Kaplan's ACCA TIps Written by Kaplan’s Content Specialists
F4 – Corporate & Business Law
• Delegated Legislation
• Remedies for Breach
• Economic Loss
• Supreme Court
• Promoters and Pre-Incorporation
• Insider Dealing
F5 – Performance Management
• Performance Evaluation of a public organisation
• Activity Based Costing
• Mix and Yield variances
• ROI / RI
• Environmental Management Accounting
F6 - Taxation
• Income tax - Employment Income - benefits
• Corporation tax - Capital allowances including IBA
• VAT - Cash accounting scheme
• Capital gains tax - Principal private residence relief
• Personal Pension Contributions
F7 INT – Financial Reporting
Q1 - Mixed consolidated income statement and statement of financial position – possible adjustments to include PURP.
Q2 - Redraft of financial statements (also to include SOCIE) – possible adjustments could include revenue recognition, investment property, depreciation.
Q3 - Calculation of an element of a statement of cash flow and a report to include calculation of ratios and interpretation of the accounts using the statement of cash flow and ratio results.
Q4 & 5 - IFRS 5: discontinued operations, Government grants, Investment property
F8 INT – Audit & Assurance
• Regulation of audit, governance;
• Small/not for profit organisations;
• Systems: purchases, sales, payroll
• Specific standards, e.g. ISA 210, ISA 260, ISA 530
• Completion and auditor’s reports.
F9 – Financial Management
• Investment appraisal - risk and uncertainty
• Working Capital Management - models for inventory and cash management
• Valuations - Asset and cash flow based values
• Business Finance - Gearing/capital structure calculations and commentary
• Risk Management - interest rate risk
P1 – Professional Accountant
• Normative / instrumental stakeholder views
• Ethical behaviour
• CSR / corporate citizenship
• Audit committee
• Risk mapping/TARA
• Environmental auditing
P2 – Corporate Reporting
Section A – group statement of cash flow which could include mistreatment and/or misclassification of items to be included within the statement.
Held for sale and discontinued activities
Reporting financial performance
P3 – Business Analysis
• Strategy evaluation
• Financial and strategic analysis
• Managing change or culture
• Project management
• Strategy and people
P4 – Advanced Financial Management
• Acquisitions and business valuation
• Net Present Value
• Black Scholes model
• WACC / financing
• Interest rate hedging – options, futures and FRAs
P5 – Advanced Performance Management
• Calculation and discussion of ratios and other KPIs
• Divisional performance appraisal
• PMS design relevant to scenario with behavioural impact
• Corporate failure
• Environmental management accounting (EMA)
• Incorporating risk into performance management including probabilities and value at risk
P6 – Advanced Taxation
Corporation tax - Takeovers: pre acquisition trading and capital losses
Capital gains - Overseas aspects
Inheritance tax - Transfer of nil band between spouses
Income tax - Benefits: car, loan
Personal financial planning - EIS/VCTs
VAT - Partial exemption
P7 – Advanced Audit & Assurance
• Engagement planning and risk assessment
• Ethics and professional issues
• Auditing in a Computer Based Environment
• Discontinued operations
• Due diligence
• Forensic audit
BPP released their exam tips for December 2010
Operation of judicial precedent
Implied legal intention in contract formation
Tort of negligence – breach of duty of care
Breach of contract and remedies
Specialist Cost and Management Accounting Techniques: ABC, Throughput Accounting & Target Costing have featured recently. Be prepared to discuss techniques such as ABC compared to traditional costing techniques such as Absorption Costing.
Decision making techniques: Relevant costing, linear programming and risk & uncertainty have been examined recently; pricing can be combined with other parts of the syllabus.
Budgeting: Learning curves have featured most regularly to date. Discussion marks may look at the appropriateness of budgeting types or the behavioural impacts of types of budgeting. Numerical elements in a budgeting question could include flexed budgets or time series analysis.
