CIMA Case Study: Industry Analysis

Students who want to pass their CIMA case study exam will need to develop their knowledge and understanding of the underlying industry. It’s been highlighted in many of the examiners report that students had a basic (if any) knowledge or current industry conditions and failed to apply them to the case study exam.

Personally, it also helps me understand the scenario better if I can relate it to real life situations rather than  a fictitious company CIMA has developed for the exam.

Here you can find a insight on the industry for each level of the upcoming CIMA case study exams in November 2016.

OCS: Marici Power

  • What is the industry history behind Solar Power?
  • What are the current industry trends?
  • Who are the biggest players in the market?
  • What are the biggest selling products for Solar Power companies?

Here are a few useful links and resources on the solar power industry.

10 Solar trends to watch out for in 2016

Solar markets around the world

The EnergyTrend website

You can find the full industry analysis video on Marici Power here.

MCS: Portafone

  • Who are the biggest players in the telecommunications market?
  • What are their best selling products and why?
  • What are the industry forecasts?
  • Can you give some real-life industry examples?

The industry analysis for the MCS exam: Portafone will, in effect, cover more than ONE industry. You will have to think of the hardware and software for mobile phones.

So mobile handsets as well as the network and telecommunications industry. If you’re still struggling to get to grips with it all, the Astranti video below will give some more focus.

Deloitte top five telecoms trends for 2016

The industry handbook: The telecommunications industry

Euro-monitor: Mobile phones industry

You can find the full industry analysis video on Portafone here.

SCS: ADF – Anderson Dairy Farms

  • What is the history of dairy farming?
  • How has it advanced with technology and mechnisation?
  • What are the latest market trends in dairy farming?
  • How have supermarkets impacted the industry?

The SCS case study exam focuses on the historic industry of dairy farming, so there is plenty of information out there. Here are a few links and resources you might find useful.

Challenges and trends in the dairy industry.

US dairy: industry trends and initiatives.

10 trends to impact dairy farming.

You can find the full industry analysis video on ADF here.

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CIMA Case Studies: Know your role!

The CIMA case studies require a different approach to the objective tests. The idea of the case study exams is to place you in a realistic scenario and you will be effectively playing the role of financial accountant/finance manager/finance director – depending on what CIMA level you are on – OCS, MCS or SCS.

OCS Role: Accountant

Using the November 2016 Marici Power scenario, the exact role the OCS students will be facing is the role of assistant management accountant. This information is detailed on the very first page of the pre-seen materials.

Looking at the August OCS pre-seen materials, it appears there was not a dedicated page for the job description for your role in the exam – there was just a brief sentence mentioning you are one of two finance assistants and will be reporting to the finance director.

However, I imagine some students failed to grasp their role and answered the questions from a different point of view. As now (Nov 2016 pre-seen materials) it even gives you the specific tasks you would be expected to perform in this role:

  • Assist with the production of the annual budget.
  • Produce monthly management accounts.
  • Provide information to management as required.

OCS Types of Questions

With this in mind, the types of questions you will face in the OCS exam will be of an operational nature.

  1. Explain the appropriateness of zero-based budgeting.
  2. Explain the benefits of a flexed budget.
  3. Explain the implications of a modified audit report.

MCS Role: Finance Manager

The job description in the MCS Portafone case study exam goes into much more detail and clearly outlines the responsibility and tasks that the Financial Manager for Portafone would be expected to do. You can find the full pre-seen material for Nov MCS here.

There is a clear emphasis on the fact the Financial Manager needs to liaise and consider all functional areas of the business (HR, marketing, sales, operations etc.).

Here is a summary of what’s expected in this MCS finance manager role:

  • Responsible for the management accounting.
  • Liaising with treasury and financial functions.
  • Engage with the wider community.

MCS Types of Questions

The types of questions you are expected to answer will differ from the OCS level, you can see below the types of questions you will face:

  1. Discuss the management of the project and associated risks.
  2. Discuss financial reporting implications of acquiring subsidiary.
  3. Discuss suitability of WACC in calculating NPV and the relevance of NPV to decision making.

SCS Role: Senior Manager

The final level in the CIMA qualification revolves around strategic decision making and the role you will be facing in the SCS is that of the Senior Manager.

In this role you will be typically reporting to the board of directors and will be advising on special projects and strategic decisions. So there will be no need to answer questions on the preparation of budgets and so on.

