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.

July 2017

Monday 24 July: New money, old faces

The next step for plastic banknotes in the UK has been revealed as the new £10 note featuring beloved literary figure Jane Austen.

Following the successful integration of the polymer £5 earlier this year, the £10 is also getting an upgrade to a more durable material.

The Pride and Prejudice author is the first female writer to appear on Bank of England currency. Other famous wordsmiths such as William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens, have been popular additions to the gallery of historical figures featuring on UK money in the past.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney introduced the new note at Winchester Cathedral last week. He said: “Our banknotes serve as repositories of the country’s collective memory, promoting awareness of the United Kingdom’s glorious history and highlighting the contributions of its greatest citizens.

“The new £10 will be printed on polymer, making it safer, stronger and cleaner. The note will also include a new tactile feature on the £10 to help the visually impaired, ensuring the nation’s money is as inclusive as possible.”

Jane Austen note

(Image courtesy of Bank of England: Flickr.)

The Austen note will make its debut into circulation on 14 September 2017, with the paper £10 being phased out early next year. A polymer £20 banknote depicting artist J.M.W. Turner is the next planned replacement, due to be rolled out by 2020.

The Bank of England has launched a website dedicated to everything you need to know about 'The New Ten'.


Get in touch

Who do you want to see on your money in the future? Can you think of a CA deserving of the honour? Get in touch with studentblog@icas.com or tweet us @ICAS_students.


In today's blog, we look at one of the new taxes that could come into effect within the next few years. We also cover the skills that are important to our future career and how to make a good impression where you are now.

The 'tech tax': What you need to know

A levy on social media companies and potentially for the wider online and technology industry is one of the more controversial proposals put forward in the Conservative Party manifesto. 

5 tips to make a good impression on your training contract

The beginning of your training contract can be a daunting time, with so much to learn and lots of new faces to meet. Making a great first impression isn’t down to luck, as there are lots of things you can do to ensure you get off to a great start.

5 soft skills you need to prioritise

Last year, research from YouGov for Huthwaite International showed that leading business decision makers consider personal qualities and soft skills to be key in a successful career. Here are the five areas you should work on in order to advance.


Thursday 20 July: Raise your profile in work

Are you seeking to raise your profile with your training contract employer and the wider CA network? 

A professional social media account can work wonders for promoting your talents and knowledge to a wider audience and can negate the need for spring-cleaning your existing personal account. After all, what was said in 2014 can stay in 2014!

Here are our six golden rules for creating and managing a professional showcase account. 

1. Determine whether any current social media accounts can be tweaked for a professional basis.

Be sure to add your professional website or affiliations, and apply to have your account verified for an added stamp of authenticity.

2. Choose your platform. 

The Next Web has produced a guide to choosing your platform for maximum impact - it really depends on how much time you can realistically dedicate to cultivating your online presence, and what audience you wish to reach.

3. Identify your key influencers.

Those working in your industry or managing a healthy presence of followers who regularly interact are prime candidates for influencers. It really is a 'game' of follow the leader!

4. Like for like.

These are the unspoken rules of social media! Expand your reach of social media posts and get them in front of the people who need to read them (future supporters, employers, allies, purchasers, customers and so on). 

5. Choose your content.

Ask questions of your network, retweet interesting papers, comment on articles. Single out your interests and what you can make meaningful contributions to - you can position yourself as an expert with enough concise and relevant input into a topic, and become the 'go-to' for commentary on topics of the day.

6. Tend to it like a garden!

Social media constantly needs to be fed with new information, and if you aren't feeding it, then someone else will.  A busy feed is a visited feed!

Read the full article to get started on your new promotional tool!


Get Involved

We've got a new bunch of a fantastic contributors signed up to the blog, who will be commenting on issues or writing articles from time to time. If you want to get involved, email studentblog@icas.com or reach us on Twitter @ICAS_students.


In today's blog, we're getting obsessed with words and how you use them, from picking up extra marks in ABS to decoding commonly misused words and how we apply them in everyday contexts.

Diversity: buzzword vs reality

Words repeated over and over as business terms can soon begin to lose their meaning. They become 'buzzwords' that, while sounding impressive, have little impact. Has the term 'diversity' suffered this fate?

Common malapropisms: Are you saying that right?

Every once in a while, we are all guilty of a bit of malapropism. This simply translates as using an incorrect word that sounds similar to the one you intended... is it change tact or change tack? 

Top ten tips for ABS

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.


Monday 17 July: We're feeling (summer) social!

On 3 August in London, the ICAS student committee is hosting an exclusive summer social for our CA Students and newly qualified members. 

