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.

June 2017

Thursday 22 June: Does personality matter as a CA?

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 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.


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.


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.


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 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. 

Here's how it unfolded:

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 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 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 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 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.

May 2017

It's National Biscuit Day!: Monday 29 May 2017

Today (29 May) is National Biscuit Day and in kitchens, staff rooms and meetings everywhere, people will be sitting down with their favourite treat and a cup of tea. But what can your biscuit choices reveal about your personality?

A poll carried out by McVitie's revealed the shared traits of Hobnob-eaters, Digestive-munchers and Rich Tea-dunkers across the nation. Does enjoying a Jaffa Cake make you more likely to communicate well? What does a Ginger Nut say about your ambition?

Pick your favourite biscuit to find out!

Personality traits can be indicative of your career path and objectives. While quizzes like these are by no means definitive (or even remotely accurate sometimes), it is a good idea to be reflective of your strengths and weaknesses to help progress your studies and your career goals.

More advice on how to fully understand your personality and how to achieve success can be found in the second instalment of our book recommendations to peruse in your 20s.

Also, keeping in the spirit of the day, we re-visit the reasons why Jaffa Cakes enjoy a lower tax rate than Jammy Dodgers and why the robots that make them could be taxed like workers.

Sweet nothings: Zero-rated cakes

To cake or not to cake: it's a frequent taxation question. The multi-layered tax system in the UK means that particular food groups are afforded different levels of VAT; find out how a biscuit can make all the difference.

How do you tax a robot?

Bill Gates wants robotic workers to be taxed on the same level as their human colleagues. But how exactly would a robot tax work?

20 books to read in your 20s: Part 2 

Your 20s can be a hectic time, but reading is the perfect hobby to take up and give your brain a break from any stress. Here are our recommendations for books that look at meeting your goals at work and beyond, and the many nuances of business and finance.

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain: Thursday 25 May 2017

In today's blog, we outline the differences in required notice period for a director or auditor mid-term - is it 28 or 14 days? Our business law tutor is on hand to explain. 

We also have part one of our top 20 books to read in your 20s, looking at the themes of influential people and choice fiction - how many have you already ticked off your list? 

And finally we end with a look at the new 12-sided £1 coin - what do you need to know about this new currency design? For starters, it's a solid reminder that we have not yet transferred to a fully digital currency, and hard cash still pays the way for most. 

Which is probably a good thing in the current atmosphere of digital attacks, and the ongoing investigation into an attack related to WannaCry, which is thought to have attached itself to over 200,000 computers to 'mine' digital currency.

It was fully disclosed on May 2017, by which point it is thought to have already generated more than $1 million through a hole in Microsoft Windows systems. 

We've discovered and patched a critical bug that affects all CryptoNote-based cryptocurrencies, and allows for the creation of an unlimited number of coins in a way that is undetectable.

Technologies based on blockchain can allow for the creation of a new currency, specifically Monero, "in exchange for solving complex math problems", although the value can change according to the market and unofficial quantitative easing.

Monero touts itself as a 'secure, private, untraceable currency', and released a statement on 17 May stating: 

"In Monero we've discovered and patched a critical bug that affects all CryptoNote-based cryptocurrencies, and allows for the creation of an unlimited number of coins in a way that is undetectable to an observer unless they know about the fatal flaw and can search for it. 

"We patched it quite some time ago, and confirmed that the Monero blockchain had NEVER been exploited using this, but until the hard fork that we had a few weeks ago we were unsure as to whether or not the entire network had updated... 

"We strongly caution against anyone using, trading, exchanging, or running services involving the following currencies affected by this issue: Bytecoin, DashCoin, DigitalNote." 

What lesson can we learn from this? With digital currencies and disruptor technologies, there is the capacity for disrupted finance and heavy losses through lax cyber policies and unpatched systems, so it's recommended that security updates are regularly applied as soon as they become available.

Get in touch

Are you using cryptocurrencies? What has been your experience so far? Get in touch with or tweet us @ICAS_students

Notice period conundrums

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

20 books to read in your 20s: Part 1

Your 20s can be a hectic time, but reading is the perfect hobby to take up and give your brain a break from any stress. Here are our recommendations for 20 books to read in your 20s.

The new £1: what you need to know

Paper fivers are out and 12-sided coins are in, but do you know what to do about the old £1? The last ever batch of round £1 coins was minted at the beginning of May and consumers only have five months left to spend them.

Essential cyber checklists: Monday 22 May 2017

Cybersecurity is the hot topic on everybody's lips after the recent large-scale attack on computers using an unpatched Microsoft operating system, including NHS networks and US company FedEx.

