Book Review: Her Resurrection by Soumyadeep Koley

I just read ‘Her Resurrection’ by Soumyadeep Koley and I am SO happy that I did.
So, here is what I thought.

 

BOOK COVER:

I won’t even get into details. There is no necessity. The cover was stellar. It’s one of the best I’ve seen. Attractive? Check. Deep and Meaningful? Check. Connects to the Plot? Check.

Cover Rating – 5/5

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

Such power and magnificence in the title. I love how strong it sounds but what I love even more is how the whole plot and story justified with with utmost priority. Again, the rating isn’t difficult to give.

Title Rating – 5/5

PLOT

This is the main part of any book. There are hardly any negative aspects to the book, which is why I will start with those first. I found two issues, though minor and highly based on perception, I will add.

The first was that a few parts of the story dipped, making the reading a bit boring. I wished that the book could have been engaging throughout. However, considering the depth of the concept, I can let this pass.

The second was that a few sentences seemed off in terms of construction. I felt that if they could be worded differently, they would have made stunning one-liners. Again – Every author goes through this. We are all human and it happens.

Coming to the positives, definitely the first will have to be the subject. It is highly engaging and very complex, for which I applaud the author. But I applaud Gargi Publishers more for bringing something like this into limelight.

My debut novel was by Gargi Publishers as well, and not to sound biased, but I have immense respect for their choice of publication. The second main aspect was the writing style.

Soumyadeep aced this and managed to make such a deep and motivating subject sound highly enthralling and read-worthy. I loved it. More positives arise from the narrative, the conversational style adopted and the inclusion of a ‘prologue’ as well as an ‘epilogue’ which I personally LOVE in any novel. Kudos to the author.  This was a fascinating read.

Rating – 4.5 / 5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

I am glad to have this book on my shelf and wish to read more by this author. I love his writing style and that he chose such a different, bold topic to display.

 

Final Rating: 4.5/5
Verdict: Definitely Recommended!

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How to Clear CA – Final Paper 4: Corporate and Allied Laws

​Since it’s that time of the year again, that dreaded time that every CA student knows about, I thought I would share this post, tell you what I learnt through my journey and maybe help you find a way through the awful month of May / November.

 

A little heads up before we begin – I became a Chartered Accountant after clearing the May 2016 exams so I’m still fairly new and I know the most up-to-date system, so you don’t need to worry.  Also, I opted to self-study for this subject, which I think helped me a lot in being able to write this article.

 

So, without further ado, let’s get into the plan, shall we?

 

How to clear your CORPORATE AND ALLIED LAWS paper:

 

Let’s divide this into three parts so that it’s clear and I can cover everything without confusing you. The first part is the REFERENCE MATERIAL, the second part is the TIME MANAGEMENT and the third part is the PAPER PRESENTATION. I believe that it is with the combined implementation of these three which helps a student write the exam successfully.

 

REFERENCE MATERIAL:

 

Logically, it makes sense to me that since the suggested answers / answer key is coming from the institute, naturally so should the material you study from. This is what I tell everyone who ever asks me for advice about clearing not only this subject, but any subject. Please note that I am not going to depend the basis of my plan on whether you went for coaching or not. Regardless of that, here are my suggestions:
  • Munish Bhandari
  • Practice Manual
  • The most recent three RTPs
  • Last four to six Mock Papers (Conducted by ICAI)

It is pretty straight-forward. All you have to do is study from these books. Now that you know what to refer to, let me briefly tell you how to sort it all out. This is the order in which I recommend you study.

1) Corporate and Allied Laws by Munish Bhandari: I used this as a substitute for the study material. It is definitely easier to read, it covers the entire portion, the theory is convenient to memorize and the questions in every chapter between two concepts contains a major portion of past examination questions. All in all, this is a comprehensive material that boosts the ability of the student to complete the chapters well ahead of time.

2) Practice Manual: This is a standard for every CA student. It is necessary to be thorough with the practice Manual, especially for theory subjects because, not only does it cover a major chunk of the portion, it also ensures that you present your answers the right way – with the right elaboration and references of standards

3) Revision Test Papers: I would suggest getting at least three RTPs and using these as exams to test how good you are at the subject. Naturally you will be solving this a week or two before the exams. But make sure that you put in equal effort in correcting your own answers and learning from your mistakes because otherwise this is a pointless exercise.

4) Mocks: I used to solve many mock papers when I studied. I never went to the institute to write them but downloaded them from the website, printed them out to get a real exam feeling, set the clock to three hours and write the papers as though they were my final exam. I suggest you to do the same. Before correcting your own paper, give a half an hour gap between writing and correction. Also, be stingy with marks. As stingy as possible. This will help you prepare for the worst.

 

TIME MANAGEMENT

It is easy to understand what you are supposed to study from but very difficult to plan how to cover everything in 3 months. I’m going to help you do just that. But please note that this period doesn’t involve coaching for this subject but rather should be the plan after the initial coaching period. I’m only guiding the self study portion.

Let us have an aim of studying for a minimum of 10 – 12 hours per day. Even if you do wake up between 5 – 6 AM and start studying, ten hours is easily achievable and a definite must if you want to cover all four  subjects.  So, I am going to try and split it up for you into two parts for each of Corporate and Allied Laws. Major and Minor.

The ‘Major’ part under Corporate Law covers ‘Meetings of Board and its Powers’, ‘Appointment and Qualification of Directors’ and ‘Winding-Up’ while the ‘Major’ part under Allied Laws consists of ‘SEBI’ and ‘SCRA’. The ‘Minor’ part covers the rest of the chapters. Please note that these are falling into the ‘Minor’ portion not because of lack of importance but because they are fairly less time consuming to study. In Corporate Law, chapters like ‘Dividend’, ‘Producer Companies’, ‘Oppression and Mismanagement’ are all easy but important from examination point of view. Similarly, in Allied laws, we need to focus on ‘Money Laundering’, ‘Interpretation of Statutes, Deeds and Documents’ and ‘Competition Act’.

