Author Archives: cimastudent

CIMA OCS May 2020: ChargeIT

The May and August 2020 pre-seen materials were released and it’s proved to be a groundbreaking day for CIMA.

Firstly, it’s the first set of pre-seen materials released for two exam sittings.

What’s more, CIMA announced, that due to the COVID19 outbreak, the May case study exams will be available for students to take at home!

CIMA will be releasing further details in the coming days.

Anyhow, on to my SWOT analysis of the pre seen materials for the chargeIT OCS exam.

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Strengths

Innovation through Research and Development

It’s clear from the outside that the ChargeIT main strength and source of competitive advantage lies with it’s research and development department. This focus has led the company to exploit new technologies in the development of new batteries for it’s products.

ChargeIT are acutely aware of this strength as the pre seen also mentions;

The R&D department is also responsible for the design and
functionality of the electronics used in all of ChargeIT’s products.

This also includes supporting other areas of the business with electronics knowledge and understanding.

The company is keen to pass on this strength across the whole business and ensure all areas have an understanding of electronics.

Weaknesses

The Finance Department

I don’t want to be too critical of the finance department being an accountant myself but it’s clear from the pre seen materials that the finance department SHOULD be contributing more than just day to day operational tasks.

You might also consider this on the flip side and see it as an opportunity to grow the skill set and scope of the finance team. Here is an example of what I mean;

  • Budgets are annual “top-down” approach.
  • Monthly reporting actual v budget is performed by senior management with no finance team input.
  • The finance departments role hasn’t changed since 2001

There is also mention that chargeIT uses a standard absorption costing method – is this ideal for chargeIT?

Remember the OCS exam tends to look at costing system methods, so focus on this area in your studies. Make sure you can explain the different methods and apply it to the chargeIT scenario.

Opportunities

The demand for Robotic technologies

Robotic technologies are everywhere at the moment and given the case study exams now revolve around the 2019 syllabus, it’s always good to be aware of the features and application of new technologies.

To be more specific of the opportunities for chargeIT, this is an extract from the pre-seen;

Robotic vacuum cleaners, whilst still one of the smallest categories, showed strong growth with sale volumes rising by 17.5% in 2019.

Sales of gardening power tools in Eastland increased in 2019 by 3.9% to E$324.4 million whilst sales of lawnmowers contracted by 1.1% to E$356.9 million. Robotic lawnmowers however showed strong growth from E$51.5 million to E$58.9 million.

Simply put, the sales of lawnmowers in Eastland have decreased by 1.1% where as robotic lawnmowers have increased by 16%! Add this to the fact chargeIT have a strong focus on new technologies and R&D there is a strong opportunity here.

Threats

HR Processes and Infrastructure

There are a couple of mentions in the pre-seen materials that chargeIT has experienced rapid growth in the last few years.

While it has done wonders for the revenue and profit numbers, such rapid growth also creates a risk that the company infrastructure is not adequate to keep pace of the business.

Below is the specific threat mentioned in the pre-seen;

Human resources are the responsibility of the HR Manager. The company has expanded rapidly which has created a number of issues in managing human resources.

It has been recognised that there is a need to build new processes for human resource management to ensure the well-being of both existing and new staff.

The positive note here is the fact the company has recognised this risk and there is a need to build and improve HR processes to attract and retain their staff – particularly important if they want to keep their best members of the R&D team – which will in turn main their competitive advantage.

CIMA May 2020 – Astranti OCS Course

I used the full course from Astranti to pass my OCS exam first time in 2015 and have used them ever since.

They have revamped their content for case studies to include even more helpful materials and resources for students taking the OCS exam.

Offer valid until 6th April

CIMA Case Studies: May 2020

The May 2020 CIMA case studies represent somewhat of a milestone as the pre-seen materials released will cover TWO exam periods – both May and August 2020 case studies will use the same pre seen materials.

This is my understanding after speaking with a few tuition providers as well as indicated on the CIMA Exam Timetables pictured below.