Standard costing & variance analysis: Mix & yield variances, planning & operating variances and operating statements have been examined. Be prepared to discuss performance, and whether variances are an indicative measure of good / bad performance.
Performance Measurement and Control: Questions focusing on interpretation of performance, and financial vs. non financial measures have featured on all papers to date. Questions could focus on the public sector, divisional performance measures such as ROI / RI or a discussion of the impact on performance of various transfer prices.
Income tax involving employment income and national insurance contributions
Corporation tax involving a long period of account
Husband and wife disposing a number of different assets including chattels, inter-spouse transfers, entrepreneurs’ relief
Sole trade commencing trade and then changing their accounting date
Income tax losses
Q1 (25 marks): Consolidated SOCI and/or SOFP with one subsidiary plus associate (including adjustments for fair values, unrealised profit, intragroup trading, goods/cash in transit, other syllabus area). In addition, there is also a discursive part (b) on reasons for adjusting for unrealised profit or other group topic.
Q2 (25 marks): Accounts restatement/preparation with adjustments e.g. depreciation, current/deferred tax, inventory valuation, leases, substance over form issues, financial instruments (change in FV or amortised cost), revaluations, share issues or government grants. May include discontinued operation, EPS calculation or SOCIE with a prior period adjustment
Q3 (25 marks): Interpretation and/or statement of cash flows, perhaps with written part on aims of not-for-profit entities. Interpretation may focus on limited ratios and their interpretation (e.g. liquidity); sections of a statement of cash flows (rather than whole statement) may be tested
Q4 & Q5 (15 & 10 marks): One question in context of conceptual framework, and the other containing one or two discrete topics; the possibilities include: regulatory framework, inflation, government grants, discontinued operations, impairments, deferred tax, leases, intangible assets, or provisions
Audit planning (analytical procedures)
The assessment of audit risk
Audit procedures (both substantive and tests of control) relevant to key audit assertions
Not for profit organisations
Audit reporting and materiality
Working capital: this has always been a favourite theme; questions on inventory management and receivables management are likely here. Make sure that you are comfortable with using working capital ratios to calculate inventory, receivables, payables and cash balances
Investment decisions: this exam normally contains a question involving net present value (NPV), often with tax and inflation. Remember that you may need to calculate a weighted average cost of capital before you calculate an NPV.
Sources of finance: this is a topical area, we would expect a part question on financing problems covering gearing issues and problems for small-medium sized companies. Ratio analysis is likely to feature here.
Business Valuations: this area is commonly tested and is a core syllabus area. You should note that in recent sittings the examiner has looked to combine different syllabus areas within the same exam question – for example asking you to calculate a cost of equity and then use it to value a company. Make sure that you are also able to value debt.
Financial environment & risk management: recent exchange rate and interest rate volatility could impact on a company’s financial management plans – a part question on this area could be set, with further discussion and calculations on hedging techniques.
The topic of stakeholders was examined in June but remains a key area.
Over the last few months the role of the board of directors has remained at the forefront of the news.
You may be asked to identify and categorise some key risks in a scenario.
You should make sure that you can discuss and apply ethical theories.
Don’t neglect the less glamorous areas of the syllabus, corporate governance or risk and control disclosure could always be tested.
The compulsory case study is likely to require you to prepare a group statement of financial position (balance sheet) and/or statement of comprehensive income (profit and loss account) with continuing and discontinued activities or foreign subsidiary. Alternatively, it could be a consolidated statement of cash flows which would include other accounting complications such as financial instruments, pensions, share-based payment and impairments.
There will also be discursive requirements on a linked accounting adjustment and social/ethical/moral aspects of corporate reporting.
An industry question (often Q3), testing a range of standards (NB: no specific knowledge of the particular industry is required).
A discussion question (Q4) looking at current developments in corporate reporting, such as: small and medium-sized entities, revenue recognition, success/issues on implementation of IFRSs, management commentary, comprehensive income/presentation of financial statements, improvements in performance measurement. It may also include a related computational part based on figures from a case study.
