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When To Study AAT Indirect Tax

When to study AAT Indirect Tax – before, after or in the middle of the other Level 3 units?

In the past we have scheduled the Indirect Tax (IDRX) unit after the first two bookkeeping units, as that seemed the logical place to put it.

However, as from 2018, the Indirect Tax unit is no longer examined as part of the Synoptic exam. This has made us reconsider whether or not we should move it from its current position in the standard learning plan.

When preparing for the synoptic, you will need to revise the separate subject topics that are covered in the synoptic (i.e. AVBK, FAPR and MAMC, as well as, of course, Ethics and Spreadsheets). It is therefore helpful if you have just studied them. In this way, you will avoid a subject that is not examined in the synoptic from being sandwiched between those subjects that are examined in the synoptic.

At AAT Professional (Level 4), we recommend that the optional units are taken either at the very start of your programme or after the synoptic. At Foundation (Level 2), we generally now programme Using Accounting Software (UACS) after the synoptic. We don’t suggest completing UACS at the start, as you really need to study the two bookkeeping units first.

However, what to do at AAT Advanced (Level 3)? What are the options?

1.IDRX at the end:

Unlike UACS and the Level 4 papers, there is no 6 week wait for the results to come out. Planning IDRX after the synoptic means that you can study and sit it whilst waiting for the results of your synoptic – reducing, or avoiding, the delay in starting Level 4.

2.IDRX at the beginning:

IDRX is not dependent on the knowledge contained within the two level 3 bookkeeping units and so you can get it out of the way at the start. A further advantage is that it is a relatively small unit, so it can be a confidence builder.

3.IDRX after the two bookkeeping units:

a. This seems a logical place to study IDRX if you are working as a bookkeeper or are involved with accounts preparation in a firm of accountants. It is probably more directly relevant to your workplace than the remaining units. Your AAT studies are not just there to give you a qualification but to give you the skills and knowledge that you can apply at work and in progressing your career. We shouldn’t let the tail wag the dog!

b. If you are undertaking the Advanced Certificate in Bookkeeping, you will only have the three units to complete, so IDRX will logically be taken after the two bookkeeping units

c. Even if you are completing the full Level 3 Diploma in Accounting, if you are job hunting, you may wish to complete the subjects in this order so you can obtain your Advanced Certificate in Bookkeeping , and get the AATQB letters after your name, sooner rather than later, on the way through to your full Level 3. This will allow you to update your CV to reflect your achievement sooner, making you more marketable and allowing you to reissue it to prospective employers.

So – in answer to my initial question “When to study Indirect Tax – before, after or in the middle of the other Level 3 units?” I am afraid that I may have disappointed you in not giving a simple answer of “Before”, “In the middle” or “At the end”. However, life is not simple and the answer will depend on your personal circumstances and your response to the factors raised above.

As standard, we will probably now schedule IDRX as the last unit (i.e. after the synoptic), to allow you to study it whilst awaiting the results of your synoptic. However, please let us know if you would prefer to study it in a different order. If you have a personal tutor, please do discuss the options with them.

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For example: I recently planned Costing as the first unit for a student in accounting practice. Definitely not the normal order. However, as she has primarily been involved in payroll since she joined, she had limited experience in bookkeeping and certainly had no experience of accounts preparation and any month end adjustments. As it was planned to get her started on accounts prep later in the Spring, we felt that it would be more helpful for her to delay her bookkeeping units until she had started this work experience. Her studies would therefore be aligned to her work experience and each would help the other. The Costing unit was going to be pretty theoretical whenever she did it, so it seemed a good idea to do this at the start. We will do the IDRX unit after the two bookkeeping units, not after the synoptic, because she is an apprentice, and we don’t want to have to sit any exams after the End Point Assessment (which includes the synoptic).

 

We regret that we are unable to answer specific questions relating to this post, however, if you have any other topics you’d like us to cover in future posts, do please comment in the box below. Thank you.

 


BLOG Accountancy Learning Christmas

Christmas Video from Accountancy Learning

We’ve certainly been getting into the festive spirit here at Accountancy Learning and we hope you are too!

In just a couple of weeks’ time, many of us will be tucking into our traditional Christmas turkeys, puddings, cakes, mince pies, chocolates and probably a significant amount of bubbly, so we thought it would be interesting to take a look at how the festive meal is enjoyed in other countries around the world (I don’t know about you, but I’d definitely give one or two of them a miss!!)

Firstly though, to get you into the Christmas spirit (hopefully!), do take a look at our Christmas video here, where you will see us as you’ve never seen us before (we even managed to persuade Simon to don a rather dubious looking Santa outfit!)

OK, so that might have completely put you off your Christmas dinner, but just in case not, here is what others around the world may be enjoying for their festive feast:

Christmas Feasts Around The World!

For starters, unlike the UK, in much of Europe (unlike the UK), the main meal is held on December 24 (and for most, there is not a speck of turkey!)

Here are a few of the tasty feasts on offer:

ITALY: most families avoid meat on Christmas Eve in favour of The Feast of the Seven Fishes, where delicacies such as fried eel are the star of the show.