You can see that the August 2020 has NO pre-seen materials release date, this is due to the August case study exams using the same pre-seen materials from the May exam.

What does this mean?

These are only my assumptions and thoughts, but this gives students who are planning to take a case study in August 2020 some flexibility as to when they want to start their exam preparations as the pre-seen material for their exam will be available in March.

I would suggest, though, not to start preparing for an August case study too early.

You do not want to peak in June or July when your facing an exam in August.

Even if you have access to pre-seen materials in March, I wouldn’t go overboard on revising the pre-seen just yet.

I’d also recommend speaking to your learning provider to understand if there are any implications on their materials and resources for the case study exams.

Effective Studying for CIMA Case Study Exams

With this new information in mind and the fact the case studies are now based around the 2019 Syllabus content, it’s a good time to remind ourselves how to effectively study for a case study exam.

The below video from Astranti is a great summary on how to approach a case study;

  • Have a study plan
  • Practice exams are key
  • Hard work is required – don’t leave it until the last minute
  • Study without distractions

It’s all common sense stuff but with the pre-seen materials only a couple of weeks away it’s the perfect time to start planning how you will pass the May CIMA case study exam.

Pre Seen Materials

Planner

This is a reminder that the pre-seen materials can be found in your CIMA planner, under the resources menu.

*You will need your usual CIMA ID and login details to access it.

I will be providing my own SWOT analysis on each exam once I have had time to digest the pre seen materials.

May 2020 Case Study: Astranti Courses

I believe the quality of the content and support provided by Astranti with their CIMA case study courses is second to none. I used their courses to pass my case study exams first time.

Well worth a look if you haven’t already seen what they offer.

Offer expires 6th April

Pre-seen materials released 3rd April 2020

Pre-seen materials released 6th April 2020

Here is what you can expect from their course.

Complete pre-seen pack (pre-seen, strategic, industry analysis and top 10 issues)
3 x Full tuition videos
2 x Study texts
2 x Live Masterclasses
4 x Full Mock Exams (based on May 20 scenario)
Detailed marking and feedback
Ethics Pack
Pass Guarantee

Good Luck!

CIMA P1: Management Accounting

It may seem odd but the CIMA P1 Management Accounting paper is the toughest exam students will face if we look at the historic pass rates.

The overall pass rate for P1 is just 45% with only 50% passing it first time, to give you some context, this is much lower than the strategic level P3 exam which is 54% overall pass rate and 62% of students pass first time!

With this in mind, this blog post is designed to help students pass the CIMA P1 exam under the new 2019 syllabus first time.

What’s new in 2019 P1 syllabus?

A newly added P1 syllabus area is ‘rationales for costing’.

This is a new addition but it should be familiar knowledge from your previous studies such as AAT or the CIMA cert paper BA2.

It contains basic costing knowledge – being able to identify cost classifications such as material, labour and overheads while also being able to identify costs by behaviour such as fixed, variable and so on.

While this is not too difficult it’s important not too gloss over the basics as its fundamental knowledge and new exam questions have been written specifically to test this aspect.

Cost Accountant Vs Management Accountant

One interesting addition is that CIMA want you to know the difference between being a ‘cost-accountant’ and a ‘management accountant’.

These terms may be used interchangeably in job roles, however, the new syllabus content is keen to portray a management accountant as a much higher-level strategic decision maker and is surely indicative of CIMA trying to raise the profile of the profession. And rightly so.

Similarly, we have inclusion of the CGMA cost transformation model, which CIMA have published themselves, to explain how effective costing can actually become part of a company’s competitive advantage.

As anticipated, with a nod to the new future of finance 2019 syllabus, CIMA have included the shiny new subject of digital product costing. A new topic which will hopefully be as interesting as it is relevant for students.

Here you will need to know the difficulties of ascertaining a product cost for, let’s say, E-books and software downloads. Also you should understand the benefits of using a digital costing system in this new part of the P1 syllabus.

