10. Accounting and tax.

Tax?

Ahh the wonderful world of tax, people ask “what do you do?” You say “I’m an accountant”, this usually leads to someone asking you tax questions; when I was younger I used to feel embarrassed at not knowing the answers to their question but now I realise I need to just correct them and let them know there are different types of accountants or I just say “I work in finance” avoiding the word ‘accountant’ all together. 

Why have I given you that pointless introduction? For a simple reasons not all accountants are tax experts, some accountants will have a good understanding of the basics and can do a company return based on results but when you are talking about Tax avoidance (WHICH IS LEGAL BY THE WAY), you’re average accountant won’t know the more intricate schemes, this is down to someone who specialises in tax.

BTW: I have no qualms with Tax avoidance despite the cries of public my view is simple, fix the laws, I do not believe for a second if regular PAYE employees could find areas to cut their tax bill they wouldn’t, tax shaming is ridiculous and this body who gives people a stamp to say they are tax moral is nothing more than glorified virtue signalling and does not deal with the problem, we should not need a body for this crud, pressure should be applied at the right place i.e. with those in charge of laws to sort this out, I read article after article hampering on about moral this, accountants image being effected and I think what a bunch of parrot zombies. Rant over.

If you specialise in tax returns you are usually not the person who prepares the accounts, but you are the person who asks the right questions and gets the right answers! Any specialism in accounting takes work but Tax carries an extra burden as we all know what happens when you get this wrong.

If you wish to be a tax account remember you are going to need to study annually to maintain your knowledge, this is more than your usual CPD stuff to maintain your qualification, as you can’t afford to not know what is coming!

If tax is what you want to do but you have no knowledge of tax or accounting then start with the ATT qualification, if you’re already working in account have a AAT/ACCA etc then study the CTA, the CTA is the highest tax qualification in the UK at present.

Image from:
Links:
https://www.att.org.uk/
http://www.tax.org.uk/homepage

11. Accounting and careers.

Which area?

There are so many different areas of accounting you can go into; I remember when I completed my AAT all I said was I wanted to be an accountant not knowing there were so many different positions.
I’m going to give a very simple summary of job roles within accounting and say which accounting qualifications is better suited for the roles.

Accounts payable
In this role you process invoices, do statement reconciliations, deal with supplier queries that can arise and prepare payment runs.
Qualifications: AAT

Accounts receivable
You raise invoices, send statements, allocate payments and deal with customer queries as well as chase payments aiming is to keep customers within their payment terms.
Qualifications: AAT

Banking
You post banking transactions onto the system, post foreign exchange gains/losses, arrange payments, manage company credit cards, setup direct debits and do the banking reconciliations.
Qualifications:
AAT

Book keeper
A book keep is broader than the previous three, as usually you will be preparing accounts up to the trial balance, this includes nominal coding, doing AP, AR, Banking etc.
Qualifications: AAT is the best qualification for this position.

Practice account
Whilst there are different levels; the main aim is to prepare a set of final accounts for business owners.
This requires a knowledge of accounting and a good understanding of double entry book keeping.
You can find entry level positions for this but overall I feel this needs at least an intermediary knowledge of accounting as there is usually a tax calculation required.
Qualifications: AAT (initially) then ACCA or ACA

Reconciliations
In short you are ensuring all debits and credits are in the right place and there are no ‘funny’ posting i.e. capital expenditure is not posted to revenue.
This requires a knowledge of accounting and a good understanding of double entry book keeping.
Qualifications: AAT

Auditor
Without getting technical (ACCA F8 will do that to you) in summary you go to companies and check they have prepared their accounts as per the relevant accounting standard or local law.
Qualifications: ACA or ACCA

Internal auditor
Your target is to get your companies compliant with accounting standards/local law but an internal auditor can also review a company’s operational performance, process procedures and implement measures to reduce the risk of fraud/error.
Qualifications: Certified Internal Auditor, ACA or ACCA

Forensic accountant
You work with or in law enforcement, to determine if someone is trying to launder money gained from proceeds of crime or is being used to fund things like terrorism, people usually transfer into this from Auditing.
Qualifications: ACA or ACCA

Financial accountant
You produce the final accounts and to the required legal requirement.
You will need to be a qualified accountant in order to do this.
Qualifications: ACA or ACCA

Management accountant
Also known as the sexy side of accounting, you help people manage their budgets.
Qualifications: CIMA

Analyst
My favourite part of accounting; you interpret the numbers and data in general, you explain things like customer age, locations, average spend, areas of growth and comparison to competition etc.
Qualifications: A degree in maths, statistics etc will be welcomed with open arms but in terms of accounting qualifications CIMA is better suited qualification for this position (I acknowledge this even as a ACCA student).
An addition to this, software skills in any of these areas is a benefit: Advanced Excel, VBA, SQL, MS Access, Data warehouse, Business Objects, Google Analytics

Financial performance & analysis FP&A
Usually in larger companies this role is as it says you monitor the performance of the company and provide and analysis.
Qualifications: CIMA

Finance business partner / Operational finance manager
Somewhere between a management account and an analyst, business partners work closely with a particular department and provide ‘real time’ support and analysis, too help with decision making.
Qualifications: CIMA

Commercial finance
The lines between commercial finance manager, financial controller, finance manager, management accountant, financial performance and analysis and even to some extent finance director is becoming blurred but a commercial finance manager would usually be working in the commercial arm of the business i.e. residential properties vs commercial ones.
Qualifications: CIMA

Finance manager
A finance manager usually overseeas the AP, AR, Banking, Payroll and balance sheet reconciliations.
Qualifications: AAT, ACA, ACCA, CIMA

Systems accountant
This is an area of accounting not spoken about much but you look after the technological side of accounting, for example imagine software like Sage, Xero, business objects or HFM these are accounting packages or reporting software that needs to be installed, rolled out and maintained, yes a tech guy can do this but someone with an accounting qualification can bring added benefits for obvious reasons.
Qualifications: any accounting qualification will set you right AAT, ACCA, CIMA, ACA but should get good grounding in one of the following areas to really flourish VBA, SQL, MS Excel (advanced level), MS Access, Oracle, Xero, HFM, Data warehouse, Business Objects or Microstrategy.