The pre-seen materials for the last two SCS exams have been quite vague with the roles and responsibilities of the Senior Manager in the case study scenario.

SCS Types of Questions

As role of senior manager you will need to be tuned into the impact of the decisions made to all stakeholders. Below is an example of the types of questions you can expect.

  1. Evaluate strategic investment.
  2. Establish priorities for different business units.
  3. Evaluate implications of awarding building contract.

CIMA Case Study Exam Tips

CIMA publish post-exam kits for all of the case study sittings and it’s well worth reviewing the published documents.

You can find the pre-seen material, exam paper, suggested answers and examiners report – by reviewing all of these documents together you can get a clear view of the whole end-to-end case study exam process.

August 2016: OCS post-exam kit

August 2016: MCS post-exam kit

August 2016: SCS post-exam kit

You can also find the historic exam kits on the CIMA connect site. It’s a great way to learn from other students mistakes made in previous exam sittings as well getting familar with the approach needed on exam day.

CIMA August ’16 Case Study: REVISION CLASSES

I don’t usually have two articles on the same day but I noticed Astranti have their final revision classes coming up for the August case study exams and thought I would share the details for those who are not aware.

Are you worried about the CIMA case study exam coming up?

Is this your first case study exam and you’re looking for that final push to get exam ready? 

If so, these LIVE revision master classes will help calm your nerves and give some crucial tips on how to pass the exam.

Revision Class Content

As you can see, the whole day case study revision class covers a lot of information:

  • In depth walk through of the post exam guide to clarify exactly what the examiner is looking for.
  • Pre-learned paragraphs and how to use the syllabus theory appropriately.
  • Time-saving tips.
  • Key comments from exam markers – learn where other students have gone wrong.
  • Depth of answer – how to integrate theory, detail and dept to your answers.
  • Industry examples and analysis.
  • Review of the best scripts from other students.
  • The top 10 likely issues based on the pre-seen material.

Revision Class Dates

You can find full details below on the revision class content/prices for the operational, management and strategic levels.

OCS August Case Study: Saturday 6th August 2016

MCS August Case Study: Saturday 13th August 2016

SCS August Case Study: Saturday 20th August 2016

If you cannot make the day the class is you held you can still access the recorded version of the class – although there isn’t much time between the class and the exam itself!!

August Case Study Exam Dates

Just as a final clarification, the screenshot below shows all of the dates for the August case study exams taken from the CIMA website.

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Good Luck to ALL students taking the case study – please get in touch if you’d like to share your experiences and case study exam tips.

Finally, for those that are interested, I got in touch with Pearson VUE and asked if it’s possible to use pen and paper in the exam to make notes and not the whiteboard and pens that are currently provided.

Personally I find it off putting to use the whiteboard and pen and would much rather use pen and paper – I found I needed a lot of space when making notes and calculations when taking the F2 objective test! I’ll update on this site if I get any feedback from Pearson VUE.

May Case Studies: The Final Countdown!

final

The CIMA May 2016 case studies will begin in two weeks time with the OCS: Sanchez Navarra exam, closely followed by MCS: IC Optical and finally the SCS: DreemPark. Therefore, students who are sitting these exams are facing the final crucial period of case study preparation.

What I have I tried to do here is run through a check list of milestones and collate important resources and information in one place – for ALL of the three levels.

Pre-Seen Material Analysis

The pre-seen material is the foundation on of preparations and is of course key in passing the CIMA case study exam. You should know it inside-out!

There should be no excuses for not having a full grasp of the materials.

Here are a few points to consider when analysing it:

  • Do you understand the company background and how it’s developed over time?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the company?
  • Have you analysed the financial statements and linked this to the company weaknesses? (i.e. cash balance has improved in current year, so cash is available to invest more into marketing the products)
  • Do you understand the company structure?
  • What opportunities is the company not exploiting?
  • Think about ethics!!! (i.e. does the company follow unethical practices or this there a conflict on interests at board room level)

You can find my earlier posts on the pre-seen material and preview videos here for the OCS: Sanchez Navarra, MCS: IC Optical and SCS: DreemPark

Industry Trends

Another area that is crucial when preparing for the case study exam is the real life industry analysis. The examiner loves it when you are able to point out to industry trends in the context of the case study.