Single topic (e.g. share-based payment, deferred tax, pensions) or 'multi-part' question (Q2) testing a range of standards separately, such as: related parties, accounting policies, discontinued operations, recognition and/or impairment of tangible and intangible assets, government grants, foreign currency transactions, provisions, events after the reporting period (balance sheet date), leases, consistency of standards with the conceptual framework, the effect of accounting treatments on earnings per share or ratios.
Important areas to cover:
Strategic analysis: Key models of analysis include mission and objectives, stakeholder analysis, PESTEL, Porters five forces and diamond models, the value chain, 9Ms and portfolio analysis. This may culminate in a SWOT and appraisal of the organisations overall position.
Strategic choice: The syllabus makes a distinction between the approach and role taken by the corporate parent and a Strategic Business Unit (SBU). You should therefore ensure that you are aware of the differences and be able to identify the appropriate approach from the scenario in the question.
Key models here include Porter’s Generic strategies, Bowman’s Strategy Clock, Ansoff's matrix and Lynch’s expansion matrix.
Finally the strategic criteria for assessing options of suitability, acceptability and feasibility may be employed to justify recommendations.
Strategic action: Implementation issues cover much of the rest of the syllabus and could include issues of culture (e.g. Cultural web, Handy’s cultures, Miles and Snow), quality (TQM, six sigma, CMMI, V-model), process improvement and software selection (Harman, Skidmore and Eva), e-business or people management (e.g. planning, recruitment, performance management, development) or change management (Force Field analysis).
Role and responsibility towards stakeholders: Ethical issues continue to appear regularly as an optional discussion question, normally with practical financial issues from elsewhere in the syllabus. The discussion question is normally one of the easier optional questions.
Advanced investment appraisal: The compulsory question often features an NPV question with an analysis of risk and / or financing. Cost of capital calculations are regularly tested, make sure that you are comfortable adjusting betas for differences in gearing. Real options and adjusted present value are also popular themes, and are normally tested in section B of the exam.
Acquisitions and mergers: This exam normally contains a question involving valuations which the examiner sees as a crucial part of the syllabus; valuations questions are also likely to cover strategic and financing issues.
Corporate reconstruction: This is a topical area; a question could also ask you to evaluate a capital reconstruction e.g. a business that is considering offering its creditors shares in order to enable it to survive.
Advanced risk management: We would expect to see a numerical risk management question featuring either interest rate or exchange rate hedging. Foreign currency derivatives are due to be tested numerically; the new examiner has indicated that questions may well ask you to compare the results of a hedge using a number of different hedging techniques.
Strategic management accounting: This is a key theme of this paper. Numerical questions could include analysing risk using expected values and probabilities; benchmarking and discussion of critical success factors are likely to be key discussion areas.
Budgeting: Financial data has appeared repeatedly in past exams. You may be asked to draw up an income statement or budget or to compare actual performance against a benchmark. This could include the use of activity-based approaches, learning curves or non-financial indicators; although the new examiner has indicated that his questions will require more skill in interpreting data and discussing strategies to improve performance rather than performing calculations.
‘Beyond budgeting’ is an important area that can be tested either as a discussion or a numerical question.
Strategic performance measures in the private sector: Divisional performance measurement is another key area; ROI, RI , EVA, NPV or even ABC could feature here and transfer pricing could feature as an aspect of these questions.
Alternative views of performance measurement: Questions are commonly set that require a good understanding of the balanced scorecard, the building blocks model and the performance pyramid. Questions will often require you to analyse data that has been collected using one of these models.
Performance hierarchy: Linking strategic decisions to mission statements or suggesting strategic options using models such as Ansoff’s matrix or the BCG matrix lend themselves to questions containing a mixture of financial and discursive elements that could easily include a simple NPV or profit analysis.
