Spotlight on study skills

Student in library

When you first start your CA course, it's important to get into good study habits as early as possible.

The sheer volume of material you're faced with can be daunting and there are lots of competing demands on your time

Here are five ways to study smarter. These will help you get the most from your study time and give you the best possible shot at passing your exams.

1. Use your time wisely

This is really important.

Although studying for the CA is tough, you don't need to spend every waking hour chained to your desk. That's not going to be productive, or healthy. The way you study for the CA is quite different to the way many of us studied at Uni.

At Uni you probably had to go off and do a fair bit of your own reading and research, bringing together other peoples' ideas in a logical way. Now, it's not expected that you need to re-write your notes or do masses of additional reading.  The material has been written for you to use as your main study source. Of course, you can write short summaries if that helps you understand the material that's been covered in class. Ideally you should start by splitting your time 50:50 between developing your core understanding of each subject, and working on practice questions.

2. Use the practice questions

Seems like a no brainer right?

Well, you'd be surprised at how many people don't get into the habit of using the practice questions as often as they should be.

The practice questions help you apply the knowledge you've learned in class. It's not a case of needing to know all the material first before attempting the practice questions. Tutors recommend that you do some open book question practice with your course notes alongside to begin with. This builds up your confidence and gets you familiar with the question format. Over time, you should aim to work through the questions without relying on your notes.

Don't miss: Look out for a follow up article on using practice questions by Steph Jenkins from the tutor team.

3. Don't worry about getting practice questions wrong

Don't be disheartened if things don't seem to fall into place right away.

It is totally OK to get things wrong when you are just starting out. Take some time to review your errors. The mistakes that come up in the practice questions will stand you in good stead for the final exam. Not only will they stick in your mind and help you change your approach for the better, you'll also have knowledge of your weak spots and can use this to your advantage.

A word of warning though – if you do get questions right first time, resist the temptation to assume that you know everything and skip ahead. Ensure you've got a firm understanding of why the question is right and the correct approach to follow for answering the question correctly, as you are unlikely to be asked exactly the same question again.

Remember that your tutors are available to provide help and support with practice questions. You can call or email them directly, or contact them via the discussion forums on CABLE.

Don't wing it!

4. Plan ahead

The teaching schedule for the CA course is well defined, so you can plan your study time in line with upcoming progress tests, mock exams and final exams.

Set yourself clear, achievable targets and break things down into bites sized chunks so you know what you'll be studying and when.

Tip: The progress tests are designed to help you consolidate what you've learnt ahead of the mock and final exams. They are done under exam conditions. Try to view them as a bit of a bonus, as they'll give you a taste of what the real exam will be like, and hopefully help to reduce anxiety around what to expect on the day.

5. Aim for a good work-life balance

Finding a good balance between your work, study and down time helps you become more resilient and better able to cope with stress and pressure. Just a few simple changes can make all the difference when it comes to lifting your mood and helping you feel more in control of your studying.

Try to:

  • Take a break. Your mind needs a break from studying. Downing tools for a while helps you to come back to things refreshed and focused.
  • Take regular exercise. Even if it's just a quick walk at lunch time, getting some fresh air and a change of scene is a great idea.
  • Get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can leave you prone to stress. Things can feel ten times worse when we're tired. What's more, research from the National Sleep Foundation shows that that it affects our ability to pay attention and remember new information.
  • Stay positive. If you are feeling overwhelmed or worried it's important to talk about it. Seek support from fellow students and do talk to your tutors. They have been there too and will be able to offer help and support.

December 2017

Thursday 14 December: Why LLCs were a pivotal innovation and widened opportunities for the classes

The normalising of limited liability companies (LLC) in the early and mid-1800s popularised business investment among the general public and paved the way for modern capitalism as we know it.

In this segment of the BBC's 50 Things That Made The Modern Economy podcast, Tim Harford examines the history of LLCs and the profound effect they have had on our economic structure.

Prior to limited-liability laws, investing in a company and trading shares was a business reserved solely for the very wealthy. Shareholders either knew the entrepreneurs they were funding personally or could easily afford to lose their money if the company succumbed to debt.

