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Top Non-Financial Skills Required in Finance

By Morgan International Staff Writers 

To be successful in the finance profession, candidates need more than a strong set of technical skills and relevant work experience. As organisations expect their employees to work more broadly, it is increasingly important to have a range of non-financial skills. These are our top six.

  • Communication

The capability to communicate verbally and through writing. This includes the very important ability to explain what the numbers mean to individuals who are not financially savvy. Furthermore, the skill of active listening as well as speaking should be mastered.

  • Stakeholder management

Managing relationships is an important life skill in both your work and personal life. This includes dealing effectively with colleagues, subordinates, management, and those outside of the organisation.

  • Marketing

Marketing yourself within the organisation and externally. This is only possible if you have awareness of, and confidence in your strengths. Those most successful at this can also convey that they have a personal interest in the outcome of what they are doing – they care! This is particularly important when you are managing somebody else’s money.

  • Attention to detail

One number being added on or taken off can make a huge difference – particularly when reporting results and communicating with the tax authorities. Also the information provided to management is used to make important business decisions, and therefore it needs to be accurate.

  • Organisational skills

You are likely to be very busy – managing a mix of business as usual activities with project based work. Into this mix you need to make time for training and development, and management responsibilities you may have. Therefore the ability to manage your time is of paramount importance.

  • Tech savvy

You will not only need to use the generic work systems, but you will be expected to use accounting software. As you move between organisations you will need to turn your hand to software packages you have not used before. Therefore developing good technical skills is a great asset to have.

In Summary

Whilst a Finance professional is expected to have a strong technical skills and work experience, organisations are seeking so much more. They are looking for well-rounded candidates who aren’t just focused on the hard numbers, but are able to communicate effectively and are able to manage their workload to the advantage of the organization.


Avoid CFA Level I Exam Failure

By Morgan International Staff Writers

Nobody wants to fail their exams – however many do. In fact the majority do. In the June 2015 sitting, just 43% passed. We are here to share the top reasons for failure, along with ways to avoid it happening to you.

  • Can’t prioritize studying vs working?

This will likely be the first time that you have had to juggle full time work and study. We are not going to lie – it is challenging. But it is possible as many candidates succeed. We would encourage all candidates to consider that they need to undertake approximately 300 hours of study, then produce a detailed timetable of what will be done and when.

  • Out of exam practice

It may have been a few years since you have taken an exam and you may be a little rusty. There are plenty of old papers that you can use to practice. The key is to do them under exam conditions – that means you time yourself and make sure you are somewhere quiet.

  • Over estimating prior knowledge

For many candidates, they will have covered a lot of the CFA level I curriculum content in prior studies, such as their university degree. It can be all too easy to have a quick look over the syllabus and think you know it already. The best way to test this knowledge is to do some practice papers and see how you score. This will identify any areas of weakness.

  • Get external help

Your chances of exam success greatly increase when you have support from an experienced team of professionals. So don’t forget to get in touch with us and ask for support on your CFA journey!

In Summary

Yes – passing your CFA level I exam is not going to be easy. Chances are you will be out of practice, struggling to juggle all of your responsibilities, and be nervous about a 6 hour exam! However, there is a lot to be optimistic about if you consider and utilize some of our tips above.


Tips on Getting Rich From Robert Kiyosaki

By Morgan International Staff Writers 

Robert Kiyosaki is an American businessman and author, famous for his personal finance series of books called Rich Dad Poor Dad. They have gained global recognition, being translated into 51 languages available in 109 countries. Although published in 1997, it is still praised for being relevant today.

Kiyosaki tells the story of his two fathers; one biological who was poor, and the other the father of a childhood friend who was the rich dad. Both of his father’s taught him to be successful, but with very different approaches. His Poor Dad is highly educated and saw that as his passport to success, but got caught up with things like job tenure and security. He becomes trapped in the Rat Race. This is in comparison to Rich Dad who is not well educated but focuses entirely on how to make more money.

The book presents two core concepts – a can do attitude, and fearless entrepreneurship.

Kiyosaki presents six key ‘get rich’ themes:

1. The rich don’t work for money

Opportunities in life come and go. The rich instantly recognise them and make something of them. The poor do not see these opportunities as they are preoccupied with making money and security.

2. The importance of financial literacy

The author emphasises the importance of financial literacy and a working knowledge of accounting, such as understanding the difference between assets and liabilities.

3. Minding Your own business

Strive for ways to become your own boss rather than making money for an employer. Nurture your own business.

4. Taxes and corporations

Be informed about how corporations are run so that you can use the ‘machine’ to protect and enhance your assets.