Income tax – EIS/VCT schemes, personal service companies, losses, overseas aspects
Corporation tax – close companies, liquidations, transfer of trade
Inheritance tax – lifetime gifts, fall in value of lifetime gifts, quick succession relief
Capital gains tax – takeovers, damaged/destroyed assets, small part disposal of land, leases and wasting assets
VAT – groups, imports/exports
• A risk-based and/or planning scenario in the compulsory section
• Questions based on articles published in Student Accountant in the past six months
• A number of requirements asking for audit procedures and required evidence in respect of specific financial reporting issues
• A practice-based scenario looking at professional, ethical and quality control issues
• A reporting scenario of some sort - probably testing either emphasis of matter or other matter paragraphs
LSBF's ACCA exam tips
Activity based cosyting.
Decision making under uncertaibty – (maximax, maximin etc).
Advanced variances – mix variances.
Performance measurement – NFIs or divisional performance appraisal.
Income tax for husbands and wife.
Employment income, including the evaluation of benefits, car, fuel, mileage allowance, and accommodation benefit.
Income for ISA including the rules for individuals aged 50 years and over.
Corporation tax – adjustment of a trading profit and the computation of capital allowances on plant and machinery and industrial buildings maybe long period of account.
Due date for VAT registration.
Cash accounting scheme.
Contents of VAT invoice.
Disposals including the matching rules for shares and rights or bonus issues.
Sole trader/partnership in business making trading losses and deciding on the best way to relieve the losses.
Employed versus self employment or pensions.
Q1- consolidated income statement with IFRS 3 (Revised) discussion, or both CSFP and CIS in same Q (last one Dec 2008).
Q2 – re-drafting or published accounts.
Q3 - interpretation mainly, with or without cash flows.
Q4 - mixed standards, especially leasing, impairment, EPS, grants.
Q5 – depreciation, provisions, deferred tax, standard setting.
Non current assets.
Investment appraisal – tax and inflation.
Cost of capital – project specific discount rates.
Business finance – rights issue and gearing.
Risk – parity theory and currency hedging.
WCM – financing of WC and receiveables.
Valuation – PV of FCF.
NPV – sensitivity analysis.
Board performance evaluation.
Importance of independence.
Transaction cost theory.
Industry-specific risk categories.
Gray, Owen and Adams positons on CSR.
Kohlberg moral development theory.
Role of corporate codes of ethics.
Cash flow statement.
Strategic position – excternal analysis.
Strategic choice – joint ventures/alliances.
Culture and its effect on strategy.
We have a brand new examiner so all bets are off I’m afraid.
IHT with the death estate including BPR and valuation rules. Transfer of unused nil rate band between spouses. Changing the will after a person is dead.
Corporation tax including relief for trading, losses, groups, consortium relief, overseas aspects including DTR and, anti-avoidance legislation S768 ICTA 1988.
Capital gains tax – mergers, takeovers, reorganizations shares including bonus and rights issues and losses on the disposal of unquoted shares.
Employment income – share options, share incentive plans and taxable and tax free benefits.
Property business profits including furnished holiday letting property.
Enterprise investment scheme, venture capital trusts and corporate venturing scheme relief.
Partnership -= with wife being employed or being introduced as a partner.
Partial exemption for VAT, opting to tax a building, electronic filing of the VAT return, flat rate scheme.
VAT implications of selling the business as a going concern.
Purchase of own shares by a company.
Personal service companies.
Ethics and deliberate tax defaulters.
Business risk/due diligence.
Audit work on segment information/related party transactions/provisions/intangibles.
Social/environmental reporting and assurance reports.
Evaluation of proposed audit report.
Advertising by audit firms.
Ethical threats and safeguards.
• Revenue recognition.
• Substance versus form.
• Convertible instruments (IAS 39).
• Accounting for taxation.
• Accounting for assets, particularly IAS 16.
Important areas that have not been examined under the new syllabus and therefore may feature in the near future are:
• Construction contracts.
• Impairment of assets.
• IAS 37, accounting for provisions.