LLCs changed that by offering a corporate structure that absolves shareholders of any personal legal responsibility for their company's debts. PoT students will be familiar with the concept of an LLC from Module 3 and explore the corporation tax implications in Module 9.

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

Get in touch

Is the LLC model still sustainable? What is your opinion on shareholder liability? Tell us @ICAS_students or email

We look at the dangers of using public wi-fi networks for personal and professional online activity in today's blog - how often do you log on? Costing is also a theme as we refresh your knowledge on the methods introduced in BM and find out which of your favourite snacks have been hit by shrinkflation.

Is using public wi-fi safe?

We all use public wi-fi networks at some point in our lives but with laptops and mobiles becoming an essential part of the modern business world, we have to ask - just how safe is public wi-fi?

What is shrinkflation and why is it increasing?

Fluctuations in currency values, particularly in the post-Brexit result pound (GBP), have led to several retailers and consumer goods companies compensating for losses by cutting the size of their products without reducing the price.

Back to Basics: The joys of costing 

Looking ahead to FR classes in January, we look at the cost of inventory using absorption costing, while having an awareness of fixed and variable costs. With that in mind, let's go back to basics on the different costing methods and modules introduced in BM.

Monday 11 December: New development in Apple's Irish tax case

Technology giant Apple has pledged to pay €13bn of taxes to Ireland while still pushing back against the European courts.

In August 2016, the European Commission ruled that an ongoing tax agreement between Apple and the Irish government was illegal under state aid guidelines. The company was ordered to repay the equivalent of £11.4bn in undue tax breaks.

Both the Irish government and Apple appealed against the decision, a process which is still ongoing. This means that the money, the first instalment of which is expected in Q1 2018, will be paid into a blocked escrow account and may be tied up in legal proceedings for some time.

The agreement comes after Ireland was referred to the European Court of Justice in October of this year for failing to pursue the unpaid taxes, a move that the government has seemingly been reluctant to make with the implications that forcing Ireland's hand could have for wider multinational corporate tax.

Other EU countries have been watching the developments with interest. Luxembourg, whose economy also depends on significant business from multinational companies who enjoy low tax rates in the country, has voiced support for Ireland's appeal, while Poland last week became the first to officially indicate opposition.

Get in touch

Do you think Apple should be made to pay the extra taxes? What impact could this have on international business in Ireland? Let us know on Twitter @ICAS_students or email

In today's blog, we look at how you should handle a clash with a colleague and other difficult workplace situations. We also give advice to help you narrow down the best way to take notes in class and explore the different superstitions that surround numbers and money around the world.

How to manage workplace conflict

Ever experienced a day where everyone at work seemed to simultaneously get out of bed on the wrong side? Conflict in the workplace is common, but how do we deal with this conflict when contracts, probation or more is lingering in the background?

Top 5 ways to take notes

It’s time to take your note-taking skills to the next level. Investigate and experiment with these five methods for yourself, as well as specialist easy-to-read fonts for people with dyslexia.

Superstitions about making money

‘Find a penny, pick it up, and all the day you’ll have good luck’: We investigate superstitions around generating money and how they relate to different cultures. Useful for anyone considering a career abroad after qualification.

Thursday 7 December: How will a 5p saving create cash deserts in the UK?

In the same year that cash machines celebrate their 50th anniversary, the Link network has announced plans to cut the fees charged to card providers for withdrawals. The move could put one in five free-to-use machines at risk of closure, giving rise to fears of 'ATM deserts' in the UK.

Currently, an interchange fee of approximately 25p is charged to the 38 UK card providers who are part of the Link auto teller machine (ATM) network for each transaction. This cost is calculated by dividing the annual total running costs of the machines.

Link, the company that operates and maintains the UK's ATMs, plan to reduce those running costs and cut the fee paid by network members to around 20p.

However, the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) has argued that the closures necessary to put this plan into action could put 10,000 of the country's 55,000 free-to-use ATMs at risk. This is especially concerning for small towns and rural areas that have already been impacted by recent local bank branch closures.

Ron Delnevo, ATMIA Executive Director for Europe, said in a statement: "Make no mistake, the proposed reductions in LINK Interchange may well lead to a vast reduction in free access to cash for British citizens and businesses. Any money saved by a tiny number of banks, which some estimates put at tens of millions of pounds each year, will effectively be at the expense of already hard-pressed consumers.

