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5 Tips to Guess CFA Exam Answers

By: Morgan International Staff Writers
Let me start by saying that nothing in this article is meant to encourage you to not do a sufficient amount of preparation and entering the CFA exam with the requisite knowledge to pass with flying colours. Yet, like with all exams, however much we prepare, there may be questions that have us stuck. Each candidate will have a different approach to exam technique – whether that be tackling them incrementally, or leaving those ones until the end. Regardless of approach, if there are 10% you are unsure of, it is still better to give them a go, or else you are already reducing your potential score by 10%. We have pulled together 5 top tips to help you ‘intelligently guess’ or deduce the answer – or at least give you more of a fighting chance of scoring some points.

1) Use deduction for multiple choice questions
Look out for answers that absolutely can’t be correct. Work through a process of deduction and if you manage to get down to two potentially correct answers – then you now have a 50/50 chance of scoring points. Don’t panic - try and progress logically through the potential answers.

2) The answer to one question may help answer another
In CFA Level II and III there is a vignette format where 6 questions are about the same passage of text. Sometimes an answer or answers to some of the questions may assist you to deduce what part of the syllabus is being tested as there tends to be a theme within the vignette. Unfortunately, all questions in CFA Level I are independent of each other – so this tip will not help you on that exam (sorry).

3) Stick to the course material
If you feel stuck, you may have some knowledge tucked away from another course that you think might help. Our experience is that it won’t. Whilst this may seem opposed to educational spirit – it is important to stick to CFA definitions and content.

4) Don’t argue
You may be struggling to answer a question because you feel it is worded poorly or you think that it is very difficult to interpret. Or perhaps the question makes no sense whatsoever in your opinion. Do not spend your time answering the question with your perspective on the inadequacies of the question. We assure you that it won’t secure you any points, or ‘brownie points’ with the exam marker.

5) Use your common sense
When all else fails, use your common sense and your gut feel. Have some faith in yourself. You should have done a number of practice papers by this point which hopefully has given you a good feel for the exam structure and typical answers to typical questions.

In Summary
Nobody said the CFA exams would be easy. However the key to success is to work calmly and methodically. You are unlikely to feel certain you know the answer to all of the questions and it is advisable to accept that and have methods and tips in your mind to help you cope.

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Get Employees behind Lean Six Sigma

By Morgan International Staff Writer

Arnold Glasow famously said, ‘Improvement begins with I. This was not a quote specific to implementing Lean Six Sigma, but more holistically that for improvement to happen it has to start with individuals. Therefore this means that simply implementing top down change without the support and interest of employees, will rarely work.

 

Employee concerns

The first thing to appreciate is that employees typically do not like change – in fact most humans find change unsettling. Secondly, any process or procedural changes can set alarm bells ringing that job losses are on the way.

 

How do you get your organization ready?

Each organization is working from a different starting position and company culture will be incredibly important in determining how easily employees accept Lean Six Sigma. Clearly in organizations where employees understand the vision and strategy, and buy into it, a simple explanation of how this change will help on that journey should be sufficient to get them on board. However, for employees who have not been part of strategic conversations, and there has been little change for many years, this might all seem alien and very scary. What I am saying is – assess the current situation and then design a communication plan. In our second example, expect organizational readiness to take more time and many more incremental steps. Expect scepticism and resistance and consider appointing change agents who can voice the advantages of Lean Six Sigma. Be ready to:

  • Sell the benefits of Six Sigma to employees
  • Communicate clearly with employees and be sensitive to resistance
  • Use change agents to remove barriers
  • Incentivise employees (attach their bonus to organization wide success of six sigma, offer training)
  • Have senior leadership advocating the change and talking about it consistently.

 

In Summary

Do not expect your employees to accept the implementation of Lean Six Sigma with open arms. As with any change, you will need to assess current organizational readiness and then produce a plan to get employees ready to embrace the new way of doing things. You may decide to link monetary incentives to the success of Lean Six Sigma. However employees very often value other incentives more, such as training. Since a large programme of change is being launched, it is a perfect time to incentivise employees by offering them industry recognised training that is portable throughout their career.

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Financial outlook for 2017

By Morgan International Staff Writers

With 2016 being quite so unpredictable, you could be forgiven for thinking that we may be in for even more uncertainty during 2017. With markets not sure how to react to global issues, banking as a sector is likely to expand their product base and move into new areas of commerce. This fluid and changeable environment means that accepting new operating models and investment in emerging technologies that address the markets in different ways and open up new possibilities for investment and operations.