SWEDEN: Christmas ham broiled and glazed with eggs, breadcrumbs and mustard. Once it’s been prepared, you can enjoy ‘Dopp I grytan’ (dipping in the kettle) where you dunk hunks of bread into the fatty ham broth (added to it are boiled whitefish, smoked, cured and pickled meats and cabbage flavoured with dark syrup).

PORTUGAL: The traditional Christmas cake is ‘Bolo Rei’ (King’s Cake). Typically, a small gift (token) and a broad bean are hidden in the cake. If you get the token you are allowed to keep it. If you get the bean, you have to pay for next year’s Bolo Rei!

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FRANCE: it is traditional in the Provence region to cook up 13 desserts (in honour of Christ and the 12 apostles) which are left out for 3 days for people to graze on.

GERMANY: Roast goose with dumplings, red cabbage and Grunkohl (kale) stew. You also might be offered “ein Knacker” which is a bit of smoked sausage.

For those with a sweet tooth, a Pfefferkuchenhaus (gingerbread house) is the order of the day.

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POLAND: they tuck into an enormous banquet called Wigilia (or the Star Supper), featuring dishes such as borscht and dumplings.

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ICELAND: they are more likely to serve up Puffin or Reindeer (hope they haven’t mentioned this to Rudolph…)

BULGARIA: the meal should have an odd number of dishes (normally 7, 9 or 11) and an odd number of people around the table. The meal includes a special round decorated loaf called ‘pita’ which has a ‘good luck’ coin baked in it.

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And a bit further afield:

AUSTRALIA: As well as all the traditional cold cuts, seafood and salads, they have created a recipe called ‘White Christmas’ which is a sweet slice made of copha (vegetable fat) desiccated coconut, rice bubbles and mixed dried fruits fruit.

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SOUTH AFRICA: Every December locals feast on a seasonal delicacy – the deep fried caterpillars from Emperor Moths.

JAPAN: Family traditions for the Japanese include eating their big holiday meal at KFC! (no comment…)

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So plenty to tickle your tastebuds here if you’re looking for an alternative to our traditional UK festive meal!

Whatever you decide to cook up on the 25th, we hope you have a truly Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 


Karen and Prue

When we met Baroness Karren Brady

When we met Karren Brady…

“You can’t determine where you start in life, but you can determine where you end up”

On Friday 13 October, Simon and I were hugely privileged to hear Baroness Karren Brady speak at an event in Birmingham hosted by the Entrepreneurs Circle.

Voted Business Woman of the Year, Ultimate Entrepreneur and rated among the 50 most inspirational people in the world, Karren is passionate about business and the promotion of women in business in the UK.

Lady Brady was made a life peer by the Prime Minister, entering the House of Lords in 2014 and she received a CBE from the Queen for her services to business, entrepreneurship and women in business. Of course, we also know Karren from ‘The Apprentice’ which is currently showing on TV!

So, what did Karren talk to us about and what were our impressions?

Firstly, Karren was gently spoken and extremely articulate – just listening to her voice was such a great pleasure. She provided us with a wealth of invaluable insights about entrepreneurship, she inspired us, she made us laugh and she left us feeling in total awe of her tremendous achievements.

Here’s a snapshot of her talk to us:

Karren explained that after leaving school, she went to work in advertising/sales. In 1993 (aged only 23), she went to her Chairman and said that if he purchased Birmingham City Football Club (which was currently in administration), she would run it for him. This he did and Karren was appointed Managing Director.

Karren was quickly saw that a wealth of improvements were needed – most administrative jobs were still being done by hand (even the wages, which were issued in cash using little brown envelopes). There was no ‘culture’, no expectations and staff generally did pretty much what they wanted e.g. tickets were freely issued to staff for a variety of reasons, such as fixing a typewriter!

Sexism was rife and this was illustrated particularly well when Karren travelled with the football team on their coach – a player said to her “I can see your tits from here”. Karren famously retorted “Well when I sell you to Crewe, you won’t be able to see them from there, will you?” Soon afterwards, the player was sold.

Karren felt that the key task with the club was to create the right culture; one based on good leadership, vision and being able to inspire people to follow it.

She wanted to create passion and a desire to want to go to work. She wanted an entrepreneurial spirit to run throughout the business. She wanted staff to always be thinking about how to make the business better.

A particular challenge was how to create this sort of culture when you have an 18 year old footballer earning £18,000 per week when another 18 year old is earning £18,000 a year working in the ticketing office?

Her answer was to induct every new employee (including players) to know everything about the business. She would get them to do job swaps e.g. players working in the ticketing office and explaining to those normally working in the ticketing office that there wouldn’t be any tickets to sell if they didn’t have the footballers. It was all about building the brand value, ethos and integrity.

