CIMA SCS Aug 2019: Zoom

Zoom

The CIMA August 2019 strategic case study is based around a company called Uber, sorry I mean Zoom! Having read the pre-seen materials as I am sitting the exam myself, it’s clear the company is based around the real life company Uber.

Which makes it very interesting and relevant as I am sure we have all used the Uber platform when taking a taxi.

So from a personal point of view, I am pleased with the subject of the CIMA August 2019 SCS case study!

You can find the official pre-seen materials from CIMA here.

SCS Astranti August 2019 Course

I am a keen advocate of the Astranti case study materials and have used them to good effect in passing the OCS, MCS and hopefully soon to be the SCS!

Here is what you can expect from the full SCS course from Astranti.

  • 3 x Full tuition videos
  • 2 x Study texts
  • 2 x Live Masterclasses (the keys to passing and revision masterclass)
  • 3 x Full Mock Exams (based on Aug19 scenario)
  • Detailed marking and feedback
  • Ethics Pack
  • Pass Guarantee

The mock exams marked with feedback are really a great way to get confident and ready for exam day. *Please note I am an Astranti affiliate member, but I only recommend materials I have first hand use of myself.

 

Industry News

Having gone through the pre-seen materials, what really caught my eye was the fact why aren’t this tech companies making any money? Where is the profit!!??

The financials for the Zoom case study paint a grim picture in terms of profit.

  • 2018: Loss for the year was 331m (up 93% from 2017)
  • 2017: Loss for the year was 171m

And this was amid a backdrop of huge revenue growth in the same period.

To give it more context I looked into the financials and industry news of Uber to see what the real life situation is. Here is what I found.

Here is a great article from Crunchbase explaining why Uber loses money in terms of the facts and figures.

Uber Q2 2018 Income Statement

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Much like the situation with the CIMA SCS case study Zoom, the income statements of Uber paints a picture of a cash burning business. Uber had a staggering $2.2bn worth of operating expenses in Q2 last year – just a three month period!!

The below chart taken from the crunchbase news article linked above gives an overview on what Uber’s operating expenses are.

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Sales and Marketing – 33% of OPEX

33% of their operating expenses are funneled into sales and marketing activities, which is not surprising in the tech industry. Remember that Uber (and Zoom) are tech companies and not transport companies.

It’s a highly competitive industry with low barriers to entry, to maintain (and increase) their market share a lot of cash will be spent on marketing activities and trying to generate sales.

Research and Development – 16% of OPEX

This is a crucial area for tech companies to invest and spend in. Especially the likes of Uber and Zoom who are connected to the transport industry, where there is a big push on self driving drives.

The pre-seen materials mention a lot about Zoom investing in self driving cars and that’s it’s future strategy, so spending wisely in this areas will be key to long term sustainable growth.

Turning Loss into Profit

For Tech companies, this hinges on the future developments and success of their R&D department. For example, if Uber were to make a significant breakthrough in the world of self driving cars it wouldn’t need to have drivers on contract and would give them 100% of revenue generated by each trip.

It would have the potential to turn this loss making income statement into a very healthy  financial statement firmly in the black. Very much like the case study in question.

A Driving Problem

One of the strengths of Uber is also it’s weakness. The fact it doesn’t employ the drivers directly and own the cars on the balance sheet, means it’s a very lean business model and very light on assets.

However, the so-called gig economy brings it’s own problems.

There is a brilliant article here from Salon.com about the issues the drivers from Uber face, and while despite this being in Uber’s favour they still fail to turn a profit.

A 2017 report found that only 4% of Uber’s drivers continue to work for the company after 12 months. Meaning that Uber constantly have to recruit and offer incentives and competitive rates to attract drivers.

This in itself will have a drain on the income statement and partly explains why the company fails to turn a profit.

Good Luck to SCS students.

I will be posting more content on this exam in the coming weeks!

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CIMA MCS Aug 2019: CruiseCalm

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The August CIMA MCS Exam will hopefully be smooth sailing as it’s based on a scenario called CruiseCalm (ok, no more puns).

CIMA MCS August 2019: Cruise Calm Astranti Course

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The August 2019 MCS Course from Astranti comes with a PASS GUARANTEE.

I used Astranti to pass my MCS exam first time last year, you can read about how I passed the MCS Norton exam here.

