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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!

 

 

CIMA 2019 Syllabus

Planning for the CIMA Syllabus Change

Are you ready?

The updated CIMA syllabus for 2019 comes into effect from the 4th November 2019, which means students sitting objective tests from that date onward will be tested on the new 2019 syllabus which is geared towards finance in a digital age.

However, the first set of CIMA case study exams to be examined under the new syllabus won’t be until February 2020. 

But fear not for those students who do FAIL a November 2019 case study under the old 2015 syllabus as you will still get one chance to pass the next case study sitting in February 2020 under the 2015 syllabus.

By now, hopefully all students are aware of the transition arrangements you could be facing and how best to approach them to ensure you do not waste any time with your studies.

Transition Tool

If not, CIMA have this excellent transition tool that will help you plan your path to becoming qualified under the new 2019 syllabus.

The CIMA 2019 Syllabus

The qualification structure itself has not changed, there are still the three pillars (enterprise, performance and financial) and there are still case study exams to be completed at each level (operational, management and strategic).

It’s only a change in terms of content with a focus on Finance in a Digital World, it stems from a shift in the mindset that management accountants are simply not just cost controllers but should be creating value and leading the transformation in business.

This below video from CIMA sums it up nicely.

Operational Level

2019OP

The biggest changes here are with the E1 paper that has practically been overhauled with a shift lots of new content “Managing Finance in a Digital World”.

In the 2015 syllabus, CIMA looked at other departments like HR and marketing but now it’s been replaced with how finance interacts with the organisation (point E below).

Meanwhile, P1 looks the same in terms of the structure however, more subtle content has been added like big data analytics and spreadsheet modelling, which reflects the current trends in industry.

Students studying F1 in the new syllabus will be pleased to hear that Group Accounts have been moved into the F2 paper, while the only addition to the syllabus is IFRS 17 Leases.

Management Level

2019M

E2 has shifted it’s focus from Project Management to Managing Performance, there is a new section on this paper focused on business models and value creation. While the human aspects of the old 2015 paper now look towards managing people and projects.

P2 Advanced Management Accounting remains the same in name as the 2015 syllabus but there is now a bigger focus on activity based management and responsibility centres while areas like the learning curve and budgeting have been reduced.

Finally, F2 sees a new topic “D. Integrated Reporting”. The subject of group disposals have been removed, although this is replaced by the former F1 topic of group accounts. The accounting standards that are examinable have also been updated, i.e. IFRS 15 Revenue from contracts are now included.

Strategic Level

2019S

The main shift from the 2015 to the 2019 syllabus with E3 strategic management paper is role of information systems has been replaced with digital strategy and how technology has impacted the strategic process.

P3 has seen the old subjects like cash flow risk, currency risk, interest rate risk and hedging techniques moved to the new F3 paper. While the 2019 syllabus for P3 contains the new subject of “cyber risks”.

As mentioned, F3 now contains more content on cash flow and currency risk while the old content in 2015 now has a digital focus and the strategic applications of financial accounting.

Key Points

  • The exam formats remain the same.
  • The new objective tests start on 4th November 2019.
  • The new case study exams start from February 2020.
  • If you fail a November 2019 case study exam, you can re-take it in February 2020 under the old 2015 syllabus.
  • The transition tool from the 2015 syllabus to the 2019 syllabus can be found here.
  • CIMA does not expect any significant change in pass rates, the 2019 exams will not be “tougher”.

For can find further information on the CIMA 2019 syllabus direct from CIMA here.

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 P3: Reflections on Failing

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If you follow me on twitter you would have seen that I failed the CIMA P3 Risk Management exam last week.

P3 Exam Initial Thoughts

Failing the exam was a bitter pill to swallow as I was full of confidence although there were nerves given the fact it was my first objective test at strategic level.

When I saw the FAIL on the paper printed out from the exam centre I was disappointed although not surprised as the exam itself felt really tough and full of wordy questions, a couple of which I felt I was just guessing at.