Karren had so much to say (far too much for a Blog), so we’ll end with Karren’s 6 key takeaways:

  1. The ability to lead: You need to be able to articulate your vision and you need to know where a person stands in a time of challenge – you need to be able to ‘face the music, even when you don’t like the tune’.
  2. Ambition: nobody ever started out being a success – it all starts with a spark and a fire inside you. You need to work incredibly hard – put the hours in. Sir Alan Sugar is always the first into the office in the morning and the last one out.
  3. Determination: “You cannot put me down” Karren said. If you can find your backbone, just grit your teeth and put one foot in front of the other.
  4. Attitude: If you don’t like something, change it (don’t whinge about it). Be brave and think to yourself “if I do something, what is the worst that can happen to me?”
  5. Direction: the whole world steps aside for the person who knows where they are going
  6. Be Positive: hang on, when everyone else has let go. Nothing in this world can stop me. Be persistent.

Karren’s closing points were:

  • Be confident about who are. You need people to respect you; take every gamble and don’t regret.
  • You can avoid burnout by stopping doing the things you don’t want to do
  • Make the “best version of yourself by continually working and moving on and up”
  • You only have ONE life, if you live it right, ONE is enough

P.S. Karren has a truly punishing schedule (she still visits her West Ham Club every day except Fridays), but in the spare time she does manage to take, she enjoys watching DVDs and box sets (Shooter and Designated Survivor are 2 of the ones I managed to jot down) and whilst she doesn’t profess to be a fabulous cook, she does enjoy ‘feeding people’!


Overworked

Emma’s Story: Balancing Studies With Work

Almost everyone who has studied their accounting qualification will tell you that if you work and study at the same time, it can be tough to stay motivated and keep on track without stress.

Emma has first-hand experience with trying to balance studies and a full time job, and she wants to share her story to help other students stay on track and keep motivated!

Emma’s Story:

I will be the first to admit that I do not consider myself to be academically gifted and I’ve had to work hard to achieve my accounting qualifications.  I left school not very interested in learning and had no ambitions to go to University.  I drifted through my sixth form college and left without much to show for those two years.  Music had been my passion at school, and playing in the youth orchestras but I was never too keen on learning the theory and practicing my scales!

Fast forward a couple of years and I’m in an Admin Finance role at Exeter City Council.  After a further 3 years of processing supplier invoices for payment and inputting journals, I was starting to get bored and realised I wanted to progress my career.  I asked if I could start studying for AAT at the local college, which was agreed.

The first year of the course, I attended evening classes twice a week.  Once again, as much as I wanted to progress, I couldn’t get my head around putting in the hours to achieve this and I failed my first exam.  In those days, it was one paper exam at the end of the year with three sections to it and you had to pass all three elements to pass overall.  I failed the section on double entry bookkeeping – not a good start!  However, my manager was very supportive and allowed me to continue with the course.  Thank goodness.  It was then that I had my lightbulb moment and realised I would need to put in the hours if I was going to achieve this qualification and become MAAT.

I was also promoted to an Assistant Accountant role at work as it became vacant. Two years, and a lot of hard work later, I did it!  The hard work had paid off – all those weekends of study, of tears and tantrums when something didn’t balance, not understanding the question ‘because it wasn’t worded very well’ – it was worth it to have those letters and I know I had earned them.  And when I finished, I was adamant I was never going to study again.  Ever!

Stationary

The Journey Didn’t End There…

Three short years later, I was missing studying (who knew?!) and again I started thinking about my future and knew I wanted to become a fully qualified Accountant.  Working in Local Government, the CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy) qualification was the natural path for me.  However, (due to another back-story I won’t bore you with, dear reader), I had to start studying this qualification via distance learning. 

I knew this was going to be a big step up from my AAT studies and I needed to pace myself.  I studied one module at time.  I was really excited to be starting something new again and the potential prospects it could bring.  I went out and brought lots of new stationery!  I also put together a study timetable, working backwards from the date of the exam (no moving dates in those days!), allowing a couple of weeks for revision and back from there.  Our textbooks provided a guideline of how many hours each study session should take, usually between 4 – 6 hours each, and this was how I was going to spend my weekends from now on.  A session each on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  Exams took place in June and November.  I carried on with this steady routine for the following few modules as it worked for me.

Part way through my second year, I hit a real mental block with one module and it took me three attempts to pass.  This equated to taking 18 months to complete this module due to having to wait until the next available exam sitting each time.  This was a real low point for me and I started to question whether I wanted to continue with the course.  Then I thought about how far I hadcome and how much I only had left to do and this truly spurred me on.

Child asleep at desk

My employer also agreed for me to start attending college now – the final modules of this Masters Level qualification demanded it.  I was still studying what felt like all hours, travelling toLondon every other week for lectures, and working full-time!  I will admit to being quite exhausted by the end.  It was tiring trying to study in the evenings after a long day at work, but needs must as it felt like there simply weren’t enough hours in the day to study just at the weekends any more.

But again, the hard work paid off and I finally achieved my well-earned CPFA letters.  Eight years after I started!  I will admit that during the last couple of years of my studies, I had no work/lifebalance to speak of.  I put aside my social life, except for special occasions, so that I could focus on achieving my qualification.  But it was definitely worth it.