Many of the perceived changes are likely to take place in a number of areas of personal and corporate arms, including consumer banking, international trading and Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A), commercial banking, and infrastructure activities. These areas cover the huge subject of macroeconomic trends and it’s a side of the international banking business that is expanding fast. Banks will be looking at major investments being carried out as well as forecasting interest rate rises in the developed nations and how gross domestic product (GDP) is utilized with those countries. This information is key to the long-term forecasting needed to make the banking sector as stable as possible, and from that stability, be able to make informed decisions on investments and business direction.

In 2017, M&A is likely to see an increase in legislation, ensuring that takeovers are not only legal, but also acting in the interests of the many rather than the few. Commercial banking will see prudent lending to ensure that markets stay buoyant but don’t start running out of control, and transaction banking will focus on a balance of product innovation while ensuring that costs are kept low. The most obvious innovation for 2017 will be a stronger response to cybercrime and a strengthening of products and processes to ensure that customer accounts remain secure.

But the bank knows that key to understanding what is likely to happen in 2017 and beyond is having the right people in place and ensuring that the training they receive is pertinent to the task. Above all, banks to not make frivolous decisions and predictions are always backed up with well thought out responses. The changes that banking is likely to feel in 2017 will be based on people with the right skills and that is likely to be the biggest change to banking in the year; get the right people, and train them correctly.

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Tips on Managing Cash Flow When Business is Rising

By Morgan International Writers

One of the biggest problems a company can face is how to deal with the increased cash flow when business starts booming.   A smaller company with several departments can suddenly receive a deluge of requests for funding as manager’s eye a healthy company bank balance and start to think of all the new and exciting equipment that they could fit out their departments with.  A sudden upswing in business can also instill a feeling of overconfidence in the company and as well as new equipment, a managing Director may find that they receive requests for more personnel.   However, caution is always the best policy in these situations and rather than just spending out, there are ways in which you can protect your potential investment.

 

As a company you are likely to have a financial plan.  This is the document that shows how you intend to invest and grow over a period of years, but these can seem in need of an update if the company suddenly finds itself in a period of furious sales activity.  However, the best policy is to stick to the original plan and just bank any extra funds for future use.  You may find that the extra sales are actually just a blip rather than a concerted and long term shift in sales, and if the money is spent, it may leave you in an undesirable situation, so it makes sense to treat any extra sales as something out of the ordinary and carry on as usual.

 

Similarly, senior management need to take extra care with expenses – both their own and those of their team, who may feel as though they can spend more in the pursuit of business.  Once again the best policy is to stick to the original plan and not embark on a session of spending – you may end up regretting it. Of course, you may find that you have a sustained period of extra sales, and you do need to cope with those, but rather than take on staff who may not be needed in a few months, so temporary staff and sub-contractors are the best way forward in those situations.

 

Dealing with a sharp upturn in business can be as daunting as losing business.  It may well be worthwhile preparing for both eventualities, just in case they happen.

 

 

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How to get your company inclined towards 6 sigma?

By: Morgan International Staff Writers

As a professional you know that six sigma is a complete set of tools and techniques applied for the process improvement. It is not department specific and gets the best results for the organization. However, before the application it is important that your organization gets to know the features so that it can support the model in a way that increases its productivity.

 

The following are some points that can be used to gather sufficient support for lean six sigma and its implementation in your organization.

 

  1. Work at the grass root level to overcome skeptics

Don’t expect your organization to adopt the process as soon as you introduce it to the staff working. Always remember that you will face skeptics in your department that might hinder your plans. Have trust in your abilities, in your plan on making 6 sigma a huge success. Following are some points that would help you out:

  • Always remember your organizational culture before marketing the program
  • Ensure that your staff understand it well
  • Get the management to sell the program to the employees
  • Define the process improvement that entails six sigma
  • Try to defeat the status quo by marketing the benefits
  • If you are in a position then announce employee benefits to show your management skills

 

  1. How to motivate the ready staff?

It is advent that the organizations always resist changes that they are unfamiliar to. If you are thinking that how this alien program can achieve success in your organization then follow the points that are mentioned as under:

  • There is always some support internally for any program
  • Motivate your employees by making them believe that they would ultimately become an asset to their organization
  • Financial or advancement opportunities must be promised or provided beforehand if necessary
  • Make the employees believe that their positions and work in the organization matter a lot
  • Manage the supportive population efficiently and this will lead to even more lead generation

 

Conclusion

 

It is never easy to implement lean six sigma in your organization with ease. There are some questions that you should ask to yourself or even the top management and motivated staff. These are:

 

  • How much is the company committed to the program?
  • Is it really necessary?
  • What are the possible counter arguments which I will be facing?