5. The rich invent money

Don’t wait around waiting for an opportunity to happen. Hire people more intelligent than you are and capitalize on that.

6. The need to work to learn and not to work for money

The Rich build skills in sales, marketing, management, cash flow, and systems.


In Summary

Rich Dad Poor Dad has stood the test of time as it is a thoughtful observation of what drives some individuals to wealth and others to pursue money for security. The latter will never be rich as they are too busy in their employment to recognise opportunities.


Pre-CFA Exam Words Of Wisdom

By Morgan International Staff Writers 

Becoming a CFA charterholder is likely to be the longest and most difficult process most candidates have experienced in their educational lives so far. On average, a candidate will study for 300 hours for each level of the exam. This typically takes 6 months bearing in mind that most candidates also have a full time job.

Nailing the exam first time around for each level is far more likely if some straightforward study tips are followed:


Produce a timetable that covers the detail of what you will study and when. You need to fit in approximately 300 hours of study, which will include reading, retention activities, and mock exams. It is useful to build in some additional slack of approximately 5-10% to allow for unexpected events such as being extra busy at work or being unwell.

Consider a professional programme

You may want to undertake review days, or seek more detailed support. Consider what will work for you, do your research, select a provider, and schedule that into your overarching plan.

Find what works for you

We all learn and retain information in different ways. Some candidates may be able to read material once and commit it to memory. Others may need to use flash cards to retain information. Find out what works for you early on and utilise that technique throughout your studies.

Do practice papers in exam conditions

The CFA exam is arduous – prepare for that by undertaking practice papers in exam conditions. I cannot recommend highly enough taking a day out to do the full six hour exam in the two sections, with the set middle break.

Avoid panic cramming

If you have followed the tips above, there will be no need to panic cram. It will not only stress you out, but it may cloud the systematic learning you have undertaken.

In Summary

If becoming a CFA charterholder was easy, many more people would be pursuing it. To be successful, a methodical approach to study and exam preparation is fundamentally important. For more advice and tips, take a look at our website.


What Do CFA Charterholders Really Earn?

By Morgan International Staff Writers 

According to the Robert Half 2018 salary survey, salaries within the finance and accounting industry have reached a ‘steady plateau’ which is great news for those looking to gain their CFA charter.

Specific areas of expertise

When Robert Half spoke to businesses about what they are seeking in candidates, they produced the following list:

  • Internationally recognised qualifications
  • Financial planning and analysis
  • ERP skills (SAP and Oracle)
  • Cash management
  • Macro-level Excel expertise
  • Effective communication

The unsurprising but great news is that right up the top is the desire for an internationally required professional qualification.

Roles in demand

Interestingly, the roles in demand are not straight-up Financial and Management Accountants. To earn big, you need to specialise – for example into tax, treasury or financial planning. As ever, CFOs remain in demand as there are a limited supply of individuals who not only are qualified accountants, but also have the leadership skills required to be successful.

Salaries by role

The data looks at the minimum and maximum salaries by role type within an SME and a large company. We have picked out some of the key roles within the data for large companies – but you can find the full report here. What you will undoubtedly note from the figures is that the range varies hugely in the more senior roles such as CFO. There are narrower gaps in the more junior roles.

  • CFO: $240,300 - $605,300
  • Finance Director: $196,200 - $402,800
  • Financial Controller: $140,500 - $204,300
  • Treasurer: $147,100 - $222,300
  • Finance Manager: $119,500 - $194,500
  • Tax Manager: $92,000 - $141,000
  • Senior Tax Associate: $71,200 - $91,200
  • Financial Analyst: $65,400 - $98,000
  • Senior Internal Auditor: $88,200 - $147,300
  • Internal Auditor: $65,500 - $81,800

In Summary

It is a lucrative and stable time to become a CFA charterholder. The salary levels are stable and fairly consistent for the entry level roles, but there is a wider gap for the more senior candidates. What the data does indicate is that the more in demand roles typically require specialising after the CFA programme has concluded.

The Digital Transformation of Financial Services


By Morgan International Staff Writers

The road to digitalisation hasn’t been an easy one for the financial services industry, but the sector is now in the process of embracing digital transformation.


The road to digital transformation hasn’t been an easy one for the financial services industry. Traditional financial institutions work within an inflexible regulatory framework and, by habit, have generally prioritised tight security over flexibility. However, the market landscape is now far more competitive than it was in the past – meaning that innovation is essential for institutions to survive.