A strain of ransomware known as Wanna Decryptor or WannaCry had a global impact on Saturday 13 May when it infiltrated an estimated 300,000 computers in 150 different countries.

Hackers use ransomware to lock the data on a computer and demand a payment to release it back to the owner. In this case, users were asked to pay $300 (£230) in Bitcoin to access their files and the BBC suggested that nearly £30,000 had been paid by victims by Monday morning.

This is just one form of malware used in cyber crime to corrupt data or extort money. Others include:

  • Adware: Delivers pop-up adverts on web pages and generates advertising across the internet. Often combined with spyware (see below).
  • Bots: Programs that automatically perform operations. Can be used maliciously to send spam, steal server data and distribute other malware.
  • Rootkits: Designed to remotely control a computer system and alter software, execute files or copy information.
  • Spyware: Software that monitors any activity on a computer by logging keystrokes, stealing login information and data harvesting.
  • Trojans: Malware disguised as normal files that is usually used to take control of infected computers.
  • Viruses: Malware that can copy itself and spread to numerous systems, generally through email.
  • Worms: Exploit operating system vulnerabilities to consume bandwidth and overload servers. They can also deliver 'payloads' of other damaging malware.

If you are concerned about cybersecurity, have a look at our checklist to see if there is anything more you can do to keep your data and systems safe.

In today's blog, we are also offering some guidance on filling out your achievement logs and saving a deposit for your first home. We also have all the info you need for sitting TPS Afin exams again or after deferral - the modules have changed for 2017 so find out how. 

And for Business Ethics 1 students, it's important to complete your assignment as soon as possible - please check your BE1 CABLE resource for everything you need to know.

Achievement logs shouldn't be a slog!

All students have to complete an online achievement log to accurately record their practical experience but it doesn’t have to be difficult! Matt Gorrie deals with the most common FAQs from students.

What you need to know for TPS Afin exams

If you attended TPS Advanced Finance classes in 2016 but are sitting TPS Advanced Finance exams in 2017 (either through exam failure or exam deferral) then this is the information you need.

Who are the zombie firms?

Productivity gains in the UK have been largely stagnant since interest rates were dramatically slashed in 2008, making the past nine years the longest period of non-growth in two centuries. We investigate the 'zombie firms'.

Where are the trends?: Thursday 18 May 2017

If you're ever looking for trends information to support business decisions or investigate new avenues for revenue, consider the following tools for up to the minute data and shareable graphics. 

Google Trends: Business UK provides scrolling data on what the world or specific countries are searching for, which provides an eye-opening look into consumer and business habits, mergers, deals and most popular business news stories. 

As a CA you will find yourself advising on trends, ideas and related financial aspects for clients or companies, so start thinking about potential data sources that you can easily access. 

Atlas, by Quartz, is an open platform that allows you to build your own data charts, as well as the use of their charts created for news stories. You can search across a variety of topics or 'obsessions' - such as UK Business Trends.

For example, here is a chart produced on self-employment rates for the UK, and they all come with download options / embeddable codes / share buttons to add to websites.

The Fuld + Company blog also reports interesting news stories based on their trend watches and data analysis. 

In today's blog we have our own insights into saving a deposit for your first home, and a light-hearted look at the books you should pack for upcoming holidays or well-deserved down time. And in case you missed it, here's the debits and credits infographic to help you know DEAL and CLIP inside and out.

Saving a deposit for your first home

With the recent news from Which? Mortgage Advisors that close to a third of first-time buyers are saving for more than half a decade to afford their deposit, we offer some advice on how to get started. 

Helping you tackle debits and credits with an infographic

One of the fundamental accounting concepts taught in Financial Accounting is the dual aspect, which gives rise to ‘debits and credits’. If you've not previously studied accounting, this infographic will help you navigate the first progress test.  

Top books for a better life

It’s the time of year when many people are thinking about a good book to read on a relaxing holiday. Here are our recommendations to make your summer holidays and study downtime an enjoyable learning experience.

Facebook: The social experiment taking over the world: Monday 15 May 2017

From humble beginnings in a Harvard dorm room to one of the wealthiest companies in the world, the social media giant Facebook has reported that its number of monthly users has jumped to 1.94 billion people. That's more than a quarter (25.9%) of the world's population. 

The network is the perfect example of an entrepreneurial success. What started as a student prank has grown into one of the most successful businesses and most recognisable brands in existence.

Dramatic elements of the story are fairly common knowledge, thanks to the 2010 film, The Social Network, which documented the origins of the site. While several legal and ethical conundrums were highlighted around the social network and its Founder, Mark Zuckerburg, the financial history of Facebook also holds some intrigue.