So when I got my final result confirmed the score of 95 was just as much as a relief as it was frustrating.

I was probably two or three correct answers from passing the exam, so I know it was borderline on getting a pass mark and it gives me something to build on heading into the resit. I honestly felt I had scored around 80 or so after leaving the exam and I felt I may need to resit the whole syllabus in detail but 95 gives me hope!

P3 Lessons Learnt

Having had almost a week to get over failing the CIMA P3 exam, I’ve had time to reflect and draw up an approach to ensure I pass it next time!!

Focus on Weak Areas

I know it sounds obvious. But I had a few questions come up during the exam which I knew immediately I would struggle with. The P3 syllabus felt so broad, it was difficult to cover all areas in the detail I wanted to, however, that’s just a sign to work harder!

Interest Rate swaps was a key one, as i had a couple of questions on this and just had to take a guess at the answer.

Revise the Theory behind the calculations

I sometimes find myself guilty of practicing the calculations too much without understanding all of the logic behind the approach and what it means. Being able to articulate what you’re doing and why is needed!!

Stay Calm in the Exam

I used the exam approach of skimming through all 60 questions and answering the short “easier” questions in first 10/15 minutes to get some confidence and some time in the bank. However, when I saw the length and detail of the questions I did begin to panic inside.

I was worried about the time pressure, so I felt I was trying to read the questions quickly but ended up in some cases having to re-read the question which cost me more time.

The ironic thing is I finished the exam with 6 or 7 minutes left!?

In hindsight, I should have stayed calmer in the exam, used my time more carefully and perhaps I wouldn’t be writing this blog post now!

CIMA P3 Resit Approach

I don’t want to rush the resit attempt, even if I was close to passing with my score of 95.

Instead, I plan to get some more exam practice questions and go through the official CIMA syllabus and make sure I can am comfortable with the learning outcomes in whole P3 syllabus.

What’s more, I plan to really go into detail with Interest Rate Swaps and also look back some topics from P2 exam, as I recall two questions that mentioned IRR and I’m sure I covered this in P2 rather than P3 so my mind went blank during the exam.

Hopefully I will be 110% ready to take and PASS the P3 Risk Management by the end of October.

CIMA SCS Aug 2018: Finch News Group

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The CIMA SCS August 2018 case study is around a very interesting multimedia and news company called Finch News Group and the pre-seen materials were released last week.

It sounds like a great case study to get stuck into as I’m sure we are all aware of the media. Whether it’s digital, newspaper or social. So it’ll be easy to relate in some respects – good luck to those taking the exam next month!

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

Meanwhile, below are the usual preview videos posted by Astranti.

Pre-Seen Analysis: Finch News Group

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the August 2018 SCS here.

Strategic Analysis: Finch News Group

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the August 2018 SCS here.

Top 10 Issues: Finch News Group

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the August 2018 SCS here.

Astranti SCS Course with Pass Guarantee

I’ve used the Astranti the materials for the OCS exam and took the full course when passing the MCS exam earlier this year, so I know their materials and tutor support will get over in the line in the SCS!

The full SCS Astranti course currently has a £150 discount that runs until Monday 16th July – just use AUGUSTSCS18 at the checkout to take advantage.

What’s more, they so confident you will pass the SCS exam they offer a pass guarantee.

You can find full details on the SCS course with pass guarantee here.

SCS Course Contents:

  • SCS study text (part 1 and 2)
  • Pre-seen analysis (video and text)
  • Strategic analysis (video and text)
  • Top 10 issues (video and text)
  • Industry analysis (video and text)
  • 2 x online master classes – each class is a full day revision (recorded and live)
  • 3 x online mock exams – answered with detailed tutor feedback
  • Ethics pack
  • Personal advice and guidance

CIMA MCS Aug 2018: Montel

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The CIMA August 2018 sitting of the case study exam is only six weeks away. This means the pre-seen materials have been released and students should be analysing them from cover to cover by now!

