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A CPA’s Role in Business Process Management

By Rebecca Langdon

There is a good reason why a high proportion of CEO’s and board members are accountants. Accountancy equips individuals with the skills to deliver results within a business, primarily because attention to the finances is always a strategic priority. Business process management (BPM) is a technique used to increase operational efficiency and performance by optimizing business process.

BPM Explained

Within organizations processes develop over time and very often they may become overly cumbersome, inefficient, and costly. BPM seeks to review those processes and make them more efficient where possible. There is a fairly simple model which is used which is depicted as a continuous loop:

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The contribution of a CPA

CPAs contribute to business process management in a number of ways:

  1. Design

Within the design stage the current business processes are reviewed. The analysis requires financial acumen to understand the cost of undertaking the current process. In all likelihood this will be very complex and may involve many different types of cost such as resource, cost of stock, overheads, etc. There will also be a requirement to understand the costs in the short, medium and long term. For some assets which are depreciated, a CPA will understand the basis of the depreciation and be able to model the costs appropriately. This skill set will also be required as new processes are being designed, so that the costs can be articulated.

  1. Modelling

The proposed designs will be modelled at this point so understand the potential efficiencies and effectiveness. It may also include techniques such as what-if analysis. It is likely that some of the computations will be complex, and therefore a CPA has the right competencies to assist that this stage.

  1. Execution

Whilst the changes are implemented, it may be that the CPA takes an oversight or management role.

  1. Monitoring
    The way in which the new processes will be monitored will need to be designed with agreed metrics, and analytical techniques. Again a CPA would be able to take a leading role in designing the methods and parameters for monitoring.
  1. Optimization

At this stage the output and learning from the monitoring phase will be used to optimize and improve the recently implemented new business process. Once again an accountant would be well positioned to use the quantitative and qualitative output to design optimizations.

In Summary

Business process management is quite a hot topic and has been hailed by some as a technique to drive widespread operational efficiencies. The basis of these efficiencies is rooted in financial terms and therefore an accountant or financial professional is a key part of any BPM team. If you are interested in pursuing a CPA qualification, take a moment to explore the course information here.

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What Are the Career Opportunities for CMAs?

By Rebecca Langdon

Accredited management accountants hold various roles within organisations. It is not the case that a CMA will always be a Management Accountant for life. The combination of skills including accounting, finance, and management, opens up a wide range of career opportunities. Within this article we look at the top 6 career choices for CMA’s.

Management Accountant

The most obvious starting position is that of a Management Accountant. This may include reporting, analysis, forecasting, and budgeting. You may also get involved with project level accounting.

Management Consultant

The skill set of a CMA lends itself very well to the role of a Management Consultant. In this role you will be often get to meet a variety of different clients, and you may even travel internationally.

Financial Trader

Many ‘Bankers’ and financial traders have an accounting qualification such as the CMA. Having a strong grasp of maths is essential to being a successful trader.

Business Strategist

The CMA equips candidates with the skill set they need to produce and test the feasibility of organizational strategies.

Auditor

Many accountants become auditors. This may be an internal auditor or it would be working for an audit practice who are responsible for auditing the financial statements of their clients.

Longer term call – CEO, Managing Director or Executive Board Member

Did you know that around 25% of FTSE 100 CEO’s are qualified accountants? Qualified accountants make for very successful leaders.

In Summary

It is a really exciting time to be an accountant, particularly one that is CMA accredited. There are a whole host of exciting professions that are calling out for qualified professionals. If you would like to undertake the CMA, or just know more, simply visit our website where you will find lots of useful information.

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CPA versus CMA: Which one is for you?

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

The two professional designations CPA (Certified Professional Accountant) and CMA (Certified Management Accountant) both offer a route to higher earnings and a career path with great prospects, so knowing which one to pursue can feel confusing. While they share some things in common, they are also quite different – read on to find out what sets them apart and which one could be right for you.

Who’s who

CPA is a globally recognized certification to practice public accounting and auditing but is licensed by US state boards of accountancy. Students from abroad generally choose which US state they want to apply through, and each state has its own requirements to meet. The CPA is an in-demand certification in the accountancy field.

CMA is a global credential, which indicates that its holder is versed in areas such as financial planning and analysis, cost accounting, budgeting and forecasting, and financial reporting. Generally it distinguishes professionals with a finance and accounting background as suitable for positions such as financial, business or systems analyst.

Similar, but…

What the two designations have in common is both involve passing a series of exams, as well as requiring the completion of educational and professional experience.