Here's your chance to grab some drinks in the sun and swap contacts and knowledge with people in your field, and what's more it's free! 

We know you’re interested in meeting CAs who are the ‘ones to watch’ in their respective fields. Rising stars who stand out thanks to their ambition, their curiosity and their drive to succeed. 

To help you have the right conversations with the right people, we’ve invited along a number of emerging CA leaders who are working in key areas of interest.

These include representatives from financial services, banking, innovation, sustainability, entrepreneurship and technology. They’ll be on hand to share their experiences over a drink or two at this informal networking event.

This event is extremely popular and has a limited number of places available, so book your place now! This year our venue is the beautiful outdoor decked terrace at Browns Bar on Butlers Wharf.

Book now


Get in touch

What are your plans for the summer? Will you be joining us for the summer social? Send us your photos and stories to studentblog@icas.com or reach us on Twitter @ICAS_students.


In today's blog, we turn our attentions to the music that can help you build neural pathways and aid recollection of information - handy for exams and committing the complex aspects of the CA qualification to long-term memory!

We also look at the proposed sugar tax for 2018 and how tax legislation can help fight health problems, and catch up with tutor Matthew Hall who worked across in secondary school teaching, recruitment, lifeguarding and hotel waiting before deciding that the CA was for him, and training the next generation at ICAS became a life goal.

Music to study by

Do you prefer to study with the only noise being your own breath or dropping pins? Or do you prefer a bit of background to break up the monotony? Depending on your learning style, music can be very helpful for learning new ideas and committing them to memory.

Tutor profile: Matthew Hall 

Matthew Hall CA fills us in on how a varied career never really strayed far from a love of teaching. Find out how being a CA has impacted his life.

A sugar tax for health?

The Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) comes into effect from April 2018, taxing the amount of sugar that drinks manufacturers use in their products. What are the implications for business, health and your favourite sweet treats?


Thursday 13 July: Music while you study?

A lot of people find it easier to study with a certain playlist or favourite album playing in the background. But what does your preferred music say about your personality?

The Short Test of Musical Preferences (STOMP) is a psychological tool that can be used to link personality traits with musical taste. 

It works by rating your preferences on a 14-point scale that indicates which genres appeal most to you. Certain mindsets and behaviours are more common among people on various points of the scale.

For example:

  • 'Reflective and Complex' music (i.e. blues, classical, folk and jazz) shows that you are likely a very logical person who values intelligence and likes new experiences.
  • 'Intense and Rebellious' music (i.e. alternative, heavy metal and rock) indicates a surprisingly similar personality to classical music lovers with the exception of being generally more athletic and interested in sports.
  • 'Upbeat and Conventional' music (i.e. country, pop, religious and soundtracks) preferences suggest an extroverted and friendly person with a positive self-image.
  • 'Energetic and Rhythmic' music (i.e. electronic, rap, hip hop and soul) is popular among athletes, the politically liberal and those who consider themselves agreeable.

To find out where your preferences lie, give each of the genres below a score out of seven and find the average for the categories listed above. Your highest category score indicates your personality.

ClassicalReligious
BluesAlternative
CountryJazz
Dance/ElectronicaRock
FolkPop
Rap/Hip HopHeavy Metal
Soul/FunkSoundtracks/Theme Music

We previously covered the 'Mozart Effect' on the CA Student Blog which suggested classical music is the best genre to listen to while studying.


Get in touch

What music do you like to listen to? Do you have any studying tips to share with fellow CA students? Share your thoughts with studentblog@icas.com or tweet us @ICAS_students.

In today's blog, we go back to basics on tax-adjusted trading profits and reveal how you can use the TPS examiner report to prepare for resits. We also talk to a CA in the gaming industry about apps and Australia.

How to use the TPS examiner report to your advantage

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

Back to Basics: Calculating a tax-adjusted trading profit / loss

One of the core skills of an accountant working in tax is being able to adjust an accounting result for tax purposes to reach a tax-adjusted trading profit or loss.

Bruce Thomson CA: Adventure? Yes! Business? Nnooo!

With a CA qualification, you can go anywhere and do anything, as the fascinating career of Bruce Thomson, Business & Marketing Director of Sydney-based video games company Nnooo, proves. The company makes addictive mobile games such as Pop and Blast 'Em Bunnies, and it all started in London.


Monday 10 July


Thursday 6 July: Social mobility in accountancy

Don't miss your chance to network with the leading young CAs of the business and finance world in London this September!

The ICAS Young Leaders Summit 2017 is the inaugural conference of its kind, bringing together CAs from around the world to share perspectives and insight on the big issues affecting tomorrow's entrepreneurial, innovative and digital landscape.