The P1 Basic’s Remain

Nevertheless, the majority of the P1 syllabus remains the same as CIMA expects students to have a firm grasp of the core costing knowledge.

Students are still required to perform the reconciliation of marginal and absorption costing profits and know the usefulness of each method.

In terms of other costing techniques – there is still throughput accounting, ABC and standard costing too.

We are still expected to tackle topics such as linear programming, time series analysis, break even calculations and risk techniques.

Budgeting for Success

Budgeting, of course, is still big in this management accountancy P1 syllabus.

We are still expected to perform budget calculations in regards to fixed, flex and cash budgets and to know the differences between a functional, master, and principal budget.

Types of budget like zero-based budgeting, activity based budgets and rolling budgets are considered core knowledge in P1, meanwhile, the subject of Beyond Budgeting has dropped down from P2 into the P1 paper.

We also have a extra learning outcome relating to ‘stress testing budgets’ which is basically the ability to assess how vulnerable a budget is to a stressful event(s) such as loss of a major customer or supplier.

Could the numbers cope if supplier prices were to rise 20% for example or rental prices were increased on company premises?

POINT TO NOTE

Joint product costing has been raised in prominence but interestingly enough CIMA have removed environmental costing and quality costing from the syllabus.

Both are frequently examined areas for operational case-study so a decision to remove them at P1 will have impact on the OCS exam going forward.

In addition to this, CIMA P1 students are no longer required to learn about the modern-manufacturing environment (TQM or Just-in-time production and McDonaldisation have been removed) – these topics may appear elsewhere on other papers – but not P1 any longer!

Variances are still an important part of the syllabus – we need all of these – including the ‘much disliked’ fixed overhead variances splitting into capacity and efficiency.

In terms of advanced variances, planning & operational are staying with us, so are sales mix and quantity variances. However, you may be pleased to see that material mix and yield variances are being removed for new exams.

The CIMA Student:  P1 Exam Tip

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As a final note here – remember CIMA can ask you for backward variances – where you are told the solution and you need to work backwards to find what ‘actual hours’ or the standard rate must be.

These involve a good knowledge of variance formula’s – so work hard on this area!

On the whole, the new P1 exam seems more straightforward, modern and aligned with later papers such as OCS and the P2 paper. Pass rates are yet to be announced under the 2019 syllabus but I have a feeling they will be better than the 2015 syllabus P1 results.

So good luck with your CIMA P1 exam/resit – try to get through this transition from 2015 to 2019 as soon as you can!

CIMA Feb 2020 Case Studies

The February case studies give students an extra few weeks between the pre-seen materials being released and the exam itself – when compared to other sittings.

Nevertheless it can be difficult to get the ball rolling with your studies at this time of year, so here are some excellent videos on all three of the upcoming case study exams to get you prepared to pass first time!

CIMA OCS: Lottie Graphite Top 10 Issues

You can find the full video set on the Lottie Graphite OCS case study here.

CIMA MCS: Trevel Records Strategic Analysis

You can find the full video set on the Trevel Records MCS case study here.

CIMA SCS: Shinepodd Top 10 Issues

You can find the full video set on the Shinepodd SCS case study here.

Good Luck with your studies!

CIMA MCS Feb 2020: Trevel Records

Pre Seen Materials

The February 2020 pre-seen materials have arrived for the CIMA MCS Management Case Study and it’s based around a company “Trevel Records”.

The pre-seen materials are available in your CIMA Study Planner, through the official CIMA website here. I’ve noticed this new process from CIMA is more efficient as I found the pre seen document was available first thing in the morning, unlike previous sittings when it seemed to a lucky dip when you can find the pre seen document!

Astranti Case Study Course

The Astranti MCS course for the Trevel Records case study is packed full of videos and analysis on the pre-seen materials and what might come up on exam day.

FEBMCS2

Here is what you can expect;

  • Complete pre-seen pack of videos
  • 3 x Full tuition videos
  • 2 x Study texts
  • 2 x Live Masterclasses
  • 3 x Full Mock Exams
  • Detailed marking and feedback
  • Ethics Pack
  • Pass Guarantee

Trevel Records: News Reports

The pre seen document is 31 pages long and students have a tendency to focus on the financial statements and company background and gloss over the final few pages.

