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.

September 2016

Thursday 29 Sept 2016

We stumbled across this very helpful page for anyone with international clients, detailing when the fiscal year runs to for each country. Kicking off in June for Australia, January in China, and December in Afghanistan, there’s even a printable infographic showing how these financial periods overlap.

In today’s blog we help you to get the most out of your TPE feedback sessions, and take a look at the plans to make tax digital. 

The HMRC move towards a fully digital tax system is thought to potentially revolutionise how we think about and process tax matters. Download our report courtesy of the Technical Resources team at ICAS.

And find out how the CA qualification led one of our former students to work for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and manage a £118m budget to build the Olympic village.

Making Tax Digital (MTD) - The view from ICAS

The Government vision for totally digital tax administration is a once-in-a-lifetime change. It will impact everyone interfacing with HMRC: practitioners, business, and the public, alike. It will revolutionise every aspect of the relationship between taxpayer and HMRC. It will change the way HMRC delivers its service, and impact the way personal and business tax records are kept...

Making the most out of your TPE feedback

During the TPE course, you will receive a face-to-face feedback session in relation to your mock 1 and mock 3 performances. These sessions are delivered by your mock marker and are entirely personal to you – find out how to make the most of your feedback.

£118m, 200 countries and 10,000 sporting individuals – all in a day’s work for Tom Warwick CA

Does planning a global event eagerly watched by the entire world seem like a daunting task? It’s exactly the challenge that Tom Warwick CA recently tackled as Program and Planning Manager for the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro.

Reminders: TC Students sitting the October diet

You will be issued candidate instructions w/c 3 Oct 2016. Students are asked to keep an eye out and respond to acknowledge the instructions.

Monday 26 Sept 2016

Sir Francis Drake finished his circumnavigation of the Earth today, in 1580, having begun over three years earlier.

He was the second person to complete the feat and the first to do so as a Captain. He was also the first to introduce piracy and privateering (maritime warfare by commission) to the west coast of America, which is perhaps the lesser salubrious accolade to achieve!

Despite almost £4m reward money being offered by King Philip II of Spain to ensure his capture, Drake went home to a hero’s welcome and obtained a heraldic achievement. His motto, Sic Parvis Magna, means “Thus great things from small things (come)”, which is a fitting motto for our own CA Students.

The individual elements of your qualification combine to create an open door to the wider world. Whatever your chosen sector, your experience and skills will bring forth multiple opportunities in the future!

In today’s landlubber blog we take a look at how bonds and Afin concepts work, courtesy of the BBC, and bring you tips for better business writing at TPE level. We also advise on how to get your digital files under control!

Six tips for better business writing at TPE

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

What are bonds and how do they work?

By tutor Jennifer Cloke: Students currently working their way towards their Afin exam will have been learning about bonds, the bond markets, and how both are used by various parties as a way of making deposits and receiving loans. This article from the BBC gives some great context to the notes and is well worth a read.

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, explained by Lauren O’Brien, TPS Level Controller.

How to control digital files

Have you ever felt like you’re drowning in digital files of endless ‘untitled’ documents or IMG5677… from three years ago? There are several methods to get your expanding desktop under control, including the ruthless ‘delete once actioned’ process, but here are our suggestions for keeping what you need, where you need it, and when you need it.

Thursday 22 Sept 2016

Happy birthday to our fellow educational resource, National Geographic! On this day in 1888, the first issue was published.

Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor went on to become the first full-time editor with the magazine in 1899 and transformed the publication to what we see today. He also managed to pick up the credit for being the ‘father of photojournalism’, after moving the text-oriented publication to pictorial-based.

It just goes to show that one determined individual can change the course of history, and we believe the same of our student CAs! In today's blog we speak with former ICAS student, Eleanor Burns, who went from SME accounting to joining the UN to audit complex global issues, for her advice and guidance for the next generation.