Shared services/Business process outsourced
Your role is to manage the outsourced part of accounting, for example if accounts payable is outsourced, you will check Service Level Agreement (SLA, what services we’ve agreed they should be doing) and Key Performance Indicators (KPI, are they doing it as per agreement); you will also be a mediator when there are issues.
Qualifications: AAT, ACA, ACCA, CIMA

Group accountant
You consolidate the company accounts, the includes P&L, Balance sheets etc, this role is often found in larger organisations who consolidate the accounts with HFM.
Qualifications: ACA or ACCA

Capital accountant
All capital transactions go through you, you will often also look after the fixed asset register and will be responsible for nominal coding of assets.
Qualifications: ACA or ACCA

Financial Controller
As a FC you are responsible for the company’s financial reporting, such as its monthly, quarterly and annual accounts, you manage transactions of the company’s AP, AR, payroll, and control accounts and provide operational finance.
Qualifications: ACA, ACCA or CIMA

Financial Director
Finance directors are members of a senior executive team with responsibility for their company’s financial health. They combine operational and strategic roles, manage accounting and financial control functions, and establish a financial strategy for the profitable long-term growth of the business.
Qualifications: ACA, ACCA or CIMA

Chief financial officer (CFO)
1st off cha-ching!!! Ahhh you made it my friend, you are in the nice house, nice holidays bracket now!!! ahhh shizzle heck you can even get those mouth watering 5k peddle bikes! You the man!!! No more cheap puregym for you… oh no my friend you get to go to the gyms with the pools, steam rooms and Saunas. Why? Because screw you!!! That’s why!
I supposed I should do some form of a summary of the role, ah heck it does not matter what this role involves as you’ve made it, you say you’re a CFO especially in a blue chip organisation before you’re all grey or balding you da dam man!!!
If you are actually ambitious and not parrot ambitious (you just repeat ambitions you heard from others) CFO is where your hard working backside must aim for! I only rate business owners (regardless of profit) higher than I rate CFO because of how taxing owning your own business can be.

Ok, it’s time to say a bit about this rockstar position, a CFO looks after Controllership duties (makes sure the company complies with the law & internal controls process are up to par), Treasury duties, Economic strategy and forecasting, Accounting and Reporting, Management and Budgeting a good CEO will also need to share the right data with the right departments to allow better decision making, this can be for helping internal management decisions (is a department over/under staff), or decisions that impact external customers i.e. is our pricing right?
Qualifications: ACA, ACCA or CIMA

Treasury (Separate qualification)
Treasurers look after the cash, you make sure the business is using it’s cash sensibly, you will often be responsible for producing a cash flow forecast and looking at things such as should the company has a U$D account.
Qualifications: ACT (Association of Corporate Treasurers), ACA, ACCA, CIMA

Tax (separate qualification)
You look after the taxation of a business or individual and it’s as simple as that, naturally the role itself can get even more complicated, for example you have a business not registered in the EU but you deliver all their goods to a EU, how do you treat this?
Qualifications: ATT and/or CTA

@Brainthrough

Image from: http://photography.webdore.com/cityscapes-2/
Links:
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/242001
http://www.sequelvcfo.com.au/sequel-vcfo-blog/what-does-a-cfo-actually-do

 

9. Accounting and other professional bodies.

What other professional bodies are there? Loads, let’s jump straight in.

Prince 2
This is a project management qualification, usually associated with the public sector but is also known in the private sector, if you want to be a project manager this is a good stepping stone but unless you are targeting a public sector career I would opt for PMP/PMI.

Association for Project Management – APM
This is a good qualification and works well for public sector organisations but if it were me I would skip it and go with Prince 2 or PMP/PMI.

Project Management Professional – PMP/PMI
This is a better globally known project management qualification and one I would recommend you do if you want to become a project manager.

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development – CIPD
If you want a career in HR you should aim to get this qualification.

Chartered institute of marketing – CIM
This is not a mandatory qualification for a career in marketing but it’s still worth doing if this is the route you want to go down.

Chartered Management Institute – CMI
This is a good complimentary qualification, it’s not one I would personally go for on its own as it is not a required qualification for management positions for example, I feel this qualification is best when it’s combined with an accounting, HR or project management qualification it’s a good addition.

Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply – CIPS
Procurement is not an industry really spoken about, I tend to find people fall into procurement or hear about it through word of mouth, in short you buy goods for the company you work for, trying to get the best deal whilst you’re at it.

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors – RICS
This is for those who want to get into the construction industry, when you buy a house one of these qualified people will come around and value it for you.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert – MCSE
I.T. qualification for Microsoft software.

Cisco Certified Network Associate – CCNA
Cisco’s professional qualification, this is entry level.

Cisco Certified Network Professional – CCNP
As above but medium level.

Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert – CCIE
This once upon a time was the must have qualification for demanding the salary of your dreams, it’s a tough qualification (what isn’t) but still worth the effort.

Certified Information Systems Security Professional – CISSP
A great qualification we are going digital and security is important.
Brainthrough!

Links:
https://www.prince2.com/uk
https://www.apm.org.uk/
https://www.pmi.org/certifications/types/project-management-pmp
https://www.cipd.co.uk/
https://www.cim.co.uk/
https://www.cips.org/en-gb/homepage/
https://www.rics.org/uk/
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/mcse-certification.aspx
https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/training-events/training-certifications/certifications.html

@Brainthrough

8. Accounting and changing careers?

Can you change careers? Yes

I have come across people who changed careers, they started life as qualified accountants but had enough or felt it was not for them and changed to something else.

Where did they go? HR, Project management, Recruitment agent, IT (Web design), Yoga teacher, started their own business and motivational speaking.

How did they make the change? HR, Project manager applied for the role in the company they were working for.

The rest usually did evening courses/professional qualifications on the subjects that interested them and made the move across.

Should you change career?

Depends on how much you hate what you’re doing, the reason I say that is, you are most likely picturing the glamourous side of a career change and not really taking into account that every job has crap parts, plus you will be at a disadvantage to those who have been doing it for years and financially you will most likely have to take a salary hit, unless your current set of skills are directly transferrable.

I watched an interview in which Kanye West said something along the lines of ‘they say you should change careers every five years’, who the they are I do not know, as I don’t know whether this is good or bad advice, what I do know is for some it will work and for others it won’t.

I have read in AAT magazines people who believe working in different fields actually makes you a better rounded accountant but a former colleague read an article that said staying your craft is the better move. As you will find with every single thing in life, there are some who agree and disagree.

Some food for thought is, what if I told you there are quite a few people who work in accounting roles but never initially studied accounting? I knew someone who studied art and another person who studied a chemistry. What’s the point of mentioning this? What you may start out studying may not be what you end up getting income from.

So again, should you change careers?

Only you can answer that question, but if you are doing it because you have had enough of what you’re doing make sure you spend the time to find out the dull parts of your desired career, most things seem great until you do them full time, you also want to make sure it is not the company you are working for that is making you hate your job, some places I have worked, if they were my only accounting experiences I would have probably tried to change careers myself.

Brainthrough!

Image from: http://thelongwayup.info/how-to-career-change
Image from: http://www.globalengineers.co.in/Career.html

7. Accounting; your future is decided in a meeting you’re not a part of?

In this meeting; should we will discuss cost reduction?

This is not a cheap shot at the redundancy processes; this usually happens as a result of a few things: Economic climate, consumers wanting cheaper products, competition, shareholders, expired staff or increased costs.

I’ll explain expired/expensive staff; in some cases the redundancy process is used to clear out dead wood (team deemed not fit for purpose)/expensive employees.

The other side to this is where staff have become too expensive, you tend to find this when a member of staff has been in the company and same position for a number of years, as each year passes they will get annual pay rises/cost of living increases; usually they are also on an older contract with more generous terms, this could be higher bonus percentage or better employee perks than newer contract offer.

The process to get rid of these type of employees is change the JD enough (I think it is 40%) and rename their position, let them apply and say they were unsuccessful give them their redundancy pay and hire some new staff who will be doing the exact same job (yes this really happens).

The meeting you’re not a part of?

A high level meeting happens and a decision is made; rumours swirl around the office then the departmental meetings happen and you are told something along the lines of ‘restructure or transformation’ and the consultation period starts.

I’ve been in accounting for over ten years in both the public and private sectors and I can tell you, I’ve seen this happen over 7 times with some brutal outcomes when all the chaos is going on people usually fall into two simple groups: those who want the pay out and those who rant to remain.

An example I have of those who wanted the pay out:

The organisation I was working for at the time, decided to do a restructure (of finance) and offered people within the department an opportunity to apply for voluntary severance, this was to be looked at on a case by case basis, forms were emailed saying the inbox for the forms would be opened on xyz so please ensure you email you forms in on this date or before closing date on xyz.

The day arrived when the mailbox would become available; at 14:30 it went live, for the next few moments my department proceeded to sound like a mouse/keyboard orchestra, clatter, clatter, clatter, click, click, click! It was hilarious! EVERYONE WANTED OUT with the golden handshake, heck; even those who just about qualified for redundancy were like ‘YES PLEASE, get me out of here!!!’ could you imagine the shock on their faces when they checked the mailbox 10 minutes later; unfortunately due to the flash flood no one got the voluntary severance.

An example I have of those who want to remain:

A colleague of mine in HR was put on the chopping block, the worry, stress and anxiety this caused him was horrific, he was a mature employee and that combined with him being he was married with kids and a mortgage just put him in a state, to make matters worse this was the ONLY organisation he had ever worked for; he was devoted first to arrive last to leave type of guy and now he was being shown the door; in the end he accepted another role within the organisation for a significantly lower salary, the sheer thought of having to go on the market especially during that period terrified him and honestly even though I felt he was hard done by, I was relieved for him when he got the post.

That was the first time I saw an employee who worked for a company all their lives put on the chopping block, but it was not the last.

Their futures were decided in a meeting they were not a part of; which is a terrifying thought but seeing this process over and over taught me a few things.

As anyone can be replaced, to put yourself in a strong position whether you leave or stay you need to ensure three things: you’re progressing, your skills are always up to date (learning new skills) and you maintain relationships.