However, these News Reports can provide you with a link to the unseen material on exam day as well was an indication on what type of questions may come up.

The news reports shouldn’t be underestimated – here are my thoughts on three of the different articles/reports at the end of the Trevel Records pre seen document.

Fortuna Daily News “Summer Sandals”

The first news article emphasizes the importance of producing music that is seen to be timeless or lets say seasonal records.

Dwyre Colt who wrote and recorded (no involvement from Trevel Records) the song Summer Sandals is receiving around 500k a year from royalties from a song that first came out over 20 years ago, as radios play his song every summer and it’s seen as a summer anthem.

A couple of key points to consider here;

  • Do Trevel have a robust enough contract with their artists if they produce a timeless anthem. i.e. will the label benefit financially for ongoing royalties?
  • Should Trevel encourage their artists to produce and record Christmas songs or Holiday songs that could potentially be a lucrative long time earner?

Fortuna Business Daily – Live Music

It’s interesting to read that the global market for live music is worth $27bn while recorded music is only $21bn, especially considering the stance that Trevel has on generating income from their artists tour performances.

It appears that Trevel (and perhaps their competitors too), see their artists touring is in fact the best way to market and advertise the brand.

Here are a couple of quotes from page 14 of the pre-seen

Trevel actively encourages its acts to tour and perform live concerts, but does not require any royalties or share of the ticket sales if they do so.

And..

Trevel usually gives new artists a small financial contribution towards the costs of touring in order to encourage them to do so.

Given the fact that live music is worth so much and the fact Trevel’s revenue fell from 3249 to 3124m in 2019, could Trevel think about using their artists tours as an additional stream of revenue for the company?

Fortuna Daily News – Bankruptcy

The news that a successful musician has fallen into bankruptcy will perhaps show record labels in a negative light. Personally, my first thought would be that the record label took the lion shares of the profits and left the musician high and dry.

So the first impressions could paint record labels in a bad light.

So my previous point about Trevel Records trying to take additional revenue from artists touring will be harder than it seems due to the moral aspect around the whole issue of how the money is split in the music industry.

To turn this point on its head;

Trevel could use this article in a positive light and perhaps setup some kind of fund or charity for musicans that have fallen on hard times.

This could of positive publicity and corporate social responsibility initiative will help the image of Trevel and could see them stand above their competitors when it comes to attracting up and coming talent.

Final Thoughts

All in all, I find these articles at the end of the pre-seen a great way to start asking yourself some questions and preparing a few scenarios in your head about how Trevel can respond to specific challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Good Luck with your exam preparation!

CIMA OCS Feb 2020: Lottie Graphite

Pre-Seen Materials

The pre-seen materials for the February 2020 CIMA case study were released last week and I’ve had time to read through the materials and prepare my own SWOT analysis of the company.

You can find the official document from CIMA on your study planner here – it will require you CIMA ID and login.

Astranti Case Study Course: Lottie Graphite

I used Astranti to pass the OCS exam and would fully recommend their case study course with a particular focus on the mock exams and feedback.

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SWOT Analysis: Lottie Graphite

A good place to start when faced with the pre-seen materials is to prepare a SWOT analysis, as the outcome will give you some focus areas when preparing for the OCS exam.

Below are some initial thoughts from me on the Lottie Graphite scenario.

Strengths: Strong Identity and Links to Community

Lottie Graphite is based in Gawland which has a high wage economy but despite this fact the majority of the 1000 employees are in Gawland. To quote the pre-seen;

“They believe the culture of the company is key to its success and that this would die if removed from its native and its dedicated workforce”

What’s more, there is also a mention that they run a public factory once a week.

This engagement with the local community will really create strong ties in the area and promote the brand as an open, welcoming and trusted company.