And if you’re feeling rushed off your feet and a little bit weak, check out our collection of quick-cook recipes for the busy CA student: your time is limited but the desire to stay fit and healthy probably isn’t!

Vlog: Tips for using tax legislation books for TPS

Your legislation books are about to become your friends, after viewing our video on how to use them!

Cooking for the Busy CA Student 

Our students are completing training contracts, which are essentially full-time jobs, as well as studying hard to pass exams and build knowledge. Performance coach Michael Altshuler once said, ‘The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot.' With that in mind, we’re continuing our series of time-saving tips to ensure you’re piloting your way to optimum success with mind and body.

Airplane audits and international experience: a CA with the UN

Alex Burden speaks to Eleanor Burns CA, an employee of the United Nations, on how her qualification with ICAS led to work with the well-known intergovernmental organisation promoting cooperation and peace. Find out how you can go from preparing financial accounts with a small firm to auditing airplane fuel for peacekeeping operations!

Monday 19 Sept 2016

Don’t know about you, but we’ve been counting down to this day: the arrival of longer tweets on Twitter!

We are still bound by 140 characters, but all those additions that decrease your limits, such as attachments, handles, quotes, and polls will no longer apply. There’s never been a better time to start a conversation, so get chatting with @ICAS_students or even invent your study group hashtag!

In today’s blog, we find out what business leaders have to say on career advice for young CAs and students and what tips they share.

Familiar with extended trial balances? If you’re not sure on how to prepare final accounts, read our step-by-step guide. After all that brushing up on key elements of the course, why not take some time to try methods on working to live rather than living to work – burnout is not an option for a happy, healthy student!

Video: Tips for young and future CAs

In this short video, experienced business leaders take the time to share their career advice and tips for young CAs and students.

How to prepare final accounts in FR

When making the step up from FA to FR, students often ask how they should go about preparing final accounts as this is not a skill they get a chance to develop in FA. We do expect students to prepare fairly detailed financial statements in FR. The best way to do this is using an extended trial balance (ETB). This method was briefly introduced during the FA course, but let's take a look at it in a bit more detail.

Work to live, not live to work

You’re studying to become an extraordinary CA, and you’re also working hard within your training firm to apply the knowledge and skills you have developed with ICAS. How well do you juggle competing priorities to avoid burnout? We’ve got simple tips to help reduce the stress.

A leader among CAs: Colin McLellan CA

Winner of the ICAS 35 CAs under 35 leadership category, Colin McLellan CA, talks to Eleanor O'Neill about moving abroad, becoming a leader, and his advice for furthering your career.

Thursday 15 Sept 2016

Those of you following the blog will have noticed our odd facts from history (and it’s amazing how many of them also connect to accountancy and tax!), but here’s an extraordinary one...

Today is the anniversary of the death of William Huskisson, who was the world’s first widely reported train casualty when he was run over and fatally wounded on 15 September 1830 by George Stephenson’s Rocket locomotive.

Prior to this history-making death, he also happened to be a financier, MP, and a British statesman, who played a strong part in relaxation of the corn-laws and went on to become Treasurer of the Navy and President of the Board of Trade. In 1823 he even convinced Tory merchants to adopt a free trade policy, and reformed shipping, import and manufacture duties. His story brings a new meaning to ‘death and taxes’!

Keeping on a - cheerier - financial road, we give you six tips for presenting financial data (something Huskisson may have performed as treasurer?), which is an important skill to have as a chartered accountant and for business in general.

Financial reporting students will enjoy our dedicated infographics, which also form a great reminder for those who have already sat TC.

Helping you tackle debits and credits

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.

What are the Books of Prime Entry?

The Books of Prime Entry allow us to capture raw financial data and process it, through a journal entry, into the financial information within the nominal ledger. In turn, we can create a trial balance and our final presentation of the financial statements.

Six tips for presenting financial data

Whether you are just starting out in your training contract, or have a bit more experience, presenting financial data to others will be part of your role. Here's how to present data in a clear and concise manner for clients and employers.