 

Six sigma is a complete process shift. If your change management skills are good then it’s not a problem otherwise be ready for strong and massive resistance.

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What you need to know about financial statements.

By Morgan International Staff Writers

With more of us turning to stock investment as a means of making money, it becomes increasingly important to understand how a financial statement is constructed and what information you can get out of them.  If you interpret the information correctly, you could end up making some impressive investments, but it does need training and good eye for business.  But how do you get the most out of them?

 

The first thing to understand is that financial statements are essentially scorecards that reflect the health of a business, and the Prudent investor will seek out quality companies with strong balance sheets, solid earnings and positive cash flows.  This means that to get the right information for investing you should be looking at the balance sheet, the income statement, the cash flow statement, the shareholders' equity and retained earnings.  All of those elements reflect the financial health of a business and demonstrate its ability to grow, which is a key feature for companies looking to invest themselves.

 

To make the most of financial statements, you need to understand balance sheets, income statements, the equity set aside for shareholders and company retained earnings.  These values represent real-world figures for the company rather than something more esoteric such as value based on assets alone which may give a highly distorted picture. There needs to be some caution though as are those in the general investors who tend to focus on just the income statement and the balance sheet, thereby relegating cash flow considerations to a lesser role in the consideration, which can be a mistake as the cash flow statement contains critically important analytical data that will help you make an informed decision.

 

It is important that you understand the diversity of business reporting and feel confident in understanding what each reported feature relates to and how it relates to the overall health of the company.  That means knowing what is actually behind the numbers and how their rations describe the viability of the investment.  Ideally, before starting a series of business investments, it is wise to ensure that you understand the business world, and take at least a beginners accountancy course and possibly even finances for non-financial managers.  These will give you the background that you need to make informed decisions.

 

 

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7 Things I Wish I Had Known About the CFA Exams

By: Rebecca Langdon

For most people exams are daunting – particularly as you are pretty much entering into the unknown. However the reality is that you are far from the first candidate to be sitting for the exams, so there is lots of really great insight and tips out there from people who have taken the exams and know the keys to success, and failure.

1) They aren’t easy
We hope this is not a shock to you. This is a professional qualification, and the standards are high – so do not underestimate the difficulty of the exams. Having this in the back of your mind will help to ensure you are adequately prepared.

2) Finding study time is hard
A lot of you will have full time jobs and be trying to study in the evenings and at the weekend. Studying in the evening after a full day of work is challenging. You are not superhuman! Start early on exam preparations so that you can cut yourself some slack when you really can’t face that after work session.

3) Practice exams are your friend
Undertake timed practice exams. This will help you with time management, getting used to the format of the exam, and also scoring your efforts thereafter to see how much more revision you need to do. Remember that simply by taking and scoring exams, you are learning the content.

4) Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Believe it or not, there is lots of help and support out there that you can tap into. It might be as simple as needing assistance with a study plan. If you are studying with Morgan International we are always on hand to help you.

5) Group study sessions are great
Studying on your own all the time can become lonely and tedious. Inject a bit more sociability and interest into your exam preparations by getting involved in a group study session. You can perhaps use this time to test each other, have group discussions, or even study individually but in a group setting.

6) Free mock exam
The CFA institute provides a free mock exam for each candidate. DO not miss out on doing this. It is invaluable learning and practice.

7) The exam proctors are hot on cheating
Do not do anything that could get you accused of cheating. Keep your eyes on your paper at all times, don’t write on your hands before the exams, and all of the standard stuff! The proctors take the exam process seriously, and you should too.

In Summary
The CFA exams are passable – we know this because thousands of students pass each year. However almost none of them achieve this on luck alone. Read our tips and take them on board. If you want a reminder of the qualification take a look at our website.

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Delivering Facilities Management Successfully

If you are interested in Facilities Management I suspect you have read a lot recently about how it is no longer just an operational department, but has a huge amount to bring to the table from a strategic perspective. So there is a clear and definite shift in the industry and a very keen interest by many to review how Facilities Management can deliver successful outcomes. There are a few particular areas of opportunity to be mindful of and check is already being done in your organisation.

  • Implement a maintenance structure

From a building services perspective, there will broadly speaking be preventative and reactive maintenance. Generally preventative maintenance is more cost effective overall than proactive maintenance. There are a number of reasons for this but preventing issues from ever taking place will mean less downtime organisationally as preventative maintenance should stop issues occurring in the first place. Furthermore, appropriate maintenance of assets should extend their useful life.