Although for some (definitely not all) the desire to progress is natural, your aim should be to be part of those meetings where futures are decided, naturally this is just not going to be a possibility for all as simple maths says there will always be more people than management posts (or even jobs for that fact).

Always keep your eye on the job market; even if you do not intend to leave; you need to know what skills other employees are looking for and how many of those you don’t have? Once that’s clear make a plan to get them; attached to this is following the trends; if you know outsourcing or automation is coming for particular positions, follow the progress of them, it will keep you ahead of the curve and allow you to adjust.

If a new software is coming out and they have managed to bag similar customers particularly if they are in the same industry as you; try and get a hands on with it; if it has features that can do what you’re doing more efficiently how brilliant will you be for getting this implemented at your current employer? Plus on the CV you can add this software which opens you up to a broader range of employees.

If you are this way inclined only; stay networking, go to networking events and conferences particularly in your field make connection and keep them; you’ll never know when they will lead, it also pays to build connections with people outside of your department as that person who works in HR might move onto another company and if they are recruiting for a position you do…. wallah!

It is crucial you are always updating your skills to what the market wants, once upon a time being able to open a spread sheet was enough but now? The minimum is often Pivot tables and Vlookups.

Whenever you get a job, keep this in the back of your mind:

A company owes you nothing more than they are legally obliged to, i.e. just because you worked your backside off for 10 years, put in late nights, come in on weekends and cancelled holidays; it means nothing when costs have got to be cut. If costs can be cut they often will be, it is NOT personal or a reflection on you, customers want cheaper products, a rival has achieved this by cutting costs in xyz area, to stay competitive they will need respond which could result in your role being axed.

Brainthrough!

Links:
http://www.masonbullock.co.uk/making-redundancies/

6. Accounting and future requirements?

What skills will accountants need going forward?

I was looking at the job market via Reed, Total jobs, CV Library, Indeed etc and I noticed a couple of growing trends.

The movement away from Qualified By Experience (QBE):
This is for people who have been doing accounting for a while but have not taken/signed up for a professional accounting qualification; I have noticed a decline in the QBE roles advertised.

The requirement for a degree and a professional qualification:
This one is moving at a slower pace but I have started to notice jobs requiring a professional qualification and a degree, in some extreme cases for very senior posts there is also the requirement for a MBA.

MS Excel: Lookups and Pivot tables, no longer enough!
The definition of intermediate/advanced Excel differs depending on person, nothing is really set in stone but soon ‘Indexing’ and ‘Matching’ will be mentioned on job descriptions and interviews, I am surprised I don’t see ‘Macro’s’ mentioned more but it is definitely an accountants friend and worth learning.

Additional language:
The requirement for at least one additional European language, has risen but this is still a relatively flexible requirement; I’ve also seen jobs looking for candidates who can speak Chinese or Japanese; I’ve actually been surprised at a couple of companies who were owned by Chinese or Japanese investors.

Visual Basic for Applications (VBA):
This tends to be mentioned in finance analyst positions but Microsoft Visual Basic is becoming a necessary requirement for analyst; I don’t know much about VBA I’ve never used it but I know it is a great skill to have.

Structured Query Language (SQL):
Same as VBA, This tends to be mentioned in finance analyst positions but Structured Query Language is becoming a necessary requirement for analyst; again another great skill to learn.

Brainthrough!

Image from: http://www.caradvice.com.au/438168/subaru-eyesight-and-ibms-watson-supercomputer-join-forces/

5. Accounting and Rosberg?

Accounting and Nico Rosberg?

I am going to start this by saying I am a 44 (Lewis Hamilton) fan and this article is not a ‘shade’ piece on the champ.

Studying accounting is tough and for some of you, it will be the toughest thing you’ve come up against so far, it can happen that you put in the effort, but the exam will get the better of you; it could take you a minimum of three attempts before you pass a paper.

You may see fellow classmates/colleagues progress at a faster rate than you and maybe even overtake you, when you have given up mornings, lunches, evenings and weekends this can be beyond discouraging and make you think, screw it! And chuck in the towel.

I know of people who reached the final papers and walked away, this is not about being ‘dedicated’ it’s about not being deterred.

 The best example of this, is F1’s 2016 WDC Nico Rosberg.

Some of you would have struggled through AAT, only to take up the fun challenge of going further with your studies, in doing so; you’re also struggling with ACCA/ACA/CIMA etc.

How does this relate Rosberg? Let’s begin…

Nico and Lewis had been competing for over 15 years! With Lewis predominately getting the better of him, at their younger age; this was seen as friendly competition, they would race to eat Pizza with Hamilton learning how to ride a unicycle as Nico could, and he did not want him to have an advantage.

When Lewis was convinced to come to Mercedes by Niki Lauda, who promised he would win a WDC, childhood flash backs for both drivers was about to start; which for Rosberg? meant hell!!!

In 2014 we saw Nico make mistakes and eventually lose out to number 44 who carried the momentum straight into 2015, he was on a roll, Nico was forced to turn passenger that year. When 2016 came Nico was pretty much written off by everyone (including myself), but number 6 Nico had other ideas, he made a few changes and went to the extremes, a great example of this is when he stopped cycling to lose leg muscle to give his less weight, which resulted in a faster lap than his team mate.

He jumped his final hurdle which a stress test on the last race of season set by Hamilton and achieved his childhood dream of becoming a F1 World Driver Champion.

Some will tell you he was lucky, I will tell you this, luck always seems to find people on a roll, it just seem drawn to them as it was to Nico but we cannot forget; it takes a whole dam season to win.