Taking place on Thursday 14 September, the event will be hosted in the stunning Leadenhall Building, otherwise known as 'The Cheesegrater', surrounded by breathtaking views of London's skyline from Landing Forty Two.

Young professionals will have the opportunity to hear from successful CA peers in dynamic lightning sessions and to meet this year's One Young CA who will be named at the awards ceremony after the Summit.

World-class women

The keynote speakers at this year's event are Kate Robertson, Co-Founder of One Young World, and Holly Tucker MBE, Founder of Holly & Co and Co-Founder of NotOnTheHighStreet.com.

One Young World (OYW) is a UK-based charity that gathers together the brightest young leaders from around the world and provides the opportunity to make lasting connections and drive positive change. Founded in 2009 by Kate and her partner, David Jones, OYW hosts an annual international summit for ambassadors and speakers to collaborate and debate innovative solutions for global issues.

NotOnTheHighStreet.com is one of the UK's best-known online retailer brands, catering to the discerning consumer seeking a unique purchase with a personal touch. It offers a marketplace platform for the UK's best creative small businesses and creators. Holly co-founded the site over 10 years ago and is now venturing into a new project.

Holly & Co aims to demystify business for creators, connect like-minded creatives across the world and shine a light on small creative enterprises.

Secure your place

ICAS student and members enjoy a special rate of £75 for tickets to both the Young Leaders Summit and One Young CA Awards. Why not check out the Attendee List to find out who's already signed up?

Book your place now


Get in touch

Will you be attending the ICAS Young Leaders Summit? What are you hoping to take away from the event? Get in touch with studentblog@icas.com or tweet us @ICAS_students.

Tutor profile: Eleanor Poole CA

Eleanor Poole CA tells us how her mind turned toward numbers and tax instead of stitches and prescriptions. Here's why she values the CA and quickly made it her goal to become an ICAS lecturer.

Eight tax penalty tips for tax students

Understanding how HMRC tax penalties work are an essential part of the Principles of Taxation course. There’s lots of information to take in, so we’ve developed these handy tips to help you remember the key details.

Best practice tips for controlling your digital files

Have you ever felt like you’re drowning in digital files of endless ‘untitled’ documents or IMG5677… from three years ago? Here are our suggestions for keeping what you need, where you need it, and when you need it.


Big Four firms joined Grant Thornton at the top of the UK Social Mobility Index, but what does this mean for the historical inequality in accountancy - is it a thing of the past?

research project at the University of Glasgow is looking into the effects of social upbringing on later career progression. Lead researcher Chris Flanagan wrote: "Within the accountancy profession, we know that professionals are more likely to be privately educated and have attended an elite university.

"Just 17% of accountants come from a working-class background and these accountants could earn up to 20% less than those from a professional background."

However, the second annual ranking from the Social Mobility Foundation showed that larger accountancy firms and financial institutions in the UK are making a concentrated effort to be inclusive. 

All the Top 50 firms in the Social Mobility Employer Index should be applauded for the progress they are making towards ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to get in and get on.

Grant Thornton topped the list of 50 organisations, closely followed by KPMG in second place. The latter became the first business in the UK to publish data on the socioeconomic profile of its employees earlier this year.

Standard Life, Deloitte, J.P. Morgan and PwC also appeared in the top ten. EY, who are promoting graduate and school-leaver schemes by removing defined academic requirements from their employment criteria, placed 16th.

David Johnston, Chief Executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, said: “All the Top 50 firms in the Social Mobility Employer Index should be applauded for the progress they are making towards ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to get in and get on – regardless of their background.

“While no one firm has cracked the issue and there is still progress to be made, they should be congratulated both for having prioritised social mobility and for being prepared to have their processes and practices independently scrutinised.”


Get in touch

Do you consider equality to be an issue in the profession? What social mobility policies and initiatives does your firm have in place? Get in touch with studentblog@icas.com or tweet us @ICAS_students.


In today's blog, we explain what to do when you fail an exam, and go over next steps for ABS if you need to re-sit - find out why it's important to make use of verbal feedback! We also feature the last of our entrepreneurial TED talks, with a look at what young entrepreneurs can learn from the corporate world.

Exclusive networking event: CAs and students under 35 - Edinburgh, 6 July

Join us at the Investec Wealth & Investment office for the opportunity to meet our One Young CA finalists and judges plus fellow CAs. Drinks and nibbles will be provided on arrival. Anton Colella will be hosting the event so this is a great opportunity for you to speak directly with him.