This compliments the fact that the company is a global player that manfactures over 300 hundred million pencils, yet they act like a local employer and remain highly visible in Gawland.

Weaknesses: Budgeting

The pre-seen often points to the company being open to change and very innovative in it’s thinking, as illustrated with the PEXECO pencil.

However, the finance department is still using dated methods like incremental budgeting with a top down approach with gives little motivation or incentive to the functional teams and management that carry out the day to day operations.

This method of budgeting is time saving and straightforward to produce but perhaps a move towards zero based budgeting or even beyond budgeting would a viable option given the profile of the company.

Involving the functional managers in budget setting and looking at the whole cost base from zero may take longer, but it the benefits would improve motivation within the team and potentially improve the Operating Profit Margin of 8.71% in 2019.

Opportunities: Feland Expansion

The clear opportunity I can see in the pre-seen is the expansion into the region of Feland, however countries within this region are becoming more developed and there is a demand for Lottie Pencils there.

It would be a great way for the company to try to really establish itself among the big five pencil manufacturers in the world.

Threats: Competitors

The competition in the industry is fierce as there are thousands of pencil manufacturers all over the world. But Lottie Graphite has established itself as a major player in the market with it’s focus on innovation and developing it’s strong brand.

Nevertheless, there are low barriers to entry in this market and the threat of competition will also be there. There was a concern with lower cost producers in the Far East, but fortunately for Lottie Graphite cheaper pencils produced there tend to have quality issues. But should those lower cost producers find a way to combat the quality issues, it could have be repercussions in the industry.

 

A final point to remember with the OCS exam is the fact you are playing the role of Finance Officer, where your role will be based around preparing the budgets, management accounts and providing analysis. You will not be expected to make or advise on strategic decisions.

Good Luck with your CIMA OCS exam preparation!

 

 

Practice Tests Academy

PTA2

CIMA Mock Exam Questions

I have been a keen advocate of the Practice Tests Academy mock exam questions since I passed my P2 exam using their mock exam question bank of over a million questions, well not quite a million, but over 500-600 questions on the finer arts of advanced management accounting.

I really like the history of the company and I believe it will strike a chord with a lot of students and qualified members.

The founder was struggling herself with finding enough question practice to pass CIMA exams a few years back, so when she eventually qualified she decided to start her own company providing CIMA practice questions.

They have over 500 exam questions for each CIMA objective test but they have since gone to grow their range of resources and now offer full objective test packages with video tuition.

However, there are three main reasons why I found their resources a great help.

  • Depth of question bank.

The sheer volume of questions you have available will help you overcome your weak areas of the syllabus. Practice makes perfect and you can definitely get a lot of practice with these CIMA practice exam questions.

  • Mock exam results per category/syllabus area.

This is a really highlight for me and a valuable tool. The final results you get from the simulated mock exam provides you with a detailed summary of what syllabus areas you struggled with so you can immediately focus your next steps on those areas.

It’s clear, concise and a great way to reflect on how you fared with the practice exam.

  • Answer feedback

When getting a question wrong, the explanation given was detailed but yet simple enough to understand and learn from. The below video is a walk through of the CIMA P3 question bank package to give you an idea why I rate them so highly.

PTA & Kaplan Co-operation

Kaplan

Their recent co-operation with Kaplan has caught my eye as they offer Kaplan materials with over a 20% discount off their normal selling price.

Now you have the option to study using the official Kaplan study text and revision cards, while complementing with the PTA exam question banks and video lectures.

Practice Tests Academy also offer full courses for the CIMA objective tests which include;

  • CIMA qualified tutor lectures (each chapter in Kaplan book has a video lecture)
  • Printable summary notes
  • End of chapter questions
  • 600 question mock exam bank
  • Contact with CIMA tutor for Q&A’s.

Below is a video from the Practice Tests Academy founder on what this co-operation with Kaplan means for students.

A final point to note is that Practice Tests Academy will upgrade your resources from the CIMA 2015 syllabus to the CIMA 2019 syllabus free of charge when they are released early November 2019.

 

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