"We already have thousands of bank branch deserts in the UK. The proposals for interchange reduction are likely to create ATM deserts, where communities will wither because there is no local convenient access to cash and other financial services."

As cashless transactions via mobile and contactless payments rise in popularity, small businesses that fail to adapt from their reliance on cash are being put at risk. The lobby group ATM Industry Association has asked for careful consideration of the impact of closures.

Get in touch

Do you think it's time for ATMs to be phased out? How will you be impacted? Tell us on Twitter @ICAS_students or email

In today's blog, we ask you to consider your health at work and on exam day. Find out how to keep fit from your office chair and what meals provide a crucial brain boost when it counts. We also introduce you to the range of digital magazines produced by ICAS for specialised communities of the membership.

Can you exercise in work?

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? Find out why it's important to keep moving, and how deskercising can add to your life.

Choosing the best exam day breakfast

Your brain needs fat, water, vitamins, minerals and glucose (carbohydrates and sugar) - in that order. It might seem surprising that fat comes above water, but your brain couldn’t survive without a nourishing meal. Our quick-fire guide and links to easy recipes will take the stress out of nutritious eating for study and exams.

Keep up to date with the ICAS digital magazines

Did you know that ICAS produces five digital magazines for our communities? For those of you thinking about a career abroad, you can take advantage of CA North America and CA Australia, discussing the accountancy issues that affect the countries, how to handle international business and more. If you would like to stay up to date with tax, then try out CA Tax, which features articles from our very own Education Director and tax tutor, Fiona Winter, and lecturer Duncan McKellar.

If you're more likely to work in practice when you achieve the CA qualification, then there's a magazine for that too! CA Practice discusses insolvency, regulation and compliance - all of the issues that could affect you. And finally, we have CA Financial Services, dedicated to those working within the FS industry and tuned into relevant issues. If you would like to sign up to receive any of these magazines, then email specifying which magazines you would like to receive.

Monday 4 December: Feeling scammed by ticket touts?

Have you ever purchased a ticket for an event through a secondary source and been disappointed with the results? You aren't alone, according to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Online ticket touts like StubHub, Get Me In, Viagogo and Seatwave have been subject to a year-long investigation by the CMA to assess whether consumers are being conned or treated unfairly by sellers.

A lack of transparency surrounding the identity of individuals and businesses providing the tickets, the quality and real value of the products on offer, and 'pressure selling' techniques encouraging needlessly expensive purchases has been highlighted as a main concern for the authority.

Chief Executive of the CMA, Andrea Coscelli, commented: "Secondary ticketing websites can offer an important service - by allowing people the chance to buy tickets at the last minute or giving them a chance to re-sell tickets they can no longer use. But our investigation has identified concerns that the law protecting consumers is being broken.

"Thousands of people use these sites and they have a right to know if there is a risk that they will be turned away at the door, who they’ve bought their ticket from or exactly what seat at the venue they’re getting for their money.

"We are putting our concerns to these websites and will be requiring the changes necessary to tackle them. We will use the full range of our powers to get the right outcome for these sites’ customers - including taking action through the courts if needed."

This is an interesting case to monitor in terms of real-world regulatory compliance and ethical conduct. Several of the websites involved in the investigation previously made promises to improve their practices, however, at least one has been proven negligent in following through, raising the issue of moral standards in business.

CA students at TPE level are asked to evaluate case studies as part of their Business Ethics Assignment (BEA). You should be thinking critically about news stories like this one and consider the issues involved in preparation.

Get in touch

We love to hear from you! Tweet @ICAS_students on Twitter or email about any news stories that you think could be great for tying into the CA qualification for analysis.

In today's blog, you can refresh your knowledge of some common TC level turns of phrase and the key revision points of Assurance and Business Systems. We also offer some advice on maintaining a professional presence on social media - remember that the internet is forever!

Get to grips with your perfect social media account

Social media has become a staple of everyday life, and most of our readers will already have some sort of profile on a network. Read our quick guide to the dos and don'ts to ensure your digital interactions are plain-sailing.

