Those September changes

July 2020

PQ magazine runs the rule over the syllabus changes for ACCA
exams this autumn.

ACCA traditionally uses the September exams to institute any changes it wants to make to its syllabuses. With no June exams for many, it is important PQs get a handle on what is changing.

The good news, says ACCA, is that there are not too many changes overall. There are, for instance, no changes to the Applied Knowledge papers.

For the Applied Skills exams there are some word changes to AA and FM, but there are no syllabus changes this September. ACCA here is just adopting IAASB updated terminology for AA, and tinkered with the few words for FM. For LW and FR the syllabus remains the same.

The one paper highlighted at this level is PM. For September, you will be expected to be able to explain how big data and data analytics can be used in relation to planning, costing, decision-making, and performance management.

This reflects changes to section A3d in the syllabus. You will also be expected to be able to explain how, for example, gaining detailed insights in customer purchasing habits would help an organisation plan targeted marketing or decide which products/services to promote, or how detailed performance data about organisational processes would help to create cost models.

A new learning outcome has been added to this area and looks at challenges and risks around information systems and data analytics (syllabus section A3e. This relates to the investment to collect such data, how that data would be managed and translated into information, and the risks holding so much data may bring.

For the Strategic Professional level SBL and AFM remain the same. The changes are ‘happening’ in SBR, APM and AAA.

So, let’s start with SBR first. As detailed in section F1c you will be expected to discuss the impact of current reporting issues in corporate reporting. This could be tested by asking you to apply one or several existing standards to an accounting issue. You may also be asked to provide an explanation of the resulting accounting implications (for example, accounting for cryptocurrency in the Digital Age, or accounting for the effects of a natural disaster and the resulting environmental liabilities). The examinable document shave also been updated to reflect current development.

For APM there have been some additions to the syllabus. Process automation and the internet of things have been added to the syllabus section C3b. You will be expected to understand how these influence the information and systems used by organisations.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been added to the syllabus section C3c, where you must demonstrate your understanding of how organisations can utilise AI technology to manage processes, collect information, and add value.

The use of presentation tools, such as data visualisation within management reports, has been included in syllabus section C5av.

Although you will not be expected to produce visuals using these techniques, you may be required to explain how such tools can be of use when reporting information at different levels of the organisation.

Finally, there are no significant changes to the AAA syllabus. However, the wording of learning outcome D2b has been revised to reflect the most up-to-date terminology being adopted by the IAASB. The wording now says: “Assess and describe how IT can be used to assist the auditors, and recommend the use of automated tools and techniques, such as audit software, test data and other data analytics tools.”

And that is it. You should note that the TX and ATX papers have a life of their own, as always!