Interview with a CIMA Student

This month I asked a few question to a new CIMA student, Siobhan Reid, who will be sitting her first exam E1 later this year.

Q – Why did you choose to study CIMA over other accounting qualifications?

I chose CIMA because i’m interested in the questions and answers behind the numbers rather than being able to produce statutory accounts. I feel that management accounting isĀ a lotĀ more interesting than financial accounting. I have hopes of moving from the UK one day, perhaps to the USA and I like that CIMAĀ provides a globally recognised qualificationĀ and I will be part of the world’s largest body of management accountants.

Q – Do you learn with classroom tuition or home study?

I am currently learning home study with E1 but may look to classroom tuition for future exams. I have supported myself thus far, but my new employer will be supporting future exams.

Q – What are your biggest challenges when studying?

So far my biggest challenge has been motivation. I initially signed up to CIMA mid 2015 then I moved from Scotland to England and changed jobs a couple times. I used this as an excuse not to study but now I am in a job that supports my study I am fully motivated to move forward with the qualification.

Q – What materials did you use while studying for CIMA and why?

For E1 I am using the Kaplan textbook and question bank. I have a BAĀ honorsĀ degree in Accounting and Finance and feel thatĀ a lotĀ of E1Ā isĀ revision of what I covered during my 4 years at university and I am hoping this will be all theĀ resourcesĀ I need – as well as practice exams closer to the time.

Q – What is your motivation for studying CIMA?

Career progression. Within my current company, I can only move forward with my career if i have a qualification. Outwith my current organisation I also believe that having the CIMA qualification will open me up to greater opportunities.

Q – When do you plan to sit your first exam?Ā 

November 2016

Q – What’s the one thing you would change with CIMA?Ā 

I would have liked more information when choosing CIMA about the different methods of learning and also exemptions available.

Q – Although you are just start starting your CIMA journey, do you have any advice or tips for fellow students?

Keep going, it’ll be worth it.

To discuss and share anything CIMA related with Siobhan you can follow her on twitter here. –Ā @AccountantShiv

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Big Data: a hot CIMA topic

big-data-speech-bubble
When looking atĀ the 2010 CIMA study texts you will find very little on the subject of Big Data. But it seems to be a hotĀ topic these days and I am sure the CIMA examiner will look to squeeze in a question on Big Data whenever they can.

The use of Big Data is becoming vital for companies to find that competitive edge or to serve their customers better by understanding their needs.

One of the classic examples of Big Data would be the supermarket industry. The amount of data they gather on their customers is staggering and the introduction of loyalty cards has made it even easier to collect data on consumer habits and trends.

Supermarkets and Big Data

For example, supermarkets realised there was a connection between the purchase of baby nappies and beer. Clearly, the parents would stop at Tesco (or any other retailer) on the way home from workĀ to pick up some nappies and at the same time pick up some alcohol too. So to make it easier for the customer they placed the baby products closer to the alcohol selection. Win, win!

It’s the small details like this that Big Data can pick out and allows the business to cater for every aspect of the customers needs.

Big data allows you to draw on vast quantities of data to spot unusual trends and correlations that would be usually difficult to spot.

GARNERS THREE V’s

In a 2001 research report Garner identified three key challenges that organisations face – Volume, Velocity and Variety.

VOLUME – increasing volumes of data mean there is a lot more to manage and harder to extract key information from it.
VELOCITY – there is an increasing speed of data in and out, means data can quickly change. So analysis needs to be quick to spot and react to the changes.
VARIETY – the range of data types and sources of data can be varied making analysis difficult. Data in different IT systems can hard to link and analyse together.

There are 7 key stages to Big Data collection:
1. CAPTURE – what kind of data is needed and how will it be captured?
2. STORAGE – Big Data sets need physical systems that can take up vast amount of space – also need to be secure!!
3. CURATION – Once the data is captured it needs to be organised, controlled and maintained. Daily upkeep of the data.
4. ANALYSIS – The process of interpretation the data. Splitting it out into categories or make links between different types of data.
5. VISULATION – Once analysed, it needs to be put into illustration in a clear digestible format.
6. SEARCH – Once compiled, you must be able to search the data to find what you want. i.e. Google!
7. DATE SHARING AND TRANSFERS – Data must be able to be shared with those who need it.

Big Data is also massively important in marketing – by using twitter, Facebook, chat rooms and forums – companies can build up a picture of consumers and this kind of personal data is unique due to the personal nature.

It can also help identify new customers by using demographics and it also help discover new niche markets by grouping people in terms of interests and behaviour.

It’s a relatively new topic in CIMA but it’s one of the more interesting topics as you can relate to everyday life. So don’t get caught short when studying for your next case study exam – as understanding and applying Big Data could make a BIG difference in passing your next exam.