My strategy was to be thorough with the ‘Major’ part of the Corporate Laws and get as much practice as possible for the ‘Major’ part of the Allied Laws because the latter is difficult to study completely.

Try to do the ‘Major’ part at the time of the day where you are the fastest. For me it’s early morning. Find your peak time and try to finish as many pages / concepts as possible for every chapter. For the ‘Minor’ part of the portion, make sure to complete 3 – 4 chapters a day. It ideally shouldn’t take more than 0.5 – 1 hour per chapter but you go at your own comfortable pace. Don’t leave a chapter midway. That will not ensure efficiency. Start a chapter only when you know you have the time to complete it.

Your target is to complete the Practice Manual and Munish Bhandari in 15 to 18 days. This is achievable even while studying for other subjects. But if you prefer to study only one subject at a time, and you want to allot 10 – 12 hours per day only for Law, then give yourself a target of 8 – 10 days only. It is easily achievable because though the portion is vast, the language is easy to understand.

RTPs (3) and Mocks (4) – Together this will take a total of 2 – 3 days. Ideally it is a last minute check on your performance to evaluate how ready you are and what chapters you will need to quickly brush up on. Again, correcting your paper is a must. I can’t reiterate enough how vital this is.

 

PRESENTATION

Now comes the most important part. This is one that most students neglect or don’t really take all that seriously.  A lot of you believe that as long as the answers are correct and that your effort goes into the preparation, how your answer looks on the final paper doesn’t really matter. Here are some dos and don’ts you need to follow to be able to successfully complete your paper.

1) Law is 100% theoretical. The answers are going to be long. To make it easier and more attractive for the person correcting your paper, underline the keywords in every answer. Remember that this should be limited to a maximum of a word per sentence.

2) Every lengthy answer should be presented structurally in an introductory paragraph, bullet points covering the key sections of the answer, and a concluding paragraph.

3) Direct theory is very scoring. This means definitions and straightforward answers. Try to answer any theoretical question with clarity and in bullet points.

4) Try your best to cite a section number in every answer you write, even if that number is already present in the question. I understand that they are very difficult to memorize, but some chapters have repetitive numbers, which are most important. This will give a basis for your understanding and can impress the one correcting your paper.

5) When answering Allied Laws, ensure to cite acts and the years in which they were implemented. It isn’t that difficult to do and will definitely improve the quality of your answer.

6) For practical answers, think from two areas. The applicability of a section / rule and justification of each act / provision.

And finally, it is absolutely alright if you haven’t been able to clear in the first shot. I mentored a lot of students so far and one beautiful thing I’ve noticed is how they are able to put in more focus and effort by following these steps. Most of you only require a sense of direction and that is what I wanted to help provide. You know what hard work means, you know what Chartered Accountancy is about. All you are unsure of is how to approach it.

Change isn’t something that comes instantly. It’s a gradual process. But once you reach the top, there is no looking back. Give it time, be patient and just give the exams your best shot. I am not going to say ‘All the Best’. Instead, I am going to say, just do your best.

 

So, that’s all I have for you today.

 

Coming up next is my tips for ADVANCED MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTING.

 

I hope you have a wonderful day.

Book Review: Garden of Love, A Poetry Collection Compiled by Anuj Kumar

I just read ‘Garden of Love – A Poetry Collection’ compiled by Anuj Kumar. Poetry is usually very beautiful when written the right way. So, naturally, I was very happy to receive a poetry compilation which are now getting extremely rare.
So, here is what I thought.

 

 BOOK COVER:

Upon first look, I found the cover very attractive. The large tree amidst the darkness is a beautiful design for a cover, especially this one. Additionally, though it may seem irrelevant in this section, I also really liked how the book was a bit larger in size when compared to the conventional dimensions. However, one drawback in my opinion is that I couldn’t link the cover to the title of the book.

Cover Rating – 3.5/5

 

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

I personally loved the title and thought it encompassed the essence of the book well. It really does deal with the magnanimous topic of love that the four authors share via their own perceptional ways. But I definitely wished there was an element of mystery to it. Something that wasn’t so predictable.

Title Rating – 3/5

PLOT

Now, coming to the main part of the book. The poetry. The compilation is very strong in the sense that it is conceptually profound. The poetry is split among four talented young poets in two main genres – The pros and the cons of love. We have five poems per poet in the section ‘Heaven of Love’ and another five poems per poet in the ‘Hell of Love’ section. This totals to forty poems. I personally found that idea brilliant.

I am going to split the review poet wise and then reveal my favourite poem in each of the sections.

Anuj Kumar: The book opens with this poet. I liked the play of the rhyme scheme and how it kept flitting from abab to aabb and then also became non-existent in a few sections. It seemed chaotic but had poetic justice to it. The poet’s strength is clarity of thought which is evident from the flow of the poems. The weakness, if any, would have to be the conclusion of the poems. They seemed a bit rushed / incomplete in a couple of areas. My favourite poem was ‘Need You to Smile’ from the Heaven of Love and ‘Departure’ from the Hell of Love.

Maliny Mohan: The best part about this poet’s writing is how it feels as though there is a story being told through each verse. They link to one another and form an almost song-like lilt to the writing. This poet’s strength is the ability to connect to readers and the weakness, if any, would have to be the sentence construction. I felt it lacked power. My favourite from the Heaven of Love was ‘The Muse’ and from the Hell of Love was ‘I Breathe Your Name’.

Akash Deep Gupta: One main feature that stood out for me in this portion of the poetry was the simplicity. This element, I felt, was essential in increasing the connectivity to the readers. I found myself reading this author’s poetry a lot slower, enjoying the imagery that came from the language of the poetry. This, definitely, is the poet’s strength. The weakness, however, was the abrupt sentences. That affected the flow. My favourite from the Heaven of Love was ‘Theatre of Love’ and from the Hell of Love was ‘The Closed Door’

Abhijeet Singh Yadav: Abhijeet has a conversational style of writing poetry, which for me, was both a positive as well as a negative quality. Positive, because, it made the poems extremely engaging, but negative because it also made them seem more like stories than poetry to me. I found it a bit too dialogue oriented and tale-like than having any sort of poetic justice.  My favourite from the Heaven of Love was ‘Love & Leisure’ and from the Hell of Love was ‘She Lives’.