I had a second promotion at work during this time, to Systems Accountant, to work on the implementation of a new General Ledger system.  During the time of implementation I had to put my studies on hold as this would now take up all my time, including a lot of evenings and weekends.

From this role, my love of training grew and developed.  I was the lead on training all our end-users on this new system; I created all the training manuals and ran the training sessions, sharing this responsibility with two colleagues on the project team.  I made this training role my own over the years, expanding it to cover training on the other finance systems, and VAT.
In 2013, I completed the level-entry teacher training course for teaching post-16 education, to help me improve my role at the Council, and the rest is history!

Over the last 12 months, however, this tutor became the student once again!  I was interested in learning something new, just for fun, and I’ve recently completed my GCSE Psychology studies.  I followed the same structure to my studies that had helped me in the past:

  • I knew when my exam dates were so this was my starting point.
  • My college advised me how many hours a week I should be putting towards my studies – I had enrolled on the course nice and early so it was only around 4 hrs a week – bliss!
  • I followed the structure of the learning materials, and put together my timetable.  It equated to one or two chapters a week, and I also had progress tests to submit to my tutor after every 3 or 4 chapters.
  • I set out my study space and put this timetable on my wall, in front of my desk, ready for me to tick off each session as I competed it.
  • This was very satisfying!  Marking my progress and seeing how much I had done to date, and how much I had left to do.
  • I also planned in various occasions when I knew my study was going to be interrupted, such as birthdays, Christmas and other pre-planned social events.
  • I also built in some additional slack for other, unexpected events.
  • When I did sit down to study, the radio was switched off as was my phone.  I need to study in silence and be free from distractions.

Relax in quiet

One of the great advantages of studying via distance learning is the flexibility it provides and I know this is a big draw for a lot of students, myself included.  However, it can be very easy to become side-tracked and fall behind.  Yes, there will always be times when you don’t feel like studying – and I wouldn’t recommend pushing yourself when you’re really tired after a long day at work – but it does take some self-discipline, and organisation, to make sure that you stay on track. 

If you do begin to struggle, remind yourself why you started the course in the first place – was it to work your way up the career ladder?  Are you stuck in a rut and looking for a change of career?  Whatever your reason, it will be personal to you and you should use this to spur you on.

Use the Individual Learning Plan (ILP) that we provide you with to help you structure your studies and put a timetable together. These are based on a study program of 6-8 hours a week but we all work at different speeds.  If you are struggling to meet your deadlines then please do talk to your tutors, we all want you to be a success and pass your exams and we are here to support you.  We all have our own ways and methods of studying – some people prefer the evenings, others the weekend.  You will find a way that suits you too.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I achieved a Grade A for my GCSE!

Qualified

Emma

We hope that these study tips have helped you! Whilst we are not able to respond to any specific questions you might have about our posts, do please let us know if there are any further topics you would like us to write about. If, however, you are one of our tutor supported students, please get in touch with your personal tutor who will be more than happy to help you.


A Law Book With A Gavel - Corporate Law

Endless Accounting Career Choices!

Did you know that just about every business you can think of will require some sort of accounting function? And a career in accounting is much more diverse than you might think – just take a look at the list below for the different types of accounting role you can choose from:

Smiling newsman with a microphone.

  • Financial Accountant
  • Management Accountant
  • Cost Accountant
  • Auditors
  • Actuaries
  • Tax Analysts
  • Tax Planning Executives
  • Loan Officers
  • Debt Planners
  • Budget Analysts
  • Brokerage Clerks
  • Cashiers
  • Claims Adjusters
  • Economist (needs to have a degree in economics, mathematics and accounting or econometrics)
  • Debt Counsellors
  • Financial Analysts
  • Investment Bankers
  • Investment Managers
  • Custodian Bankers
  • Reconciliation Analysts (this profile is common in investment and custodian banks as well as foreign exchange trading enterprises)
  • Insurance Sales Agents
  • Insurance Account Managers
  • Financial Services Officers and Sales Agents (the latter often being known as Relationship Officers or Acquisition Executives)
  • Insurance Underwriters
  • Valuation Officers/Executives (especially important for valuation of a company’s stock or a company’s net worth during time of dissolution or liquidation)
  • Securities and Commodities Sales Agents
  • Tax Inspectors
  • Revenue Agents
  • Forensic Accountant
  • Tax Auditors
  • Payroll Analyst
  • Cost Accounting Director
  • Investment Accountant
  • Foreign Exchange Analyst
  • Corporate Finance
  • Financial Planning for Corporates

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Here are just a very few examples of the jobs vacancies that were available at the time of writing this:

