The benefits of the ever-popular Finance Director's update
Two course leaders explain the benefits of the ever-popular Finance Directors’ Update – and why they aim to make a soufflé, not a suet pudding.
As rules, regulations and the wider economic environment continue to evolve, the learning never stops for finance directors (FDs). Keeping up to date with developments in financial reporting and taxation is a key part of the role. But FDs are often faced with the challenge of an already packed diary.
The Finance Directors’ Update, run in partnership with BPP, aims to help finance professionals achieve their CPD goals efficiently. One of ICAS’ most popular courses, it enables attendees to refresh and improve their knowledge within a short timeframe. Despite the title of the course, it’s not just for FDs; it’s also suitable for other finance professionals, ICAS members or otherwise, who need to stay at the top of their game when it comes to financial reporting and taxation.
The course next takes place on the mornings of 1 and 14 November, when industry experts, John Moffat CA, Director of JRM Training and Professional Services, and Michael Steed, Head of Tax at BPP, will lead attendees through recent developments, and the judgements and calculations these entail. Attendees can join in person (Edinburgh, 1 November) or online (14 November). Whichever location they choose, they can expect succinct but thorough delivery of relevant information. As Michael says: “Attendees know they are going to get a concentrated, intense session, which will only take up half a day.”
John, who had a 35-year career at Grant Thornton before launching his own business as a trainer, delivers the financial-reporting session, while Steed focuses on tax. The course content is tailored to the requirements of all attendees, to keep it relevant for large, medium-sized and smaller companies. “The course should appeal to finance directors right across the spectrum,” observes Michael.
As well as the breadth of knowledge imparted by the course leaders, there are other valuable benefits to be gained. John says: “It’s not just about keeping up to date with the subject matter. It’s also about the interactivity of the course, which offers attendees the opportunity to share their thoughts and to hear the views of their fellow professionals on the course.”
Michael agrees about the importance of this multilateral approach: “Reading out lines from a set of slides is no good to anyone. You’ve got to make the course come alive and that’s our skill.” While the content is technical and the subject matter can be complex, he also emphasises the importance of keeping it light and easily digestible: “The key thing is to make it a soufflé rather than a suet pudding.”
Also, despite the inevitable acronyms that crop up in matters relating to taxation and financial reporting, jargon is kept to a minimum. “We avoid ‘technobabble’ – we explain everything in plain English and we tell it like it is,” says Michael.
The content of the financial-reporting segment of the course can be summed up as “developments, discussions, experiences and what’s on the agenda at the moment”, says John. This will mainly include FRS 102, developments proposed in FRED 82, and the growing importance of considering and reporting on the implications of sustainability. Also on the agenda will be information about the main issues which auditors are currently focusing on. “I’m finding that finance directors have a lot of questions around this at the moment,” John adds.
Reporting requirements may change as time goes by, and some subjects go in and out of fashion, but some themes are evergreen. “We’ll be looking at the continuing importance of ethics, in terms of how we behave as individuals, as well as how we behave in the companies we represent. This will include the type of ethical issues that are coming up in the context of preparing and auditing accounts at the moment,” explains John.
Fraud, money laundering, bribery, tax evasion and other forms of financial crime, including Russian sanctions, will be in the spotlight, with recent case studies as reference.
In the tax section of the course, Michael examines the hot topics in corporation tax, personal tax, employment tax and VAT. A wide range of items are covered in these sections, including the R&D landscape, freezing of allowances, electric vehicles and hybrid working post Covid.
As change, like taxes, is one of the few things we can be certain of in life, both course leaders believe it is worth attending the Finance Directors’ Update course regularly basis, once a year being about right.
And attendees share this opinion. “People tend to come back because they recognise how important it is to keep their knowledge up to date,” says John.
“Tax is a fast-changing landscape,” concurs Michael. “If you take your eye off the ball, you’re going to miss something major.”
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