 

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

There is clear evidence that every single one of these pieces was well thought out. The compilation was done excellently and on point. There was a definite indication of more positives than negatives. But there were two factors which dampened the experience for me.
One – I wished that each author’s section of the poetry was clearly distinguished with his / her name. I found myself going back to the contents page multiple times to try and recollect who the poet was for each of the poems. Maybe the initials or the name on the top of each set of the bottom of each poem would have made it a lot clearer and would have given the individual poets far more recognition.

Two – Hardly one or two poems stood out as marvelous / outstanding or as pieces of writing that I will remember for a long time to come. That number is very small for a book that consists of 40 poems.

Final Rating: 3.5/5
Verdict: Recommended for Poem Enthusiasts!

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How to Clear CA – Final Paper 3: Advanced Auditing and Professional Ethics

​Since it’s that time of the year again, that dreaded time that every CA student knows about, I thought I would share this post, tell you what I learnt through my journey and maybe help you find a way through the awful month of May / November.
A little heads up before we begin – I became a Chartered Accountant after clearing the May 2016 exams so I’m still fairly new and I know the most up-to-date system, so you don’t need to worry.  Also, I opted to self-study for this subject, which I think helped me a lot in being able to write this article.
So, without further ado, let’s get into the plan, shall we?

 

How to clear your ADVANCED AUDITING AND PROFESSIONAL ETHICS paper:

 

Let’s divide this into three parts so that it’s clear and I can cover everything without confusing you. The first part is the REFERENCE MATERIAL, the second part is the TIME MANAGEMENT and the third part is the PAPER PRESENTATION. I believe that it is with the combined implementation of these three which helps a student write the exam successfully.

 

REFERENCE MATERIAL:

 

Logically, it makes sense to me that since the suggested answers / answer key is coming from the institute, naturally so should the material you study from. This is what I tell everyone who ever asks me for advice about clearing not only this subject, but any subject. Please note that I am not going to depend the basis of my plan on whether you went for coaching or not. Regardless of that, here are my suggestions:
  • Surbhi Bansal
  • Practice Manual
  • The most recent three RTPs
  • Last four to six Mock Papers (Conducted by ICAI)
It is pretty straight-forward. All you have to do is study from these books. Now that you know what to refer to, let me briefly tell you how to sort it all out. This is the order in which I recommend you study.

 

1) AA & PE by Surbhi Bansal: I used this as a substitute for the study material. It is definitely easier to read, it covers the entire portion, the bullet points and flowcharts are convenient to memorize and the questions following every chapter contain a major portion of past examination questions. All in all, this is a comprehensive material that boosts the ability of the student to memorize and understand chapters well.

2) Practice Manual: This is a standard for every CA student. It is necessary to be thorough with the practice Manual, especially for theory subjects because, not only does it cover a major chunk of the portion, it also ensures that you present your answers the right way – with the right elaboration and references of standards

3) Revision Test Papers: I would suggest getting at least three RTPs and using these as exams to test how good you are at the subject. Naturally you will be solving this a week or two before the exams. But make sure that you put in equal effort in correcting your own answers and learning from your mistakes because otherwise this is a pointless exercise.

 

4) Mocks: I used to solve many mock papers when I studied. I never went to the institute to write them but downloaded them from the website, printed them out to get a real exam feeling, set the clock to three hours and write the papers as though they were my final exam. I suggest you to do the same. Before correcting your own paper, give a half an hour gap between writing and correction. Also, be stingy with marks. As stingy as possible. This will help you prepare for the worst.

 

TIME MANAGEMENT

 

It is easy to understand what you are supposed to study from but very difficult to plan how to cover everything in 3 months. I’m going to help you do just that. But please note that this period doesn’t involve coaching for this subject but rather should be the plan after the initial coaching period. I’m only guiding the self study portion.

 

Let us have an aim of studying for a minimum of 10 hours per day. Even if you do wake up between 5 – 6 AM and start, ten hours is easily achievable and a definite must if you want to cover all four  subjects.  So, I am going to try and split it up for you into two parts. Major and Minor.

 

The ‘Major’ part covers Standards and Professional Ethics. The ‘Minor’ part covers the rest of the chapters. Please note that these are falling into the ‘Minor’ portion not because of lack of importance but because they are fairly less time consuming.

 

My strategy was to be thorough with the ‘Major’ part and choose to study only 60% of a chapter from the ‘Minor’ part. Another strategy of mine was to be extremely thorough with the standards and the direct theory portion of the paper (Q1 and Q7).

 

Try to do the ‘Major’ part at the time of the day where you are the fastest. For me it’s early morning. Find your peak time and try to finish as many pages / concepts as possible for every chapter. For the ‘Minor’ part of the portion, make sure to complete 3 – 4 chapters a day. It ideally shouldn’t take more than 0.5 – 1 hour per chapter but you go at your own comfortable pace. Don’t leave a chapter midway. That will not ensure efficiency. Start a chapter only when you know you have the time to complete it.

 

Your target is to complete the Practice Manual and Surbhi Bansal in 18 to 20 days. This is achievable even while studying for other subjects. But if you prefer to study only one subject at a time, and you want to allot 10 – 12 hours per day only for Auditing, then give yourself a target of 6 – 10 days only. It is easily achievable because the portion isn’t very vast.

 

RTPs (3) and Mocks (4) – Together this will take a total of 2 – 3 days. Ideally it is a last minute check on your performance to evaluate how ready you are and what chapters you will need to quickly brush up on. Again, correcting your paper is a must. I can’t reiterate enough how vital this is.

 

PRESENTATION

 

Now comes the most important part. This is one that most students neglect or don’t really take all that seriously.  A lot of you believe that as long as the answers are correct and that your effort goes into the preparation, how your answer looks on the final paper doesn’t really matter. Here are some dos and don’ts you need to follow to be able to successfully complete your paper.