  • Finance Manager – engineering (British Airways)
  • Financial Planning & Analysis Manager (Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC)
  • Finance Manager – Pipeline Planning & Analysis (GlaxoSmithKline)
  • Finance Manager – Financial Accounting & Controls (Virgin Atlantic)
  • Finance Manager  – Beauty (Burberry)
  • Junior Trader (BlackRock)
  • Payroll Analyst (Wells Fargo)
  • Finance Manager (Sainsburys)
  • Actuarial Reporting Manager (Oliver James Associates)
  • Finance Manager – Ground Operations (easyJet)
  • Finance Manager – Systems & Projects (Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust)
  • Assistant Manager – Forensic Accounting (Deloitte)
  • Accounts Assistant (Warner Brothers Entertainment Group)
  • Management Accountant (BBC)
  • Bookkeeper/Accountant (Gordon Yates Ltd)
  • Senior Internal Auditor (Vodafone)
  • Project Accountant (Siemens AG)
  • Sales Ledger Clerk (Christopher Benn Associates)
  • Group Mergers & Acquisitions Manager  (Centrica)
  • Intercompany Stock Accountant (Screwfix)

Think that these jobs are all high profile and unobtainable? Well maybe most of them are at the moment, but many of those that will be applying for these jobs will have started off their accounting careers with an AAT qualification – and if they can, you can too!

 

 


Tomorrow starts now- blog

It’s A Wide World…

Would you like a career in Accounting but are unsure about the different job options (including salary and prospects) within:

  • Industry and Commerce
  • Private Practice
  • Public Sector

The options for a career in accounting are vast but they neatly slot into 3 main areas – industry and commerce, private practice (firms of accountants) and the public sector (local authorities, hospitals etc). Although they all deal with numbers, the roles can be very different so it is worth having a think about what you would like to do.

In industry and commerce you could…

  • Form a key part of the sales or purchase ledger department – raising sales invoices; approving purchase invoices; credit control and financial management.
  • Operate in the payroll department; controlling wages; completing regular statutory returns.
  • Work in the costing department assisting in product costing and decision making.
  • Play a role in the accounts department preparing management accounts; budgets and cashflows; providing information for management decisions

In private practice you could…

  • Produce financial statements for various types of businesses.
  • Assist in the audit of limited companies and charities.
  • Prepare tax returns and budgets for individuals and businesses.
  • Assist clients with bookkeeping or installing computerised accountancy systems.
  • Work on the preparation of business plans and provide financial information management decisions.

In the public sector you could…

  • Join a particular department like Housing or Social Services.
  • Get involved with the preparation of budgets and forecasts.
  • Be collecting revenue and authorising payments.
  • Play a part in evaluating the financial impact of proposed activities.
  • Perform internal audits.

Salary and Prospects

Salaries can vary widely depending on the sector, size and location of the firm as well as the level you enter at. AAT apprentices will start out at £8k to £10k pa. This increases incrementally with qualifications gained to £15k to £19k pa for a fully qualified technician. The starting salary for new graduate ACA trainees is up to £20,000. Recently qualified accountants earn up to £30,000 with senior positions paying a salary of over £60,000. The very top jobs in the profession pay over £100,000.

Competition for jobs is pretty stiff due to the excellent career path, prospects and rewards. However, a career in accounts could take you literally anywhere. Skills are also transferable so you can transfer from an accountancy firm to the finance department of a business or a position within the public sector. Also, qualified accountants can move into management consultancy or take up the highest positions in companies like Chief Executive or Managing Director. The AAT have a very useful salary survey on their website, as shown below:

http://www.aat.org.uk/asset/aat-and-robert-half-2013-salary-and-career-survey

Let’s just destroy a few myths…
To be an accountant you:

  • DON’T have to have a degree in Maths
  • DON’T need a Maths A Level
  • DON’T even need a GCSE in Maths

So what do you need? Well, do you:

  • Enjoy working with figures?
  • Have an interest in what makes business tick?
  • Want to build the financial skills needed for success in business?

And it’s never too late!

If you want to get into the accountancy profession now, you can. You could be doing something completely different but no matter how different, it doesn’t stop you entering the accountancy profession.

Time for change - blog


road sign

Silly Mistakes We Have All Mad!

We have all experienced times where grammatical and/or spelling errors have completely changed the intended outcome to a situation, and in some instances, in a very dramatic way. Here are a few funny mistakes that you might have noticed in the past:

Fb post

Credit goes to https://www.pinterest.com/pin/375276581419832983/

mcdonalds sign

Credit goes to http://www.viralnova.com/grammar-fails/

shoplifters sign

Credit goes to https://teylarachelbranton.com/10-funny-grammar-mistakes-on-signs/

 

These did make us laugh and I bet you had a chuckle too! However, grammar can have a huge impact to an expected outcome. It could just be a simple finger-slip on the keyboard – we are all guilty of these typos. Here are a few examples to illustrate the importance of checking spelling/grammar – these ones have gone down in history!

Popeye is a lie! – The character’s obsession with spinach originally came from a false reading of how much iron is contained in spinach. In 1870 a German chemist named Erich von Wolf accidentally printed the decimal point in the wrong place (for the amount of iron found in spinach). Mathematicians saw this reading and thought it was 10x the actual amount! So instead of having 3.5g of iron content… spinach ended up having 35g of iron! People believed this ever since, and the outcome was the spinach eating sailor named Popeye!

