CIMA Strategic Level: A few thoughts…

Insight

It’s been a quiet few weeks for me on the blog.

This was due to a killer workload during December and year end. Those that follow me on twitter would have seen a few accounting situations that I found myself in!

It seems the busy time at work is over, well, for now, so I have decided to focus again on my CIMA studies and the F3 Financial Strategy paper.

I’ve been studying for at least 90 minutes everyday for last few weeks and will attempt the F3 exam early March, but it feels right to reflect a little bit and share my own observations and experiences with the CIMA strategic level so far.

Motivation

I definitely have more motivation to study CIMA these days, I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel with just 3 exams left to pass.

I just want to get F3, E3 and the SCS done and dusted.

I felt I was drifting a bit with the F2 and P2 papers on management level, so a word of advice for students still on Management level, keep going! You’re almost at that final level and believe me it’s not as hard as you think (for reasons I will explain).

Confidence

I feel more comfortable now on Strategic level, I know the syllabus, the exam format and the base I have given myself with the CIMA Operational and Management level fills me with confidence that I can complete the strategic level sooner rather than later.

I used to doubt myself when faced with tough areas i.e. the F2 exam preparation was horrible when I look back, I felt areas like WACC were going to be beyond me. But I passed the exam (eventually)… so I know I can get through it if I apply myself and put the hours of work in.

I have confidence in the exams too.

We all know the CIMA objective tests now like the back of our hand, I have strategies for the exams and I’m ready to hit the ground running.

Overlap

So far in my F3 studies I haven’t felt too much connection with the F1 and F2 papers, in fact the CIMA P3 paper has felt closer in terms of the syllabus.

Which is a good thing for strategic level students – having passed P3 a couple of months back – it’s helped with approaching the CIMA F3 subjects of equity financing and beta factors, for example.

There has been a definite overlap between the P3 and F3 papers, which can only be a good thing!

Real Life Situations

Another bonus I have found while studying for P3 and F3 exams is the fact I can relate to it more, there are more examples of the syllabus content playing out in front of us.

Whether it’s from Corporate Governance situations (see the Patisserie Valerie accounting scandal) or share issues and understanding why Royal Mail shares have dropped 11%.

It feels more tangible than applying the Learning Curve from P2 or other areas of costing that seem to be obsolete unless you work in a manufacturing environment!

So don’t let the strategic level seem like a insurmountable challenge, you might find it “easier” than tackling the management level.

All in all, I might look back at his blog post in a few months time when I attempting my 5th resit of the F3 paper and laugh. And think what the hell was I on about..

But at the moment, I can feel the momentum is building towards a big strategic level finish for myself.

Here’s hoping I can crack the F3 paper at the first attempt. If not, I will bring my sleeping bag and camp outside the Pearson VUE centre until it’s passed!

Good Luck to all CIMA students out there in 2019!

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F3: Useful Links and Resources

F3

The F3 paper will be one of the last CIMA exams you need to pass. The Financial Strategy syllabus kicks off by looking at the formulation of financial strategy, while the next area is geared around fiancing and dividend decisions. Finally, the final part of the CIMA F3 paper is focused on corporate finance.

Please see below some useful websites, resources and articles on the CIMA Financial Strategy paper. Good Luck with your studies!

Useful Links and Resources

CIMA Connect F3 group – if you want to pass the CIMA F3 exam then I would suggest you get familiar with the CIMA connect group for Strategic Management. CIMA provide tons of resources, advice and group discussion.

Astranti Strategic Membership – Free Study Text 2015 – Astranti provide free study texts for ALL of the CIMA  papers and I use them as a base for my exam preparation. They are easy to digest and can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection.

F3 self study guide – as always, here is the link fot the CIMA self study guide for the F3 Financial Strategy paper. A useful tool and guide when planning your CIMA study time.

Discounted case flow analysis – this article was written in November 2015 by a CIMA lead examiner and describe how F3 students should approach discounted cash flows. This topic is also relevant for the E3 paper.

Dividend Policies – an article on the CIMA connect website that looks at what factors companies need to weigh up when forming a dividend policy.

Acorn Financial Training – Acorn provide class room tuition and home study materials. You can get an extra 10% off ALL of the acorn materials (including F3). Here can find the full the list of materials they offer and to claim the 10% discount please email thecimastudent[at]gmail[dot]com with the items you wish to order.

If you have any additional resources you would like to share with other students for the F3 CIMA paper then please then a link in the comments box below.