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 (based on Jord Homes case study)
  • Detailed marking and feedback
  • Ethics Pack
  • Pass Guarantee

SWOT Analysis – CruiseCalm

I’ve had a look through the pre seen materials and put together a short SWOT analysis to help you on your way.

Insight

Strengths
Ship Fleet and Innovation

After the reading the pre seen materials I was concerned with the fact CruiseCalm have so few ships, however, after reading on I found out that their strategy is based on quality, not quantity;

“Cruisecalm’s ships are all less than ten years old. The company has a reputation for innovation in terms of the facilities that it offers to passengers. For example, its newest ship has been designed so that its superstructure creates an atrium around the swimming pools and sun decks.”

The mention of innovation also is a big plus for the company as a whole in terms on TQM and retaining customers. With this in mind I believe it’s a big strength of the company.

Weaknesses
IT Management

On first inspection the overview of the company management and directors looks great. There is a nice split of the NED and ED on the board and there is a well-balanced setup.

However, the point of concern for me would be the fact the Finance Director is responsible for IT.

The Finance Director is responsible for all aspects of Cruisecalm’s financial management, as well as administrative functions such as purchasing and information technology.

In the modern business environment, IT can be seen to be a critical success factor of the business. Therefore, should have the right expertise leading the information strategy systems.

What’s more, there is mention on the pricing of the cruises offered are complex and require algorithms to ensure the right pricing is set. IT would seem to play a key role in CruiseCalm.

Opportunities
Growth in Family Cruises

The current social environment in Norland is geared around older travelers who enjoy expensive and luxurious holidays, which suits CruiseCalms current business model.

“Norland is a developed country that has a high standard of living. The average age of the population is relatively high, with large numbers of citizens who can afford to indulge themselves in expensive holidays”

However, there is an emerging trend that for cruises for younger passengers and families. This is an opportunity that CruiseCalm should look to exploit.

And it would be feasible given their emphasis on innovation and highly modern fleet of ships, should they need to adapt it to accommodate a younger, family based clientele.

Threats
Overcrowding

There are a few news articles and press releases at the end of the pre-seen but they one that caught my eye was the article on “Cruise Ships lose their welcome”.

The daily news article states that due to high volume of tourists (from cruise liners) that can descend on any one destination has drawn complaints and criticisms from other holidaymakers in the area.

“The town authorities in many popular cruise destinations are considering reducing the number of ships that can be permitted to dock at any one time”

This should be cause for concern for the directors of CruiseCalm.

It throws up the questions;

  • will alternative routes have to be found in line with other cruise operators to ensure popular destinations are not overcrowded?
  • Is there sufficient on board entertainment and ;
  • can the current operations manage if the passengers are on the ship for longer periods of time?

Good Luck with the exam!

CIMA OCS Aug 2019: AKL Sparkle

AKL OCS

The CIMA OCS August 2019 exam is based around a case study scenario called AKL Sparkle. The first thing that caught my eye was the absence of a logo or motif on the pre-seen materials! I hope, for those who are taking the exam, there has been more effort put into the content of the pre-seen materials themselves!

Pre-Seen Materials

You can find the official pre-seen materials from CIMA here – via the CIMA Connect site which finally appears to be up and running again.

OCS Exam Resources

OCS Exam Hot Topics – some great advice here from CSSC Tutition on what syllabus areas are highly examinable in the OCS exams.

Helping you pass OCS Exams – this document from CIMA gives a great insight to a real students script and the examiners feedback, as well as other advice.

VIVA Tution OCS Advice – the guys at VIVA have put together a nice guide on the operational case study exam.

AKL Sparkle: Pre-Seen Analysis

This 36 minute video from Astranti will help you on your way to analyse the pre-seen materials. Identifying the key information and potentially what areas of the syllabus will come up on exam day.

The full video packs for the AKL Sparkle case study can be found here.

AKL Sparkle: Top 10 Issues

A specific look at the key issues with AKL sparkle based on what we already know from the pre-seen materials. A good way to give yourself some focus when preparing for the OCS exam.

The full video packs for the AKL Sparkle case study can be found here.

AKL Sparkle: Q&A session

 

Good Luck sitting the exam!

CIMA Case Studies: August 2019

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It’s that time of the CIMA case study cycle when the pre-seen materials will soon be issued and students facing the prospect of an August exam will be brushing up on their E/P/F syllabus knowledge.