 

1) Auditing is 100% theoretical. The answers are going to be long and boring. To make it easier and more attractive for the person correcting your paper, underline the keywords in every answer. Remember that this should be limited to a maximum of a word per sentence.

 

2) Every lengthy answer should be presented structurally in three paragraphs. Let the first paragraph be your introduction. Answer the what and the why. The second paragraph should be your main support. Answer the how, the where and the when. Finally, conclude in one or two sentences with your final solution and a summary of the above.

 

3) Direct theory is very scoring. This means definitions and straightforward answers. Try to answer any theoretical question with clarity and in bullet points.

 

4) Cite an audit standard in every answer you write. That will give a basis for your understanding.

 

5) When answering PE, follow the format in the practice manual. The first and last paragraphs should contain the part, schedule and clause numbers. The body of the answer should be the applicability and justification of each clause and / or part. Out of these 16 marks, achieving 8 marks is very easy with good practice.

 

And finally, it is absolutely alright if you haven’t been able to clear in the first shot. I mentored a lot of students so far and one beautiful thing I’ve noticed is how they are able to put in more focus and effort by following these steps. Most of you only require a sense of direction and that is what I wanted to help provide. You know what hard work means, you know what Chartered Accountancy is about. All you are unsure of is how to approach it.

 

Change isn’t something that comes instantly. It’s a gradual process. But once you reach the top, there is no looking back. Give it time, be patient and just give the exams your best shot. I am not going to say ‘All the Best’. Instead, I am going to say, just do your best.
So, that’s all I have for you today.

 

Coming up next is my tips for CORPORATE AND ALLIED LAWS.

<br.

I hope you have a wonderful day.

Book Review: Demons in my Mind by Aashish Gupta

I just read ‘Demons in my mind’ by Aashish Gupta. It was an eventful roller-coaster journey and a definite joy ride.
Here is what I thought.

 

 BOOK COVER:

With a minimalist approach, this cover seemed simple and straightforward at first. Upon first look, I was almost disappointed, even. But at a closer look I realized that it was quite deep and meaningful. It has the element of surprise that gets answered only when you are at least midway through reading the novel. That was one of the best things about the cover for me, and one factor that I have been looking for, for quite a long time.
Coming to the attraction factor, I won’t call it a bad looking cover, but I am pretty sure that if I saw this book in a store among others, it wouldn’t be the first to catch my attention. It lacks the oomph factor though it has just about everything else.

 

Cover Rating – 4.25/5

 

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

I loved the title. It is mysterious, attractive and is enough to make the reader want more. While I was reading the book, I had multiple alternative titles in mind (blame the author in me!), but in the end, after much contemplation, I had to agree that Aashish’s selection was the best.

Title Rating – 5/5

PLOT

Before I start, I have a disclaimer for the weak-hearted. I never thought I would fall into that category of people but I realize now that I was wrong. I am very much squeamish and I cringe a lot. Life lesson learnt. Coming to the disclaimer – this book is not for you. It is painful, it is tragic and it is gruesome. But it is also raw, emotional and deep.

The tale revolves around four main characters – though there are plenty more, four stood out for me. One is Dakshish – the protagonist, a man suffering with a fatal disease who seeks death. The others are the Three Monks – Murali, Rizwan and Joseph. It is when their paths cross that Dakshish embarks on a journey that changes his entire perspective. Through the stories behind these three monks – One of death, one of art and one of failure, Dakshish realizes a deeper meaning of life.

The plot is outstanding. The writing is impeccable. The style technique is applaud-worthy. There are far more positives than there are negative aspects to the book. There is so much depth to each character and mental illness is portrayed magnificently without all the unnecessary glorification. This book is for those people who understand and appreciate the tenor of art. Aashish Gupta is an author who deserves to be called by the prestigious tag simply because he is gifted.

But there is something else. Something that pulled the book down a little bit for me. It got tedious and pedantic at places. Perhaps it was a tad bit too lengthy. Maybe it was too heavy a topic to be able to read with a constant flow. I found myself having to pause, take a break and get some fresh air. The topic, though dealt with magnificently, left me a little uneasy at the end.

That being said – nothing can take away the charm that Demons In My Mind has to offer.

Plot Rating – 4.5/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

The size of this book had me worried for a while. Was it something that was worth the cost? Was it going to be terribly prolonged? What could possibly be told in such a long story? But I admit, and proudly so, that I was wrong. This book has everything and more. Very serious. Very deep. Very moving.

Final Rating: 4.5/5
Verdict: Recommended for the Brave

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Book Review: Those Seven Days by Anmol Rana

I just read ‘Those Seven Days’ by Anmol Rana. Here is what I thought.
 BOOK COVER:
When I look at a book cover, there are many qualities that run through my mind. The first, of course, is the attractive factor. This cover surely does fulfill that. With its vibrant colours and catchy images, it does make one want to pick it up and give the synopsis a read. That being said, one other major factor is the depth. This is where I was a bit disappointed.  To me, a cover is not only a visual summary of the plot but a tempting sneak peak as well. I always love to read a book, come back to the cover, and then think, Oh, so that’s why the author put this on the cover!
Cover Rating – 3.5/5

 

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

I loved the title. It’s clean, it’s catchy and it is basically what the book is about. I thought the author did a good job in managing to pick a title that could encompass all these factors.

Title Rating – 4.5/5

PLOT

This, for me, had quite a few ups and downs. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the writing for multiple reasons, but before we get to that, let us start with discussing what the theme of the book is. It is a casual love story between two people who didn’t expect to fall in love. The concept is cute, but then it is also quite run of the mill. The books travels at an equal pace from the first page to the last, neither too fast nor too slow, which is one of its plus points. The other pro of this book is how the whole novel is set in just seven days, split within the chapters by morning, evening and night. I found that idea refreshing.