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

CIMA Case Studies: The Four Stages of Preperation

Having passed the OCS and MCS exams first time myself, I believe there are four key stages for prepearion required for passing the CIMA case studies.

Syllabus Knowledge Refresh

Refreshing your syllabus is a good idea while you wait for the pre-seen materials to be released but it’s also key to refer back to the syllabus content for F2/P2/E2 during the next weeks during your exam prep – as you’ll need to revise your weak areas that have been highlighted from mock exams.

Pre-Seen Materials

Next up, you’ll need to get to grips with the pre-seen materials. Go through the materials by yourself first, making notes. Then use your study materials, classroom lectures or video resources to add more depth and understanding to your notes.

I’d also suggest to make a summary of the key points of the whole document on just two sides of A4. This will be easier to remember and recall on exam day. 

Mock Exams

I’d be very surprised if any students pass a case study exam without attempted at least one (you should take three) mock exams in exam conditions. CIMA case studies are notoriously time pressured and you’ll need to be prepared and have an answer planning technique to help you get the most of the 3 hours available.

Take mock exams!!!

But only once you have digested the pre-seen materials and refresh a high level review of the syllabus content.

Review: Mock Exams and Pre-Seen

Finally, you’ll need to reflect and learn from how your mock exams went. While also referring to the pre-seen materials and syllabus content to improve your weak areas.

It might sound alot of work (it is!) but with the right planning and commitment you can pass the MCS exam first time.

You can read how I passed the Feb 2018 MCS exam here for inspiration. 

CIMA MCS Montel: Top 10 Issues

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the August 2018 MCS here.

CIMA MCS Montel: Pre-Seen Analysis

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the August 2018 MCS here.

CIMA MCS Montel: Industry Analysis

You can find the full set of Astranti videos on the August 2018 MCS here.

MCS: Astranti Full Course

The MCS course from Astranti is worth looking into if you’re after a full comprehensive set of resources, what’s more, the course comes with a PASS GUARANTEE.

MCS Course Contents:

  • MCS study text (part 1 and 2)
  • Pre-seen analysis (video and text)
  • Strategic analysis (video and text)
  • Top 10 issues (video and text)
  • Industry analysis (video and text)
  • 2 x online master classes – each class is a full day revision (recorded and live)
  • 3 x online mock exams – answered with detailed tutor feedback
  • Ethics pack
  • Personal advice and guidance

CIMA OCS Aug 2018: Thomas Fine Teas

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The August 2018 Operational Case Study pre-seen materials are now available and students sitting this exam are advised to make this 29 page document your bible for the next 6 weeks!!

You can find the pre-seen materials for the August 2018 OCS from CIMA website here.

CIMA OCS: Pre-Seen Analysis

You can find the full set of videos on the August OCS here.

For those interested in the complete Astranti OCS course you can find it here.

CIMA OCS: Industry Analysis

You can find the full set of videos on the August OCS here.

For those interested in the complete Astranti OCS course you can find it here.

 CIMA OCS: Top 10 Issues

You can find the full set of videos on the August OCS here.

For those interested in the complete Astranti OCS course you can find it here.

CIMA OCS: Mock Exams

I find that Mock Exams are the best way to gain confidence and get REAL practice of what to expect when you sit the OCS exam. However, it is important not to rush into sitting the mock exams straight away.

You should make sure have understood the pre-seen materials and covered all of the necessary revision before sitting any mock exam.

But don’t fear if you fail the first one or two, the idea is to improve your technique and score with exam exam, so hopefully you pass the 3rd exam with flying colours!

To get a feel of what you can expect on exam day, you can take the free OCS mini mock from Astranti before taking the 3 full mock exams that are based on the Thomas Fine Teas case study.

Astranti Mock Exam Testimonial

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You can find out more information about the Astranti Thomas Fine Tea mock exams here.

CIMA OCS: Case Study Exam Tips

I passed the OCS exam myself a few years ago now, but you can read my thoughts on how I passed the Flores Rosa OCS exam here.

Good Luck and Happy Studying!

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