Facebook is worth an estimated $435bn and has pulled in a profit of $3bn in just the first quarter of 2017.

The company was initially incorporated as a Florida LLC in 2004, funded entirely by Zuckerburg and his then partner Eduardo Saverin, with a small amount of advert revenue generated to cover operating costs. Later that year, the first major boon came in the form of a $500,000 angel investment from venture capitalist Peter Thiel.

That seed money, given in return for a 10.2% stake in the business, was converted into equity at the end of 2004 as Facebook neared its goal of 1.5 million users.

Less than a year later in April 2005, Accel Partners made a $12.7m venture capital investment in a deal that valued Zuckerburg's company at $98m.

The meteoric growth continued with buy-ins from Greylock Partners, Meritech Capital and, most famously, Microsoft. Today, Facebook is worth an estimated $435bn and has pulled in a profit of $3bn in just the first quarter of 2017.

While your own finances may not be in the billions (yet!), everyone still has to start planning for the future at some point. In today's blog, we take a look at how you may expect your pension to evolve over the next few decades and what options are open to you.

We also go over the changes to the Assurance and Business Systems course for 2017 and asked your lecturers for their tips on writing journals for Financial Reporting.

Pressing pension problems for Millennials

Your pension is likely to operate on completely different principles than your parents'. Are you prepared for your golden years?

The materials you need for ABS

The Assurance and Business Systems course has had a reshuffle of module numbers for 2017 - this reflects the removal of content duplicated at the TC PAR level which can still be examined at TPS. Find out where to get update materials and what you will need for exams.

How to prepare final accounts in Financial Reporting

Writing journals is one of the most important skills every student should work on - you need to be able to produce accurate journal entries in an efficient manner, so find out how!

Banking, tax and TED talks: Thursday 11 May 2017

Your generation is not solely defined by your age group. Whether you have come to know yourself as Gen X, Y, or Z, your life experience has guided your attitude and approach to life. 

The newest generation, C, is acknowledged as digital natives of any age, from 9 to 92 years, and defined by their attitude and approach to life rather than any particular age bracket. 

Although it has been widely associated with teens and young adults, the opportunity for people from all walks of life to engage through content on digital platforms has given rise to a new group of connected minds. Try our quiz and find out what generational mindset you live by!

Quiz: what generation are you?

In today's blog:

We examine the resources available to you for tackling the ITP exam, take a look at three top TED talks on fighting corruption and cybercrime in business, and venture into the current housing market to find out who the rising lender is - they're closer to home than you might think!

Resources to help you prepare for your ITP exam

Some of you will be embarking on ITP (ICAS Tax Professional) studies in the coming weeks, moving towards exams in September this year. We wanted to remind you about the resources available to you as you get stuck into the tax books!

The bank reducing social mobility

Inherited or gifted deposits from family now account for a third of all first-time buyers' capital - but it's reducing wider social mobility on the open market. 

Three TED Talks on corruption and cybercrime

TED Talks feature some of the best and brightest speakers from the worlds of business, academia and beyond. Here’s our pick for CAs looking to do more in guarding against fraud and corruption in the financial world.

Out with the old, in with the new: Monday 8 May 2017

The paper £5 note has become a rare sight in wallets and purses across the UK as its plastic successor has successfully taken over. And, unfortunately, it's bad news if you still happen to have one or two lying around.

The old notes ceased to qualify as legal tender on 5 May 2017. However, there's no need to panic as banks, building societies and Post Offices will all exchange your paper for plastic.

In particular, the Bank of England is required to honour this arrangement, even if other banks begin to stop doing so.

There will not be a particularly easy solution, however, when round £1 coins stop being accepted on 15 October 2017. Already some problems have arisen in that several vending machines and self-service machines do not recognise the new coin.

The new 12-sided design, featuring the four national flowers of the UK emerging from a coronet, has been in circulation since January.

Counterfeiting was a big issue for the old-style coin, which was first minted in 1983. It's been estimated that for every 30 £1 coins being spent, one is an illegitimate copy.

If you still have some of the old coins after the cut-off date, they will not be valid for use or exchange anywhere. You either need to spend them first or start a decommissioned coin collection.

Next on the list for a plastic upgrade are £10 notes, expected to go out of circulation this summer, and £20 notes in 2020.

In today's blog:

We're helping you get ready for the next stage of your studies with all the information you need for TPS exams, including the materials you need to check out for Financial Reporting, and we try out the Pomodoro technique for productivity in just 25 minutes!

We also want to wish our TPE students the best of luck in their exams tomorrow - you can do it!

What you need to know about TPS exams 

If you attended TPS classes in 2016 but are sitting TPS exams in 2017 (either through exam failure or exam deferral) then this is what you need to know.