That being said, I personally couldn’t readily accept the abusive language, the interception of Hindi & English and the colloquial usages throughout the book. I wished the author could have taken a less casual and more steady approach when it came to the dialogues among the characters. The second drawback was the sheer predictability. There were no twists and turns, no heavy emotion, no defining moment / chapter in the book. I personally couldn’t connect.

However, those readers who are in love with the idea of romance should definitely give this book a shot. It portrays a simple and relate-worthy story that will remind you of that special someone in your life.

Plot Rating – 2-2.5/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

When I started reading the book, I had multiple thoughts rushing through my head. While I loved the simplicity of the theme and the flow of the story, there were multiple factors (as mentioned above) that kept shielding my ability to view this book from just the positive aspects of it. I find tremendous scope in this author to create a bestseller because he has the ability to transform simple situations into magnanimous events. I hope to see better, more clean works from this author in the future and I wish him all the best in the success of Those Seven Days.

Final Rating: 3/5
Verdict: Could be better

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How to Clear CA – Final Paper 2: Strategic Financial Management

Since it’s that time of the year again, that dreaded time that every CA student knows about, I thought I would share this post, tell you what I learnt through my journey and maybe help you find a way through the awful month of May / November.

A little heads up before we begin – I became a Chartered Accountant after clearing the May 2016 exams so I’m still fairly new and I know the most up-to-date system, so you don’t need to worry.  Also, I opted to take coaching for this subject, which I think helped me a lot in being able to write this article.

So, without further ado, let’s get into the plan, shall we?

How to clear your STRATEGIC FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT paper:

Let’s divide this into three parts so that it’s clear and I can cover everything without confusing you. The first part is the REFERENCE MATERIAL, the second part is the TIME MANAGEMENT and the third part is the PAPER PRESENTATION. I believe that it is with the combined implementation of these three which helps a student write the exam successfully.

REFERENCE MATERIAL:

Logically, it makes sense to me that since the suggested answers / answer key is coming from the institute, naturally so should the material you study from. This is what I tell everyone who ever asks me for advice about clearing not only this subject, but any subject. Please note that I am not going to depend the basis of my plan on whether you went for coaching or not. Regardless of that, here are my suggestions:

  • SFM by V. Pattabhi Ram
  • Practice Manual (Theory & Sums)
  • Study Material (Only Sums)
  • Compiler (From ICAI)
  • The most recent two RTPs
  • Last four Mock Papers (Conducted by ICAI)

It is pretty straight-forward. All you have to do is study from these books. Now that you know what to refer to, let me briefly tell you how to sort it all out. This is the order in which I recommend you study.

  1. SFM by V. Pattabhi Ram: Another large book, I believe this is mostly useful especially for Forex and Portfolio. Every concept is explained extremely clearly and will definitely help make the chapters more understandable. I recommend this book especially for the purpose of self-study.

2) Practice Manual: This book is very useful for two major areas of the paper – Theory and Steps. The more you get a grip over these two, the better it will be for your attempt. The PM gives a good overall view about your Q7 of the exam paper. It also helps one understand how a sum should be solved, the formula to be used, the method to be followed and the way the final answer must be presented. Also, make sure to solve every sum from every chapter without taking a peep at the answers midway.

3) Study Material: Skip the theoretical portion and solve the sums from the Study Material in every chapter. Ideally this will not take very long if you make sure to breeze through after you are thorough with the entire portion.

4) Compiler:  I highly recommend this because it is better than any scanner you get in the market. If you are able to solve even 70% of the sums in the compiler, then you are in a very good position for the examination. Do buy this and use it during the last month to practice these sums and get an idea of how the examination will be.

5) Revision Test Papers: I would suggest getting at least two RTPs and using these as exams to test how good you are at the subject. Naturally you will be solving this a week or two before the exams. But make sure that you put in equal effort in correcting your own answers and learning from your mistakes because otherwise this is a pointless exercise.

6) Mocks: I used to solve many mock papers when I studied. I never went to the institute to write them but downloaded them from the website, printed them out to get a real exam feeling, set the clock to three hours and write the papers as though they were my final exam. I suggest you to do the same. Before correcting your own paper, give a half an hour gap between writing and correction. Also, be stingy with marks. As stingy as possible. This will help you prepare for the worst.

TIME MANAGEMENT

It is easy to understand what you are supposed to study from but very difficult to plan how to cover everything in 3 months. I’m going to help you do just that. But please note that this period doesn’t involve coaching for this subject but rather should be the plan after the initial coaching period. I’m only guiding the self study portion.

Let us have an aim of studying for a minimum of 10 hours per day. Even if you do wake up between 5 – 6 AM and start, ten hours is easily achievable and a definite must if you want to cover all four subjects. Of course, SFM is not your only subject and I understand that. But it definitely requires more concentration than the other three papers simply because this paper is highly concept oriented and requires for you to focus on the understanding rather than just the formulae. So, I am going to try and split it up for you into two parts. Major and Minor.

The ‘Major’ part covers Portfolio, Forex and Derivatives. The ‘Minor’ part covers the rest of the chapters – Mutual Funds, Mergers, Leasing, Capital Budgeting, Dividends, Bond Valuation, etc. Please note that these are falling into the ‘Minor’ portion not because of lack of importance but because they are fairly less time consuming.

My strategy was to be extremely thorough with two out of three chapters from the ‘Major’ part – I chose portfolio and derivatives because they were easy when compared to Forex. Another reason for me to study only 60 – 80% of Forex was time constraint. Forex being a logical chapter, unless you are thorough with that portion of the subject, it gets difficult to understand a question and respond to it within the required time frame. If you wish to follow this method, then make sure to be perfect with the other chapters because otherwise this would be a terrible plan.

If you wish to study them all, that’s pretty alright as well. Try to do this ‘Major’ part at the time of the day where you are the fastest. For me it’s early morning. Find your peak time and try to finish as many sums as possible for every chapter. For the ‘Minor’ part of the portion, make sure to solve one chapter a day or perhaps even two. It ideally shouldn’t take more than 2 hours per chapter but you go at your own comfortable pace. Don’t leave a chapter midway. That will not ensure efficiency. Start a chapter only when you know you have the time to complete it.

