ACCA Paper F5: New Examiner, New Approach?

Published: 01st October 2010
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A "New Approach" ? Sometimes, the option "do nothing", is the best and most appropriate. Whilst the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is certainly dynamic and at the cutting edge of international accountancy practice, its consistent adherence to its founding principles, has provided firm footings on which to build an already excellent reputation.

This ongoing commitment to its fundamental objectives has been highlighted through the recent election of Mark Gold as global president and Ann Irons as new examiner of Paper F5, performance management accounting. In his acceptance speech Mr Gold, said he was "… passionate about the ACCA qualification and the way in which it can provide outstanding opportunities for people around the world." These sentiments sit well with the central plank of the ACCA’s now long standing and unchanged mission, to provide leadership to the profession by delivering business relevant qualifications and professional development.

The ACCA has been delivering now on this mission for over a century. The body currently boasts some 404,000 students and in June 2010, more than 196,000 of these sat exams. The recent results revealed that the pass rate for performance management accounting increased to 57%, prompting Clare Minchingon, Executive Director to remark, "We are pleased to see that performance in …performance management continues to improve as a result of the package of support that we put in place for this paper."

The provision of significant help and assistance to its student body is an article of faith for ACCA and is evidenced in its creation of the Paper F5, microsite. This is a "one stop shop" offering an overview of each of the five syllabus areas, detailed topic explanations, self-test activities, examiner reports and technical articles. The F5 paper is one of the fourteen papers in total that make up the core ACCA qualification and in essence, enables the accountant to understand whether a business is delivering and if not, how to fix it. The syllabus covers practical concepts such as specialist costing techniques, budgeting, variance analysis ,performance measurement and backflush accounting.

Exams are scheduled twice annually in June and December. Ann Irons will be responsible, as new examiner, for her first Paper F5 in December 2010. Clearly, when going into battle it is wise, although often difficult, to "know your enemy". However, in her article "F5 Examiner’s Approach", Irons could not be more helpful, advising that questions "…should be set out clearly in order to give candidates the best opportunity to impart their knowledge."

Irons’ student-centric approach is clarified further in her comments on the Paper F5. She states that there will be "no radical departures in … approach to Paper F5 as compared to (her) predecessor…" and directs students to the previous examiners "Approach" article as a guide. Yet Irons does indeed provide comforting insight into her own attitude, indicating that questions should be logical and requirements prescriptive. Ultimately, she confirms her allegiance to students by stating, "I want to give candidates the best possible opportunity of passing the Paper F5 exam."

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