The CPA consists of an exam in four parts - Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG) - all of which must be passed for success. In total they represent 14 hours of testing and must all be taken within an 18-month timeframe after taking and passing the first part.

The CMA is a two-part exam spread over eight hours and all parts must be taken within three years of joining the CMA Program. Although at least two years of professional experience in management accounting or financial management are required, you can sit the exam prior to satisfying these requirements. Proof of work experience must be provided before CMA certification is granted, though.

What’s your background?

To qualify for the CMA a bachelor’s degree is required. This makes it somewhat of an easier option to those who have a background in finance, marketing or economics but who don’t meet the CPA requirement of a substantial number of accounting hours/courses needed to sit the exam. Most US states require a total of 120 credits hours to be able to sit for the exam, or 150 hours of coursework to obtain the license (in addition to a bachelor's degree).

How easy is it to pass?

In the Middle East the CPA has an approximate pass rate of 40% depending on the section taken (the FAR and REG sections have a pass rate slightly above that). Globally the 2015 pass rates for CPA ranged from 47.28% for AUD up to 56.48%for BEC.

CPA pass rates may sound disheartening but they’re actually much higher than those for CMA. According to the Institute of Certified Management Accountants, pass rates for the CMA in the Middle East and Africa were 20% for Part 1 and 34% for Part 2 in the period September 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. That compares with a respective pass rate of 34% and 45% globally over the same period.

How will certification boost your earnings?

If you are wondering whether the investment of pursuing CPA accreditation is worth it, one answer lies in the salary expectations. Research shows that professionally certified accountants can expect to earn anything from 5% to 15% more than uncertified accountants.

Following two comprehensive surveys in 2012 and 2015 of current and prospective CMAs in the Middle East, the IMA revealed some interesting figures. Firstly, it noted that annual basic salaries for CMAs had risen by 51% since 2015. The median annual basic salary came in at US$43,652 in 2012, but with a wide disparity when looked at on a country by country basis. In the UAE, for example, this salary had an average of US$53,371, while in Egypt the average salary was US$12,632. Putting geography aside, perhaps the most eye-catching piece of information is that CMAs in the Middle East can earn 30% more in salary than non-CMAs. According to the report, “the benefits of CMA certification can be very substantial” and “the difference in pay between CMAs and non-CMAs is even more striking when work experience is considered”.

Which is more popular?

Just a look at the numbers will indicate that CMAs are much rarer than CPAs: there are 20,000 CMAs worldwide, a small drop in the ocean compared to the more than 300,000 CPAs in the United States alone. But the accreditation should not be looked at in terms of popularity, as either of the two signifies that its title holder is distinguished in his or her field. Whichever you choose, you can be sure you are pursuing a certification that opens up growing opportunities in professional fields that are increasingly in demand.

Benefit from Morgan's one-on-one career guidance to determine the best certification for you. Contact us today!

 

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Get ready for ACCA

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

If you’ve ever considered pursuing an accountancy certification, there’s some great news lined up for you.

ACCA, which stands for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, is one of many accountancy bodies that offer accountancy qualifications around the world, but there are compelling reasons why any potential accountancy student should consider selecting this particular one. These include the organization’s more than one hundred years of reputation and truly global span with over 162,000 members and 426,000 students in 173 countries around the world. Once you are ACCA accredited you posses an internationally recognized certification that allows you to practice any accountancy role and to enjoy greater job prospects.

From a student’s perspective, ACCA also offers a relatively accessible and flexible set of entry requirements. For starters, it is not mandatory to have a university degree to take the ACCA program. And even if you don’t meet the entry requirements for the professional level exams, the beauty of ACCA is you can start with the Foundations in Accountancy qualifications which will help you step up to the full ACCA qualification. The good news if you have a degree is that you may find that it exempts you from some of the exams  - it is possible to have up to nine of the 14 exams waived based on a candidate’s existing academic and professional background.

One of the many plus points of choosing to pursue your ACCA qualification through Morgan International is its choice of Becker Professional Education study materials. Becker is an ACCA Approved Content Provider and as such offers a complete approach that goes beyond textbooks to include a diverse range of support designed to optimally prepare you for your exam while ensuring you get the most out of the study materials.

Wherever you are in the region, you will be able to connect to Morgan International’s ACCA study program through our self-study learning format. And, if you are located in a country where Morgan has a training centre, you will also have the option of choosing to take one-on-one tutoring sessions with a Morgan instructor. This is a highly effective way to pursue your studies and set yourself well on the way to exam success.