Your target is to complete solving the Practice Manual and Study Material in 20 days – 1 month. This is achievable even while studying for other subjects. But if you prefer to study only one subject at a time, and you want to allot 10 – 12 hours per day only for SFM, then give yourself a target of 8 – 12 days only. It is easily achievable because the portion isn’t very vast.

As for the compiler, your target should be a total of 4 – 5 days. Adjust the time between chapters if you must but don’t exceed this limit. Understand that if you get stuck and want to continue solving the same chapter for two or three days, you will not have the time to complete everything and will be putting yourself at risk.

RTPs (2) and Mocks (2) – Together this will take a total of 3 – 4 days. Ideally it is a last minute check on your performance to evaluate how ready you are and what chapters you will need to quickly brush up on. Again, correcting your paper is a must. I can’t reiterate enough how vital this is.

PRESENTATION

Now comes the most important part. This is one that most students neglect or don’t really take all that seriously.  A lot of you believe that as long as the answers are correct and that your effort goes into the preparation, how your answer looks on the final paper doesn’t really matter. Here are some dos and don’ts you need to follow to be able to successfully complete your paper.

1) SFM is formula based. This means you need to clearly write the complete formula, its derivations and then substitute it with the amounts as per the question. Make sure to use a scale and pencil to draw boxes around your formulae in case you have the time. Please do not think that it is going to ‘waste’ your time. It’s essential.

2) Support your answers with working notes. Show your workings and supporting information below each answer. Give reasons and show calculations elaborately.

3) Theory is very scoring. Try to answer any theoretical question with clarity and in bullet points. Remember that SFM theory is very similar to ISCA (Paper 6). That means you need to be able to put every point from the Practice Manual and try to limit the portion that you write in your own words.

4) Try to highlight the final answer either by making it bold, drawing a box around it or just underlining it so that the person who is correcting the paper is drawn to your conclusion. But only do this when you are sure of your answer.

And finally, it is absolutely alright if you haven’t been able to clear in the first shot. I mentored a lot of students so far and one beautiful thing I’ve noticed is how they are able to put in more focus and effort by following these steps. Most of you only require a sense of direction and that is what I wanted to help provide. You know what hard work means, you know what Chartered Accountancy is about. All you are unsure of is how to approach it.

Change isn’t something that comes instantly. It’s a gradual process. But once you reach the top, there is no looking back. Give it time, be patient and just give the exams your best shot. I am not going to say ‘All the Best’. Instead, I am going to say, just do your best.

So, that’s all I have for you today.

Coming up next is my tips for ADVANCED AUDITING AND PROFESSIONAL ETHICS.

I hope you have a wonderful day.

Book Review: Panorama (Short Stories) by Shilpi Chaklanobis

Reading books is a habit that many would love to inculcate. I know a lot of people who have wanted to start reading as a hobby either to develop the language, speed, vocabulary or simply out of plain interest.
But how does one know where to start? What books to read? Which books to avoid? That is why I started this ‘Book Review’ column to simplify the process and perhaps ease the confusion a bit.
I just read ‘Panorama – A Collection of Short Stories’ by Shilpi Chaklanobis. Here is what I thought.

Book Cover:

The moment I ripped open the packaging, the gleaming image of a child and man’s best friend greeted me charmingly. I loved the whole feeling of the cover, the font of the title as well as the style of the author’s name. Overall, very catchy and definitely something I would pick off a shelf just by first look. However, I wasn’t able to link the cover to the title of the book.
Cover Rating – 4/5

Title Justification:

I personally loved the title and thought it encompassed the essence of the book perfectly. ‘Panorama’ basically means to encompass or to view something from a wider perspective. The conglomeration of these stories brings together a picturesque view of life through the author’s eyes. I found it deep, meaningful and quite attractive.

Title Rating – 4.5/5

Plot

Now, coming to the main part of the book. The stories. I will give a brief outlook at each of the fifteen stories in this book and what I felt stood out the most. Please note that these stories are in order or appearance within the book and are not in order of my preference.

  1. The Wok: The book opens with a simple, yet touching story depicting the lives of a hard-working mother and a dynamic daughter. I loved the ending of this story.
  2. Peanut: This story carries a whiff of an autobiographic feel to it. It’s depicted from a first person narrative by a character that is not the main part of the story. To me, this felt like one of the weaker links of the book but nonetheless, still an interesting read.
  3. The Thirst: Another bang of a story with an excellent climax. The best part about this story was the title. It means so many different things encompassed into just one word.
  4. Selective Secularism: This story was very deep. I loved the scenario and the thought behind this plot. Its social angle was what really drove me in to the core of it.
  5. Bribe: For some reason, I felt myself being carried away with this one. It is an extremely simple story depicting marriage from an experienced viewpoint. I loved this story and it certainly was an interesting read.
  6. Forever: One of my favourites from the book, this story was depicted with vivid details and a tremendous ending. I found myself feeling drawn to the characters.
  7. The Wait: With an excellent twist that was totally unexpected, I found myself smiling once I read the way this story was woven. Impressive word play.
  8. Second Tsunami: Everyone can learn something from this story. I don’t know how the author felt when writing it but I definitely felt a tug in my heart as each word pierced into my skin. Another one of my favourites.
  9. The Example: Another autobiographic story. Maybe this genre is not for me or perhaps the others were far too vibrant – but I found this to be another weak link in the book.
  10. The Meeting: There was an element of relativity in this story that really connected to me. It portrays a situation that happens to probably anyone in any form. It is about friendship and the lack thereof as time carries us away.
  11. Jackpot: A very beautiful story. There is such depth of human emotion in it that it is outstanding. One of the best stories in the book.
  12. Destiny: I got chills when I read this story. Just one word. Amazing.
  13. The Untimely Death: A little slow paced and probably the longest story in the book, this one takes a small and simple situation that is wonderfully woven into a tale.
  14. Before it’s too Late: Time runs out of our hands and enjoyment is replaced by responsibilities. This story portrays the side of life that we all forget to live because we are too trapped by our own deadlines.
  15. The Sealed Wish: I felt as though there couldn’t have been a more perfect ending to this book than to save the best for last. I personally loved this story so much that I read it twice. An amazing read.

