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.

FebOCS

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.

 

A New Beginning, A New Look.

I started this blog four years ago when I was on the operational level of the CIMA ladder, it’s come a long way since then.

My first blog post was discussing the merits of online study materials against the bulkier ways of studying with traditional text books and my last one was about completing the qualification.

Full circle you might say.

The idea behind starting the blog was to share my experiences and opinions on studying for CIMA. I also felt it would be a great motivational tool for me as I progress through the levels.

I found by writing blog posts and researching the tougher CIMA subjects, it was a great way for me to learn and pass my exams. Being able to provoke discussion and interaction from other students was also invaluable for me and something I enjoyed.

Like most blogs, they need a good clean up and freshen up to avoid becoming stale.

With the new 2019 syllabus on the horizon and having become a ACMA, CGMA myself, it now seems the perfect time to revamp The CIMA Student.

The over-riding aim of the blog remains the same, helping other students on the path to CIMA success.

I’d also like to add that the site does contain affiliate links to Astranti and Practice Tests Academy. They are both providers that have served me well when taking and passing CIMA exams and I would only recommend resources I have first-hand using myself.

The commission I have earned has enabled me to cover the domain and design costs as well as recently removing the WordPress ads that used to plague the site.

The site looks cleaner and will allow me to focus on advertising smaller CIMA tuition providers and tutors, in return for expert content and advice.

I hope you enjoy the next chapter of ”The CIMA Student”

The CIMA Student UPDATE

Following the recent success in passing the final CIMA exam and having my PER approved, I have had time to reflect and think about how to move “The CIMA Student” website and blog forward.

As technically I am no longer a CIMA student but an associate!

Nevertheless, I want to continue to write the blog and help other students along the way on their journey to becoming fully qualified.

In fact, no longer having to study means I (in theory) will have more spare time on my hands to focus on producing longer form content for the blog with a focus on the 2019 syllabus.

More on that later.

I’d also like to thank all of those who have contributed in any way shape or form to the blog and those students who have contacted me in the comments box and social media. Being able to speak with other students has helped me along the way and provided extra motivation when I have needed it.

The CIMA Student website and blog will be undergoing a revamp with new logo, colour scheme and layout in the coming days so keep your eyes peeled, any feedback is welcomed of course.

CIMA Tutors/Academics Needed

I am looking for CIMA Tutors or Academics who can write in-depth articles on their area of expertise in relation to the 2019 syllabus.

I want to produce a set of exam tips articles for each CIMA paper under the 2019 syllabus from P1 to F3, with around 600-900 words of expert advice on that paper to go alongside my own practical advice and resources to pass the paper in question.

I appreciate it’s a busy season for tutors right now due to the impending release of the new syllabus, but I’d like to build those articles up over a period of time in order to give students a real helping hand in passing their next CIMA exam.

In return I can offer advertising space on my site for tutors and their learning providers.

Please get in touch with me via the comments box or my email on thecimastudent[at]gmail[dot]com for more information on this project. 

Please pass this information on to anyone who you feel maybe interested.

Thanks for reading and good luck with your next exam!

My CIMA Journey

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Having passed the final CIMA exam, I have taken some time to look back over the last four years and reflect on the highs and lows I had along the way.

Operational Level

I actually took the E1 and F1 papers together when it was under the old 2010 syllabus, it was the old school hand written papers that needed a 50% pass mark (I converted the score to 2015 syllabus for the sake of the graphs).

And I was actually eligible for an exemption from the P1 paper as part of the transition to the 2015 syllabus, hence why it was zero.

Which, in hindsight, was probably the best paper in the whole course to get an exemption in, as the recent CIMA exam pass rates show only 47% of the total P1 exams taken are passed!

The lowest rate across the whole syllabus.

E1 was pretty easy going but I just scraped over the line with F1, which looking back was probably due to the fact I was studying for both papers at the same time and tended to focus on the easier subject of E1!

The 2010 syllabus was more akin ACCA style of only being able to take exams at specific times of the year, so students took 2 or 3 exams at a time.

Nevertheless, I passed both E1 and F1 and was lucky enough to tackle the OCS exam in the next sitting following my P1 exemption.

Here are a few old blog posts on the Operational Level;

Management Level

This was without doubt the toughest level for me, which I believe was down to a combination of three things;

New Objective Style Exams

I don’t want to blame the format of the CIMA objective tests that were introduced in 2015 for my failures at F2

But I am going too.

The style of examination sounds easy when try to explain it to a friend or colleague “So you have 90 minutes for 60 multiple choice questions? Sounds easy..”

Not quite.

For one, the pass mark is 70% and the depth of the syllabus can be overwhelming at times, so there is no hiding place in these exams.

I felt like a solider going to war with a water pistol when I took my first objective test under the 2015 syllabus.  It was a steep learning curve that day and one I evidently didn’t learn too much from, as I failed my next attempt at F2!

Still, third time lucky. I eventually got to grips with the F2 syllabus and had a solid strategy on how to tackle the objective tests to ensure you have enough time to answer all questions!

Content

The jump from operational to management level is quite steep, bigger than the switch to management to strategic level. So be prepared for tougher content with more complex subjects and equations to handle when moving onto management level.

As you can see from the latest CIMA pass rates, more students find F2 the toughest exam in the financial pillar with only a 51% of all exams passed.

Motivation

Management level is a bit like no mans land, as there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

After the joy and celebration of passing the OCS, you still have six objective tests ahead and two case studies before becoming qualified.

I found it was tougher to motivate myself for these exams.

The initial novelty of CIMA had worn off and F2 dented my confidence and general well-being. My case study results also paint the same picture, I scored 102, 88 and 108 in the OCS, MCS and SCS exams respectively, with my lowest score of 88 in the MCS.

I would suggest students try to find extra ways to keep yourself motivated and committed at this stage, get through this level quickly and unscathed and you’re on the home straight.

Here are my earlier thoughts and blog posts on the Management Level;

Strategic Level

There was a mixture of eagerness and trepidation when I began my path on the strategic level, you could almost smell the CGMA title but I was wary that surely these papers must the toughest ones yet.

I kicked off with P3 Risk Management and narrowly missed out on a pass with 95 marks, it was a tough exam to study for, especially the currency swaps and FOREX elements. I attempted so many practice questions the whole syllabus seemed to blend into an abstract art form at one stage.

However, I got over P3 on the next attempt and it was smooth sailing when taking F3 with a first time pass. I think the fear of F2 kicked in.

I almost got derailed at the last when I scored exactly 100 to pass the E3 exam by the slimmest of margins. It was a tough exam, I felt.

Students (myself included) tend to fall into the trap of thinking the E papers are easy, as there are no numbers. But don’t get complacent when taking E3, I found it tricky.

And the SCS, well what more can I say about this glorious, wonderful paper.

The last and perhaps my most favourite exam.

Here are my blog posts on tackling the strategic level exams;

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