 

Personally, I will be taking the SCS exam this August so I will try and share as much as I can on how I’m progressing in the lead up to my exam on Tuesday 20th August.

If this is your first CIMA case study exam, then the following advice, tips and information will stand in you good stead and make those first steps into your exam preparation a bit easier!

How do CIMA case studies work?

First of all, they are completely different from the CIMA Objective Tests you will have already passed to reach here. It’s a world away from what we already know and the multiple choice, abstract nature of the objective test questions.

Personally, I find them more enjoyable and fun to prepare for as it’s easier to relate to a real life situation and gives you a chance to demonstrate your all round skill set.

The CIMA Case Study (OCS, MCS or SCS) are split usually into 4 equal section (with perhaps some sub components in each section).

The case study exam is designed to replicate the workplace, as opposed to asking you to provide quick fire answers on the technical side of the syllabus.

This is a big shift in how you will need to approach your preparation and exam answering technique.

Here is an overview of the attributes you will need to show in your CIMA case study exam.

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The above weightings shows what the examiner is looking for in each level of the CIMA case studies.

Operational students will need to display a lot of technical knowledge with less emphasis on leadership and people skills, while at the other end of the spectrum, the Strategic level students will need to well versed in all areas equally.

To get a better idea of what the examiners are looking you, I’d suggest to read one of the CIMA examiners report. Here is a link to the CIMA examiners report for the 2018 sitting of the MCS exam: Menta.

Case Study Exam: DO’s and DON’T’s

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Make a study plan

This should be the first thing you do. You have around 6 weeks from the pre-seen being released to exam day, so every day should be planned.

And allow some rest days too.

Read Business News

Keep up to date with the latest happenings in the news, especially if you spot something in relation to your case study.

Is there are any big acquisitions and mergers happening and how are they being handled? It will score you extra points if you can refer to industry examples on exam day.

Practice Scenario Questions

Give yourself lots of questions to answer in your preparation. Try going back through old variants on your OCS/MCS/SCS and try answering the questions. You can find past case study exam papers from CIMA here.

Most case study courses will give you plenty of time and resources for question practice.

Self-Reflection

Always give yourself time to self-reflect on your questions/answers and attempted mock exams. Take feedback objectively and learn from it.

Self-reflection is a great skill to have.

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Avoid Syllabus Detail and Depth

Don’t spend your time going through the whole syllabus in detail – keep this kind revision high-level and relevant.

As mentioned the case study exam aims to pull everything you have learnt together and it’s not designed to test how well you understand the full technical side of the syllabus.

You are better off spending the bulk of your time learning how to answer case study style questions and learning how to apply your knowledge.

Memorise the Pre Seen Materials

The Pre-Seen materials are crucial, don’t get me wrong, but they are there to set the scene for your case study. To give you an insight to the company you are working for, with some key facts and figures.

Students do run the risk of putting too much emphasis of the pre-seen materials as it’s a direct connection to the upcoming exam, but don’t neglect the areas like question practice and learning how to integrate your answers.

Leave it until the last minute

You’ll need all of the available study time to give yourself the best chance of passing the CIMA case studies. Leaving your preparation until the last minutes will ultimately leave yourself too much too do.

August 2019 Case Study Courses

I passed the OCS and MCS exams using the Astranti courses and intend to use them also for the upcoming SCS exam.

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2019-06-17 16_39_30-Astranti_ CIMA Operational Case Study Courses - Internet Explorer
Pre-seen materials released 21st June 2019
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Pre-seen materials released 28th June 2019
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Pre-seen materials released on 3rd July 2019

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 (the keys to passing and revision masterclass)
3 x Full Mock Exams (based on Aug 19 scenario)
Detailed marking and feedback
Ethics Pack
Pass Guarantee

Good Luck with your next case study exam!

CIMA PER: A hands on guide!

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It was over 12 months ago when I wrote a blog post on the CIMA PER – Practical Experience Requirements.

It would be an understatement to say,it’s been a popular topic! As I received quite a few additional questions on how to complete the PER.

With that in mind, I am revisiting the subject again today with a view to provide you with a more hands on, (hopefully) clearer view on what’s required from you as a student on how to complete your CIMA PER.

Introduction to PER

I covered the basics and the principles in my blog post from 2018 and likewise you can find a direct link to the official guidance from CIMA here.

However, the CIMA PER in nutshell is a summary of the practical experience you have gained in your career so far.