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.

Glossary: Common terms in TC

To help with your TC revision, we've put together a glossary of important terms to use as an aid. Remember that your course materials and notes from class are invaluable resources too!

November 2017

Thursday 30 November: Is all well in Paradise?

Looking for something to listen to on a tax-related tip? Tax havens have been thrown back into the spotlight with the release of the Paradise Papers, revealing tax avoidance on a grand scale and largely limited to wealthy individuals.

Although not classed as evasion, the recent leak has highlighted the millions not making it into public coffers to prop up national services and budgets; it's a divisive issue due to the movement of money into zero tax areas that ask few questions, when the average company or individual would face intense scrutiny.

In this nine minute podcast, the work of economist Gabriel Zucman is discussed. He sought to assess the amount of hidden wealth in the offshore banking system and revealed that by totalling all assets and liabilities reported by financial centres, the books should be balanced, but instead each centre usually reported more liabilities than assets (around 8% higher in fact).

He realised that this means around 8% of global wealth is missing from reports - the figure could be even higher in reality as noted by presenter Tim Hartford. Accountants and lawyers are a necessary feature of offshore avoidance, so it's a pressing issue of ethical proportions for our future CAs.

Listen to the podcast

View a quick summary of the Paradise Papers in this Guardian video

Get in touch

Where do you think CAs should stand on tax avoidance? Tweet @ICAS_students on Twitter or email

In today's blog, we take a look at tax legislation (something to bear in mind when assessing the Paradise Papers!) with a handy Vlog on how to use the books, and dig out some sartorial advice for ideal office wear, including a special discount for students at TM Lewin. Finally, it's always useful to assess how your success is being measured; with that in mind, here are three ways to make and evidence value judgements.

Vlog: Tips for using tax legislation books for TPS

As a TPS tax student, you will receive two white legislation books. They may appear daunting, but if you follow a few tips, they can become your friends.

What to wear to work

It’s important to dress well for work to make a good impression on colleagues, clients, and anyone you can potentially network with; it’s also believed to help establish a mindset for the day. Read our guide and take advantage of a special discount offer for CAs and students.

The triple-A rating: three ways to measure success

"How do you measure success?" It's the interview and evaluation question that can leave a lot of us stumped. Surely 'success' is self-explanatory, right?

Monday 27 November: Afin lessons from the Tesco takeover

Tutor Jennifer Cloke highlights that there are familiar concepts in recent news about Tesco's takeover of the food wholesaler, Booker, for those students currently studying Advanced Finance.

The Competition and Markets Authority (‘CMA’) conducted an in-depth review into the takeover and concluded that the takeover would not result in any lessening of competition for consumers so raised no objections to it going ahead. Students should be aware of the situations in which the CMA would conduct such an investigation and the resulting recommendations they could make.

The Tesco takeover happened as follows:

  • Tesco is the UK's biggest supermarket
  • Booker owns Premier, Budgens and Londis brands
  • The £3.7bn takeover would bring Booker's brands under the Tesco umbrella, as well as giving Tesco access to its catering sector
  • Similar takeovers have happened, such as Co-operative Group taking over Nisa
  • It was suggested that Tesco would need to sell off some stores to initiate the takeover
  • The CMA reported that Booker's less than 20% share of the wholesaling market meant the takeover did not produce longer-term concerns around competitiveness and that Tesco and Booker stores did not directly compete with each other.
  • Simon Polito, chair of the CMA's inquiry group, said: "Our investigation has found that existing competition is sufficiently strong in both the wholesale and retail grocery sectors to ensure that the merger between Tesco and Booker will not lead to higher prices or a reduced service for supermarket and convenience shoppers."
  • The process is likely to be completed by Spring 2018, and the CMAs verdict has spurred on a rise in shares for Tesco and Booker.

Get in touch

We love to hear from you! Tweet @ICAS_students on Twitter or email about any news stories that you think could be great for tying into the CA qualification for analysis.

In today's blog, we have a very special guest article from One Young CA winner (2015) Indy Hothi CA, who has taken time out of his travels to reflect on the advice and guidance he wish he could tell himself when he was a CA student on a graduate programme. We also have a back to basics on understanding net present value for our Afin students, and a look at the key steps in computing corporation tax for our students at all levels.

