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How to use the advance information during the Case Study exam


Published: 16 Sep 2021 Update History

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This guide is designed to help you understand how to use the advance information during your Case Study exam. It will cover the role of the advance information and wider business issues, examples and tips for success.

Role of the advance information

When thinking of the advance information and the Case Study exam it's worth thinking about the role or purpose of this information. The advance information is there to help you become familiar with your client, their industry, their current position and their future plans. Therefore, when you get to the Case Study exam your focus must switch away from the advance information and towards the exam. Quite simply, in the exam, you must react to, and write your report around the events unfolding in it.  

During your exam you must think of the advance information as a reference document; its main role is therefore:

  • Providing the prior year data for the financial data statement analysis in Requirement one.
  • It may provide the methodology for the Requirement two or Requirement three calculations, eg, earn out calculations in Bux (July 2016), and the toll processing contract and grape importing in True Taste (November 2016).
  • Provides a source of wider business issues points.

Wider business issues (wider business issues)

The exam marking key has a box each for Requirement one, two and three for identifying business issues and wider context. The marks within these boxes are awarded for the use of information provided within the advance information and exam to underpin the analysis and recommendations contained within your report.

Wider business issues in Requirement one

Given that the Requirement one will require you to commentate on the financial performance of the business over the last year most of the wider business issues points can be found in the advance information. Knowing this will allow you to scan the advance information in advance for potential wider business issues points that may support your analysis in the exam.

Wider business issues in Requirement two and Requirement three

Wider business issues can be much trickier here, as of course we know there is much less certainty over the issues that will be examined in these requirements compared to Requirement one, which always features a review of the management accounts. None-the-less although we do not know what will be examined in Requirement two and Requirement three, the structure of these requirements does tend to show some consistency across exams.

It is important that you know your advance information in detail; you will not have time in your exam to go looking for these supporting facts.

Example of the potential wider business issues points for the BEAL Ltd Case - November 2020

Wider business Issues (advance information/Exam in Report body)

  • Covid impacts +/- on whole business or each business line
  • Competitive industry 
  • Online advertising growth
  • £200k overdraft limit
  • Public sector clients take two months to pay
  • Can re-use Special Report content after three months
  • Large annual subs renewals in December
  • Large marketing spend critical for MLE
  • Beal readers are professionals 35-55 /not price sensitive 
  • Content quality is a Critical Success Factor
  • Anything relevant from the exam

Tips for success

The following steps will help you use your advance information appropriately in the exam:

  • Produce a detailed summary of the advance information. (See the guide to Requirement one, Requirement two and Requirement three document).
  • Use a highlighter pen and page tags to help you locate key facts and figures. 
  • The industry review, financial commentary, strategic review and media article exhibits are good sources of wider business issues points.
  • Produce lists of potential wider business issues points embedded within the advance information (see the example below), this can be cross-refenced in the exam to see if any points provide context to your report.
  • Focus on the new information provided in the exam - remember the advance information provides context, you must focus your report on the current and future performance of your client.
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View this short webinar for an introduction to the advance information in the Case study exam.

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