This has to be verified by two separate people who were in a senior postion to you at the time of the experience.

Below I show you an overview of my own PER submission, let’s remind ourselves of the CGMA Framework that is used for the PER and the requirements for submission.

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  • The first slide shows the CGMA competency framework (Level 1 & 2 for the PER).
  • The next slide illustrates the detail from Knowledge Area (Level 1) to the Competency itself (Level 4).

The CIMA PER – A hand’s on guide to completing it

PER Requirements

You will need to fulfill the following criteria to submit a completed PER to CIMA.

  • A minimum of 36 months verified relevant experience , across the 4 Knowledge areas.
  • At least 4 competency categories (Level 2) must be selected between Technical and Business Skills (min 1 from each) , covering the minimum 36 months.
  • At least 1 competency category from both People and Leadership skills must also be demonstrated.
  • Of the minimum 36 months required, at least 18 months experience must be gained between the Technical and Business skills from the Intermediate, Advanced or Expert levels.
  • The remaining 18 months can be gained across any of the levels within Technical and Business areas.

My Employers

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Once you have entered your personal details on the PER form (when you login to your CIMA account), you will then be required to enter your employer details that will cover the minimum 36 months time-frame.

Here is my example, I am using my current employer where I’ve had two different roles over the last four years. Then when documenting my experience, I will choose which role it applied too.

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My Practical Experience

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Now we start to pick the competencies we want to document, so remembering the CGMA framework we need to start with the Level 1 (knowledge area) all the way down to Level 4 (competency).

Here is an example of choosing;

  • LEVEL 1: Business Skills
  • LEVEL 2: Process Management
  • LEVEL 3: Intermediate
  • LEVEL 4: Ensure standardisation is applied to all process…

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Once you have selected the competency, you will need to select what role/company you are going to document this competence against.

Documenting the Competency

This is perhaps the most tricky part as I had a lot of questions on this.

You’ll need to add a full, clear, and concise example on how you met that competency – here is what I documented for the competency “Ensure standardisation is applied to all process….”;

As part of the robotic process automation, my team suggested an improvement to automate the intercompany invoice process.

However, to achieve maximum efficiency with this RPA idea, I lead workshops to bring other teams within AtR shared services in line with our process for issuing inter company invoices.

This involved me;

– hosting AtR meetings with all countries to present RPA idea and current process for issuing invoices.

– Work with RPA team to ensure they have all required information regarding process automation for intercompany invoice process.

– Help support other AtR teams with implementation of standard process so they could also adopt the RPA solution.

– Write SOP and documentation on standard to ensure there is sufficient support and backup for the process.

*This is just my view on how it should be completed, please note at the time of writing  my PER is still to be approved by CIMA.

Once you have added all of the experience into the PER, you can check the status of your application to see if you have fulfilled all of the necessary criteria by clicking the “Is my experience ready?” button.

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If it’s ready for verficiation, you will be greeted with the above message.

Overview of “Ready” PER Application

Here is an overview of the competencies I have used on my application that successfully met the criteria. I felt this maybe an easier way how to illustrate one way on how to satisfy the requirements.

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TOP TIP: If you want check the status of your application, click on the Is my experience ready? button and it will give you a breakdown of what criteria you still have to met.

Conclusion

I felt it was very much a trial and error exercise when completing the PER, so I’d recommend getting your hands dirty and start completing your application.

You cannot submit an incomplete application as there are checks during the PER process that will prompt you to either add additional experience or approvers if you verification doesn’t met the requires standards.

If you run into problems or remain unsure, you can always check the status of your application to see what you need to do next.

Good Luck with your PER application – I hope this answers the questions from last time – and is a more hands on guide.

But please feel free to ask any more questions in the comments box.

Passing the CIMA E3 Exam!

The final objective test is done! I passed the CIMA E3 exam last week at the first attempt, which means the SCS exam and PER stand in the way from becoming a CGMA member! Ah, so close.

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Nevertheless, the CIMA E3 exam was tougher than I expected and that was illustrated by the marginal pass score of 100 I got.

Exactly right on the money. Perhaps I should be a sniper with such deadly accuracy when searching for these pass marks.

I felt pressure going into the E3 exam, knowing it’s one of the “easier” papers based on the fact it doesn’t have a mountain of numbers and calculations to perform.

However, do not fall into the trap you’ll breeze this paper – it’s still a tough nut to crack with a lot of theory and models to apply.