How to be productive in just 25 mins

Have you ever wanted to get more out of your day? Are you easily distracted or do you find it hard to concentrate on one task at a time?

The materials you need for Financial Reporting

A new leasing standard has been released and this is the most significant change to the FR course for 2017 (see Module 6). The full module, including WSE, is included in the FR Update Pack.

Could a Frexit be on the cards?: Thursday 4 May 2017

First Brexit, and now a potential Frexit: French voters head to the polls on Sunday 7 May to decide the identity of their next President. But is favourite Emmanuel Macron guaranteed an easy win against Marine Le Pen's suggestion of leaving the European Union?

Wider Europe has also displayed a fair amount of interest in the outcome, largely due to Le Pen's calls for France to leave the eurozone - realising the potential for a 'Frexit'. Macron's policies are targeted on making France attractive for foreign business, particularly after Brexit.

Centrist candidate Macron came out ahead of far-right leader Le Pen in the first round of voting and need only maintain his lead to win the election.

While successfully qualifying as one of the top two candidates in the primary stage, Le Pen's anti-establishment stance could make it difficult for her to build a strong enough opposition to challenge Macron as they go head-to-head in the final round of the election.

Supporters of conservative François Fillon and far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who were both eliminated from the running in the first round, accounted for nearly 40% of first round votes and are expected to switch allegiances to Macron, should they vote at all.

Voter turnout could have a massive impact as some are expecting high levels of abstention. Polls have suggested that, while smaller, Le Pen's support base could be more inclined toward putting in the effort to vote.

This year's election falls on a holiday weekend in France which could discourage people from the polls. However, the first round had close to an 80% turnout, suggesting a high level of engagement.

In today's blog:

Tutor Stephanie Pentland CA reflects on her own studies with ICAS with advice for students, and we take a look at how to assess businesses for cybersecurity - who needs it, and what are the potential physical risks?

Tutor Profile: Stephanie Pentland CA

Lecturer Stephanie Pentland CA shares some of her career highlights and explains why she decided to join the tutor team here at ICAS, and her key advice for students.

How do we assess cybersecurity insurance needs for business?

Cybersecurity insurance is one of the fastest growing insurance products in recent years, and research shows that it’s only going to keep growing. We find out how this affects financial institutions and businesses handling client money, and what should be done to prepare and assess needs.

Four TED Talks for refining business strategy

TED Talks feature some of the best and brightest speakers from the worlds of business, academia and beyond. Here’s our pick for CAs looking to improve the strategic approach of their organisations.

Recognising the talents of young CAs (and future CAs!): Monday 1 May 2017

Do you know an excellent CA under 35 you would like to nominate for One Young CA? Perhaps someone in your training office or network who became a member at the Admissions Ceremony in March 2017?

Nominations have opened for the new leading 35 CAs under 35 and ICAS One Young CA 2017 in association with Investec Click & Invest.

The search to find the best young members of ICAS has launched for this year and is more exciting than ever. Building on the success of 2016, which saw a record number of entries from around the world, the competition has evolved to match the ambitions and priorities of our membership.

Expert judges with a wealth of experience in a variety of different sectors will single out the most promising and inspiring young CAs in five categories: entrepreneurship, innovation & technology, leadership & influence, sustainability & CSR.

The successful candidates will be recognised in a highly-publicised list as the 35 CAs under 35 that are representing ICAS on the global professional stage.

Speaking at the 2017 Admission Ceremony, ICAS CEO Anton Colella said: "This competition searches to find the best and brightest young members in our profession. Not just someone who has done great things in their day job but someone who can see beyond the numbers and use their CA skills for the greater good."

It's also never too early for our student CAs to start thinking about their own nomination once a member, so perhaps take a few moments to consider all of your achievements to date, and where you intend to go once qualified - the only limit is your imagination!

In today's blog:

We want to ensure you are off to the right start in your career, and part of this is success in your TPE exams. There are now just eight days to go until the TPE exam, and with that in mind, we have the answers to your frequently asked questions.

We also take a look at the lessons that can be learned from F1's overhaul and financing arrangements, and present a great infographic on debits and credits for your study needs.

Happy reading!

What you need to know about TPE exams

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

What lessons can we learn from the financing of Formula 1?

When Liberty Media took over global business and brand Formula 1, their acquisition included $4.1bn of existing F1 debt, a major rebrand and the appointment of a new chairman and CEO. How can we apply the concerns of high-octane racing to the business skills of a CA?

What's the DEAL?

One of the fundamental accounting concepts taught in Financial Accounting is the dual aspect, which gives rise to ‘debits and credits’. If you've not previously studied accounting, this infographic will help you navigate the first progress test.