Overall Impression:

I generally don’t prefer reading short stories because I am worried about the ups and downs that they may contain. But I am glad I chose this one because there are definitely many more pros than cons with ‘Panorama’. The author is very imaginative while being realistic and knows how to transform normal situations into wonderful tales. Every story had an element to it that I felt I could relate to in my own life. It is such a simple book filled with ordinary situations and relate-worthy characters.

However, if I had to give the author one suggestion, I would definitely ask her to consider creating more lasting impressions with more dialogues, powerful sentence constructions and heartfelt one liners that will stick with the reader for a long, long time.

Final Rating: 4/5
Verdict: Worth every penny!

 

Order now!

Restaurant Review: Hitec Nanking (Madhapur, Hyderabad)

I love food. As simple as that.

It is a wonderful feeling I relish – trying new restaurants, experimenting with different delicacies and savoring every bite I take. While it is true that my appetite is quite poor, that doesn’t dismiss the fact that I do enjoy a meal out every once in a week or so.

So, when I was driving around Madhapur on a lazy Sunday evening with my family, I saw a restaurant perched high up on the top floor of a building that caught my fancy. Hitech Nanking. In a split second decision, we decided to check this place out and see what it had in store. I have to add here that – luckily, they have parking so I was tremendously relieved.

Let me take a shot at reviewing this restaurant for what I thought about it. I have three major parameters:

  1. Ambience
  2. Food
  3. Service

Ambience:

The moment I stepped into the restaurant, I was pleasantly surprised by the clean decor and the simple furniture. There was a rich cultural feeling to it that can’t be put into words.

 

 

 

 

 

With differently sized and coloured chinaware decorating the walls in a quirky, fancy manner – the glass ceilings and bright chandeliers complimenting the ambience, it felt quite comforting to be inside. That being said, there wasn’t a lavish or extravagant display of decor – which was a good thing. I found the interiors quite apt for this cozy restaurant.

I give the ambience 4/5.

Food:

We decided to go all out and ordered a full three course meal, starting with the appetizers and drinks of course. We ordered soft drinks and lemonade to go with out ‘Fried Wontons’ and ‘Chicken Pakodas’.

The wontons were perfect – crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The hot and sour sauce accompanying the dish complimented it wonderfully. The pakodas are worth their place in the ‘specials’ list. They were piping hot, crisp and melted in our mouths.

Just as we were savoring the starters, our main course was served. ‘Vegetable Soft Noodles’, ‘Veg Fried Rice’ and ‘Veg in Hot Garlic Sauce’. The noodles had a tinge of that authentic burnt flavour that was mouth-watering. The vegetables were perfectly stir fried. The rice was aptly seasoned and had a special richness to it. As for the assorted vegetables in the mildly spicy gravy – it went very well with our other dishes and added a balance to our palate.

        

 

Now that we were stuffed with our meal and emptied our drinks till the last sip, we wanted to call it a night. But the staff seemed to be able to tempt us into getting dessert. Who can say no to ice cream? I know I can’t. And so we said yes. It was like the perfect proposal – because the dessert was just as yummy as everything else. Crispy fried noodles dipped in honey, served with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream and topped off with a mild hint of strawberry sauce – you can find it in the specials list as ‘Darsaan tossed with ice cream’ if you feel your mouth watering right now.


One word.
Heavenly.
The crispness of the noodles on your tongue as the soft chill of the ice cream creates a burst of flavour in your mouth is utter bliss. But because we were a little greedy, we also shared a chocolate ice cream which was rich in both texture and flavour.

I give the food 4.5/5.

Service:

Lighting fast. That’s the one term I can use. It probably was the most efficient and quick service I have ever experienced in any restaurant. We had our starters within 10 minutes of placing our order. The main course quickly followed. Dessert was perfectly on time. Our water glasses were always full. Anything we needed was given to us without having to ask. I found it quite thrilling to receive such fantastic service after so many years of eating out.

I give the service 5/5.

Overall:

It was a genuinely great experience. We surely didn’t regret it even one bit. I recommend this to anyone who has a flavor for Chinese cuisine and / or loves Non-Vegetarian food because these guys know what they are doing.

Final rating: 4.5/5
Verdict: Worth tasting

Hitec Nanking Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

How to Clear CA – Final Paper 1: Financial Reporting

Since it’s that time of the year again, that dreaded time that every CA student knows about, I thought I would share this post, tell you what I learnt through my journey and maybe help you find a way through the awful month of May / November.
A little heads up before we begin – I became a Chartered Accountant after clearing the May 2016 exams so I’m still fairly new and I know the most up-to-date system, so you don’t need to worry.  Also, I opted to self-study for this subject, which I think helped me a lot in being able to write this article.
So, without further ado, let’s get into the plan, shall we?

 

How to clear your FINANCIAL REPORTING paper:

 

Let’s divide this into three parts so that it’s clear and I can cover everything without confusing you. The first part is the REFERENCE MATERIAL, the second part is the TIME MANAGEMENT and the third part is the PAPER PRESENTATION. I believe that it is with the combined implementation of these three which helps a student write the exam successfully.

 

REFERENCE MATERIAL:

 

Logically, it makes sense to me that since the suggested answers / answer key is coming from the institute, naturally so should the material you study from. This is what I tell everyone who ever asks me for advice about clearing not only this subject, but any subject. Please note that I am not going to depend the basis of my plan on whether you went for coaching or not. Regardless of that, here are my suggestions:
  • MP Vijay Kumar
  • Practice Manual (Theory & Sums)
  • Study Material (Only Sums)
  • Compiler (From ICAI)
  • The most recent two RTPs
  • Last four Mock Papers (Conducted by ICAI)

It is pretty straight-forward. All you have to do is study from these books. Now that you know what to refer to, let me briefly tell you how to sort it all out. This is the order in which I recommend you study.