Q+A with Rimla Akhtar MBE CA

Rimla is an Inclusion & Diversity Consultant at RimJhim Consulting in London. She is the first Muslim woman to sit on the FA Council and is Chair of the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation. Her work spans from community groups, to the Government and as far afield as the US, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and across Europe. Find out more in our interview with One Young CA's winner, Rimla Akhtar.

Monday 12 Sept 2016

Well, what a week that was!

Our new students are getting settled in, and more than half of you have moved up to the next stage on your journey to success – there’s not long to go until you’re fully qualified and on course to become a #OneYoungCA.

Speaking of… the category winners, special award winners and overall winner were announced at a special dinner and ceremony on Wednesday, so read our CA Today news for all the info on who won and why!

Fiona Winter, one of our education directors, explains her role and the benefits of the CA qualification, and we’ve also got a Capital Allowances exam technique checklist for those who want to revisit or look ahead to how they can prepare for their exam.

And given that we frequently hear that our students like to stay fit, healthy and active, we’ve got together your ten-step guide to deskercise, with practical exercises you can try right now.

2016 One Young CA Winners

Rimla Akhtar MBE CA was announced as the winner of the 2016 ICAS One Young CA and 35 CAs under 35 awards, at the London CA Dinner last night. Rimla was distinguished from a pool of 35 exceptional finalists to be the best young CA representing ICAS and the chartered accountancy profession to the wider world.

Why I'm passionate about the CA qualification

Fiona Winter is Director of Development for CA Education; for our ‘Inside ICAS’ series, Fiona explains why she’s so passionate about the CA qualification, and what her role as an Education director entails – all the way from teaching classes to meeting with training firms to guarantee smooth delivery of your learning.

Capital Allowances Exam Technique Checklist

This handy checklist for Capital Allowances covers the method you should use when practicing capital allowances questions in an exam setting. Figure out if you’re dealing with a company or unincorporated trader, length of periods for computation and the assets to consider.

Deskercise your way to health

Have you calculated how much time you spend sitting down? In lessons, at work, in the car, on the bus, on the sofa, horizontally in bed – what would that number look like for you? Forget the worries and get on with deskercising your way to activity.

Thursday 8 Sept 2016

The bumper-pack of info for TC students is here!

Over September we are putting out dedicated content for new students at ICAS, and will explain how to make the transition from university style of learning to the Test of Competence subjects. TC Level Controller Joanne Lloyd-Jones guides us through the basics.

And if you aren’t sure about what is required to become a successful CA, we’ve put together an infographic on the key skills required.

Those of you who have already studied PAR might enjoy our back to basics guide, which also makes a great crib introduction to the process of auditing an entity.

Transitions: University to TC

TC Level Controller, Joanne Lloyd-Jones introduces the TC level for new students and discusses how to navigate the course to your best advantage. The Test of Competence (TC) is the first stage of the CA qualification, covering the fundamental technical skills in several business and accounting subjects.

The skills of a successful CA

Being a successful CA is about more than just having a good head for figures and knowing your way around a spreadsheet. Here at ICAS, we know that succeeding as a CA calls for a well-rounded set of business skills and personal attributes. This infographic takes a look at the components of a successful CA.

Back to Basics: Audit Risk

Have you got to grips with the Principles of Audit and Reporting (PAR)? Anna Cameron is the PAR Subject Controller. Here she takes us back to basics on audit risks to make sure you’re on PAR for success!

Monday 5 Sept 2016

In 1698, bearded men in Russia would have feared for their facial hair today; because Tsar Peter I of Russia imposed a tax upon beards to ‘modernise’ society.

If you were considered clergy or ‘peasantry’ you would have been lucky enough to escape the tax, and once paid, the taxed man was required to carry a copper or silver ‘beard token’ to demonstrate his payment (an early pre-cursor to displaying your car tax on the windshield!).