Whichever study option you choose, you can rest assured that you are one of a record number of students around the world sitting their ACCA exams in the pursuit of a stellar career in accountancy.

Explore our ACCA packages.

 

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The Rise of the CPA: Three Letters That Signal You Are in Demand

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

If there is one function of a business that has grown significantly in importance in recent years, it is that of finance. The backdrop to this is a combination of factors from a number of monetary scandals that have rocked established organizations around the world, to the tsunami-like global financial crisis itself, to the more recent sobering economic climate and subsequent ushering in of belt-tightening measures.

One thing is for sure: never has it felt like so much scrutiny or pressure has been placed on businesses to make sure their financial houses are in order. And so who do companies rely on in times such as these? The answer can be summed up in three letters: CPA.

Put simply, certified public accountants, or CPAs for short, are now seen more than ever as the bedrock of any organization’s ability to survive. Demand is so great for their skills that in some countries there are even CPA shortages, leading to a boost in salaries for those already in the privileged position of being in the field.

It isn’t just the financial climate, though, that is driving this demand for CPAs. The uncertainty of the times in which we live (with recent years having seen the Middle East going through unprecedented levels of unexpected events and change) creates a climate in which businesses have to plan better and reduce risk for their survival. At the same time markets are increasingly competitive, as globalization opens up new opportunities and challenges, and as the digital landscape reshapes consumer dynamics.  Take all this into consideration and it’s no surprise that certified professional accountants are sought after for their knowledge that can create a competitive advantage to business. And just as the business landscape is increasing in complexity, so is the diversity of opportunities and salary ranges for CPAs.

So what is it that makes a CPA such a valuable commodity in the talent pool? The reasons are simple: even without today’s business or economic backdrop, having CPA certification is seen as a plus for a career in accountancy: it is a benchmark that indicates high standards of professionalism, of quantitative skills, and of adherence to ethical standards, thus increasing a professional’s leverage in the job market. It also brings with it the prospect of increased salary, generally entailing at least a premium of five percent over accountants’ salaries without the CPA. But beyond all of this, the plus of having CPA certification is also seen as a way to open doors to multiple career opportunities; it is a stepping stone to wherever your dreams might take you – from private sector business to multinational corporations, government agencies and non-profit organizations, your skills as a CPA will always be in demand. From accountancy to tax, risk management to investment consulting, and all the way up the corporate ladder to the boardroom via the role of chief financial officer (increasingly seen as the key driving force in any business), there is a diverse range of careers within a CPA’s grasp.

It’s clear that if there used to be any thoughts of a CPA merely representing a step up from an accountant, this is no longer the case. Today’s CPAs are called on to play increasingly important roles in a company’s future. No longer are they simply accounting for what has happened; they are also relied on for valuable insight into how to manage and plan for what lies ahead. In short, today CPAs have a vital role to play in the success of any organization and that makes them in demand more than ever before

 

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The FP&A Program Will Boost Your Chances in a Competitive Field

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

Not only is Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) one of the most highly sought after positions in a company, it’s also, according to executives, one of the hardest to fill. But certification is one way that job hopefuls can give themselves a solid step up in the right direction.

Why look to FP&A

Since the financial crisis, businesses have been placing more emphasis on the analysis of financial data and forward planning – this is where FP&A comes in. And the need for FP&A professionals continues to rise as economic uncertainties make no signs of disappearing.

The role itself involves liaising with upper management to deliver analysis that will drive future organizational strategy. It’s not just about crunching numbers, it’s about sharing insight and guiding decisions, therefore it makes sense that businesses look to hire only the most highly qualified individuals to perform this role.

Who fits the FP&A profile

This is a career best suited to people with a financial or analysis background but also who possess excellent analysis and communication skills. It could be a chief accountant looking to make their next big move in the corporate world, or an analyst seeking to build their executive career. Likewise financial managers, controllers, cost management accountants, strategy & development managers are all well suited to follow the FP&A Program to add a highly regarded credential to their existing skills.

Why take the program?

At its heart the FP&A Program offered by Morgan International acts as a validation of your understanding of the complex processes, tools and uniform standards of practice used around the globe. Once you have the FP&A credential you will possess a unique professional designation that differentiates yourself from non FP&A holders – a key distinguishing factor in what can be a tightly fought battle for the highly prized FP&A position. One of the plusses of taking the program is that candidates can enroll and begin taking the exams before the Education and Experience Requirements have been fully satisfied – noting that the credential will only be awarded after the requirements have been met.

What does it involve?