10 things I wish I knew as a student

Are you a student on a graduate programme? Indy Hothi CA, former One Young CA, is travelling the world and currently in Lao adventuring in the great outdoors. He took time out of his schedule to reflect on the things he wished he could tell himself when studying - useful for all stages!

Back to Basics: Understanding Net Present Value (Pt 1)

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.

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.

Thursday 23 November: Are you due a quarter-life crisis?

While a mid-life crisis is a long-known occurrence, 'quarter-life' crises are now becoming common among millennials in their mid-20s.

As much as we sincerely hope you don't suffer a crisis, uncertainty around future prospects, career options, money troubles and anxieties of unfulfilled potential are some of the factors that have prompted this trend to rise in recent years.

A survey of 2000 participants by LinkedIn has shown that around 75% of 25-33-year-olds have reported experiencing a quarter-life crisis at some point.

Get in touch

Have you had a quarter-life crisis? Why do you think they are becoming so common? Get in touch @ICAS_students on Twitter or email

In today's blog, we draw your attention to the impact of the EU's endorsement of IFRS 16. We also go back to basics on adjusting trading profits and offer some advice for boosting your online security.

The adoption of IFRS 16 Leases: Need to know (external link)

Tutor Matthew Hall says: "IFRS 16 Leases has now been formally endorsed by the European Union. Although early adoption of this standard was already permitted, adoption is mandatory for accounting periods commencing on or after 1 January 2019, and this represents a significant milestone for companies which lease assets; be that as the lessee or the lessor.

"Preparers of financial statements, auditors, and other stakeholders will need to spend time considering the transitional requirements and ongoing impact of adopting this new IFRS."

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. Use our back to basics piece for helpful advice!

Five tips for a better password

Our lives are driven by passwords: if you want to live any sort of life online then creating a strong yet memorable password is key. Here are our tips.

Monday 20 November: Is there useful advice in The Apprentice?

With the latest series of BBC's The Apprentice well underway, we look at the three key lessons CA students can learn about business and career advancement from the show.

While the big personalities, comical tasks and amateur dramatics on the programme can make for sensationalist viewing, there are some valuable insights to be gained from watching the teams at work.

1. Make sure it all adds up

The moment that seasoned fans of The Apprentice most look forward to is generally the gruelling interview stage of the semi-final. Here, advisors to Lord Sugar gleefully rip apart embellished CVs, personality flaws and, crucially, the candidates' investment-seeking business plans.

Outlandish projected profit-margins and overly-optimistic KPIs are a frequent stumbling block for those who make it to this stage of the competition.

CAs, possessing a unique breadth of knowledge over business and finance, are unlikely to produce such spectacular discrepancies but should take these embarrassing moments as a reminder to always double and triple-check the numbers.

2. Take criticism under advisement

Failure to listen and take the comments of Lord Sugar and his aides on board is normally a quick path to the firing line for candidates. Many of the remarks made on the show border on a personal attack but, in real life scenarios, paying attention can pay off.

Graciously accepting constructive criticism is a key component in personal and professional development. Welcoming feedback will help you identify your weaknesses and improve your skills, quality of work, relationships and to better meet the expectations that others have of you.

3. Teamwork will win the day

While the aim of the game is for one person to walk away with the fateful words "You're hired!" ringing in their ears, failure to work well with their competitors has tripped up more than one candidate in the past.

The final candidates rely on returning teammates to help them win the final task. It pays, therefore, to have built good relationships throughout the process.

The same can be said for moving up the corporate ladder. Meeting career goals will always be that much harder without the support of the people around you.

Read the full article in CA Today.

Get in touch

Do you watch The Apprentice? Do you think it portrays the business world accurately? Tweet @ICAS_students on Twitter or email

If you're studying tax or looking for a refresher, visit our visual round-up of tax penalties and sanctions in today's blog. We also examine the case of Rio Tinto and the FCA for pertinent lessons in financial reporting, as well as offering our best advice for staying on top of information overload.