April 2017

Tapping into zeitgeist for business and marketing strategy: Thursday 27 April 2017

Throughout your studies, you will learn about business strategy, tapping into new markets, and the potential for valuable returns on business decisions; you may also be interested in a new product coming from Canada that taps into current zeitgeist as well as consumer desire: Fake News Ale.

Nieman Lab has described it as 'the beer all the cool journalists are gonna be drinking this summer', and it will be produced by Toronto craft brewery, Northern Maverick (available from June).

The can is emblazoned with a caricature of President Donald Trump - the man who brought 'fake news' into everyday language - but the bad news is that it will only be sold in Canada.

As well as leveraging the 'make American great again' slogan used by Trump (#MakeBeerGreatAgain), they will be using profits to tackle a 'questionable policy' he has introduced, as voted by people on their website.

The company has not even opened their brewery yet, so the above combines to a highly-shareable marketing strategy to ensure their product makes it to market with maximum success. Certainly food (or drink) for thought for our promising young entrepreneurs amongst us!

In today's blog:

TPE and Business Management students will find the tutor analysis of the 2016 Samsung phone issues, which resulted in heavy losses and reduced consumer confidence, a very helpful tool. TC students should save our infographic on how to calculate and assemble books of prime entry, for an easy step by step guide to success.

And for those TPE students gearing up for their exam on 9 May, check out our feature on ideal breakfasts for exam day, including the phytonutrients that deliver maximum impact for your most powerful resource - your brain!

Happy reading!

Breakfast for exams day

Your brain needs fat, water, vitamins, minerals and glucose - 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.

Samsung lessons in business management

Samsung’s decision to cease all production and distribution of its flagship Galaxy Note 7 took the the tech giant out of the business pages and onto the front pages. This is a great example of commercial, accounting and business related issues, covered during the TPE course, mirrored in real life by Samsung.

Books of Prime Entry: Infographic

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

Are you missing out on ICAS communications such as news, events and exam instructions? 

If you have signed up to ICAS with your university email address which is no longer active or an unused email account, then it's important to update to an email address you currently use.

Candidate instructions are essential for your exams, so we want you to receive all the necessary information on time. At the start of classes, you should receive a confirmation of personal details form, so take a minute to check we have the most up to date details for you.

It will confirm your preferred exam location, class location, personal contact details and reference to updating your information on the website. You can also directly update this on the website by logging in, clicking 'My Profile', and entering updated email info in 'About Me'.

Have you registered to vote?: Monday 24 April 2017

Got your voter registration sorted? In the week after Theresa May announced a snap election for 8 June, we're taking a moment to remind you to register to vote.

Standing about in a church or primary school may not be the most exciting activity for a weekday evening, but casting your vote in the general elections will go some way to securing the future you want, by the party you want.

From the 1960s to 1992, voter turnout for young people peaked at around 66%, and dropped down to 38% by 2005. At this point in time, voter turnout by young people is at its lowest point in history, and the length of time for voter registration has been cited as one of the deterrents.

There are several ways to vote, and although it's still not possible to do it by text or app - which would most likely be the preferred option for younger generations - we're making it easy for you.

Register to vote here.

If you're not sure about whether you are already registered to vote (although let's face it, there's been so many votes we've probably registered ourselves three or four times in the last few years!), then you can also find that out.

You can choose to cast your vote in person, or if you're quick enough, request a postal vote to do in your own time and way before anyone else; that smug feeling as everyone else traipses to the polls in the rain (British Summer!) safe in the knowledge that you posted your vote a few weeks earlier!

The Independent has produced a checklist and itemisation of what you need to vote and what would preclude someone from voting. What we can't do is tell you who to vote for, so it's in your civic interest to brush up on the parties' policies and cast your chosen vote!

In today's blog:

How many emails do you have in your personal or workplace mailbox? Hundreds? Thousands? And how many are unread?

Staying on top of emails can cause anxiety amongst even the most robust of us, but there a few ways to ensure your digital communications become streamlined and manageable. Check out our article on tackling email anxiety to introduce calm to communications.

And we're keeping in line with our TPE countdown to the May exam, featuring a reminder on how to improve your commercial awareness for TPE and as a CA - find out how to apply your knowledge and analysis to any business situation for a critical and insightful eye.

A critical and studious eye will also come in handy for question practice, so find out the dos and don'ts of how to approach this for any level.

Improving your commercial awareness 

Commercial awareness needs to be advanced over time. During class, we discuss tips to improve your commercial awareness and how it can be applied in any type of business situation to allow you to know your employer / client and their business. Here are five quick-fire tips on how to be commercially aware.