Morgan International’s FP&A Program offers a range of facilities to make your studying process user-friendly and targeted toward success, such as the Online Learning Center that gives you accessibility via your laptop or mobile. Through the Resource Center students have direct contact with an FP&A expert, and can interact via email for individual follow-up on course questions and content. SmartStudy Tools have been designed to increase your studying success by giving you the tools to create a custom study plan based on your initial assessment scores and experience. Tests, which range from quick quizzes to post-test assessments, interactive case studies, and individual and group reports are all designed to give you optimal preparation for the exam, backed up by a host of other facilities that include downloadable flashcards, helpful links, and a comprehensive reference glossary.

Looking to the future

Those that do well in the role of FP&A Controller can go on to progress to FP&A Director and Finance Director, meaning that this can be your passport to an executive-level career. But obtaining the FP&A certification is definitely the first step in ensuring you stand out in a very enviable crowd.

To enquire about the FP&A program or register, contact your local Morgan representative today.

 

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How to Pass the 2017 CPA Exam

By Rebecca Langdon

There are a number of reasons to try and sit the CPA exams prior to the format change in April 2017. However, if for whatever reason that is not possible for you, there is nothing to be concerned about, as Morgan is here to ensure you are prepared to pass the new format.

Why is the format changing?

The simplest way to devise how to pass your exams first time is to understand why the AICPA are making the changes. They want to ensure that the exam is relevant to the accountancy profession and after a practice analysis undertaken in 2014 they concluded:

 “Overall, the research demonstrated that the profession supports the initiative to make meaningful changes to the exam, to operationalize the testing of higher order skills and to align more closely with the types of tasks regularly performed by newly licensed CPAs.”

In essence they felt that the current exam is too focussed on testing the ability to memorize and apply, and is not sufficiently focussed on testing higher order skills such as analysis and evaluation.

Tips to pass the new format

  • Use an experienced training company

Experienced training companies such as Morgan will be closely aligned to the changes to the new format and will be amending all training materials to the highest standard to maximise your chances of passing your exams first time.

  • Don’t panic

Remember that the other candidates taking the exam in the new format are in the same position as you are.

  • Practice task based simulation questions

Within the training materials there will be practice questions. Make sure you undertake those examples and review the sample answer in detail.

  • Refocus from purely memorizing to applying high order skills

It will of course still be important to remember content, but you should keep in mind that you need to be able to apply, analyse, and evaluation using the knowledge you have. This should not be dissimilar from what was expected of you if you have undertaken a Bachelor’s degree.

In summary

The format of the exam may seem daunting but if enrolling at Morgan International means you will be offered the guidance and support you need to enter the exams confidently.

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Top 7 Reasons You Should Get into Accounting

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

Thought accounting was boring? Here are our top seven reasons that’ll prove otherwise.

Getting qualified opens up a world of opportunities

Before J.P. Morgan went on to become one of the most famous figures in the world of finance, he started out as a junior accountant on Wall Street. And he is not alone; dig deeper into the world of accountancy and you’ll find there are many like Morgan who went on to achieve great things. In fact, whether you choose to stay in the accountancy field, set up your own business, or branch out in a completely different direction (like accountancy graduate turned best-selling author John Grisham), the consensus is that accountancy sets you up with skills for life and offers a vast range of opportunities.

Being a detective

Did you know, for example, that passing the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam is one of the areas of expertise considered essential for becoming an FBI agent in America? Thomas J Pickard, who reached the second highest position in the FBI, is a CPA, and used his skills to investigate white-collar crime along the way to reaching his prime position.

Meeting celebrities

Maybe you secretly wish to be a part of the entertainment world or rub shoulders with celebrities: finance and accountancy can still secure those dreams for you. Achieving Certified Management Accountant (CMA) status can be one way to enter a high-level accountancy or finance job in any domain. A CMA, for example, paved the way for Colin Kotchik’s appointment as Senior Finance Manager at Nike, which gave him the opportunity to meet Kobe Bryant (who was even nice enough to sign him a pair of his shoes for him). Monique Keshishian, on the other hand, used her CMA to become a Senior Financial Analyst at Warner Bros. Records, which means alongside putting together financial reports she’s also spent time in the studio with top name artists.

Aiming for the board

Indeed most audit / accountancy-related qualifications set you up for multitude of career avenues. Being a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) is a profession whose skill sets are highly transferrable to other departments within an organization. That’s because the work of a CIA involves spending time working with people in various departments, getting to understand the risks and opportunities of each, and learning about company operations inside out. This broad knowledge can not only be useful for moving careers, but eventually can propel a CIA towards a board position.