What to do if you fail an exam

If you didn’t get the result you were hoping for in the recent CA examinations, don’t be too hard on yourself. Here are five practical ways you can deal with exam failure and move forward.

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!

What Young Entrepreneurs Can Learn From The Corporate World

The founders of internationally famous brands like Birchbox sat down with Inc., a seminal source of inspiration for start-ups, to discuss their key lessons and advice for entrepreneurs. Hear from Hayley Barna, Co-Founder of Birchbox, on what young entrepreneurs can learn from the corporate world.


Monday 3 July: Removing barriers to innovation

Clare Campbell CA, Founder of Prickly Thistle, made the unconventional decision to apply her CA skills to the world of textiles and fashion. Now she encourages others to follow the entrepreneurial path.

“I’d achieved my immediate goals at 30 of being married, having children, becoming a CA and doing all these different things, but I’ve always looked for something more and the next challenge," said Clare. "It was a case of taking that journey and everything I’d gained and saying now is the right time to do this.

“I asked myself how I could apply the skills I’ve gleaned from other successful organisations to create a business that gives people around the world an emotive experience and champions an economic uprising for the Highlands in one of its most iconic industries.”

For me, barriers do not exist when driving some form of innovation into the industry.

Clare started bespoke tartan and textile company Prickly Thistle in 2015. Prior to taking on the business, she held several senior financial roles at MSIS Group and spent a year as a self-employed Consultant. Clare qualified as a CA in 2003 with Scott Oswald.

“I don’t have a background in textiles but I actually see that as a real curve ball in the sense I don’t know the traditional rules," Clare commented. "For me, barriers do not exist when driving some form of innovation into the industry. Like in accountancy when you first meet a new client, I’ve come in with a fresh eye and an eager approach.”

The CA qualification has been invaluable in supporting Clare through the Prickly Thistle journey. She said: “No matter what you go on to do the CA training will be beneficial. I genuinely feel that way, even more so for my experiences as a practising accountant in different forms.

“I think there can be pressure, or a trend, nowadays to finish university and immediately create the next unicorn, but I would advocate that taking the time to become a CA is not going to delay your career in any way. I’ve met so many people starting a business who wish they were accountants.”

Read the full interview with Clare on CA Today: Part IPart II.

Clare 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.

Secure your place

Get in touch

What are you looking forward to most at the ICAS Conference 2017? Which of the speakers have caught your attention? Get in touch with studentblog@icas.com or tweet us @ICAS_students.


In today's blog, we interview CA student Ben Carvell on his plans for the future and take a look at whether a doughnut economy could be the solution to global inequality. We also visit the reasons behind why technology start-ups in Europe will soon be in dire need of financial experts at the helm.

What is the doughnut economy?

How flawed is our economic model? Is it solely responsible for social inequality? What about climate change and political upheaval? Could a simple doughnut be the solution?

CA Student Ben Carvell: interview

We interviewed CA Student Ben Carvell, Senior Audit Associate in Financial Services with KPMG, on his experiences of the school leaver programme and his international plans following qualification.

Exclusive networking event: CAs and students under 35 - Edinburgh, 6 July

Join us at the Investec Wealth & Investment office for the opportunity to meet our One Young CA finalists and judges plus fellow CAs. Drinks and nibbles will be provided on arrival. Anton Colella will be hosting the event so this is a great opportunity for you to speak directly with him.

Why young start-ups need CAs

Young technology entrepreneurs are forging ahead in Europe despite a lack of financial acumen, according to a study from executive search firm DHR International.

June 2017

Thursday 29 June: A law for sunshine?

Soaring temperatures hit cities hard and as we move into July, some workers may be starting to question: "How hot is too hot to work?"

Some days, a desktop fan just won't cut it. The UK saw the highest temperatures of 2017 recorded earlier this month when, in some places, the summer heat climbed beyond 30°c. (Although today sees a decidedly rainier affair!)

Warmer climes around the world have safeguards in place to protect workers from heat exhaustion and other negative side effects of exposure to high temperatures. Businesses in Germany are obligated to lower indoor temperatures when the weather exceeds 26°c and in China, working hours are reduced when temperatures go over 40°c.

Unfortunately, due to no historic need for such measures, similar guidelines do not exist in the UK. This can be particularly worrying for public transport commuters as railways and cramped Underground services easily succumb to heat-related complications.

In this weather, high temperatures aren't just a problem in heavy industry but for millions of workers [who] have been struggling with the heat in offices, schools, shops, call centres...

A group of Labour MPs raised the issue in 2013, campaigning for people to be sent home if workplace temperature exceeded 30°c. Jeremy Corbyn floated a House of Commons motion in 2015 to introduce a maximum working temperature but ultimately lacked the support to push it through.