Can you imagine not having phone service! – We are all living In a society where looking at your phone first thing in the morning is like reading the newspaper in the 1980’s. But how much do you rely on your phone? Could you handle losing your phone service alongside millions of other people all because of a simple typo?

This happened in 1991 across the USA when over 12 million people across the country completely lost their phone service! The error was the result of a typographical error that occurred in the software that controls the regulated telephone traffic signals. An employee had typed a “6” instead of a “D”, and due to their mistake, telephone companies lost all control of their networks!

On a more serious note, a conversation between a British brigadier and US general led to disaster on a Korean battlefield –this was due to ‘uncommon language’ being exchanged between the two of them (rather than a grammatical or spelling error), however, it demonstrates the importance of checking that your message is fully understood by the recipient. Read more about this fascinating but heartwrenching article here.

Finally, if you are reading this, you a likely to be working in some sort of finance role, or are considering a future in accounting. So, do check out this AAT article: most common writing mistakes accountants make and how to avoid them – you never know how much your typo may affect your current/future role or the wider world!

 


FAQs Blog featured image

Here Is What Other AAT Course Enquirers Ask Us…

Have some questions? Here is what other AAT course enquirers ask us that could help you!

Just in case you hadn’t seen our FAQs page (which is in the STUDENT section of our website) we thought we’d share them with you here.

People who are thinking about starting a new course (like you!) often ask similar questions, so we wrote down a selection of the ones our current students came up with before they enrolled:

Q 1: Are AAT qualifications well recognised?

Yes, with 125,000 global members, the AAT is the UKs leading qualification and professional body for accounting technician and finance staff. It is well recognised by employers and is often an entry requirement in the accountancy profession. The AAT qualification is also recognised internationally.

Q 2: How quickly can I start my AAT distance learning course?

All of our AAT distance learning courses are ‘roll on, roll off’, meaning that you can start at any time of the year.

Q 3: When I start the course, does it matter if I’m not working in an accounting or finance role?

Not at all – many of our students start off in a non-accounting role. The AAT courses are designed to help you achieve your ambition of obtaining work in a finance role, or to set up as a self-employed bookkeeper.

Q 4: Does it matter where my AAT training provider is located?

Not at all – you will be undertaking all of your studying from the comfort of your own home. When it comes to sitting your exams, you will be able to sit them at an approved exam centre near you. You can call us for more information about this, or, you can visit the AATs site to search for an assessment venue here.

Q 5: Do I have to register with the AAT before I enrol?

No, the first step is to enrol and get started on your course. You should then register with the AAT (AAT rules state that you should register within 4 weeks of enrolment). It will be essential to register once you start revising for your first exam since you will need to be able to access the AATs online sample assessments and other resources such as the Green Light Zone.

Q 6: how long will it take to complete my course?

This all depends how much time you are able to devote to your studies:

  • The Level 2 Bookkeeping Certificate can be completed in as little as 1½ months ~ great if you want to add a qualification to your CV quickly!
  • The Level 2 Award in Computerised Accounting can be completed in as little as a few weeks, although 1-2 months is the norm.
  • For the Level 2 Certificate in Accounting, it can take as little as 3 months (if you are really going for it e.g. 15 hours per week) or as much as 12 months (if 4 hours per week).  However, don’t plan to take too long or you will get bored.
  • For Level 3, between 5½ and 20 months (12 months is typical)
  • For Level 4, between 6 and 22 months (12-14 months is typical)

Please contact us on 01392 435349 or email me at tom@accountancylearning.co.uk if you would like more detailed guidance on the recommended study hours for each qualification.

Q 7: What are your exam pass rates?

Shown below are our current pass rates across all three AAT levels ~ as can be seen, well in excess of the overall national average!

Accountancy-Learning-AAT-Pass-rates

Accountancy Learning AAT Pass Rates (published by the AAT for year to June 2016)

Q 8: How quick is your response time?

We pride ourselves on being able to respond really, really quickly, so we will generally reply to your emails on the same day. We work late on Mondays through to Thursdays so you might receive an email from us during the evenings too!

Q 9: If I get stuck and want to phone a tutor, will there be someone there to help me?

Yes. However major or minor the query, there will be a tutor available to help you ~ we won’t make you set an appointment to talk to us and we won’t limit the time spent on the phone with you (although we might change our phone number if you’re on the phone to us every 5 minutes!)

Q 10: How quickly will you mark my work?

We will generally mark your work within 48 hours (during working hours) but often within 24 hours. So, you won’t have to wait long before you have a result along with detailed feedback in order that you can get back to your studying.

Q 11: I can’t afford to pay for my course all in one go; is there anything you can do to help?

Well, the first thing that we can do is offer you a monthly payment option over 6 months by standing order (3 months if the Certificate in Bookkeeping). There is no administration fee, so this is a great way to spread the course costs.

Q 12: How can I enrol?

There are a couple of ways you can do this:

The quickest way is via our website shop HERE

Or, you can download an enrolment form to complete (these are located on the AAT course pages of our website HERE  – just complete it, save it and then email it across to us at study@accountancylearning.co.uk or you can download the form and post it to us.