1) MP Vijay Kumar: Do not be terrified by its size. I know it’s scary but it doesn’t really take all that time to complete. For the large chapters like Amalgamation, Consolidation and Valuation you can solve one or two sums under each concept (The sums are sub-divided by concept) and that would give you an understanding of what you can expect from each chapter. Again, if you have the time, by all means, please do solve each and every sum from the book. It is highly beneficial.

2) Practice Manual: This book is very useful for two major areas of the paper – Theory and Standards. The more you get a grip over these two, the better it will be for your attempt. The PM gives a good overall view about your Q1 and Q7 of the exam paper. Also, make sure to solve every sum from every chapter without taking a peep at the answers midway.

3) Study Material: Skip the theoretical portion and solve the sums from the Study Material in every chapter. Ideally this will not take very long if you make sure to breeze through after you are thorough with the entire portion.

4) Compiler:  I highly recommend this because it is better than any scanner you get in the market. If you are able to solve even 70% of the sums in the compiler, then you are in a very good position for the examination. Do buy this and use it during the last month to practice these sums and get an idea of how the examination will be.

5) Revision Test Papers: I would suggest getting at least two RTPs and using these as exams to test how good you are at the subject. Naturally you will be solving this a week or two before the exams. But make sure that you put in equal effort in correcting your own answers and learning from your mistakes because otherwise this is a pointless exercise.

6) Mocks: I used to solve many mock papers when I studied. I never went to the institute to write them but downloaded them from the website, printed them out to get a real exam feeling, set the clock to three hours and write the papers as though they were my final exam. I suggest you to do the same. Before correcting your own paper, give a half an hour gap between writing and correction. Also, be stingy with marks. As stingy as possible. This will help you prepare for the worst.

TIME MANAGEMENT

It is easy to understand what you are supposed to study from but very difficult to plan how to cover everything in 3 months. I’m going to help you do just that. But please note that this period doesn’t involve coaching for this subject but rather should be the plan after the initial coaching period. I’m only guiding the self study portion.

Let us have an aim of studying for a minimum of 10 hours per day. Even if you do wake up between 5 – 6 AM and start, ten hours is easily achievable and a definite must if you want to cover all four subjects. Of course, FR is not your only subject and I understand that. But it definitely requires more time than the other three papers simply because there are three chapters which are format based and extremely time consuming. So, I am going to try and split it up for you into two parts. Major and Minor.

The ‘Major’ part covers Amalgamation, Consolidation, Valuation and Standards. The ‘Minor’ part covers the rest of the chapters – Esops, EVA, VAS, Theory, etc.

My strategy was to skip one chapter from the ‘Major’ part – between Amalgamation and Consolidation. For me, the obvious choice was Consolidation. If you wish to follow this method, then make sure to be thorough with the other chapters because otherwise this would be a terrible plan.

If you wish to study them all, that’s pretty alright as well. Try to do this ‘Major’ part at the time of the day where you are the fastest. For me it’s early morning. Find your peak time and try to finish at least one sum in each concept of every chapter. For the ‘Minor’ part of the portion, make sure to solve one chapter a day. It ideally shouldn’t take more than 2 – 3 hours per chapter but you go at your own comfortable pace. Don’t leave a chapter midway. That will not ensure efficiency. Start a chapter only when you know you have the time to complete it.

Your target is to complete solving the Practice Manual and Study Material in 1 – 1.5 months. This is achievable even while studying for other subjects. But if you prefer to study only one subject at a time, and you want to allot 10 hours per day only for FR, then give yourself a target of 15 – 20 days only.

As for the compiler, your target should be one full day per chapter for the ‘Major’ part and one full day for two chapters for the ‘Minor’ part. If you have started amalgamation and you feel like one day is not enough, but one day is too much for Valuation, then adjust between the two but otherwise, just do the most that you can in a single day and move on to the next chapter. Understand that if you get stuck and want to continue solving the same chapter for two or three days, you will not have the time to complete everything and will be putting yourself at risk. The compiler shouldn’t take you more than 6 – 8 days to complete.

RTPs (2) and Mocks (2) – Together this will take a total of 3 – 4 days. Ideally it is a last minute check on your performance to evaluate how ready you are and what chapters you will need to quickly brush up on. Again, correcting your paper is a must. I can’t reiterate enough how vital this is.

PRESENTATION

Now comes the most important part. This is one that most students neglect or don’t really take all that seriously.  A lot of you believe that as long as the answers are correct and that your effort goes into the preparation, how your answer looks on the final paper doesn’t really matter. Here are some dos and don’ts you need to follow to be able to successfully complete your paper.

1) FR is format based. This means you need to draw lines, boxes, tables and all that. Make sure to use a scale and pencil. This is mandatory. Please do not think that it is going to ‘waste’ your time. It’s essential.

2) Support your answers with working notes. Show your workings and supporting information below each answer. Give reasons and show calculations elaborately.

3) Theory is very scoring. Try to answer any theoretical question with clarity and in bullet points.

4) For any solution that doesn’t involve a balance sheet, try to highlight the final figure either by making it bold, drawing a box around it or just underlining it so that the person who is correcting the paper is drawn to your conclusion. But only do this when you are sure of your answer.

5) Any time you have a formula based question, write the general formula first and only then substitute it with figures.

And finally, it is absolutely alright if you haven’t been able to clear in the first shot. I mentored a lot of students so far and one beautiful thing I’ve noticed is how they are able to put in more focus and effort by following these steps. Most of you only require a sense of direction and that is what I wanted to help provide. You know what hard work means, you know what Chartered Accountancy is about. All you are unsure of is how to approach it.

Change isn’t something that comes instantly. It’s a gradual process. But once you reach the top, there is no looking back. Give it time, be patient and just give the exams your best shot. I am not going to say ‘All the Best’. Instead, I am going to say, just do your best.

So, that’s all I have for you today.

Coming up next is my tips for STRATEGIC FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT.
I hope you have a wonderful day.