Speaking at the time, he said: “In this weather, high temperatures aren't just a problem in heavy industry but for millions of workers have been struggling with the heat in offices, schools, shops, call centres - you name it.

"Good employers will have been taking steps to help out their workers in the heatwave. But putting a maximum temperature into law will give everyone a legal right to basic protections from working in unbearable conditions."

With Mr Corbyn's recent gains in political clout, could this become a reality? Maybe. 

Get in touch

Do you think continuing to work in high heat is dangerous? What knock-on effects do you think sending people home on hot days would have? Get in touch with studentblog@icas.com or @ICAS_students.


In today's blog, we take a look at some of the voting trends that shaped the results of the 2017 General Election, divulge top tips for a strong (memorable) password, and examine how tech can improve businesses.

Infographic: How did under 35s vote?

Age was one of the most important factors in the last General Election with a large proportion of young voters changing allegiances and dramatically affecting the outcome.

5 tips for a better password

There's nothing better than creating a strong password, and nothing worse than promptly forgetting it - here are our tips for strengthening your accounts. 

How Smarter Technology Can Improve Your Business 

The founders of internationally famous brands like Virgin and Birchbox sat down with Inc., a seminal source of inspiration for start-ups, to discuss their key lessons and advice for entrepreneurs. This week, Chip Paucek, Co-Founder of 2U (an education technology company) explains how to make business improvements.


Monday 26 June: Will you join us at the ICAS 2017 conference?

The ICAS Conference 2017 is just a few months away. Don't miss your chance to attend the most anticipated CA event of the year.

The annual ICAS Conference is a key opportunity for professionals from all walks of life to come together and discuss the issues impacting the worlds of business, politics and finance. This year's event, held in association with our principal partner Investec Wealth & Investment, is built around the theme of 'Expect the Unexpected – How to Lead in a Changing World'.

Being a part of ICAS gives you incredible access to leading insights and a globally respected professional network. This is never more apparent than at the ICAS Conference. Non-ICAS members are also welcome - perhaps you should take the chance to invite your colleagues and promote the advantages of becoming a CA?

The conference promises to be a unique and invaluable experience for everyone involved. Here are just a few of the reasons to attend:

  • Learn about leadership in a time of crisis from the former head of MI5;
  • Debate with experts on the future of politics on a local and global scale;
  • Explore the potential of artificial intelligence and the risks failing to prepare for a digital world;
  • Hear from inspirational CAs who have conquered the toughest industries and the highest mountains.

The ICAS Conference 2017 will take place on 20 September at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC). It is an all-day event, beginning at 9am and concluding at 5.30pm.

CA students receive a special discounted rate on tickets for the ICAS Conference and bookings made before 30 June 2017 will have an additional 20% off.

Secure your place

Get in touch 

What are you looking forward to most at the ICAS Conference 2017? Which of the speakers have caught your attention? Get in touch with studentblog@icas.com or tweet us @ICAS_students.


In today's blog, we fill you in on what you need to do when applying for an exemption. We also hear from CA student Ben Carvell on his research into the impact of performance management in avoiding ethical pitfalls and tutor David Young CA tells us why accountancy was for him.

CA Student Ben Carvell investigates appraisal systems 

Ben Carvell, Senior Audit Associate in Financial Services with KPMG, explores the impact of performance management systems on the manifestation of accounting scandals. 

Exemption forms: Hints & Tips

Did you know that certain qualifications may exempt you from up to five of your Test of Competence (TC) exam papers?

Tutor profile: David Young CA 

Lecturer David Young CA tells us about his journey from countryside living to the CA and life at ICAS.


Thursday 22 June: Does personality matter as a CA?

Large companies around the world still use personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to determine if they have the right people for the role, and it's suggested that the following 'types' are apt for the work of an accountant or CA

The test divides people by four aspects: Introversion / Extroversion, Sensing / INtuitive, Feeling / Thinking, and Judging / Perceiving:

ESTJ – The Executive

  • Leaders who are all about tradition, order, logical thinking and ensuring the right thing is done.  

ISTJ – The Logistician

  • Very logical people but also conscientious and dedicated to their work. They will try to enforce order wherever they go - a personality that is commonly found across the world.  

ESFJ – The Consul

  • The popular person in the office, who is always friendly, always part of the team, and loves rules and regulations. Another very common personality in the world.  

ISFJ – The Defender

  • Loyal and industrious, a quiet personality that works well to meet client needs. The enthusiastic altruists among us.  