Indeed, traditional finance faces an existential threat from new competitors disrupting their markets, whether from challenger banks (N26 or Atom bank, for example) that offer increased flexibility and lower fees, or from specialist services (like TransferWise or Kreditech) that unbundle banking services and offer them at rock bottom prices. Furthermore, while consumers operated from a position of information scarcity in the pre-internet age, it’s now easy to compare interest rates and account fees, and hence to find the best and cheapest offers available online.


Along with this, consumers now expect a high standard of service – having online and mobile access to accounts isn’t a perk, but a necessity. Banks need to retain consumer confidence, but they also need to be seen to pay attention to customer service and to provide the access and functionality that account holders demand. However, self service actually saves banks a great deal of time and money – as being able to check accounts details and make payments online significantly reduces the need for staff and for branches.


The financial service sector is also particularly well positioned to take advantage of big data, drawing on a wide variety of datapoints to assess the level of risk associated with individual borrowers and account holders, or to recognise otherwise invisible patterns that may be indicative of fraud. In the future, financial service organisations will be able to target consumers as effectively as Amazon, anticipating a need for specific services and the best time and venue to deliver them to meet the customer’s requirements. While big data will provide a huge amount of information about broader trends and market opportunities, we may even see services targeting interest rates and premiums to specific individual customers based on intelligence collected by the provider.


Looking ahead, the priority for institutions is not necessarily that they can make significant savings by embracing digitisation but the fact that doing so will ensure that they remain competitive and agile on an organisational level.



Most Banks Provide An App-02

Most Banks Provide An App, But Do People Actually Use Them?


By Morgan International Staff Writers

Most major banks now offer mobile apps as standard with accounts – but one might well ask whether people actually use them.

Is Mobile Banking A Buzzword Or The Business Of The Future?


Most major banks now offer mobile apps as standard with accounts – as of course do online-only challenger banks. These apps typically allow users to check their balance and recent transactions, to pay bills online and to transfer funds. However, with the small screen size, the difficulty of inputting information and the concerns that some users will have about security, one might well ask whether people actually use banking apps. The answer is that yes, they do.


In a survey compiled by the Mobile Ecosystem Forum, the organisation found that, globally, 26% of individuals preferred using a mobile app to access banking services over all other channels (while another 9% preferred mobile web and 19% said they used a mixture of channels). In terms of specific functionality, some 44% of all respondents had used their mobile phone to check their balance in the previous six months (rising to 54% in growth markets). Meanwhile, in China, in the last six months, 40% had used their mobile phone to transfer funds between accounts and 36% had used mobile to pay a bill.


Usage is also quickly increasing – compared to numbers two years before, there was a 57% increase in users who had checked their bank balance via mobile and a 56% increase in users who had moved funds between accounts on mobile.


This is perhaps unsurprising given the flexibility and convenience that mobile banking offers, saving customers from visiting branches or being restricted to logging in via desktop. Mobile apps quite literally put control over the account directly in the consumer’s hands.


There is no doubt that there is a higher level of uptake among millennials, but the statistics also illustrate the importance of apps in China and growth markets where mobile is often not a secondary digital platform but is the primary point of online access for users. Given this, it will be important in future not just to make mobile banking fast and easy to use but to ensure that it requires as little internet bandwidth as possible.


To learn more about trends in financial services take a look at our professional training programmes here.



10 Steps to Acing Your CFA Exams


By Morgan International Staff Writers

Taking CFA exams can be a daunting prospect. Here are 10 steps that will put you on course to getting the best results possible.


Taking CFA exams can be a daunting prospect – and there’s no doubt that a pass requires a huge amount of work. Here are 10 steps that will put you on course to getting the best results possible.


  1. Plan for the long run


Taking CFA exams is no small thing. Candidates are advised to begin preparing six months before the exam and to pursue several hundred hours of study over this period. This will allow you to spend significant amounts of time on every topic and to revisit specific areas of study, ensuring that the subject matter is cemented in your memory.


  1. Make the best use of your time


It’s all too easy to put off studying, particularly when you have other commitments. To ensure that you are able to commit time, block off hours in your calendar. If you stick to this, it will soon become a habit.


  1. Approach studying in a way that’s right for you


People learn in different ways. Find an environment that’s comfortable and where you can stay focused, whether that’s in the library or at home. Then think about how you absorb information: do you get the best results just from reading, from writing up notes or from talking through your studies? Try to mix things up, but use the techniques that work most effectively for you.


  1. Drill yourself on the exam


Practice makes perfect, so there’s a lot of value in running through test questions and past papers. The key thing is to ensure that you have a rounded understanding of the full curriculum.


  1. Don’t silo your studying


You might be tempted to follow the curriculum one area at a time – but you may actually see much better results by concurrently studying multiple topics, and seeing how the big picture fits together.