What to do and what not to do for question practice 

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

Tackling email anxiety

What is email anxiety? Ever logged on and felt an overwhelming sense of dread before checking your mailbox? Are you hoarding emails? You may have email anxiety and need these tips.

The TPE Countdown begins: Thursday 20th April 2017

We're counting down to the TPE exam on 9 May, and it's a great time to get acquainted with the various materials and resources available to you through ICAS. You will, of course, have acquainted yourself with CABLE, but have you seen the following helpful articles?

TPE examination FAQ

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

Why chocolate puns matter to TPE and TC students

Module 12 in BM discusses various business improvement techniques that focus on getting the products “right first time” and minimising the cost and indeed reputational damage that large scale recalls can prompt.

Six tips for better business writing for TPE

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

TPE in practice: Product recalls

Are you familiar with how to analyse business issues and what you should look out for in terms of skills practice? 

The Test of Professional Expertise resource pages

Everything you need to know for exam dates, laptops, prizes and support for completing the TPE level. 

In today's blog, we look at how we are improving the TPS course for students, based on your feedback, because we take your ideas and suggestions seriously! Read on to find out what's changing and why. 

And for those based in the Scotland, discover the impact of the new Scottish Income Tax and what it means for Scotland and the wider UK. (Note - it's essential reading for anyone working in the UK!)

And for those of you with an entrepreneurial spirit, check out the top 3 TED talks on how to reach your goals and bolster startups for success.  

Happy reading!

What you need to know about Scottish Income Tax, even if you don’t live in Scotland

In April 2016, the "Scottish Rate of Income Tax" (SRIT) was introduced for ‘Scottish taxpayers’. Since then, some of the Income Tax paid by Scottish taxpayers goes directly to Holyrood and from April 2017, the SRIT has been replaced by Scottish Income Tax. But what does this mean? 

Improving TPS through feedback

Noticing some changes to our Test of Professional Skills course? We're putting your feedback and suggestions into action! Here is how we measure up and what we're going to improve.

Three inspiring TED Talks for entrepreneurs 

TED Talks feature some of the best and brightest speakers from the worlds of business, academia and beyond. Here’s our pick for entrepreneurial CAs looking for success.

Fake news! Or is it?: Monday 17th April 2017

Google is fighting back against fake news with a new measure to tackle misinformation; ‘fact check’ tags are being rolled out to articles in news results, calling on partners and publishers to mark out the truth.

It’s impossible for Google to single-handedly take control of the internet and monitor all information on the internet, not without employing thousands (or millions) of staff to do so. But now Google will be working with Snopes, PolitiFact and similar fact-checking organisations to bring a new level of clarity to internet searches.

The new ‘checked’ search results list will identify the person or organisation reporting the fact, but newspapers are also going to be included in the tagging system – including The Washington Post and The New York Times.

This will certainly be interesting in practice – would rival newspapers cast doubt on the facts of another publication through the process? Publishers can write labels on search results (news items only, not opinion pieces), and apparently, that includes the tag ‘pants on fire’!

"These fact checks are not Google’s and are presented so people can make more informed judgments," Google said. "Even though differing conclusions may be presented, we think it’s still helpful for people to understand the degree of consensus around a particular claim and have clear information on which sources agree."

Google Brings Fake News Fact-Checking to News Searches: Bloomberg Technology

We've also produced guides and a call to action for all CAs in the search for reliable truths and avoiding the tide of fake news in a digitised world.

  1. How to spot fake news
  2. Searching for the truth: the CAs mission

In today's blog, we highlight a real-life case of how attention to detail can avoid hefty financial costs later down the line, and deliver the tips you need for completing the TPE exam on 9 May.

Hopefully, you will have carefully read our eight quick tips on preparing for the exam, but this next article will lead you through what to do on the day.

We also look at the changes to personal tax and finance after the implementation of the Finance Act 2017 - alcohol, cigarettes and room relief are all up for changes!

Happy reading.

The cost of not paying attention

It's the little things that matter, especially when it comes to writing and reading legal documents. This became very clear to a dairy company in Maine, USA when the lack of an Oxford comma won a case for their delivery drivers.

8 tips to conquer the TPE exam

You have done the study work and practised your case studies, but what about tackling the TPE exam on the day? TPE level controller Cat Devaney shares her timely advice on how to tackle questions and pick up extra marks.

Ups and downs of Finance Act 2017

Not sure about wading through all 726 pages of the Finance Act 2017- the longest Finance Bill ever published - to find out rates that relate to you? Here is our summary of changes that may affect your everyday life.