The penalty was graded towards humiliation rather than cushioning the country’s coffers (coiffeurs?), and failing to pay the tax resulted in public shaving. With that interesting fact in mind, welcome to everyone embarking on their tax course – this item from history will most definitely not be on the exam!

In today’s blog we hear from Sean Devine, an ICAS Foundation student who tells us about his experience of working in audit and tax services, and how our CA students can become the Foundation mentors of tomorrow. We also have important information for our new students on your first few days at ICAS and what you are expected to know if you are exempted from any subjects.

Happy reading folks!

Exemption info for TC 

Have you received an exemption from one or more subject at TC? We asked our tutors for their advice on what you are expected to know and how to revise previous materials, to gain success when this knowledge is called upon for later studies.

First time at ICAS

You will have received your class information by email, including on where it is located, what time it starts and what your course timetable looks like. Your class materials will be issued on the first day of each subject, so don’t worry about accessing them beforehand!

Supporting students into accountancy

ICAS Foundation student, Sean Devine, recently completed a four-week summer work experience placement with RSM UK, based in their Glasgow office. He tells ICAS about the opportunity to put his skills to use and sample a taste of working in audit, tax and consultation services. Find out how you can support a student into accountancy after qualification.

The voice of experience: tutors’ tips for success in your studies

Welcome to our new students! Studying to be a CA is not easy and, at times, it can be pretty tough. However, there is plenty of help at hand from your lecturers – some of whom were in your shoes not that long ago. Read out tutor tips for success in your studies.

Thursday 1 Sept 2016

One Young CA: Indy Hothi CA on passing the torch

The 2015 ICAS One Young CA Indy Hothi will present this year's award at the London CA Dinner next month. Indy is a well-known social activist and was selected to represent ICAS at the 2015 One Young World Summit in recognition of his dedication to affecting change. Speaking to CA Today, Indy reflected on his experience as ICAS One Young CA and shared some wisdom for the 2016 winner.

Money Monster review by Kit Millar

Ahead of the October DVD release of Money Monster, we speak to Kit Millar (tutor and resident theatre, festival and film buff) on this financial blockbuster that tackles investments gone awry.

The 2016 ICAS Summer BBQ 

The celebratory and successful ICAS BBQ was held in August to welcome new members and students who are on their way to becoming fully-fledged members. Congratulations to Ivan Rutherford, the champagne winner of our networking-themed bingo game. We look forward to seeing you all at the next event!

Pictured (left to right): Ivan Rutherford, Ellie Houghton, Alex Raybould and Jon Bradford.

Pictured: Kate Barekati and Easton Bilsborough

October 2016

Thursday 20 Oct 2016

Fancy footwork and exam techniques

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

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

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

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

Five tips for good TC exam technique

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

Working with clients: part 3

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

Rachel Corsie CA: Fancy footwork

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

Reminders for TPS students approaching new classes:

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

Monday 17 Oct 2016

Happy sales anniversary to the city of Dunkirk! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Know your NIC

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

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

Top five apps for CA Students

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

Thursday 13 Oct 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading! 

We live in the matrix…

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

Daniel Martin: The tools to progress your career

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

Cooking for the busy student pt 2

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

CA Career Conversations Birmingham

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

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

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

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

Reminders for TPS students approaching new classes:

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

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

Monday 10 Oct 2016

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

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

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

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

Brexit latest: What you need to know

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

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

Making the most out of your TPE feedback

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

TPE examination FAQ

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

Back to Basics: Costing Part 1 (TPS)

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

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

Reminders for TPS students approaching new classes:

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

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

Thursday 6 Oct 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside ICAS: What conflict?

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

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

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

Monday 3 Oct 2016

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

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

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

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

What is the Price Elasticity of Demand?

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

The Responsibilities of Directors – Back to Basics

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

A truly entrepreneurial CA: Joel Watt CA

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

Suffering from extreme FOMO?

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


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