Steve Collings and IFRS For Dummies

| April 19, 2012 | 0 Comments

Steve Collings, audit and technical partner at Leavitt Walmsley Associates Limited answers questions on his forthcoming book IFRS For Dummies which published on 30 March 2012 (UK) and is shortly due for publication overseas.

Q. What is IFRS For Dummies all about?
A. Essentially the title sums the entire book up perfectly – it’s all about International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and how they work from a real-life perspective. It’s written from a very practical angle which means the book isn’t structured in order of all the IFRSs/IASs; instead if you look at the Table of Contents at the front of the book you’ll find it is structured in order of a set of financial statements (assets, liabilities, equity, income etc).

Q. How long does it take you to write a book?
A. This book was written on a very tight deadline. Ordinarily it takes around a year to write a book on accounting/auditing from the initial chapter outline through to producing the chapters. The For Dummies brand follows a very strict style which is why the books are so successful. I completed writing IFRS For Dummies in November last year, having started writing in July so the deadline was very tight because of the very rigorous process that follows once writing has finished.

Q. Who is the target audience for IFRS For Dummies?
A. Getting the target audience right at the start (i.e. before writing starts) is something I consider vital. The reason is that Chapter 1 in IFRS For Dummies was actually the last chapter I wrote; the reason is that you start off with a target audience in mind at the start of writing, but this can quickly change during the writing process. Initially my target audience were professional accountants who needed to be introduced to IFRS; however this quickly changed because I figured that students of financial reporting papers would also benefit from the book and its practical approach. As I work in an accountancy practice I am able to bring to life the IFRSs/IASs using real-life scenarios which are very much a key feature of IFRS For Dummies; but my target audience is students, professional accountants and those who have a general interest in IFRS.

Q. Are the examples in the book taken from your experiences in professional practice?
A. Absolutely though they are heavily disguised to preserve client confidentiality. I used to teach students on a part-time basis which I gave up as I now lecture on the CPD circuit to professionally-qualified accountants as part of my job and a pattern I soon saw emerge with the questions students and delegates have is that they quickly began to understand complex issues if I were to explain using an experience I had encountered with a client. As such, all my books illustrate theoretical concepts by using real-life examples.

Q. How can a student benefit from IFRS For Dummies?
A. Financial reporting has become more and more complex over the years and this is an issue which all students of financial reporting papers must face, regardless of what level they are at. A student of financial reporting at a higher level (such as paper P2 ACCA) will be presented with a whole host of accounting standards which they absolutely must learn. The thought of studying all the IFRS/IASs sometimes fills students with dread and often many students are studying at home. IFRS For Dummies does not cover very complicated issues because it had to be written at an introductory-intermediate level, but one of the main things students will benefit from IFRS For Dummies is the style it is written in. Often text books will place a lot of emphasis on technical jargon, whereas IFRS For Dummies could not do this because including a lot of technical jargon goes against the For Dummies brand, so if students are struggling on certain areas (for example defined benefit pension plans under IAS 19) then they can jump into the relevant chapter that deals with these and hopefully understand the issues better. As IFRS For Dummies is modular (i.e. you can just jump into a certain chapter and get everything you need to know from that chapter) this will also save students time because the modular approach means you don’t have to start reading it from cover to cover (though you may if you wish).

Q. Where do people purchase the book from?
A. You can visit www.amazon.co.uk (if UK based) or www.amazon.com or you can visit the publishers website (www.wiley.com) and type my name (steve collings) in the search box which will take you straight to the book. It is also for sale in all the high street bookshops. You can also download a free sample from Amazon.co.uk or from the publisher’s website.

Q. Have you any advice for students preparing for exams in the Summer?
A. Listen to your tutors and focus on what you CAN do rather than what you cannot! This is important because sometimes you hit on a topic that you struggle with and students tend to get down about the difficulties they encounter. If you put the work in, it will pay off – you only get out what you put in! If you’re a home studier, then the important thing to do is to make a realistic study plan and stick to it. When I was a student I quickly found that home study was not suitable for me, so I had formal tuition, but not everyone has this luxury. I would also suggest a revision phase of about six to eight weeks prior to the exam so you can get lots of question practise in before the exam.

Q. Finally, you recently won Accounting Technician of the Year at the British Accountancy Awards in 2011. How did that make you feel?
A. It was amazing to win that award! The night itself was very nerve-racking but winning the award makes writing the books and articles (which I do in my own time) worth every second!

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