - and you'll know that the deadline for your online submission is fast approaching - in two days' time in fact!

In the run-up to deadline day when the less-organised are busy searching down the back of the sofa for that missing invoice (we're sure any of our CA Students who need to submit a return will have done so promptly and with perfection using their tax skills), we take a look at some of the strangest excuses given to HMRC for delays. When you are working in practice or managing client tax returns in the future, it's important to recognise the truth from the lies:

  • Those familiar with the History channel's Giorgio Tsoukalos will recognise this common excuse: Aliens! One man behind on his return suggested he couldn't get access to his house to submit his form because his wife was busy seeing aliens.
  • Unable to climb stairs to reach the return due to vertigo.
  • "My business doesn't really do anything." No, we have no idea either.
  • It's covered in coffee. A simple solution would be transferring to online submissions.
  • It can be difficult to complete a return when you're so busy with work, but maybe more so when you are just a one-man play touring the country, as one person suggested.

Aside from late returns, HMRC also question the questionable expenses - including birthday drinks at a nightclub, over £1000 for sausages and chips, vet fees and a sofa for a partner to sit on when accounts were being filed.

Which have prepared this handy infographic outlining the fines levied for late returns, but we look forward to one detailing acceptable meat expenses:

Get in touch

What logic would you apply to discerning the fake from the correct when scrutinising a client tax return? Let us know at or @ICAS_students.

In today's blog, get the information you need about the Assurance and Business Systems feedback service, and why it's important to make the most out of this support if you did not pass your exam. We also continue our Back to Basics on materiality, this time looking at overall versus performance materiality. Networking events will certainly be at least a yearly occurrence for any CA, but how can you win at these? We have advice on how to use them to your advantage.

Help for re-sitting 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!

Back to basics: Overall versus performance materiality 

In reaching an opinion on financial statements, auditors assess whether there are any material misstatements. In this second of three Back to Basics articles on materiality we examine the differences between and performance materiality.

How to win at networking events

Love them or hate them, the networking event is unavoidable in the modern working world. We can all survive them, but what about using them to your advantage? Check out our useful advice.

Thursday 25 January: Advanced finance lessons from real business cases

One story which hit the news over the Christmas break would have resonated with students, particularly those who had sat their Advanced Finance exam a few days earlier! Tutor Jennifer Cloke explains.

In late December, Toys R Us announced they were insolvent and proposed using a Company Voluntary Arrangement (‘CVA’) to repair their finances. As discussed in this article by the Telegraph, Toys R Us were required to get the approval of 75% of their creditors for the CVA to go ahead and would have likely needed to convert to administration proceedings had it failed.

This was all hinging on the approval of the Pension Protection Fund and, a few days after this article was written, a deal was agreed at the 11th hour. The result was that, although there will be some store closures and job losses, the business will be able to continue trading. The Advanced Finance course discussed this route and other insolvency proceedings which companies can use when they are struggling financially.

Get in touch

Can you think of any similar business cases which apply what you have learned in AF? Send us your short summaries to or tweet at @ICAS_students and we'll feature them on the blog!

In today's blog, we go over the checklist of five key steps to calculate corporation tax liability, and ask you to nominate those stand-out colleagues or friends who should be noted by the CA community as a top 100 Young CA. The winner could be sitting beside you, or helping you on your journey through qualification!

We also take a fun look at how predictions for finance and business have stood the test of time - including some fairly strange predictions about what item of clothing futurists thought we should be eating! Although as today is Burns' night, then it might be safer to sit down to some haggis rather than a pair of socks.

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.

Business and finance predictions: then and now

Past generations imagined the 21st century in a myriad of ways, from a haven of plastic to a robotic metal world, and thought leaders continue to predict what lies ahead. How have the predictions for business and finance fared over the years?

Nominate a colleague for ICAS Top 100 Young CAs 

Do you work with someone you think should be nominated for our top 100 Young CAs? Launched at last week’s ICAS Winter Social event in London, the competition follows on from the immense success of the 35 CAs under 35 initiative in recent years and aims to expand our reach in rewarding the achievements of young CAs.

Monday 22 January: ITP announcement: April 2018 exam

For those studying towards the April 2018 exam (as a first attempt) you will now have received your notes for Phase 1 of your learning and the first pack of Bridging Questions.

You will receive the materials for Phase 2 shortly and should contact with any queries on this.

If you are preparing to sit the April 2018 exam as a resit, there are plenty of resources available to help you to prepare for this.

The resources include a free update pack to allow you to update your knowledge from your original notes, taking account of any changes in legislation and syllabus. You can also download a new rates sheet and Professional Conduct booklet, both of which can be taken into the exam.