  1. Ensure you cover everything


It is important, however, to make sure that there aren’t any areas that you’ve forgotten about or ignored. Even if you think that they won’t come up in the exam, neglecting topics could trip you up in a big way.


  1. Take advantage of material supplied by the CFA


The CFA offers a great deal of material online that can be extremely useful when preparing for exams – so make sure to take full advantage of it.


  1. Take care of your health


You might feel like you have no opportunities to take a break, but it’s important to stay healthy, to get good sleep and to exercise while studying. Though this might take a little time, it’ll put you in a better position, both mentally and physically, and better prepare you for learning and retaining information.


  1. Make sure you have everything ready for the exam


When it comes to the exam, make sure you allow plenty of time to get there and that you have all the materials you need – and only what you’re allowed – with you.


  1. Take a sensible approach to the exam


It might seem obvious, but it’s important to have a strategy to how you approach the exam – manage your time, and work through the simple questions first; answer every question, even if you have to guess; and remain calm!


To gain more insights into becoming a chartered financial analyst, take a look at our professional training programmes here.


4 Big Mistakes to Avoid Making with Life Insurance


By Morgan International Staff Writers

Once you have life insurance you might imagine that you can rest easy. However, it’s essential to pay attention to the details when buying. Here are four common mistakes that can be easily avoided.


Once you’ve bought life insurance you might imagine that you can rest easy knowing that your loved ones will be provided for should the worst come to the worst. However, it’s essential to pay attention to the details when buying to ensure that your policy serves your best interests. Here are four common mistakes that can be easily avoided.


  1. Finding that you’ve outlived your policy


If you buy a permanent life insurance policy, you’ll generally find that it has a date, based on your age, when it will come to maturity – and with many policies this is when you turn 85. At this point the policy comes to an end and the insurer will make a payout (though this is often modest). Meanwhile, you will be left, at the age of 85, with no life insurance and little to show for it – while buying a new policy may well be extremely expensive. Because of this, it’s important to keep an eye on the maturation date when buying and to carefully consider what is right for you and your family.


  1. Invalid insurance


If you miss important personal details off your insurance then it may well be invalid. Equally, you may still be able to buy a policy after developing a major condition, but it’s likely to be much more expensive and, depending on the terms, it may only become fully valid a number of years later.


  1. Not assigning a beneficiary


If you die, your policy will become due and be passed to the individuals named in your will – so you might imagine that there’s no big problem with not having a named beneficiary. However, as part of your estate, the benefits can be pursued by creditors for outstanding debts, before the funds reach your heirs; and the sum may also push you closer to thresholds for inheritance tax. Having designated beneficiaries avoids all this. Equally, should any or all of the beneficiaries die, then make sure to review the paperwork.


  1. Not clearly identifying your beneficiaries


If your beneficiaries don’t know about the policy or if you provide limited or incorrect contact details, then it may be difficult for the insurer to reach them. Ensure that all your beneficiaries are explicitly named, that contact details are updated and that they all have copies of the policy. Equally, should circumstances change, you may well want to update the list of beneficiaries, removing ex-spouses or adding individuals in the event that others have passed away.


To gain more insights into personal finances, take a look at our professional training programmes here.


Understanding Your Income Statement


By Morgan International Staff Writers

The income statement, also referred to as the profit and loss is a financial statement showing the company’s revenues and expenses during a period of time. Its purpose is to demonstrate whether the company made or lost money during the reported period. The income statement is an extremely valuable reporting tool for managers and decision makers. So, what are the key things you need to know about an income statement?


  • Income statements cover a defined time period

It shows how much money the business made or lost during a specific period of time. Usually businesses will look at their performance on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. Many businesses also produce a year to date view.


  • Naming conventions cause undue confusion

I have already pointed out that this financial statement is referred to both as an income statement and a profit and loss. In the same way, naming conventions can differ for the same categories of expenditure or revenue. For example sales and income, expenses and costs, and profit and net income are all used interchangeably. The key thing is to agree as a business what terms will be used, and stick to them.


  • Expenses are broken down

Expenses are usually not shown as one line. Normally they are broken down into various types of expense such as cost of goods sold (COGs), and overheads such as rent and utilities.


  • Income statements have a simple formula

Some income statements look complex and daunting – however they all follow the same formula – which is revenue minus expenses equals’ profit.


In Summary

An income statement is very important as it is used by decision makers within the company, but also investors and creditors outside of the company to evaluate profitability and assess risk. Whilst the income statement may seem complex, it is in fact very straightforward when it is kept in mind that in essence it is simply looking at profitability over a set time frame. That said, many businesses do decide to employ a qualified accountant to prepare these statements on their behalf.