FR lessons from Rio Tinto

On 17 October 2017, the Financial Conduct Authority (‘FCA’) fined the global mining group Rio Tinto plc £27,385,400 for failures in its 2012 half-year accounts. But what were those failures, why was such a fine necessary and are there any lessons for CA students?

Infographic: Tax penalties

We've put together an infographic showing the different penalties applied by HMRC and the levels of sanction for each breach of the regulations. This is important information for the Principles of Taxation and TPS Taxation courses.

Information overload? Here’s how to handle it

Do you have trouble remembering what you have studied after a long day of hitting the books? Is keeping track of your workload becoming overwhelming? You may be suffering from information overload.

Thursday 16 November: Pricing: A double-edged razor

When King Camp Gillette invented the disposable shaving razor in the 1870s, he also brought about a new method of pricing goods that still influences our purchases today.

In this segment of the BBC's 50 Things That Made The Modern Economy podcast, Tim Harford looks at how the 'razor and blade' business model (also known as 'switching costs') became an economic success.

The idea behind the system is to force the consumer into paying more than once for a product by making its function dependant on related purchases.

Tutor Lauren O'Brien said: "In TC BM module 15, we introduced the concept of pricing to you. It's an area that students generally take quite a keen interest in, as many of us (myself included!) like a bargain.

"But sometimes pricing can seem a little odd in practice, especially for related goods. Sometimes you are able to obtain the base product, a printer for example, relatively cheaply but subsequently pay more than expected to operate it by having to buy expensive printer cartridges.

"This idea is explored further in this podcast, though I’d recommend skipping to 2:30 for the pricing elements."

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

Get in touch

What other items do you buy that are priced on a two-part model? Have you ever thought about the implications? Tell us @ICAS_students on Twitter or email

In today's blog, we continue our summary of ordinary shares valuation and look at how best to use question practice as a study method. We also hear from tax expert Donald Drysdale on the legalities of the UK tax code.

Back to Basics: Valuation of Ordinary Shares (Part 2)

In the first part of our Back to Basics on ordinary shares, we looked at the four methods of calculation for buying and selling. Now we investigate a worked example using these methods and key points to remember.

Taxed by primary or secondary law?

Students of both Principles of Taxation and Business Law need to know the distinction between Primary and Secondary legislation. Both types of legislation are used in the UK tax code but the production process for each type varies considerably. In this article on, tax writer Donald Drysdale outlines the processes and asks when it might be considered appropriate to use each type of legislation.

Dos and don'ts of question practice

Practice questions are an essential part of your studies. Here’s how to get the most from using them for mocks or the real thing.

Monday 13 November: Three ways to plan for studying and working at home

CABLE days and flexible working policies can mean you get to stay at home to work. On paper it sounds great - no dress code, early commute or sad sandwich at lunchtime - but how do you stay focused outside of a class or office environment?

Remote working is a popular option for many modern workers but it can take some getting used to for those whose only experience in working at home is all-night cramming sessions during their university years. Here are our top tips for maintaining a professional work ethic, despite your surroundings.

1. Schedule your day

Block out your time to reflect a normal working day. Start in the morning, break for lunch, and finish in time for dinner. If you are studying, allocate the time you think you should need to each subject or task. Modules on CABLE have an estimated timing that you can use as a guide.

Sticking to the hours you give yourself will not only help keep you on task but encourage you to step away when you should.

2. Know what you want to achieve

Are you taking a day to catch up on that project? Do you have workshops due? Are there meetings you need to dial into?

Set your goals for a productive day and tick them off one by one. A day away from sit-in meetings and ad hoc requests from visitors to your desk can be a great opportunity to clear a backlog of work without distractions. Let your manager know what your priorities for the day will be so you don't get pulled away by emails or extra work.

3. Avoid other tasks

It may be tempting to use the time at home to do that pile of laundry or have your mum over for a cup of tea, but it can be all too easy to slip from a working day mentality to effectively taking a day off. Most things can wait until after you have achieved your goals and beat those deadlines.

In short, if you can't fit it into your lunch hour, don't do it until the work is done.

Get in touch

Do you find it difficult to work from home? Does it have a positive impact on your productivity? Tweet @ICAS_students on Twitter or email

Today's blog goes back to basics on valuing ordinary shares and takes a look at some of the useful resources available from HMRC. We also delve into how your commute may be stressing you out.