To prepare fully for the exam you should be revisiting topics which you found difficult and completing as many questions as you can. You can purchase access to online lectures, fresh material, revision packs and marking of tests to help you with this. If you are working towards the April exam you should be accessing these materials as soon as possible. Remember that you can contact us at if you have any questions and the subject controllers are always happy to hear from you with any queries.

Get in touch

Do you have any advice for the ITP exam? Is there anything you would like to know more about? Tell us @ICAS_students on Twitter or email

In today's blog we give you some advice on how to handle a new role at work, give a general overview of 'materiality' for PAR, and explain note periods in business law.

Back to Basics: Materiality introduction

Materiality is a fundamental concept of the audit process. In reaching an opinion on the financial statements, auditors assess whether there are any material misstatements. This is the first of three back to basics articles looking at materiality and provides an overall introduction of materiality and its purpose for the audit engagement.

Preparing for a new role

As the ICAS Admission Ceremony 2018 draws closer, you may be anticipating taking on a new role or more responsibility within your organisation as a fully-fledged CA. We've put together advice to help you prepare.

Notice period conundrums

A notice period conundrum cropped up for one of our students, so our Business Law tutor Amanda McKenzie is on hand with the answers.

Thursday 18 January: What shape will VAT take after Brexit?

Chris Cunnane, TPS Tax Subject Controller explains that a recent BBC article highlights the fact that the VAT treatment of goods purchased from EU member states will change after Brexit:

This is highlighted in the cross-border section of the TPS Tax VAT module. As the law currently stands, when a VAT registered business purchases goods from another EU member state (an acquisition), there is no VAT impact. The goods are zero-rated for VAT.

The UK trader will charge themselves output VAT on their next VAT return and usually be able to recover the output VAT as input VAT on the same return. This is a paper transaction with no cash flow impact. If a trader imports goods from outside the EU, there is a cashflow impact.

Import VAT (and Customs Duty) is payable when the goods arrive in the UK. The import VAT is recoverable on the trader’s next VAT return, if the goods are going to be used to make a taxable supply.

Next time you're thinking about real-life examples of tax modules, it's a great idea to scan the news for tangible applications!

Get in touch

Don't forget that you can contact us at the blog whenever you want, simply let us know on Twitter @ICAS_students or email

In today's blog we look at predictions around legislation, AI and future international relationships for those of you thinking of working abroad after qualification, and we decode the new Criminal Finances Act 2017 - new legislation is now in place and it's important to know how to properly apply your knowledge. We also visit the key indicators for a productive firm, and what you can do to contribute.

Back to basics: Criminal Finances Act 2017

Are you familiar with the Criminal Finances Act 2017? The new act creates corporate criminal offences of failing to prevent the facilitation of UK and foreign tax evasion. Find out how to stay on the right side of the law as a CA.

What makes a firm productive?

After a year of headlines drawing attention to the UK's declining productivity levels, the latest reports from the Office for National Statistics show professional and financial services bucking the trend. Is digital transformation giving firms an advantage?

2018 predictions from ICAS

What are you anticipating from 2018? A clearer Brexit? Stringent regulations? The ICAS Executive Team are looking to the future for what the next 12 months may hold for the accountancy and finance professions.

Monday 15 January: Why did businesses swap from production-led to consumer-led models?

'The customer is always right.' We've all heard this nugget of business philosophy and, regardless of whether it is necessarily right, we undeniably live in a world dictated by the consumer.

In another edition of the BBC's 50 Things That Made The Modern Economy podcast, presenter Tim Harford investigates why industry and business switched their models from production-led supply to consumer-led demand.

Charles Coolidge Parlin, thought to be the first proponent of market research, noted as early as 1914 that retailers had to change their thinking from what they think they can do to what the customer wants. The US car industry, for example, would continue to struggle with demand unless they took a risk and produced more vehicles than they could immediately sell.

Now, market research is a huge industry in and of itself, and no business would think of launching a new product without conducting a consumer evaluation. TC students learn about Marketing and Pricing Strategies in BM, with reference to using market research to ascertain customer demand and pricing decisions. Revisit module 9 for more info, and check out this podcast for some great background as to how today's marketing approach evolved.

Listen now on the BBC iPlayer Radio or download for free on iTunes.

Get in touch

What do you want to see on the CA Student Blog in 2018? Let us know on Twitter @ICAS_students or email

In today's blog, your tutors get back to basics on PAYE formulas and understanding deductions, and we look at the panic buying of Irn-Bru and what this has to do with TC business management. We've also made a handy infographic to help you get your desk in order and bring productive zen to your life!

Back to Basics: Understanding PAYE deductions

Following the festive season, we go back to basics on understanding pay packet deductions, at a time when most people are looking for ways to tighten their purse strings. A useful skill for all employees, we explore the process as covered in Principles of Tax.

