The main aim of the daily APC advice is obviously to help everyone pass the APC exam in November. But most of the skills that I will be focusing on will benefit anyone who is currently studying towards becoming an Accountant, doing CIMA, or any other business degree. Report writing skills is an area that tests various professional skills, hence the focus it receives in the exam. In the business world it is an area that will give you a clear advantage over you peers. I will focus on the structure of a good report later on. For the first couple of advice sessions I want to focus on the content area.
Today’s advice section will seem very simple, but it is without a doubt one of the most important. Questions typically have various components, such as, analysing the opinion of an expert AND providing your own opinion, assessing whether your company can provide VARIOUS services, or what the tax consequences of a transaction will be on the THREE parties involved. Exams written up to now would have been marked against a marking grid, with a mark allocation and total number of marks available. Thus, if there were 50 marks available and you addressed 2/3 of the components 100% correctly, you could easily pass the question. But in real life, if a line manager asked you to address three components and you only addressed two (albeit 100% correct) would he / she be satisfied with your work? Absolutely not! Thus, as in real life, you have to address ALL the components of the question.
So you have to ensure that you address all parts of the question if you want to pass. In the tax example above, if you are asked to discuss the tax consequences of a transaction on three parties, then the best approach is to have three headings in the content section of your report where you discuss the consequences for each party. This ensures that you give structure to your report, you address each matter separately and adequately and that you conclude (and thus provide a conclusion on each matter). If you don’t add headings and attempt to address the three parties together, chances are you will miss one of the parties, you won’t conclude on one of the parties or you will mix the relevant facts that might not applicable to each party. In real life your line manager will appreciate you separating the matters as it will make it easy to follow, easy to know what you are busy discussing and will help to see what your conclusion is on each matter.
So always ensure you address all the parts of the question. Addressing 2/3 or even 4/5 is not sufficient. You have to address each part separately and you have to conclude on each part separately.
Tomorrow we will be looking at how to write a conclusion and how it is different to providing a calculated answer.
Feel free to ask questions based on today’s advice section. Also, if you want me to address something specifically, then please ask for it in the comments section.
Keep practicing those professional skills. If you are submitting a report, or have done one recently, ask you line manager how you could have improved it.
Yours in development and education, Francois and the Atcor team