If you are struggling with your accounting studies, but you know this is what you want to do; just like Nico, don’t be deterred, think of changes you need to make and eventually it will come, be prepared to go to the extreme if need be, to pass those pesky papers.

Brainthrough!

4. Accounting and dyscalculia & dyslexia?

Accounting and dyscalculia/dyslexia, where do I stand?

I touched on this before but felt it deserved its own post; can you suffer from dyscalculia and be an accountant? Yes, Yes, triple Yes!!!

What is it?
I will start by saying frustratingly there is not a universally agreed definition of Dyscalculia and unfortunately research into it has not been as well funded or developed as it has for Dyslexia.

Of the different descriptions of Dyscalculia I prefer the DSM-5 definition which is:
“DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) characterises Dyscalculia as: ‘a condition that affects the ability to acquire mathematical skills. Dyscalculia learners may have difficulty understanding simple number concepts, lack an intuitive grasp of numbers, and have problems learning number facts and procedures. Even if they produce a correct answer or use a correct method, they may do so mechanically and without confidence.”

(Please note that Dyscalculia is not the same as Maths Anxiety; a separate blog about this is here: https://brainthrough.co.uk/2019/12/14/24-accounting-and-maths-anxiety/

I have not heard Dyscalculia mentioned much in the mainstream TV, however my face did grimace when I saw an awful and I truly mean an awful! display of people views of Dyscalculia.
I was watching a TV game shows and one of the contestants mentioned she suffered from dyscalculia, she then tried to explain it to the host and other contestants and appallingly she was mocked and they basically said “there’s no such thing” and implied people like her, like myself who have this are thick (UK slang for dumb), it was hard to watch but more importantly it reflected my own experiences when I could not do “simple” mental arithmetic or I could never understand algebra etc.

Why Dyscalculia won’t stop you in accounting?
A common worry that dyscalculia suffers have is mental arithmetic, there is a gripping fear that someone will ask you to mentally calculate bonkers sums and you can’t and you feel stupid, well I want you to know this; there are no such things as a non-calculator paper in professional accounting exams! and that’s for a reason; accounting despite popular belief is not strictly about mathematics it is about rules; the hardest part is grasping these rules which are less maths based than you think, they are more about logical order (although sometimes it will feel illogical). Most calculations accountants do; are done via accounting systems and MS Excel; are there times that being good at mental maths would help? of course! But does struggling with it mean you can’t have a career in accounting? No, there is nothing to stop you using a calculator/Excel!

As an accountant you will do a lot of reconciliations, that will have you scratching your head; not because of mathematical difficulties, but because you have to figure out how on earth something has gone wrong!

In terms of dyslexia, don’t ever let this put you off, it may hinder your ability to pick things up initially as quickly as your peers but it will not stop you at all, don’t worry about your spelling mistakes either, there are high chances are you will be using MS word or MS Outlook, if you need to write a report or email, these programs come with aids to help with spelling and grammar and if it helps most of my accounting tutors were crap at spelling and grammar (as am I).

Studying AAT and/or ACCA?
I can’t speak on the other accounting qualifications as I’ve not done them personally and I’ll refrain from talking about AAT as its been a while since I completed it.

I know you may worry about getting qualified but don’t, accounting exams are done in such a way they don’t penalise you for having one or both, so if you want to be an accountant, please don’t be discouraged
! be prepared for ACCA papers such as
F2 F5, F9, P4 and P5 as these have a heavy focus on mathematical side of accounting, keep in mind that only papers F2, F5 and F9 are mandatory whilst P4 and P5 are optional, there is a case for F6 and P6 but these are more rule based than raw number crunching. 

As someone who lives with this I want to tell you; first you are not dumb and secondly you can do this career or any other career you so wish! you will face hard times no doubt, as a consoling point nearly everyone I know found at least the studying portion of accounting hard, including those without dyscalculia/dyslexia, so it’s not just you.

I also have a post on Anxiety and Depression:
https://brainthrough.co.uk/2019/08/22/22-accounting-and-anxiety-depression/

Brainthrough!

Links:
http://www.dyslexia.uk.net/specific-learning-difficulties/dyscalculia/
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2017/01/12/dyscalculia-maths-becomes-anxiety/
https://www.cne.psychol.cam.ac.uk/math-memory/what-is-mathematics-anxiety

3. Accounting qualification costs?

How much does it cost?

Please note this does not include: one off registration fees, exam exemption fees, revision courses, question based days or re-sit costs. Highest value option papers will be used as will standard exam fees.

  • Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) £8,303
  • Foundations in Accountancy (FIA/CAT) £3,962
  • Association of Taxations Technicians (ATT) £4,260
  • Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) £10,471
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) £15,982
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) £12,160
  • Association of Chartered Accountants (ACA held by ICAEW) £13,579
  • Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA held by CIOT) £6,794
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) £8,529

I’ve chucked in CFA but remember, it is NOT an accounting qualification! It is a Financial Market qualification.

