Archive for March, 2009

Marks and Spencer sales fall 4.2%

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Marks and Spencer has reported a fall in sales for the fourth consecutive quarter and admitted that the outlook remains “uncertain”.

M&S said like-for-like sales in the UK - i.e. those which strip out the impact of store openings and closures - were down 4.2% for the 13 weeks to 28 March.

Executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose said he was confident M&S was doing “the right things for our customers”.

In January, M&S announced 1,200 job cuts and plans to close 27 stores.

It intends to close 25 of its Simply Food stores and two of its regular stores.

UK apprentice Anita Shah fired in Week 1

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Business strategist Anita Shah, who is also a qualified lawyer, has become the first Apprentice hopeful to be fired by Sir Alan Sugar on the BBC One show.  The 35-year-old was brought into the boardroom, after her team failed to make the most profit in a challenge which saw them start up a cleaning company.

Sir Alan said he fired her because she, “showed no initiative in spotting that you were going for a disaster”.  In addition, rightly or wrongly, she was singled-out for being “too enthusiastic” about spending almost 200 pounds on cleaning materials; the alleged over-spending was identified as part of the reason for the team’s failure.

Shah said she was “gutted” to be the first candidate to be sacked.  “I’m gutted to be out of the show, of course I am. But life goes on,” she said.  In the first episode of the new series, the 15 candidates split into two teams - with the women calling themselves Ignite and the men choosing Empire.

In the boardroom, whilst the other candidates fought their corners, Anita said, “I admit this was not my finest hour, and that I have not excelled in this task”.  A good tactic, to be truthful, perhaps?  No!  She was, much to the relief of Mona Lewis and Debra Barr, selected to be the first candidate to hear the now infamous “you’re fired”.

In the after-episode show, all 3 celebrity guests, which included Carol Vorderman - a candidate on the recent Comic Relief celebrity apprentice, agreed Anita had been fired in error.  The audience, who were also polled for their views, voted a rough 50/50 split; perhaps with a slight learning toward “Hired”.

In episode 2, the remaining apprentices are to provide corporate catering services.  Sausage roll, anyone?

CIMA NHS student excellence awards 2009

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Four students have been honoured for their outstanding performance in the CIMA November 2008 Chartered Management Accountant examinations at the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants’ (CIMA) NHS Student Excellence Awards.

The Awards took place on 11 March at a National Advisory Group meeting organised by the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme, held at the University of Warwick.

They celebrate the commitment demonstrated by the NHS in training CIMA students and employing fully qualified Chartered Management Accountants to take on management roles.

The winner and special commendations are based on the exceptional examination results achieved by NHS students in their November 2008 CIMA exams.

Jonathan Smith, from Matlock, a NHS Graduate Management Trainee, currently based at Derbyshire County PCT, recorded the highest mark in a Managerial level paper by an NHS employee in Paper P5 (Integrated Management) and also achieved the second  highest mark in the world for the same paper.

Sunil Thakar, from Reading, a Financial Management Trainee on the NHS Graduate Scheme at the NHS Business Services Authority based at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, recorded the highest mark in a Strategic level paper by an NHS employee in Paper P6 (Management Accounting Business Strategy) and also achieved the joint sixth highest mark in the world for the same paper.

CIMA graduate receives “FD of Year” award

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Allan Watson, Chief Financial Officer of OPTOS Plc, has been named Young Finance Director of the Year at the Scotland Finance Director Awards 2009.

Allan, an associate member of CIMA, received his award at a gala luncheon held at The Hilton, Glasgow on Friday 27 February.

The Awards, sponsored by Bank of Scotland Corporate, and supported by ASA International with CA Magazine as media sponsors, honour the outstanding contribution and effort made by Finance Directors towards the overall success of their organisations and are the most prestigious accolades available to Finance Directors in Scotland.

CIMA scoops three IFAC Articles of Merit

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

CIMA has been awarded three places in the IFAC Professional Accountants in Business (PAIB) Committee’s 2008 Articles of Merit publication.