Here are my four top tips to pass the CIMA E3 objective test first time.

Be Prepared

The CIMA Objective Test pass rates paint a happy, smiling picture of the E3 strategic management exam. With 75% students passing it first time, which is considerably higher than the 61% and 62% for the P3 and F3 exams.

But you should prepare in the same meticulous fashion as you did to pass your previous exams. Don’t expect to pass by just turning up!

Less Emphasis on Time Management

I finished the E3 exam with 20 minutes to spare, so do not worry too much about the time pressure of the exam. Follow the strategy by picking out the shorter, easier questions first and answer them. Come back to the longer questions later.

But don’t panic about the long scenario, based questions. You will have time to give them careful, considered thought.

Mock Exams

I can’t stress enough the importance of mock exams. They are the key to passing any CIMA exam and you should make sure you have covered the whole syllabus before attempting them, taking full mock exams too early will damage your confidence.

CIMA Code of Ethics

I had a couple of questions that referred to the CIMA code of Ethics. Revise the principles behind them and how to apply them in ethical situations. Although I’m sure by the time you reach E3, you will be well versed in them anyway.

Resources Used

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I used the full CIMA E3 course from Astranti, which comes with tuition videos that support the study text and chapter questions.

The 5 mock exams are a great way to get ready for exam day.

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Alongside this course, I always purchase the Kaplan exam practice kit as another source of tried and trusted questions. I’ve followed a similar pattern now for the last few exams so I don’t want change my way of working too much!

Good Luck if you’re sitting the E3 exam next!

CIMA SCS May 2019: Denby Healthcare

Denby

The CIMA SCS pre-seen materials were released last week for the May SCS exam, it’s based around a healthcare company called “Denby Healthcare” – you can find the official pre-seen materials from CIMA here.

SCS Astranti May 2019 Course

The full SCS course from Astranti is really packed full of resources.

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 (the keys to passing and revision masterclass)
  • 3 x Full Mock Exams (based on Nov 18 scenario)
  • Detailed marking and feedback
  • Ethics Pack
  • Pass Guarantee

Here is an hours preview video of the Astranti pre-seen analysis to whet your appetite.

Pre-Seen Analysis: Denby Healthcare

Insight

I’ve gone through the pre-seen analysis a couple of times and found a few interesting areas that caught my eye;

Overseas Revenue

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There wasn’t a huge amount of significance in the P&L and Balance Sheet of Denby or their competitors but the analysis of the Overseas revenue did catch my eye.

It dropped from 145m to 103m in 2018 and this is a concern, given that equates to a 30% drop in revenue in that segment.

There is also a link or indicator as to how to combat this decline in revenue.

The Keeland Daily News article mentions a football player who flew to Cornopia to have specialist care that was not available.

“The club’s doctor had recommended the hospital because it could offer specialist care that was not available in Keeland.”

Denby should start looking towards specialist care that is not available in other areas to increase their own overseas revenue. Identifying other regions weaknesses when it comes to private medical care could prove a lucrative avenue of income.

Staffing

It’s mentioned a few times in the pre-seen analysis, staffing is a Critical Success Factor for Denby Healthcare and need to ensure they keep their best staff and attract the best in the medical profession.

“Staffing is most important element of patient care”

And this isn’t just restricted to the head doctors or surgeons but the pre-seen emphasizes the importance of staff at levels. Which makes sense for a private hospital. The competition is fierce so any added extra value that can be given to the patient will have an impact on the reputation of the hospital.

However, there is some reassurance that this recognized and actions are in place to help mitigate those risks.

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There is also an opportunity here for Denby to take advantage of the increase in applications for Nurisng Degree’s mentioned in the news article at the end of the pre-seen.

Denby should be thinking of working alongside the tuition providers to provide a stream of qualified nurses straight into Denby before a competitor private hospital does.

Share Price Plummet

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The share price drop in the last six months will be a major concern to shareholders and will need to be addressed.

The share price in November 2018 was around K$4 but now it’s closer to K$2 – what has caused the share price to drop so dramatically?

The geared and ungeared beta’s are both below 1.0 so the market sees a below average risk with Denby Healthcare, so what has caused the markets to react the way they have?

Furthermore, there will be increased scrutiny from the shareholders as there is a widespread shareholding that will need to be re-assured the company is heading the right direction and plans are afoot to increase the share price in the coming months and years.