ENFJ – The Protagonist

  • Another leader personality, but the most charismatic and able to form great connections with colleagues.  

ENFP – The Campaigner

  • Very intuitive with infectious enthusiasm, and also very ethical. Somewhat a free spirit.

Repeated MBTI studies have found that most accountants are ISTJ or ESTJs, although there is no word on whether that is different for CAs who work across a range of functions! You can get in on the action and read our feature, with a link to the quiz, on the 'ideal' CA personality. Entrepreneurial spirits amongst will enjoy the Inc. Founder's Forum video on putting staff first (and shareholders third!), as told by Richard Branson. 

And Afin students can get to grips on how to calculate net present value by going Back to Basics with subject controller Jo Lloyd-Jones - including a worked example to show you where to start.

Get in touch

We would love to hear what you think of the MBTI personality test in today's article on 'What is the ideal CA personality?', and whether you think this is a good indicator of someone's suitability for a job position. Email studentblog@icas.com or tweet @ICAS_Students. 

How to calculate Net Present Value

We continue with our Back to Basics on Net Present Value, examining the correct way in which to calculate and determine whether investments (projects) are worthwhile or not.

What is the ideal CA personality? 

In our feature on the stereotypes surrounding CAs and accountants, we examined why those dusty and dry stereotypes exist, and what purpose they have served. But what does the personality of a CA look like and is there an ideal?

Put Your Staff 1st, Customers 2nd, & Shareholders 3rd | Inc. Founder's Forum 

The founders of internationally famous brands like Virgin and Birchbox sat down with Inc., a seminal source of inspiration for start-ups, to discuss their key lessons and advice for entrepreneurs. This week, Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin speaks on priorities.


Monday 19 June: What's worthwhile in strategy and investment?

Well, there's one thing we won't be hearing today, and that's the Queen's speech. Due to arrive on 19 June, the speech was delayed to allow time for ink dry upon the traditional goatskin parchment. 

Number 10 suggested that the traditional speech that would open the newly-formed post-election Parliament allows more time for talks to take place between the Conservatives and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Due to the drying time of ink, all talks were to be concluded by 13 June. 

There have been several barriers to forming a deal with the DUP, including criticism that such a move could risk the Good Friday peace process - which was set out on the basis that the UK government remains neutral between Sinn Fein and the DUP. 

As reported by the Telegraph: "Britain and Ireland act as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, the treaty that restored power to Stormont [North Ireland Parliament] and ended the decades-long Troubles in the province."

There have been very few occasions to delay the Queen's Speech, but in constitutional law, the second largest party could take power if the final speech is voted down. Indeed, this is exactly how Labour leader Harold Wilson took power in 1974 when Edward Heath's coalition agreement failed. 

The speech is planned to occur on 21 June instead. This election has become all about strategy, but our CA students only have one strategy to think about this week - business management! 

In today's blog, TPS Level Controller Lauren O'Brien takes you through Porters, SWOT and PEST without a complex dealing in sight, and Joanne Lloyd-Jones, Afin Subject Controller details methods to determine worthwhile investments. 

These guides are especially helpful for students working on TPS pre-course work. We round off the blog with tutor David Young who debates the calculation of goodwill in Financial Reporting and where correct figures lie.  


Get in touch

What other Back to Basics pieces would you like to see, and for which subject? Email us at studentblog@icas.com or tweet us @ICAS_students.

Back to basics: Business Management strategy

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

Back to basics: Understanding Net Present Value

Net present value (NPV) is a method used by businesses to determine whether investments (projects) are worthwhile or not. We introduce NPV in the Test of Competence Finance course and then re-visit at a more complex level in Test of Professional Skills Advanced Finance.

Goodwill in Financial Reporting

There is a widespread belief amongst non-accountants that there can be only one ‘correct’ profit figure and one ‘correct’ balance sheet total. There is a hope amongst accounting students that once they have learned an accounting treatment that will be it for life and there will be no need for change. Neither is true, and accounting for goodwill is a great example.


Thursday 15 June: How to claim back on travel disruption and delays

Travel disruption is a problem we've all had to deal with at one time or another. Chances are you have lost time and money to a transport mishap in the past, but here's how to get it back!

The news has been awash lately with stories of woe from British Airways customers who were stranded over the bank holiday weekend in May due to an IT outage. Less catastrophic but equally challenging circumstances led to Network Rail passengers being delayed by heavy rain and strong winds as recently as last week.

Many choose to vent their frustrations through official complaints, bad reviews and angry social media posts. However, more often than not, the best course of action is to read up on your rights and claim compensation for your journey.