CEO in sight

If taking your accountancy career further into the world of finance is your goal, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is the qualification to look for. It’s widely regarded as the key certification for professionals in investment, especially when it comes to research and portfolio management. It is also your key to unlock careers in insurance companies, pension funds, banks, universities, or even governments (in the areas of public policy and regulation). A good percentage of CFAs also end up as chief executives.

Globally in demand

If you’ve got an eye on the future and your role as an accountant in it, the DipIFR stands out as a qualification that offers global opportunities. The certification is designed to give you the knowledge to apply International Financial Reporting Standards, the set of standards that are currently required or permitted for use by publicly-traded companies in more than 113 countries.

More popular than ever

Today it’s clear that the sky is the limit with accountancy careers, and there’s a wealth of qualifications available to get you started or further your career options. Earlier this year global exam results for ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) showed that a record number of students around the world had successfully completed their final exams. It seems that news is finally out that accountancy is one of the hottest, most versatile fields to be in.

Unsure about the right qualification for you? Contact our team today for a one-on-one career consultation session.

 

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What Every Auditor Needs to Know About Unusual Year-End Transactions

By Aimee Mhaolcraoibhe

Auditors are tasked with judging an entity and its overall environment; in order to do that they must hold an understanding of what relationships exist within the industry and businesses at large. An auditor will pay particular attention to unusual end of year transactions, including:

 

  • Unusual relationships between revenue and income should be noted, such as income or wages that are inconsistent with the yearly trend.

 

  • When looking at bad debt write offs or revenue streams, it pays to consider the industry standard and make note of any transaction that seems to be outside that range.

 

  • Any factors that create a misalignment between the sales volume and the production costs. These factors should be consistently in proportion to each other.

 

  • The responses given by the management of the business is watched closely by an auditor to determine whether any vague or inconsistent messages are being relayed. If a business shows signs of being dishonest or unduly quiet during an audit that can be taken as a red flag and auditors will usually look into those areas with a greater detail to determine why the business does not want to be forthright.

 

  • If there are a significant amount of transactions with any particular party that is outside of normal employees it is normally reviewed in full as it creates an unusual pattern.

 

  • If there are a high number of audit adjusted entries identified it is normally for the auditor to carefully review each related transaction.

 

  • If there are no internal controls or the implemented controls are quite weak an auditor will feel the need to delve further into the business affairs to ensure that it has all been done correctly.

 

  • Disputes over fees that are seen to occur regularly will spark the interest of any auditor.

 

In general, the auditor is highly capable of determining where an unusual transaction has occurred by taking into consideration the above points when they complete any audit.

For those of you who may be interested in an internal audit qualification, we would welcome you to take a look at the CIA course outlines.

References

Puncell L (2008), Audit Procedures, CCH Business and Economics

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Sharpen your skills with a Diploma in IFRS

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

Perhaps the single most important development in the business world of the past decade – and one that will continue to impact the future – is the introduction and adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), these are the standards used by companies to prepare their annual financial statements. What began as a Europe-wide initiative soon spread to become a global phenomenon as the benefits to all of an international standardized financial reporting system became clear. At the same time, the increasingly globalized nature of world markets has added weight to the case for IFRS, with companies that conduct business in foreign markets being able to integrate their financial statements under the IFRS system.

 

To date around 120 nations permit or require IFRS for domestic listed companies, and the Middle East is among the regions where IFRS adoption has made major inroads. The worldwide take-up of IFRS is expected to continue growing, making it imperative for businesses to keep abreast of the latest developments. Crucially, though, this also means that those working in accountancy and finance have to be well versed in IFRS and its updates, too. To date workshops across the region have offered professionals a way to learn more about IFRS, but their short duration and ad hoc nature mean they fall short of providing a solid IFRS grounding that can be leveraged for career growth. This gap, though, is filled by the Diploma in International Financial Reporting (Dip IFR). This qualification can be completed in four to six months and demonstrates a superior insight into and knowledge (theoretical and practical) of IFRS as well as an adherence to high ethical standards.

 

The need for IFRS proficiency is especially relevant to finance and accountancy professionals across the Middle East. Because IFRS has been adopted by so many countries in the region, the ability to prove one’s credentials in this subject are essential to compete in the job market and demonstrate value in the workplace. Even in those countries where IFRS has not yet been adopted, working for a multinational will require all intercompany reporting to be done using IFRS, once again highlighting the importance of being fluent in IFRS regulations and procedures. For more information on Morgan International’s study program for the Dip IFR, click here.