The rise of own brands to beat inflation: Thursday 13th April 2017

As inflation continues to climb and the side-effects of Brexit are felt, the daily costs of food and snacks are moving in an upwards trajectory faster than wages. Indeed, grocery prices rose by 2.3% from the end of December to 26 March (Kantar Worldpanel), and in turn, this has caused shoppers to look at discount options.

The slightly sad-looking 'value' packaging of the supermarkets is being embraced by people at all socio-economic levels to stem the tide of rising weekly shops, as well as looking towards discounter brands and supermarket own-brand.

The winners in this battle for achievable food costs are Aldi, Lidl and Iceland, who are seeing a steady rise in footfall and sales.

Shoppers are turning to budget supermarkets and own-brand labels as the cost of butter, fish, tea and other staples rise, delivering a 15% sales growth for Lidl, and increasing their market share from 0.5% to 4.9%.

The foodstuffs witnessing a sales growth include gluten or dairy-free products, as evidenced by 54% of the UK population purchasing a specialist product over the last three months.

The supermarket was closely followed by Aldi, who saw a 14.3% sales growth going resulting in a 6.8% market share. What does this mean in practice? An extra 1.1 million shoppers for the German discounter duo in just three months.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: 'Inflation shows no signs of abating. Rising prices have cost households an additional £21.31 on average during the past 12 weeks. We expect inflation to continue to accelerate, and as a result we're likely to see consumers looking for cheaper alternatives.

"Despite rising prices, we've seen shoppers' minds turn to healthy eating after the excess of the festive period and before the temptation of Easter.'

The foodstuffs witnessing a sales growth are gluten or dairy-free products, as evidenced by 54% of the UK population purchasing a specialist product over the last three months.

In today's blog, we take your (potentially high-cost) lunch and demonstrate 10 ways to use your break for mind, body and soul; no more eating at desks and dripping mayonnaise into the keyboard! We also want to prepare you for the upcoming TPE exam, so carefully read over Cat Devaney's tips for structuring your practice periods.

Happy reading!

10 ways to use your lunchbreak

You need a break. It’s not lazy to take a little time out of the day to regroup, refresh and regenerate. Research in the UK and USA has shown that a majority of workers do not take lunch: in fact, up to two-thirds of staff in Britain are failing to take a break and this impacts on productivity. Is lunch a leisurely activity for you, or a mad rush to eat and catch up on work? We’ve compiled a list of 10 things to do on your lunchbreak.

Preparing for the TPE exam

Success is just around the corner for our students and we know that you will do your utmost to achieve your qualification at every turn. If you have finished block 2 of TPE and wondering what to do next, then take some time to digest these tutor tips on preparing for the TPE exam.

Corporate tax measures in the spring budget 2017

The Chancellor said that ‘a strong economy needs a fair, stable and competitive tax system, creating the growth that will underpin our future prosperity’. He confirmed that the corporation tax rate will reduce to 19% from April 2017 and to 17% in 2020.  This continues the trend of recent years which has seen the rate for large companies fall from 28% in 2010.

Monday 10th April 2017

Millennials are slightly more likely to spend their hard-earned cash on holidays than save up their pennies for a house... and no one should be surprised.

Research from YouGov has shown that a higher percentage of young workers in London are saving for upcoming holidays than putting money away or a downpayment on their first home.

As a result, millennials have been branded as the 'vacation generation' and, at first glance, the title seems appropriate. However, this trend actually highlights a much deeper financial issue.

House prices have been rising faster than wages everywhere in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The City, in particular, has seen the average house price climb by 68%, almost a third more than the rest of the country.

When you also consider that rising rental prices have been far ahead of wage growth in London since 2011, it becomes clear why short-term goals may be a priority.

On the bright side, following the implementation of Article 50, house prices in the UK have begun to fall for the first time since June 2015. Maybe you could buy your dream home sooner than you think?

What are millennials saving for in 2017?

House deposit30%
No specific goal19%
Not saving13%
Mortgage payments10%
Property repairs/improvements4%

Source: City A.M.

Young people are also saving for clothes, cars, technology and their weddings. Nearly a fifth of those polled admitted to not having a particular goal in mind and 13% said they weren't saving at all.

In today's blog, our tutors share their best advice for business writing in the TPE exam. Do you think enough about your structure and tone?

We also look at the impact the 2017 Finance Act will have in the near and long-term future, and how it will impact ICAS notes. In addition, your comments on the quality of the TC course have been addressed by the ICAS Education team.

6 tips for TPE business writing

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

The Finance Act decoded

The Chancellor recently gave his 2017 Budget Statement to Parliament, announcing several changes to the tax system for the coming years. These changes will be brought into law as part of the Finance Act 2017 and many of them will be incorporated into the ICAS course notes for TC classes beginning from August 2017 and for TPS, TPE and ITP classes in 2018.