Rail

Every train company has their own policies on customer compensation. Most offer a 'delay repay' service that allows you to immediately claim online or by post for the price of your journey, provided you were delayed for a significant amount of time.

Always retain your tickets as you will need them for evidence of your delay. Season ticket holders may be able to register online so their service operator retains their information for any future claims.

Bus

All bus operators in the UK are subject to the EU standards on Passenger Rights (2013), meaning that if a bus due to travel more than 250km is cancelled or delayed by over two hours, you are entitled to a full refund, transport back to the original departure point or a comparable journey at no additional cost.

If your journey was expected to last more than three hours, you should also receive complimentary refreshments and, in some cases, overnight accommodation.

Plane

EU regulations also protect airline passengers who depart from within the EU or are flying with an EU company. Levels of compensation depend on the length of your flight and the circumstances surrounding the delay. 

If a delay of more than three hours was due to a fault of the airline, then short-haul passengers should receive €250, medium-haul passengers €400 and long-haul passengers are entitled to €300 (or €600 if the delay exceeds four hours). 

You may also be eligible for the refund of your ticket price. Airlines must offer food and drink to passengers delayed by more than two hours.


Get in touch

What is your opinion on the election outcome? What do you think is most important in the pending Brexit negotiations? Get in touch with studentblog@icas.com or tweet us @ICAS_students.

In today's blog, we hear from tutor Catherine Devaney CA on how she came to teach for ICAS and describe the best way to make use of your time in the classroom. 

And for those of you starting TPE classes in a few weeks, be sure to read our article on how to transition from TPS learning styles. 

Tutor profile: Catherine Devaney CA

Catherine Devaney CA tells us how she fulfilled her career goals while indulging her passion for dance. Here's how the rewards of teaching impact both her working life and her toe-tapping weekends.

Transitions: TPS to TPE level

TPE Level Controller Catherine Devaney explains how the level changes from TPS, and what you are expected to complete when achieving your qualification. Great info for those about to start TPE in a few weeks!

Classroom etiquette

You may have noticed the appearance of a 'classroom etiquette' guide on screen in class during breaks - this includes an acrostic on the ideal method to get the most from your learning. Read on for tips on classroom success!


Monday 12 June: The election results are in...

It has been an interesting four days! The shock election result of a hung parliament followed by a minority Conservative government potentially supported by the DUP, is being debated in all quarters.

Last week's 'snap' election was thought to be motivated by Theresa May's desire to have a stronger negotiating position with the EU as an officially elected Prime Minister.

Speaking on the result, Theresa May said: “Having secured the largest number of votes and the greatest number of seats in the General Election, it is clear that only the Conservative and Unionist Party has the legitimacy and ability to provide that certainty”.

But who are the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and what do they stand for? Their five key priorities are:

Continue creating more jobs and increase incomes.Raise standards in education for everyone.
Protect family budgets.Invest in infrastructure for the future.
Prioritise spending on the health service. 

ICAS experts took a closer look at the key business and personal tax pledges from the main party manifestos in the run up to the election. How the Conservative pledges now play out, remains to be seen.

In today's blog, we're taking a steer away from politics and examine the research that explains why millennials are not keen to take time off work, and detail handy lifehacks for leisure (who knew spaghetti had so many uses?). BPP and ICAS tutors have also brought together their tips on how to study effectively - from one generation of CAs to the next!

Get in touch

How do you normally travel for work? Are delays a normal part of your day? Get in touch with studentblog@icas.com or @ICAS_students

Top study tips: Part one

We asked ICAS and BPP tutors to tell us their top study tips for CAs. Here we round-up some of the best ones. Look out for Part 2 of this series coming next week on the CA student blog.

Lifehacks for leisure

You got the problem? We got the remedy! We’ve covered how to simplify your life at work with strategies, apps, and clever techniques, but what about at home or in leisure time? Make your life a lean, mean, streamlined machine.

Millennial holiday guilt? 

Cyberslackers. Does it feel like that tagline fits with the millennial generation? Time and time again, there are complaints and jokes about, and at the expense of, Generation Y, who are portrayed as selfie-obsessed, self-entitled “cyberslackers”: research now shows that the complete opposite is true.


Thursday 9 June: Can you be sustainable in work?

In 2006, M&S launched 'Plan A' – a new initiative to reach its sustainability goals without it costing customers additional money. Tutor Kit Millar explains how students can put simple measures in place.

This was not just implemented in one department, nor did they create a sustainability team with the mission to make the business a better place. Instead, they used Value Chain Analysis (a key component of BM module 12) to implement its initiatives throughout the whole business.

Sustainability itself is discussed in BM module 14, which highlights the importance of acting sustainably now and of creating new initiatives to do so for your own business. 