AAT – £8,303
AQ2016 there are 3 levels:

  • Foundation Certificate in Accounting – Level 2

o   Estimated time to complete this level: 6-12 months
o   Number of exams at this level: 5
o   Total estimated course cost: £ 1,610
o   Total estimated AAT exam cost: £400 (based on highest exam cost £80.00 per paper)
o   AAT annual membership fee: £131
o   Level total: £2,141.00

  • Advanced Diploma in Accounting – Level 3

o   Estimated time to complete this level: 12 months +
o   Number of exams at this level: 6
o   Total estimated course cost: £1,865
o   Total estimated AAT exam cost: £480 (based on highest exam cost £80.00 per paper)
o   AAT annual membership fee: £131
o   Level total: £2,476.00

  • Professional Diploma in Accounting – Level 4

o   Estimated time to complete this level: 12-18 months
o   Number of exams at this level: 6 (4 fixed + 2 options)
o   Total level estimated cost: £3,075 (based on the 2 most expensive option papers)
o   Total estimated AAT exam cost: £480 (based on highest exam cost £80.00 per paper)
o   AAT annual membership fee: £131
o   Level total: £3,686.00

FIA (CAT) – £3,962

This has not been straight forward to price for a couple of reasons: not all courses are available in a classroom, BPP does not have all four levels to this qualification and the pricing variances between Kaplan and BPP is huge and I’m unclear as to why.

I’ll use BPP pricing for this which is significantly higher than Kaplan but for the level BPP does not offer I will just use the same pricing as the level above.

*prices are based on BPP on-line learning.

  • Introductory Certificate in Financial & Management Accounting

o   Number of exams at this level: 2
o   Total estimated course cost: £600
o   Total estimated exam cost: £106 (based on standard exam cost £53 per paper)
o   ACCA annual membership fee: £95
o   Level total: £801

  • Intermediate Certificate in Financial & Management Accounting

o   Number of exams at this level: 2
o   Total estimated course cost: £ 650
o   Total estimated exam cost: £106 (based on standard exam cost £53 per paper)
o   ACCA annual membership fee: £95
o   Level total: £851

  • Diploma in Accounting and Business – No BPP courses for this level

o   Number of exams at this level: 3
o   Total estimated course cost: £1,044
o   Total estimated exam cost: £228 (based on standard exam cost £76 per paper)
o   ACCA annual membership fee: £95
o   Level total: £1,367

  • Certified Accounting Technician

o   Number of exams at this level: 2 (out of 3 options)
o   Total estimated course cost: £696
o   Total estimated exam cost: £152 (based on standard exam cost £76 per paper)
o   ACCA annual membership fee: £95
o   Level total: £943.00

ATT – £4,260

Does not really have a level structure; it’s more modular, you sit three written exams and two computer based exams.

  • Compulsory Computer Based Examinations

o   Number of exams at this level: 2
o   Total estimated course cost: £800
o   Total estimated exam cost: £360 (based on standard exam cost £135 per paper) + 2 examination manuals at £45 each.
o   Annual membership fee: £145
o   Level total: £1,305

  • Compulsory written papers

o   Number of exams at this level: 2
o   Total estimated course cost: £1,715
o   Total estimated exam cost: £270 (based on standard exam cost £135 per paper)
o   Annual membership fee: £145
o   Level total: £2,130

  • Compulsory written papers – Pick an option paper

o   Number of exams at this level: 1
o   Total estimated course cost: £545
o   Total estimated exam cost: £135 (based on standard exam cost £135 per paper)
o   Annual membership fee: £145
o   Level total: £825

CIPFA – £10,471

There are 3 levels in CIPFA and no options papers; also credit to CIPFA they made attaining financial information about the course effortless.

  • Professional Certificate

o   Number of exams at this level: 4
o   Total estimated course cost: £2,566
o   Total estimated exam cost: £400 (based on standard exam cost £100 per paper).
o   Annual membership fee: £151
o   Level total: £3,117

  • Professional Diploma

o   Number of exams at this level: 6
o   Total estimated course cost: £3,914
o   Total estimated exam cost: £600 (based on standard exam cost £100 per paper).
o   Annual membership fee: £151
o   Level total: £4,665

  • Strategic stage

o   Number of exams at this level: 2
o   Total estimated course cost: £2,138
o   Total estimated exam cost: £400 (based on standard exam cost £200 per paper).
o   Annual membership fee: £151
o   Level total: £2,689

CIMA – £15,982

There are 3 levels in CIMA and no options papers; each level has a case study which must be passed before you can move on.

  • Operational

o   Number of exams at this level: 4
o   Total estimated course cost: £4,380
o   Total estimated exam cost: £400 (based on standard exam cost £83 per paper + £136 case study).
o   Annual membership fee: £108
o   Level total: £4,888

  • Management

o   Number of exams at this level: 4
o   Total estimated course cost: £4,690
o   Total estimated exam cost: £600 (based on standard exam cost £83 per paper + £136 case study).
o   Annual membership fee: £108
o   Level total: £5,398

  • Strategic

o   Number of exams at this level: 4
o   Total estimated course cost: £4,970
o   Total estimated exam cost: £618 (based on standard exam cost £136 per paper + 210 case study).
o   Annual membership fee: £108
o   Level total: £5,696

ACA – £13,579

There are three levels in ACA

  • Certificate

o   Number of exams at this level: 6
o   Total estimated course cost: £3,585
o   Total estimated exam cost: £420 (based on standard exam cost £70 per paper).
o   Annual membership fee: £198
o   Level total: £4,203

  • Professional

o   Number of exams at this level: 6
o   Total estimated course cost: £4,805
o   Total estimated exam cost: £540 (based on standard exam cost £90 per paper).
o   Annual membership fee: £198
o   Level total: £5,543

  • Advanced

o   Number of exams at this level: 3
o   Total estimated course cost: £3,035
o   Total estimated exam cost: £600 (based on standard exam cost £170 per paper + £260 case study).
o   Annual membership fee: £198
o   Level total: £3,833

