CIMA Case Studies: Know your role!

The CIMA case studies require a different approach to the objective tests. The idea of the case study exams is to place you in a realistic scenario and you will be effectively playing the role of financial accountant/finance manager/finance director – depending on what CIMA level you are on – OCS, MCS or SCS.

OCS Role: Accountant

Using the November 2016 Marici Power scenario, the exact role the OCS students will be facing is the role of assistant management accountant. This information is detailed on the very first page of the pre-seen materials.

Looking at the August OCS pre-seen materials, it appears there was not a dedicated page for the job description for your role in the exam – there was just a brief sentence mentioning you are one of two finance assistants and will be reporting to the finance director.

However, I imagine some students failed to grasp their role and answered the questions from a different point of view. As now (Nov 2016 pre-seen materials) it even gives you the specific tasks you would be expected to perform in this role:

  • Assist with the production of the annual budget.
  • Produce monthly management accounts.
  • Provide information to management as required.

OCS Types of Questions

With this in mind, the types of questions you will face in the OCS exam will be of an operational nature.

  1. Explain the appropriateness of zero-based budgeting.
  2. Explain the benefits of a flexed budget.
  3. Explain the implications of a modified audit report.

MCS Role: Finance Manager

The job description in the MCS Portafone case study exam goes into much more detail and clearly outlines the responsibility and tasks that the Financial Manager for Portafone would be expected to do. You can find the full pre-seen material for Nov MCS here.

There is a clear emphasis on the fact the Financial Manager needs to liaise and consider all functional areas of the business (HR, marketing, sales, operations etc.).

Here is a summary of what’s expected in this MCS finance manager role:

  • Responsible for the management accounting.
  • Liaising with treasury and financial functions.
  • Engage with the wider community.

MCS Types of Questions

The types of questions you are expected to answer will differ from the OCS level, you can see below the types of questions you will face:

  1. Discuss the management of the project and associated risks.
  2. Discuss financial reporting implications of acquiring subsidiary.
  3. Discuss suitability of WACC in calculating NPV and the relevance of NPV to decision making.

SCS Role: Senior Manager

The final level in the CIMA qualification revolves around strategic decision making and the role you will be facing in the SCS is that of the Senior Manager.

In this role you will be typically reporting to the board of directors and will be advising on special projects and strategic decisions. So there will be no need to answer questions on the preparation of budgets and so on.

The pre-seen materials for the last two SCS exams have been quite vague with the roles and responsibilities of the Senior Manager in the case study scenario.

SCS Types of Questions

As role of senior manager you will need to be tuned into the impact of the decisions made to all stakeholders. Below is an example of the types of questions you can expect.

  1. Evaluate strategic investment.
  2. Establish priorities for different business units.
  3. Evaluate implications of awarding building contract.

CIMA Case Study Exam Tips

CIMA publish post-exam kits for all of the case study sittings and it’s well worth reviewing the published documents.

You can find the pre-seen material, exam paper, suggested answers and examiners report – by reviewing all of these documents together you can get a clear view of the whole end-to-end case study exam process.

August 2016: OCS post-exam kit

August 2016: MCS post-exam kit

August 2016: SCS post-exam kit

You can also find the historic exam kits on the CIMA connect site. It’s a great way to learn from other students mistakes made in previous exam sittings as well getting familar with the approach needed on exam day.

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