You’ll also find it will help you relate to the scenario more by understanding what’s happening in the real world.

For example; the MCS case study is on IC Optical so the optician and eye care industry affects ALOT of people on a daily basis – use your own experiences and observations when thinking about your case study scenario.

You can find a full breakdown of all of the May case study industry trends from my article earlier this month here.

Case Study Exam Style Preperation

Sitting the case study exam under the new CIMA 2015 syllabus can be a daunting prospect, but it needn’t be. You should familiarise yourself of what to expect on exam day by taking plenty of mock exams and it’s also worth visiting the Pearson VUE site directly where you can simulate a case study exam.

There is a great .pdf document from CIMA here for students who are taking their first case study on what to expect. It covers all three levels and gives you;

  • Introduction to case study exams
  • Time management guide
  • What to expect
  • Study and exam guides
  • Links to practice exam
  • Other practical advice

Finally, I posted an article on CIMA Mock Exam Resources a while back when gives you an insight and links to case study mock exams from Astratni with the option of tutor feedback and marking. While you can also find details on how I passed the OCS exam last year here.

Student Interaction

Students who are home studying or distance learning for the May 2016 CIMA case study exams maybe missing student interaction. It’s an underestimated element of revising and studying – being able to bounce ideas and theories off of other students in the same boat – this can can prove invaluable in passing your CIMA case study

I was part of a Whatsapp group chat when taking the OCS exam last year, it was a very valuable tool for me to be able to ask for help from other students, while it gave me an insight to what others where thinking about in terms of the case study scenario.

I would suggest visiting the CIMA connect site and see if someone has already started a discussion on creating a Whatsapp study group you can join – or you can always start one of your own!

CIMA connect: OCS student discussion

CIMA connect: MCS student discussion

CIMA connect: SCS student discussion

CIMA Case Study Exam Day

When exam day is eventually here you should “hopefully” be feeling well prepared and relaxed (although not too relaxed, personally I find a certain amount of nerves makes me perform better!).

By covering all of the pre-seen materials, industry and strategic analysis and mock exams you will be in a good position to get the pass mark you need.

Finally, in my CIMA case study exam check list you might want to read the articles on my experiences with the Pearson VUE testing centres and my top ten CIMA exam revision tips.

Stay focused and GOOD LUCK!

CIMA SCS May 2016: DreemPark

The final batch of pre-seen materials have been released for the May 2016  CIMA case study exams. DreemPark is the company in question for the next Strategic Case Study (SCS) – you can find the official pre-seem material from CIMA here.

You’ll need to login to your CIMA connect account to access the pre-seen material.

Another resource that is worth looking at is the pre-seen SCS pre exam kit. You can find it here and it covers the following points.

  • How to use the pre-seen material.
  • Details of the “Ask a Tutor” session.
  • Student webinar: student exam success
  • Previous SCS post exam kits and feedback
  • Much, much more.

Meanwhile, Astranti have also released their pre-seen video series on the May 2016 SCS DreemPark. You can watch previews of the videos below, they will give you a great insight to the scenario and provide a good platform of knowledge when tackling the SCS.

DreemPark: Pre-Seen Analysis

The below video focuses on the May 2016 SCS pre-seen material page by page and highlights the key points you should be thinking about.

 

You can find the full series of videos for the May 2016 SCS here.

DreemPark: Strategic Analysis

The May 2016 SCS will represent the final exam for students and to achieve a pass mark you will need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the company in question. This video focuses on the strategic analysis of DreemPark and is a must watch for SCS students.

 

You can find the full series of videos for the May 2016 SCS here.

Astranti SCS Pass Guarantee

Astranti are so sure you will get a pass mark by taking their full case study course, that if you don’t pass they will give you the next full SCS course for free.

Here is what is included in the course.

  • 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

You can find full details on the SCS Course from Astranti here.

*I will update this post once more resources become available for the May 2016 SCS

Industry Analysis – Feb 2016 OCS, MCS and SCS

If you are looking to pass the CIMA Case Study exams first time then you need to have a firm grip on the latest industry analysis. And with just weeks (days in the case on the OCS) to go, these resources and videos below are an excellent source of information.

Industry Analysis – OCS Feb 2016: First Class Bakery

The February OCS exam is focused on the baking industry with a company called First Class Bakery. It was a small family run business that recently 80% of it’s equity shares to a larger company called Universal Foods Groups.

