I started my journey with ICAEW by studying the ICAEW CFAB qualification. I chose this as it integrates components across accountancy, finance and business, and I wanted to build a broad skill set for myself so I could become a well-rounded professional.
I studied for ICAEW CFAB while also working. As a working student, you have to be ready to adapt to new assignments, unexpected errands and sudden work crisis, so I learnt the importance of keeping work and college separate, focusing on one thing at a time, but still having a schedule that was flexible.
I work as Audit Manager at a large Malaysian banking group that employs more than 12,000 people. As one of their internal auditors, the scope of my work is really varied.
I do a lot of research into our various business units within the bank. I have to gain a good understanding of different business units within the company and how they operate. I have to look into these business units and review their activities and procedures so I can provide a recommendation as to how they can smoothen a process flow or improve their daily operational activity.
Along with the research work, planning also takes up another huge chunk of my time. I have to ensure that adequate resources (time and manpower) and the scope of the audit (coverage and approach) is well planned before the start of every single assignment.
Last but not least, attending meetings and having periodic status meeting updates with my working team forms the routine of my work. Communication with the management and colleagues is essential for completing each assignment right through to the reporting stage.
Superior communication skills play a vital part of my role as an auditor. I need to communicate to my superiors, my management as well as my working team. I have to present the findings and recommendations from the audit work to my superiors and management teams. I also need to communicate effectively with my working team to ensure that they understand the direction of the audit work, and that all the deliverables are delivered without any delays.
Problem identification and solution finding is equally important. Throughout the course of an audit, I am required to identify the problem(s) faced by the relevant business unit and to recommend a ways to solve the issues and improve how the business unit operates.
Having strong team work will benefit any organisation and will lead to more successes. This is especially important for auditing work. It requires a constant two-way communication and effort from everyone in the team to contribute to the final deliverables.
ICAEW CFAB has definitely helped me with these skills. The syllabus focuses a lot of problem identification from the question given and proposing a solution based on your technical knowledge. I have also attended some of the social events organised by ICAEW. This has helped me meet people from different organisations and I have learned to be more confident when confronting people, especially when I have to deliver my thoughts.
The code of ethics is a key element I have learned through ICAEW and is applicable in my job as an internal auditor who must uphold the integrity and independent role in the organisation I must be objective in my review and producing an unbiased view is critical as I have to perform the audit professionally.
Give yourself enough time to study. Don’t leave it until the last minute. You need to be fully focused and organise your study schedule accordingly. And of course, don’t forget to add in break times in between your study time. Give yourself some time to digest each chapter that you have learned. Remember that passing the exams is the passport for your venture into the professional working field.
ICAEW exams have always been a challenge as I don’t have a long time to study before the exams. I started a new job in the middle of my studies so was on a very steep learning curve at work at the same time. However, passing the exams gave me access to into the banking industry, an industry I have always aspired to work in.
It took me a year and a half to finish ICAEW CFAB. I relied a lot on the short and concise notes I had made. The short notes have become a pointer for me to recall relevant topics for me to answer when I’m in the examination hall.
In addition, mind-mapping is a very useful revision method. It gives a full picture on a particular topic in just a page or two, which speeds up the recall process when you get into the real exam.
I would definitely recommend ICAEW CFAB to others. It has helped me towards my dream. I am now one step away from becoming a fully qualified chartered accountant and my dream of working in the banking industry has now been fulfilled.