Putting your feedback into action for TC

What happens with your feedback, and how does it influence your course? Find out how we action your issues and suggestions.

Thursday 6th April 2017

Fans of the TV series, Mr Robot, may have already been 'fangirling' / 'fanboying' over FBI agent Dominique's Alexa, a voice-controlled robot designed by Amazon, so you'll be excited for the launch of Google Home, which is arriving in stores today.

The Alexa 'home assistant' can control your music, tv, the internet and smart devices, and is content to answer any question you may have in mind (CA qualification questions most likely excluded!), but now Google is ready to move into the market with their own version.

The assistant is one of the major steps of introducing artificial intelligence devices into everyday life for ordinary people and provides yet another opportunity for us to relinquish use of our hands when communicating with machines.

"A combination of our natural language processing, machine learning and voice-recognition expertise allow users to interact naturally with the assistant," said Suveer Kothari, director of product planning at Google.

"And of course, we've hidden a few British treats for you to discover. Just try asking Google Home about its hobbies or favourite foods."

The device will launch in stores today (6 April), and coincidentally features the same four colours as ICAS (red, green, blue, yellow), but there's no word yet on whether TPS information is hidden inside its databanks!

In today's digital-but-not-voice-commanded blog

We've taken a detailed look at tax, including the personal changes you need to know about and go inside NIC - how does it connect with tax, and what should you know for studies?

And don't forget the five blogs you should follow as a student CA - valuable information, insight and a great introduction to the community!

Happy reading!

6 personal tax changes for 2017

The new budget is in effect, and it means more cash in your pocket or savings: find out the six key personal tax changes that will affect your pay.

5 blogs you should follow

Blogs can be a great source of news, insight and opinion on the topics of the day, and provide a fitting companion to your future CA role. Read our picks for the best blogs that CA students should follow.

NICs: A tax, or a cost of welfare

NIC, The topic of National Insurance Contributions (NIC) is covered in Principles of Taxation and also in the ITP Taxation of Individuals materials. As a topic, it remains examinable in TPS Taxation and TPE.

Students can find NIC to be a confusing subject, as the names of the various classes of NIC give no clue as to their applicability to taxpayers; the lack of the word 'tax' in the titles often means this is an area that students forget to consider altogether!

In this article, Donald Drysdale discusses some of the recent publicity surrounding NIC whilst also giving an insight into the origins of the system.

Monday 3rd April 2017

A new tax year is upon us: 6 April marks the beginning of a new tax year in the UK, but have you ever wondered why it lies on that particular date?

Countries in Europe began to move away from the Julian calendar between the 16th and 18th centuries. Pope Gregory XIII devised the new system in 1582 to correct the length of the year by 0.0002% as the original calendar miscalculated the solar year by 11 minutes, therefore resulting in errors every 128 years.

The start of the tax year in the Julian calendar was 25 March, also known as 'Lady Day', which was the earliest Christian holiday of the year, commemorating the day that the Virgin Mary was told by angel Gabriel that she would be the mother of Jesus Christ.

Collecting debts on religious holidays

All debts and rents had to be settled by this date and similarly by three other religious days spread out to each quarter of the year. Presumably, because people were more likely to be at home or at church on these days, and therefore it was easier to make collections.

The Gregorian calendar was implemented in the UK in 1752 by the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750. The populace rioted for 11 days under the belief that their lives would be shortened as they had gone to bed on Wednesday 2 September and woken up on Thursday 14 September.

This would have seemed especially maddening as other adjustments in 1751 meant the year only lasted 282 in days in England.

After the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, the beginning of the tax year moved from 25 March to 5 April in 1753 to avoid losing 11 days of tax revenue. This was adjusted again to 6 April in 1800 due to a leap year and one day of revenue loss.

And that, dear CA Students and pub quiz enthusiasts, is why the new tax year will starts on 6 April!

In today's blog 

We have more nuggets of knowledge for you in this week's blog as we go back to basics with audit risk and buy-to-let property income. Keep on top of the key points ahead of your next exams!

Tutor Graham Foster (and pub quiz enthusiast) also tells us all about why the CIPFA qualification was worth the hard work for him.

Back to basics: Audit Risk

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

Back to basics: Buy-to-let property

Using the practical example of a buy-to-let property is a great way to see the interaction of taxes that are studied at TC and TPS levels. In this short article, we remind you of the key tax points relating to an individual with a buy-to-let property.

Tutor Profile: Graham Foster

Outdoorsman and tutor Graham Foster shares his pathway to CIPFA qualification from philosophical studies at university to exploring the full impact of financial decisions for public services, and why it doesn't stop at the bottom line.


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