Below are some I’ve found on the baking industry, trends and what consumers are demanding. While there is also a preview video from Astranti on their Industry Analysis for the Feb OCS.

You can find the full astranti video at their website here

 

Feel free to add any additional links or comments in the box below.

Industry Analysis – MCS Feb 2016: Pizzatime

Meanwhile, the MCS students have been given the mouth watering company called Pizzatime. Their role in the exam is of a finance manager and will need to have a different approach than then OCS.

Pizzatime have over 970 restaurants but they started in 1969 when two brothers came up with a simple idea of opening a pizza restaurant. Now they have a whole army of restaurants in different countries. The Feb 2016 MCS exam has a focus on franchising, so with this in mind the first link below shows the 2016 industry trends for pizza restaurants.

Finally, Astranti have also produced a video on their suggested Industry Analysis for pizzatime and preview is available below. Could be crucial in gaining those extra marks to pass the upcoming CIMA exam.

You can find the full video at their website here

Industry Analysis – SCS Feb 2016: Rio

The students who will be taking the Feb 2016 SCS exam will be eager to get over the line and become CIMA qualified.

The exam is focused on a fashion retailer called Rio and your role in the exam will be to give insights on special projects and strategic matters as a senior finance manager. As well as brushing up on your theory and pre-seen material, familiarising yourself with the fashion retail industry itself will help you on exam day.

So here are a few links of Industry Analysis that make for interesting reading.

The below video is a preview of the industry analysis by the tutors at Astranti financial training.

You can find the full video at their website here

 

Good Luck!

CIMA Release 2015 Exam Success Rates

CIMA have officially released the 2015 exam pass rates and they make for interesting reading. Below is a screenshot of the results for the Case Study and Objective tests.

The official comments from CIMA executive director Dr Noel Tagoe of the pass rates under the new 2015 syllabus were of a positive tone

“Our new exam system has now been live for a year, and we are seeing students feel increasingly comfortable with it, and increasingly confident in preparing for the more flexible, on-demand tests. As a result, pass rates are either remaining steady or are becoming higher, which is great news for our thousands of students looking to progress through their exams as fast as possible”

Dr Noel Tagoe – CIMA executive director of education

The CIMA 2015 Syllabus change was a massive shift in terms of how each subject is examined. It was especially tough for those students who were part way through their studies and had to adapt and decided to sit a case study in the first sitting.

Case Study Results

I feel particularly sorry for the students who sat the OCS in August as only 34% of them passed the exam, which makes me wonder what the reason was. Especially considering that 64% of the students passed in the previous sitting.

Was it simply a tough exam? Or where the questions too vague and difficult to understand the requirements?

In that respect, I consider myself somewhat fortunate to have sat the OCS in November when perhaps they took on board some of the criticisms or feedback from August.

Another interesting point here is how many people passed the MCS (Management Case Study) with the last three sittings getting a 62%, 77% and 78% pass rate. Even the Strategic students had a really healthy pass rate of 70%, 67%, 62% in the same period.

What this could tell us is the fact that by time you reach you the MCS and SCS level you will have the necessary skills and experience to apply yourself well. It’s an interesting thought as I would expect the OCS pass rates to be the highest.

cima_2015_pass

Objective Tests

Personally, I’ve yet to sit an objective test under the 2015 syllabus so I was really interested to see how people get on during 2015.

However, there was nothing really surprising that stood out. The E1, E2 and E3 exams are generally well passed. But the difficulties usually come with trying to pass the Financial Reporting or Performance Management papers.

I am slightly concerned about the pass rate for the P2 and F2 papers – both of which I will tackling in the next six months – only 44% of students passed P2 first time while 47% of students managed to pass F2 first time. So that’s less than a 50% chance of passing my next exams first. <— this reinforces the fact I feel that I will need to work extra hard to pass these papers at the first attempt.

Nevertheless, there was some intriguing reaction on the CIMA group on LinkedIn <— well worth joining if you are not a member already.

The general consensus being that the available exam materials for the objective tests are quite poor and can contain mistakes.

Students are also questioning the amount of time they have to complete the objective tests. Although there was some praise for the BPP materials and CIMA Aptitude materials for the objective tests – so this is worth bearing in mind you are preparing for exam any time soon.

You can find the full list of CIMA 2015 Exam Pass Rates here.