Five things you need on your desk right now

Can a few small changes to your desk improve your productivity? Browse our infographic for ideas to brighten up your workspace and keep your mind on track.

Panic buying: why a new fizz tizz is about business management

There was one BBC News story on 4 January that made Business Management subject controller and TPE lecturer Lauren O’Brien smile; the panic buying of fizzy juice. The concepts of supply and demand are covered in TC finance, so find out what has prompted this unusual behaviour!

Thursday 11 January: The business issues you won't learn about

Did you read our ten weirdest business stories from 2017? There is more to risk management than ensuring smooth supply chains and accounting for natural wastage - these following businesses were hit by odd issues that most CAs would find hard to predict!

In October 2017, a leopard halted production at India’s Maruti Suzuki plant

In a strange turn of events, a leopard entered India's largest car manufacturing plant for 36 hours in early October, causing the plant to temporarily cease production and enlist Jurassic Park style tactics to lure the beast. After filling cages with live goats and pushing them into the Manesar factory (as well as a failed attempt with crackers), the wildlife department managed to tranquilise and safely remove the car-keen cat. In total, the plant - which usually produces 5,000 petrol and diesel engines every day - lost tens of thousands in labour hours and revenue.

In November, a broadband company discovered their broadband profits were being munched

The $36bn broadband network in Australia was under attack from cockatoos who have taken a liking to chewing the cabling. In total, the cost of repairing steel-braid wires has resulted in an $80,000 bill for NBN Co, and could rise as the network roll-out continues into 2021. Gisela Kaplan, animal behaviour professor at the University of New England reported to Reuters: “Cockatoos usually go for wood, or strip the bark off trees. They don’t usually go for cables. But it might be the color or the position of the cables that’s attracted them.”

Get in touch

Are you nearing the end of your qualification with ICAS? Now is the time to start raising your profile in the global community, so why not start with contributions to the Student Blog? Whatever you would like to write an article about, don't hesitate to get in touch on Twitter @ICAS_students or email, and we'll put you in the spotlight!

In today's blog, we help get you prepared for moving up to TPE with important info on dates to note and where to find briefing updates. We also look at the new year's resolutions to adopt as a CA student and outline when students should consider asking for help (hint: whenever you need it!).

Eight new year resolutions for CA students

Fresh out of ideas for your New Year's resolutions? Here are eight targets for CA students to meet in 2018.

When students should ask for help

The pace is fast and the subject matter complex when you’re training to be a CA. However, if you feel you’re struggling, there are a few steps you can take to get back on track.

Preparing for TPE

Are you starting TPE this year? A new briefing will be available from 22 Jan, outlining the key changes taking place with exams and course materials. The TPE May exam is sat under the 2018 syllabus, so be sure to read the briefing - updated material will be available from 29 Jan within your CABLE workspace. In the meantime, get to grips with the changes of moving from TPS to TPE with this great article by TPE level Controller Cat Devaney.

Monday 8 January: New year, new bank account?

Thinking of switching your current account? New rules from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) should make it easier to find the best deal.

Banks and other providers of personal and business current accounts will soon be required to publish not only practical details of their processes but also how secure and customer-friendly they are.

The FCA measures come after a consultation on whether consumers were able to make informed decisions about their finances. It is hoped that by making this information more widely available, quality of service and competition within the market will improve.

Under the new rules, prospective customers will have access to:

  • contact details and opening hours for services and helplines
  • how long it takes to open a current account
  • how long it takes to have a debit card replaced
  • the number of major security incidents reported
  • the number of customer complaints

Christopher Woolard, Executive Director of Strategy and Competition, said: “We want to see current account providers competing hard for their customers’ business by offering better service, alongside competition on interest and charges. These rules will help people see how their bank compares to others so they can choose an account that suits their needs."

The FCA's decision has been welcomed by the Building Society Association (BSA) and UK Finance as a positive move for vulnerable customers who require additional support from their account provider.

Get in touch

Is this a good thing for consumers? What will this mean for banks? Share your thoughts on Twitter @ICAS_students or email

In today's blog, we look forward to welcoming you at the ICAS Winter Social on 11 Jan, check out five essential student tips for the new year, and explain how being a positive force in the office could boost your career prospects.

Pluses of positivity

A positive work environment has a proven measurable impact on improving productivity, creativity and motivation. But what can you do as an individual to positively influence your career?

Join us at the ICAS Winter Social this Thursday

The ICAS Winter Social, bringing CAs and students together for an evening of networking and conversation, takes place on 11 January 2018 at the Trapeze Bar in London. Please note: If you are a new student and interested in attending, please register by emailing Jess Date We hope to see you there!

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.


  • CA Student blog

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