ACCA – £12,160

There are three levels in ACCA

  • Knowledge

o   Number of exams at this level: 3
o   Total estimated course cost: £1,810
o   Total estimated exam cost: £228 (based on standard exam cost £76 per paper).
o   Annual membership fee: £95
o   Level total: £2,133

  • Skills

o   Number of exams at this level: 6
o   Total estimated course cost: £4,440
o   Total estimated exam cost: £612 (based on standard exam cost £102 per paper).
o   Annual membership fee: £95
o   Level total: £5,147

  • Essentials

o   Number of exams at this level: 3
o   Total estimated course cost: £2,390
o   Total estimated exam cost: £384 (based on standard exam cost £128 per paper).
o   Annual membership fee: £95
o   Level total: £2,869

  • Options – Pick two option papers

o   Number of exams at this level: 2
o   Total estimated course cost: £1,660
o   Total estimated exam cost: £256 (based on standard exam cost £128 per paper).
o   Annual membership fee: £95
o   Level total: £2,011

CTA – £6,794

There are three levels in CTA

  • Advisory

o   Number of exams at this level: 2
o   Total estimated course cost: £2,178
o   Total estimated exam cost: £300 (based on standard exam cost £150 per paper).
o   Annual membership fee: £330
o   Level total: £2,808

  • Awareness

o   Number of exams at this level: 3
o   Total estimated course cost: £897
o   Total estimated exam cost: £450 (based on standard exam cost £150 per paper).
o   Annual membership fee: £330
o   Level total: £1,677

  • Application and interaction

o   Number of exams at this level: 1
o   Total estimated course cost: £449
o   Total estimated exam cost: £150 (based on standard exam cost £150 per paper).
o   Annual membership fee: £330
o   Level total: £929

  • Compulsory Computer Based Examinations – online only

o   Number of exams at this level: 2
o   Total estimated course cost: £890
o   Total estimated exam cost: £160 (based on standard exam cost £80 per paper + 2 x £45 for each manual).
o   Annual membership fee: £330
o   Level total: £1,290

CFA – £8,529

There are three levels in CFA

  • Level 1

o   Number of exams at this level: 1
o   Total estimated course cost: £1,530
o   Total estimated exam cost: £745 (based on standard exam cost $930 per paper).
o   Annual membership fee: £360 ($450 USD)
o   Level total: £2,635

  • Level 2

o   Number of exams at this level: 1
o   Total estimated course cost: £1,746
o   Total estimated exam cost: £745 (based on standard exam cost $930 per paper).
o   Annual membership fee: £360 ($450 USD)
o   Level total: £2,851

  • Level 3

o   Number of exams at this level: 1
o   Total estimated course cost: £1,938
o   Total estimated exam cost: £745 (based on standard exam cost $930 per paper).
o   Annual membership fee: £360 ($450 USD)
o   Level total: £3,043

Sources: BPP, Kaplan and all professional bodies mentioned.

Brainthrough!

2. Accounting qualification exams?

**From September 2018 ACCA will be making a few changes, I’ll make a new post**
How many exams?

The breakdown, this will show how many exams/case studies etc you will need to sit for each qualification.

  • Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)
  • Foundations in Accountancy (FIA formerly CAT)
  • Association of Taxations Technicians (ATT)
  • Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
  • Association of Chartered Accountants (ACA held by ICAEW)
  • Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA held by CIOT)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

The most difficult here is CFA, this qualification breaks people; and it is that way by design, but it is NOT an accounting qualification! It is a Financial Market qualification, please don’t get this confused.

AAT

There are three levels TO AQ 2016 and 17 exams in total.

AAT have introduced Synoptic exams; the best way to describe them is they will contain parts of a previous exams plus an additional subject.

  • Foundation Certificate in Accounting – Level 2: (5 exams) 6-12 months to complete
  • Number of exams at this level: 5 exams

o   Book keeping transactions (BTRN) – Solo + part of synoptic exam.
o   Book keeping controls (BKCL) – Solo + part of synoptic exam.
o   Elements of costing (ELCO) – Solo + part of synoptic exam.
o   Work effectively in finance (WEFN) – Synoptic exam only.
o   Synoptic assessment (FSYA).
o   Using Accounting software (UACS) – solo exam only.

  • Advanced Diploma in Accounting – Level 3: 12 months + to complete
  • Number of exams at this level: 6 exams

o   Advance book keeping (AVBK) – Solo + part of synoptic exam.
o   Final accounts preparation (FAPR) – Solo + part of synoptic exam.
o   Management accounting: Costing (MMAC) – Solo + part of synoptic exam.
o   Indirect tax (IDRX) – Solo + will be in synoptic exam.
o   Ethics for accountant (ETFA) – Synoptic exam only.
o   Spreadsheets for accounting (SPSH) – Synoptic exam only.

  • Professional Diploma in Accounting – Level 4: 12-18 months to complete
  • Number of exams at this level: 6 exams (4 fixed + 2 options)

o   Financial statement of limited companies (FSLC) – Solo + part of synoptic exam.
o   Management accounting: Budgeting (MABU) – Solo + part of synoptic exam.
o   Management accountant: Decision and control (MDCL) – Solo + part of synoptic exam.
o   Accounting systems and control (ASYC) – Synoptic exam only.

You will need to pick 2 of these option papers:

o   Personal tax (PLTX) – solo exam only.
o   Business tax (BSTX) – solo exam only.
o   Credit management (CDMT) – solo exam only.
o   Cash and treasury management (CTRM) – solo exam only.
o   External auditing (ETAU) – solo exam only.