  • Encourage accountability

Every day employees are within the building and accessing the services provided for by the Facilities Management team. It is important that the employees understand how they should be consuming the services. This might be encouraging black and white print only and explaining the unwarranted expense of printing everything in colour. It might also include asking employees to ensure lights are turned off at the end of the working day. Get employees involved in the importance to the organisation of the successful delivery of Facilities Management.

  • Don’t dismiss the data

We operate in a world where many of the devices used by the FM team fall into the IoT category. That means they are connected to the internet and feed the data they collect back to a system of choice. This data is typically hugely valuable if it is analysed in the right way. One example of self-diagnosing devices are some models of printer that can schedule an engineer to carry out a visit. The data gets even richer, down to how much each printer is printing each day, therefore allowing devices to be repositioned so that devices in a fleet reach the end of their useful life at the same time.

In Summary

Facilities Management has a huge role to play organisationally, but to optimise that impact there are some key things to bear in mind as described above, which will also give structure to the approach. A Facilities Management qualification is the way to go if you want to be involved in the revolution currently taking place in this industry.

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Finance Salaries in the Middle East – 2017

By: Rebecca Langdon

There has been a period of uncertainty in the Middle East which has been driven primarily by OPEC reducing oil outputs. This has had a knock on effect as some projects have been put on hold and of course this inevitably causes challenges for those professionals already trying to enter the industry, and also new entrants. However there is strong evidence that the situation is stabilising which is being driven in part by the government encouraging small businesses to set up operations in the region. So what does this mean for job opportunities and salaries of those working in finance roles in the Middle East?

 

We have taken a look at the highlights of the Robert Half 2017 salary survey.

 

  • 68% of employers will seek to hire new employees in the next 12 months.

 

  • 80% of CFOs said they were confident about the UAE’s growth prospects. With 85% saying they were confident in the growth prospects in their own company.

 

  • 85% of CFOs are concerned they will lose top performers in the next 12 months. This has been fuelled by a number of factors including 38% of employees saying they are concerned over company performance, and a large proportion of candidates deciding to emigrate to undertake work in the UK, US and Europe, and Asia.

 

  • 25% of CFOs said they found it difficult to hire Financial Management and Control and Business and Financial Analysis professionals. This makes it an opportune moment to undertake a CFA qualification as where supply is restricted, and demand is high, salaries should naturally increase.

 

  • The salary increases from 2016 to 2017 are all minor but are all positive increases. For example a Financial Analyst in a large company in 2016 could expect $69,750-$97,500 and in 2017 this increased by 1.6% to $72,000-$98,000.

 

In Summary

There has been some contraction within the Middle East due to the economic factors we discussed in the introduction. However all salary increases year on year have been positive, albeit minor. The emergence of small businesses setting up in the Middle East is generating demand for innovative Finance Professionals, and the opportunities in other countries globally remain attractive.

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The 8 Commandments for the CFA Exam

By: Rebecca Langdon

I am going to guess that as you approach your CFA exams, you are nervous, apprehensive, and worried about the possibility that it won’t go well. The main way to ease some of these pre-exam jitters is to be really well prepared, and follow these 8 commandments to get you exam ready.

  1. Focus on the curriculum

Learning wider than the curriculum is always encouraged as it provides the learner with a richer experience and makes them a well-rounded candidate as they enter the world of work. However, the exams are based on the curriculum so do not forget to have that covered.

  1. Keep up to date

Ensure that you are following the latest curriculum. This is a basic one, but be aware that the curriculum does change and you need to know about it if it does.

  1. Practice writing

This is one of the common issues students don’t envisage they will face, and it becomes a painful downfall on the day of the exam. We don’t use a pen very often anymore – most of us use a computer for the work we do. So when it comes to trying to write for hours on end, our hand may not want to comply. Practice writing and get your hand used to it.

  1. Be familiar with the exam format

Take a look at the exam formats and ensure you know exactly what will be required. This will allow you to work on time management before you take the real exam.

  1. You aren’t psychic

Do not attempt to guess at areas of the curriculum that will and will not be covered and use that to guide your revision. There is no way for you to predict what will be on the exam, so do not even try.

  1. Time Management

If you run out of time you are going to feel pretty upset with yourself, as those are points you have no hope of achieving. Work out in advance of the exam how much time you have for each question, and do your best to stick to it.

  1. Pay attention to the detail

The exam will have instructions and perhaps scenarios to read. Give yourself ample time to read these. Do not rush this part.

  1. Take a deep breath

Exams are pretty stressful for most candidates. Give yourself time to relax and be mindful of your stress levels.

In Summary

We hope that you found these tips useful, and all the best if you have an upcoming CFA exam.