CIMA’s articles are as follows;

• ‘Ignore Strategic Risk at your Peril’, written by Gillian Lees and published in CIMA’s Excellence in Leadership publication

• ‘Wheels of Change’, written by Chris Fuller and Martin Fahy and published in CIMA’s Excellence in Leadership publication

• ‘IFRS Creates Tougher World for M&A; Reports Debunks Myth About Success of the Board’, written by Dimitrus Karydas and Kenneth Lee and published in CIMA Insight.

Richard Mallett commented, “We are delighted to be included in this years esteemed publication.

CIMA prides itself on providing technical research and support to its members, students and the wider financial community and we are honoured to be recognised for our contributions to the accounting profession”.

The 2008 Articles of Merit and individual articles can be downloaded from the IFAC online bookstore (

AAT recognised with Best Companies award

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Staff at the AAT are celebrating its commendation as ‘first class’ in Best Companies’ employee engagement awards. Best Companies Accreditation awards an elite ‘Michelin style’ star rating system for organisations that demonstrate high levels of employee engagement. The AAT has achieved, at its first attempt, the much coveted one star status meaning that it is a ‘first class’ organisation to work for.

Jane Scott Paul, Chief Executive, says: “This is wonderful news for the AAT and everybody associated with us. We put the welfare and happiness of employees at the top of our agenda because we know it helps us to improve the service and support that we give to our members and other customers. This is reflected in the huge strides that we have been making over the past year.”

ACCA urges G20 to adopt global standards

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

ACCA has launched a discussion paper calling for the members of the forthcoming G20 Summit, taking place in London on 2 April, to establish a new architecture for global financial and economic relations, saying that steps must be taken to improve the transparency and stability of financial markets.

‘The G20 have many problems to solve - how to cope with the increasing complexity of financial markets, how to strike a balance between financial innovation and the management of systemic risks, and what the role of global co-ordination of financial regulation should be,’ said Richard Aitken-Davies, ACCA president.

‘Specifically, the G20 need to endorse the benefits of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) because they bring transparency, comparability and clarity to reporting in the interests of shareholders, business and the wider public. It is a major failing that IFRS are not already the global accounting language for all finance professionals.

CIPFA unveils 2009 conference dates and details

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

CIPFA’s annual conference and exhibition, 23-25 June 2009, takes place this year amid an unprecedented economic and political environment. With the emerging recession, growing pressure is anticipated on public services as they are expected to deliver more with fewer resources.

Against this backdrop, the conference will explore how leadership, planning and resilience can help people in public finance and services chart a route through these hard times.  In typically prudent accountant-esque cost-cutting action, , CIPFA is offering Early Bird rates until 13 April 2009.

AAT receives PQ award recongition in 2009.

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

A belated well done to the AATs who swept the boards at the PQ Awards (23 February 09), including recognition for Boss of the Year and Accountancy Personality of the Year:

The winners were:

  • Mark Wong, PQ of the Year
  • Tom Wilcox, Boss of the Year
  • Samantha Samuels, Distance Learner of the Year
  • Roger Petherham, Worcester College of Technology, Lecturer of the Year
  • Lucy Cohen, Accountancy Personality of the Year

The AAT is rightly proud of this  success.

HM Revenue & Customs update for Employers

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has issued an alert to employers with 50 or more employees - important PAYE changes come into effect in April 2009, so employers are urged to make sure that they’re ready for them.

From 6 April 2009, employers with 50+ employees must send their employee starter and leaver information - P45s, P46s and P46(Pen) for pensions online. Failure to do so could result in a penalty.

Forms are filed online using HMRC’s PAYE Online for Employers service, which employers must first register with at Once registered, there are several ways to file:

  • HMRC’s free ‘Online Returns and Forms - PAYE’ service;
  • Commercial payroll software; or
  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) - a secure phone line suitable for large numbers of forms.

Alternatively, a payroll agent or bureau can file it on behalf of employers.