FIA

There are four levels to this qualification and 9 exams in total.

  • Introductory Certificate in Financial & Management Accounting
  • Number of exams at this level: 2 exams

o   Recording Financial Transactions (FA1)
o   Management Information (MA1)

  • Intermediate Certificate in Financial & Management Accounting
  • Number of exams at this level: 2 exams

o   Maintaining Financial Records (FA2)
o   Managing Costs & Finance (MA2)

  • Diploma in Accounting and Business
  • Number of exams at this level: 3 exams

o   Accountant in Business (FAB)
o   Management Accounting (FMA)
o   Financial Accounting (FFA)

  • Certified Accounting Technician – Pick two option papers
  • Number of exams at this level: 2 exams

o   Foundations in Taxation (FTX)
o   Foundations in Financial Management (FFM)
o   Foundations in Audit (FAU)

ATT

There is not really a level structure in ATT you will sit 5 exams in total.

  • Compulsory Computer Based Examinations
  • Number of exams at this level: 2 exams

o   Law
o   Professional Responsibilities & Ethics

  • Compulsory written papers
  • Number of exams at this level: 2 exams

o   Personal taxation
o   Business taxation

  • Compulsory written papers – Pick an option paper
  • Number of exams at this level: 1 exams

o   Business Compliance
o   Corporate Taxation
o   Inheritance Tax, Trusts & Estates
o   Value Added Tax

CIPFA

There are three levels to this qualification and 12 exams in total.

  • Professional Certificate
  • Number of exams at this level: 4 exams

o   Financial Accounting
o   Management Accounting
o   Company Financial Reporting
o   Audit and Assurance

  • Professional Diploma
  • Number of exams at this level: 6 exams

o   Business and Change Management
o   Corporate Governance and Law
o   Financial Management
o   Public Service Financial Reporting
o   Strategy and Policy Development
o   Taxation

  • Strategic Stage
  • Number of exams at this level: 2 exams

o   Strategic Public Finance
o   Strategic Case Study

CIMA

There are three levels to this qualification and 12 exams in total.

  • Operational
  • Number of exams at this level: 4 exams

o   E1 Organisational Management
o   P1 Management Accounting
o   F1 Financial Reporting and Taxation
o   Operational case study

  • Management
  • Number of exams at this level: 4 exams

o   E2 Project and Relationship Management
o   P2 Advanced Management Accounting
o   F2 Advanced Financial Reporting
o   Management case study

  • Strategic
  • Number of exams at this level: 4 exams

o   E3 Strategic Management
o   P3 Risk Management
o   F3 Financial Strategy
o   Strategic Case Study

ACA

There are 3 levels to this qualification and 15 exams.

  • Certificate
  • Number of exams at this level: 6 exams

o   Accounting
o   Assurance
o   Management Information
o   Business and Finance
o   Principles of Taxation
o   Law

  • Professional
  • Number of exams at this level: 6 exams

o   Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
o   Audit and Assurance (AA)
o   Taxation Compliance (TC)
o   Business Strategy (BS)
o   Financial Management (FM)
o   Business Planning Taxation (BPT)

  • Advanced
  • Number of exams at this level: 3 exams

o   Corporate Reporting (CR)
o   Strategic Business Management (SBM)
o   Case study (CS)

ACCA

There are four levels to this qualification and 14 exams in total.

  • Knowledge
  • Number of exams at this level: 3 exams

o   F1 Accountant in Business
o   F2 Management Accounting
o   F3 Financial Accounting

  • Skills
  • Number of exams at this level: 6 exams

o   F4 Corporate and Business Law
o   F5 Performance Management
o   F6 Taxation
o   F7 Financial Reporting
o   F8 Audit and Assurance
o   F9 Financial Management

  • Essentials
  • Number of exams at this level: 3 exams

o   P1 Governance, Risk and Ethics
o   P2 Corporate Reporting
o   P3 Business Analysis

  • Options – Pick two option papers
  • Number of exams at this level: 2 exams

o   P4 Advanced Financial Management
o   P5 Advanced Performance Management
o   P6 Advanced Taxation
o   P7 Advanced Audit and Assurance

CTA

There is not really a level structure in CTA and there exam structure can be confusing but in total you’re sitting 8 exams.

  • Advisory
  • Number of exams at this level: 2 exams

o   Taxation of Owner-Managed Businesses
o   Taxation of Individuals
o   Inheritance Tax, Trusts & Estates
o   Advanced Corporation Tax
o   Human Capital Taxes

  • Awareness
  • Number of exams at this level: 3 exams

o   Taxation of Unincorporated Businesses
o   Taxation of Individuals
o   Inheritance Tax, Trusts & Estates
o   VAT including Stamp Taxes
o   Corporation Tax

  • Application and interaction
  • Number of exams at this level: 1 exams

o   Taxation of Owner-Managed Businesses
o   Taxation of Individuals, Trusts & Estates
o   Taxation of Companies
o   Human Capital Taxes

  • Compulsory Computer Based Examinations
  • Number of exams at this level: 2 exams

o   Law
o   Professional Responsibilities & Ethics

CFA

There are three levels to this qualification and 3 exams in total, just remember that each exam has a morning and afternoon paper (it will feel like you’re sitting 6 papers).

  • Level 1
  • Number of exams at this level: 1 exams
  • Level 2
  • Number of exams at this level: 1 exams
  • Level 3
  • Number of exams at this level: 1 exams

Brainthrough!