Back to Basics: Valuation of Ordinary Shares

Calculating the value of ordinary shares can be completed through four, clear methods for TPS students. In this instance, we will look at valuing ordinary shares as part of a transaction - when we are either buying or selling shares.

Consequences of your commute

It's not just your imagination - that hour of commuting every day is impacting your productivity and mental health, according to new research. Find out how an extended commute affected over 34,000 UK workers in just six months.

HMRC tax toolkits - a great student resource

Throughout your CA and ITP studies, you will cover tax and tax returns. Many of you will also be working within a role that requires tax calculations and completing returns for clients. You may not be aware that HMRC have a range of toolkits in relation to different taxes which you might find helpful for your studies or work.

Thursday 9 November: Bank brands beat out by broadband

Telecoms and energy companies outperform banks as the UK's most valuable brands, while technology giants dominate the global rankings.

The BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable UK Brands 2017 report ranks companies by their estimated value, taking financial reports, consumer opinion and brand growth into account. In this first edition of the study, telecommunications brands occupy 32% of the top 50, including four places in the top 10.

The oil and gas sector also performed well with both Shell and BP appearing in the top five. Financial services brands account for 21% of the top 50 with a combined value of approximately £3.31bn. However, only two banks appear in the top 10.

Top 5 UK Brands: Estimated worth

  1. Vodaphone: £20,523m
  2. HSBC: £16,540m
  3. Shell: £13,901m
  4. BT: £10,701m
  5. BP: £8,546m

Introducing the report, CEO of WPP Store, EMEA & Asia, David Roth wrote: "Many of these are global brands, and reflect the UK’s role as a global centre for financial services and its historical role in energy exploration, as well as consumers’ current appetite for connectivity.

"In the midst of political turmoil at home and uncertainty over what Brexit might mean, it is worth remembering that the UK is globally renowned for the quality of its education, for democracy and fairness, decency and probity. At the same time, the country’s cosmopolitan nature has powered a reputation for embracing and fostering innovation."

The global version of the study reported that technology brands like Google, Apple and Microsoft are by far the most valuable on an international level, taking six places of the top 10.

Get in touch

Are you surprised by who has topped the UK's most valuable brands list? Who did you expect to see in the top 10? Tell us at @ICAS_students on Twitter or email

Today's blog goes over what counts as a conflict of interest and some useful career advice that may benefit your CA journey. We also offer our advice on how best to prepare for and use your mock exams and progress tests.

What is a conflict of interest?

Undeclared interests that may influence or corrupt professional decisions call into question the integrity and objectivity of an individual or organisation and directly contravenes the high ethical standards of the ICAS membership.

Five steps to mock exam success

Mock exams and progress tests are a key indicator of how well you understand and can communicate the material in your course. Ahead of the real exam, make sure you are using these opportunities to achieve your full potential.

TED Talk: The career advice you probably didn't get

Susan Colantuono, CEO of Leading Women, a management consulting firm seeking to close the 'leadership gender gap' through professional development programmes, presents this TED talk on the kinds of career advice you have probably not experienced.

Monday 6 November: Gambling with financial derivatives

If you gave someone a sum of money, and they agreed to pay you a larger one should a certain outcome happen in the future, you may be forgiven for thinking you're gambling. In fact, you're getting insurance.

In another episode of the BBC's 50 Things That Made The Modern Economy podcast, Tim Harford draws attention to the cultural correlation and systemic similarities between today's insurance market and games of chance.

The financial derivatives market, for example, is essentially built on contracts that allow two parties to bet on possibilities for things like the exchange rate or debt repayments. While intended to lower risk, the events surrounding the 2008 financial crisis showed these agreements to still be a gamble.

Tutor Rachel Norman commented: "This podcast looks briefly at the history of the insurance industry. Module 14 of the TC Finance course discusses key concepts, terminology and regulation within the current UK insurance industry and, although the content of the podcast is not examinable, it may provide a useful background to interested students.

