ACCA Advanced Financial Management
Quick Guide to Study and Exam
ACCA AFM (Advanced Financial Management) is one of option papers in Strategic Professional Module. Since September 2018, the exam structure of all papers in Strategic Professional Module have been changed. P4 is its predecessor and the syllabus hasn’t been changed a lot.
However, exam structure is changed and all questions are compulsory to answer now.
The syllabus states its aim is to apply relevant knowledge, skills and exercise professional judgement as expected of a senior financial executive or advisor, in taking or recommending decisions relating to the financial management of an organization in private and public sectors.
ACCA Advanced Financial Management pass rates are ranged between 33% and 38% in the past five sessions, which is considered to be stable and higher than other optional strategic professional papers.
In examiner’s report, it highlights many candidates are lack of detailed knowledge of parts of the syllabus areas, focusing more on either the numerical parts or the discursive parts of the question and give very brief answers for a question.
It is important to stress that an good understanding of the knowledge and skills in Financial Management (FM) is important to pass AFM exam. If you are familiar with investment appraisal, business valuation and risk management knowledge in FM, you are an advantage to take AFM exam.
All questions are compulsory. The 3 hours and 15 minutes exam will assess professional competences within the business reporting environment.
Section A will always be a single 50 mark case study, which will contain four professional marks in which you are required produce a business document such as a report or a briefing paper for the board of directors.
You should expect to undertake calculations, draw comparison against relevant information, analyze the results and offer recommendations. The case study focus on a range of issues from at least two syllabus sections from A to E, but depending on the business context of the case study.
Section B consists of two compulsory 25 mark questions. All section B questions will be scenario based and contain a combination of calculation and narrative marks. There will not be any wholly narrative questions.
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The Advanced Financial Management (AFM) exam develops upon the core financial management knowledge and skills covered in Financial Management syllabus and prepares you to advise management and/or clients on complex strategic financial management issues facing an organization.
The syllabus starts by exploring the role and responsibility of a senior executive or advisor in meeting competing needs of stakeholders within the business environment of multinationals. The syllabus then re-examines investment and financing decisions, with the emphasis moving towards the strategic consequences of making such decisions in a domestic, as well as international, context. You are then expected to develop further advisory skills in planning strategic acquisitions and mergers and corporate re-organisations.
The next part of the syllabus re-examines, in the broadest sense, the existence of risks in business and the sophisticated strategies which are employed in order to manage such risks. It builds on what candidates would have covered in the Financial Management syllabus.
There are 5 sections in the syllabus, which are –
A Role of senior financial adviser in the multinational organisation
Explain and evaluate the role and responsibility of the senior financial executive or advisor in meeting conflicting needs of stakeholders and recognize the role of international financial institutions in the financial management of multinationals
B Advanced investment appraisal
Evaluate potential investment decisions and assessing their financial and strategic consequences, both domestically and internationally
C Acquisition and mergers
Assess and plan acquisitions and mergers as an alternative growth strategy
D Corporate reconstruction and re-organisation
Evaluate and advise on alternative corporate re-organisation strategies
E Treasury and advanced risk management techniques
Apply and evaluate alternative advanced treasury and risk management techniques
It is a section sharing with you on ACCA Advanced Financial Management (AFM, was P4) technical articles to help you understanding of complex concepts in simple way. In addition, you can find exam tips in our examiner review report on ACCA exam.
With 195 minutes available in AFM exam, I still recommend you to use the “Golden Rule” in time management for each question, that is 1 mark per 1.8 minute. And why?
In Strategic Professional exam, you need to spend time in scanning the questions to get feel for them. In addition, you need to plan how to put your points in each question.
Other than “Golden Rule”, the risk in AFM exam is many students too much time on Section A which consists of 50 marks but insufficient time on two 25-mark questions in Section B.
You should practice ACCA AFM past exam on how to write valid points with details required before exam. It is very critical to pass AFM with adequate practice on how to make your answers meet examiner’s requirements.
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In general, students perform better in calculations question than discursive question in AFM exam. However, all three questions in this examination contained a mixture of computational and discursive elements which you need to take a balanced approach in your study and exam.
The main reasons for less well performance are –
Lack of detailed knowledge
Poor time management
Restating the materials in question
Failing to respond fully to the requirements
Poorly structured computational answers
Not adopting balanced approach in answering questions
In addition, you need to pay more attention of the following topic which are found quite challenging in the past exams –
Discussion of risk management, both foreign exchange rate risk and interest rate risk and the application of financial instruments to manage the risks.
Why there is a need to use real option in investment appraisal.
Discussion on business reconstruction and value created (or synergy) during M&A.
To better prepare for the exam, you are not only studying text books and past exams but also need to read through a series of technical and exam articles on ACCA website.
You can read through past papers on questions and understand what are commonly required. You can then practice mock exam before so that you know which approach is the best to you.