Finally, you can also enrol over the phone (we can complete your enrolment information and take card payments over the phone).

I hope that you found this useful!

If you would like to find out more, or need any questions answering please give me a call on 01392 435349 or email me at tom@accountancylearning.co.uk

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Careers in Accounting

How Many Times Have You Heard The Phrase “Accountants Are Boring?”

Despite the grey, boring image, accounting careers do not have to be dull and mundane and those working as accountants don’t have to be stuck away in a hidden office!

These days, there are a wealth of options available for example. For those with an inquiring mind, how about ‘playing detective’ by investigating fraud; following a money trail to find answers or uncovering inconsistencies in financial statements? Accountants can play a huge role in forensics, fighting white-collar crime and terrorism and they can find themselves in a variety of very interesting working environments! Equally, auditors are required by a huge range of businesses, or maybe you fancy dealing with the accounts for a celebrity or for the entertainments business – whatever you are interested in, there are a wealth of accountancy jobs available both here and abroad.

When embarking on a career in accounting, the first step will often include getting yourself AAT qualified, so if you would like to discuss this in more detail, please do  email me at tom@accountancylearning.co.uk or give us a call on 01392 435349.

Following your AAT qualification, here’s a taste of what could be on offer for you:

Forensics

Following the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, and the corporate & banking scandals of the early 2000’s, the field of forensic accounting has opened up an exciting world of investigative possibilities for accountants with additional forensic accounting training. I have just looked up current job vacancies for forensic accountants and there are lots of them e.g. the Police (in London and Manchester) are currently looking for someone to review and audit accountancy information relating to serious crime and complex fraud investigations. A global investment bank is looking for a forensic accountant to work on insider trading and risk management projects which includes some global travel. A further post relates to a job in corporate recovery based in the Cayman Islands! For more information about accounting careers in forensics, here are few websites you might be interested in:

Audit

An independent accountant can offer auditing services to businesses that are unusual or exciting such as dance clubs, novelty companies and circus acts. Businesses that are out of the ordinary require the auditing services of an accountant willing to learn the ins and outs of an industry. Looking at the current vacancies, a pharmaceutical company requires an auditor who will be based in Switzerland, and another is looking for an auditor in the Channel Islands. A large dairy business is looking for an auditor in Cornwall and a large rail company based in Lancashire is also looking for an auditor. For more information about accounting careers in auditing, here are few websites you might be interested in:

Forensic Accounting

Entertainment

Entertainers receive large payments and carry expense accounts not seen by most people. Look for a career managing the finances for movie stars, athletes and recording artists.

Locations

Many locations such as Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Fiji or Alaska offer unusual working conditions for accountants as well as businesses that keep odd hours and rely on unusual businesses for their economy. I did a search for accountancy jobs in the entertainment world but the company/individual’s name was listed as ‘confidential’ for obvious reasons! However, there were many jobs listed there if this is what ‘rocks your boat’.  For more information about accounting careers in entertainment, here are few websites you might be interested in:

Accounting-in-entertainment

International

With many businesses going global, there is a need for accountants to understand international economics and travel overseas to monitor the books of their subsidiaries. Look for a career with a company that does business worldwide. Here are a few examples of currently advertised jobs: an International Tax Specialist required in the Saudi Arabia, a senior analyst is required in the British Virgin Islands and a Finance officer is required by a bank in Singapore. For more information about accounting careers overseas, here are few websites you might be interested in:

In accounting, the sky really is the limit; you just have to get started on your accountancy career journey and a way to do this (achievable with anyone who has the desire to), is to become AAT qualified. From there, you can progress directly onto ACA, ACCA, CIMA, CIPFA, ATT, CTA, where you can follow your chosen specialism.

If you would like more information about getting started with your accountancy career, do please email me at tom@accountancylearning.co.uk or give us a call on 01392 435349.

You can also visit our Facebook or Twitter page for more updates and advice.

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I can become a Bookkeeper BLOG

How To Become A Bookkeeper

Ever thought of training to become a Bookkeeper?

In a previous Blog, we discussed the many variants of ‘Accountant’ and some of the options on how to become one. We referred, (in passing), to Bookkeeping qualifications and promised to write a Blog on how to become a Bookkeeper.

In July 2016, the AAT introduced a professional bookkeeper status, offering a new level of AAT membership. An AAT Bookkeeper holds an AAT associate bookkeeping membership and can use the designatory letters AATQB after their name.

Once you have achieved AATQB, you can apply to become an AAT Licensed Bookkeeper to offer self-employed services in the UK, regulated and supported by the AAT, including:

  • Bookkeeping, Financial Accounts and Accounts Preparation for Sole Traders, VAT and Computerised Accounting Systems. You will need to satisfy a work experience requirement for this.

The tables, below, show the difference between the content of the respective AAT Bookkeeping and Accounting qualifications at each level.

AAT Foundation Course Units

Click HERE to see a Factsheet that gives a breakdown of what each unit of the Foundation Bookkeeping qualification contains.