"The latter part discusses financial derivatives and compares these with gambling. Derivatives are not discussed until the TPS Advanced Finance course (Modules 21 and 22), where they are covered from a hedging or risk-reduction perspective rather than a perspective of gambling or speculation. It is important to note that the same derivative instruments can be used for either purpose, depending on exactly how they are traded."

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

Get in touch

Do you find the history of our economy interesting? What do you think we can learn from the past? Tell us on Twitter @ICAS_students or email

Today's blog features some tutor advice on understanding Assurance and Business Systems as well as our top tips for taking notes. We also hear from author and Oxford lecturer Daniel Susskind about the future of the accountancy sector.

Top 10 ABS tips

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.

Five ways to take notes

It’s time to take your note-taking skills to the next level. Investigate and experiment with these five methods for yourself, as well as specialist easy-to-read fonts for people with dyslexia.

To transform or conform: The future of accountancy

Oxford lecturer and co-author of The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts, Daniel Susskind tells us what tomorrow holds for accountancy.

Thursday 2 November: Five lessons in leadership

ICAS One Young CA 2017 Jonny Jacobs attended the One Young World Summit in Bogotá, Colombia, and now he shares the lessons he will take forward in his life.

"The political, social and economic past of Colombia made it the perfect location for One Young World 2017," explained Jonny.

"Not only to reflect on the past but also to discuss and plan how best to tackle today’s most pressing global issues. Finance professionals are incredibly well placed to do this as we operate all over the world and in every area of business. I'm grateful to have had this opportunity and to take away these important lessons."

1. Everyone has a voice

Kofi Annan, Ghanaian diplomat and former seventh Secretary-General to the UN, said in his keynote speech: "You are never too young to lead, act and take charge where you can."

He shared his experiences of peace negotiations and explained how the best leaders are the best listeners. On the final day of the Summit, he advocated establishing common trust between parties, being fully inclusive, and giving everyone a voice. For me, these traits are needed in business to drive significant change.

2. Having a clear purpose is vital

Knowing what drives us is incredibly important and when we are clear on our purpose, great things can happen. However, a reported 87% of employees are not engaged in their jobs - the work for us as leaders is to inspire a sense of pride and purpose in others.

3. Leaders create leaders

After a presentation from a young leader not speaking in his first language, I turned to a fellow delegate and commented how proud and impressed I was that he did that in front of 1,500 people. The delegate replied: "I’m proud of the senior executive who encouraged him to do it."

Our teams often reflect our own style. In that moment, I learnt something I won’t forget.

4. Happiness leads to success

The Mayor of Bogotá focussed on something close to my heart: maintaining happiness. I am a great believer that people operate at their best when they are happy.

Despite the belief that performance peaks during times of high stress, it's difficult to sustain long-term. In my team, we monitor the happiness index and ask a couple of simple questions: How happy are you? How can we make you happier?

5. Mistakes are not failures

I’m a big believer in personal growth, both for individuals and for high-performing teams. The best development arises from overcoming mistakes, gaining experiences, or asking challenging questions. Companies that create the right culture to foster these opportunities will easily see the rewards.

Read the full article on CA Today.

Get in touch

Why do you think global events like One Young World are important? Will you enter or nominate someone to be One Young CA after you qualify? Tell us on Twitter @ICAS_students or email

Today's blog considers how effective team off-site days can actually be and we talk to CAs around the world about the global reach of the qualification. We also give you the details of some upcoming ICAS events that CA students can attend for free.

On-site vs off-site meetings

Most professionals will attend a company or departmental all-day planning or strategy meeting at some point in their career. It's common for these days to be held in a location away from the office, but is that always the right call? Our infographic weighs up the pros and cons.

Events coming soon

Success and the City: Meet London's emerging business leaders

On 16 November, CA students in London have the opportunity to hear from leading CAs of the business world, including One Young CA Jonny Jacobs, Managing Director of A.R.P. Capital Partners Raj Patel CA, and Head of Investor Relations at Heineken Sonya Ghobrial CA.

ICAS London Winter Social

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

Why the CA qualification is not just Scottish

ICAS has a rich history as the oldest professional accounting body in the world and we are proud of our Scottish heritage. However, our ever-expanding diverse membership has proven that we are not limited by it.


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