Implementing the same plan that has worked for others will not necessarily benefit your organisation, but some prime examples of initiatives that could be universally effective include:

  • Printing double sided (if you need to print at all!).
  • Turning off lights and air conditioning when not in use.
  • Recycling and using recycled products where possible.
  • Training staff throughout the organisation on how to behave more sustainably!

As student members, you can help with sustainability. Think about how often you buy a plastic bottle of juice rather than filling a reusable one, or print documents at work that you could read on screen!

M&S have proved that sustainability doesn’t need to cost money – and it's possible to become a carbon neutral organisation.

Planning for the future is a bit of a theme in today's student blog. We look at the best way to organise ahead of time for the busiest time of the year and how to make the most of having a mentor throughout your career. 

We also hear from Neil Blumenthal, Founder of Warby Parker, as he explains viral appeal and the impact it can have on your business.

Get in touch

What sustainability policies does your organisation have? What changes could you make personally to lower your carbon footprint? Get in touch with studentblog@icas.com or tweet us @ICAS_students.

Three steps to prep for busy season

Have you ever looked at your calendar and felt unprepared for your busiest time of year? If the answer is yes, follow these three easy steps to prepare.

How to work with a mentor

Having a mentor to help guide your career can prove to be an invaluable advantage as you strive to achieve your goals. But how does it actually work?

What is viral appeal?

Neil Blumenthal, Founder of Warby Parker, sat down with Inc., a seminal source of inspiration for start-ups, to discuss their key lessons and advice for entrepreneurs.


Monday 5 June: The big vote is this week!

Still unsure about your voting choice? We won't be telling you how to vote, but we do know where you can get the information.

Apart from a detailed exploration of the various manifestos, the BBC has produced a guide to constituencies, with a breakdown of candidates and previous results for an indication of how the 2017 election might pan out in your area. Just type in your postcode and all will be revealed!

The manifestos in full:

 ConservativesPlaid Cymru 
 DUPSinn Féin 
 Green PartySNP 
 Labour PartyUkip 
 Liberal Democrats  

In today's blog, we sort the lifehacks for professionals - who knew those hotel stays could yield really handy freebies for business trips?

We've also got advice on how to get a mortgage if you become self-employed, or what you will be expected to do in practice if providing supporting documentation for business owners.

And for those pursuing a specialist interest in tax, check out the various ways you can file taxes around the world - handy for overseas secondments once qualified!

Get in touch

Fancy seeing your name in digital lights? We're interviewing ICAS students for the blog, so get in touch with studentblog@icas.com or @ICAS_students and tell us about yourself!

Three ways to pay tax around the world 

Should you ever find yourself filing a return overseas, have a look at some of the different models employed around the world. For instance, did you know some countries will accept texts?

Lifehacks for professionals

Lifehacks are everywhere - some practical, some bizarre, and some genius. As a busy professional who is also studying, you need the tools to make your life simpler, easier and quicker.

How to get a mortgage if you're self-employed

Getting a mortgage as a self-employed worker has been notoriously difficult in the past, but as the sector grows, what does this mean for home ownership? Our handy infographic explains what you need to know and do if you take the step into entrepreneurship as a qualified CA, or what you will need to advise on.


Thursday 1 June: The snap UK general election is just around the corner

In a week's time, Prime Minister Theresa May's 'snap' General Election will come to a head - with more young voters headed to the polls than ever before.

Over a million of registered voters eligible to take part in the election on 8 June are under the age of 25, thanks to a huge surge in applications in the week leading up to the deadline.

Are you one of these new voters? It's unknown how this surge will influence the final vote, but it's indicative of growing political engagement with younger generations, which is a positive development. Check out our infographic below showing the changes.

Meanwhile, in today's blog we look at elasticity, especially price of demand within microeconomics: do you know the formula to use? It's formulas galore in fact, as we also look at how to calculate the cost of debt and find a problem worth of solving... an entrepreneurial problem that is!

Happy reading folks.

Get in touch

We'd love to hear from you! Drop us an email on studentblog@icas.com or follow us @ICAS_students for up to the minute news related to your course.

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 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?

Calculating the cost of debt

An in-depth look at the formulas and calculations needed for calculating the cost of debt. This 'back to basics' explores risks and costs associated with debt as part of your Finance studies.

How to Find a Problem Worth Solving - entrepreneurial advice

The founders of internationally famous brands like Virgin and Birchbox sat down with Inc., a seminal source of inspiration for start-ups, to discuss their key lessons and advice for entrepreneurs.

Topics

  • CA Student blog

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