AAT Advanced Course Units

Click HERE to see a Factsheet that gives a breakdown of what each unit of the Advanced Bookkeeping qualification contains.

For those of you who still remember Venn diagrams from those Maths lessons at school, the Bookkeeping qualification is simply a subset of the Accounting qualification.

If you complete the Bookkeeping qualifications and decide that you can’t bear to live without further studies then you can progress to the Foundation and/or Advanced Accounting qualifications.

But……..

If studying for the AQ2016 full Accounting qualification, you will receive a % mark for each unit and an overall grade for each level of Pass, Merit or Distinction.
If you register and sit for the Bookkeeping qualification, no % mark is given. If you then progress to the full Accounting qualification, it is not possible to transfer a % mark from the papers you passed and a simple 70% mark is given (i.e. the pass mark). This will affect the grade you finally achieve for the full Accounting Qualification. (PS. At the AAT Training Provider Conference, we and other providers lobbied the AAT to change this rule and allocate marks for the Bookkeeping qualifications. They promised to look into it, so watch this space!)

If you know that you simply want to become a Bookkeeper, then you may well want to simply register for these qualifications. It is quite feasible to complete both levels in a year and then apply for AATQB status.

Alternatively, you can register for the full Accounting Qualification, paying the membership subs in addition to the Registration fee. When you pass the relevant bookkeeping units you can then apply to the AAT for the AATQB qualification

AATQB status requires that you undertake on-going CPD, are committed to the AAT’s Code of Professional Ethics, and are subject to the AAT’s disciplinary processes. The AAT’s Code of Professional Ethics involves following five fundamental principles: Integrity, Objectivity, Professional Competence and Due Care, Confidentiality, and Professional Behaviour.

We have a lot of students who want to become Bookkeepers and the Bookkeeping qualification now provides them a very tangible and achievable way of becoming one. In order to promote this new qualification we have run number of offers over the last 6 months. Click here to see more on this https://www.accountancylearning.co.uk/aat-courses-special-offers/ or complete the form below to receive an information pack and a follow up call to discuss your options in more detail. (Sorry for the sales pitch!?!)

AAT Fees

The respective AAT fees for each option are:

AAT Bookkeeping Fees

AAT Accounting Fees

(Fees correct as at 01/01/2017)

In addition to the above are exam fees and exam administration/invigilation fees

Student fees generally increase on the 1st September each year.
Professional membership fees are reviewed on the 1st January each year.

The following link will take you to a recording of an AAT video on “How to build a career with bookkeeping”

https://www.facebook.com/youraat/videos/1658736327489091/

Although clearly biased towards the AAT qualification, we feel obliged to also mention two other bookkeeping qualifications:

1. ICB – Institute of Certified Bookkeepers
Its bookkeeping qualifications comprise:

+ Level II Certificate in Bookkeeping

+ Level III Certificate in Bookkeeping and Accounts

+ Level IV Certificate in Bookkeeping and Accounts

2. IAB – International Association of Bookkeepers
Its bookkeeping qualifications comprise:

+ Level 1 Award in Bookkeeping

+ Level 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping

+ Level 3 Certificate in Bookkeeping and Accounting

We currently only offer the AAT qualifications as we see that as the market leader in the UK and tends to be the qualifications that employers ask for in their job ads. It is also the only of the three that is a UK member of IFAC (international Federation of Accountants), alongside ACCA, CIMA, CIPFA, ICAEW, ICAS and the IFA. https://www.ifac.org/about-ifac/membership/member-organizations-and-country-profiles?letter=U#members

Awards, Certificates and Diplomas

In this Blog we have referred to Awards, Certificates and Diplomas at levels 1, 2, 3 and 4.

What do they each mean? How are they different?

Qualifications on the RQF (Regulated Qualification Framework) are made up of one or a number of units. Each unit is awarded a number of credits. The number of credits given to a unit is determined by the number of notional hours of study – 1 credit equals 10 hours of notional learning. The total number of credits from all the units included in a qualification determine whether the qualification is categorised as an Award, Certificate or Diploma.

Awards Certificates Diplomas

It’s all about size

Within each of these 3 categories the difficulty of the qualification is indicated by the level. There are 8 levels, Level 1 – Level 8, where Level 1 is the easiest and Level 8 is the most difficult. Examples of each level are:

  • IAB Award in Bookkeeping
  • GCSE Grades A-C
  • A Levels Grades A-C
  • AAT Diploma in Accounting
  • Foundation Degree or IFA (Institute of Financial Accountants)
  • Honours Degree
  • A Masters Degree or ACA, ACCA, CIMA, CIPFA
  • A PhD

https://www.gov.uk/what-different-qualification-levels-mean/list-of-qualification-levels

So, the content of a Level 3 Accounting Diploma should be no more difficult than the content of a Level 3 Accounting Certificate but there is a lot more of it! E.G. the three units within the AAT Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Bookkeeping are the same as the equivalent three units in the full AAT Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Accounting. It’s just that there are more units in the AAT Level 3 Diploma in Accounting.

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted!
(This Blog was more of a Diploma level than an Award level……..!?!?!)