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  • READ MORE ON THE PRIZEWINNERS

  • READ MORE ON THE PRIZEWINNERS

  • READ MORE ON THE PRIZEWINNERS

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  • CHINESE CENTRES LOSE GROUNDFinancial centres on the Chinese mainland Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen have lost favour compared to global market leaders London, New York and Hong Kong, according to the latest annual survey of 1,700 finance professionals conducted by the Z/Yen Group. Both Frankfurt and Paris rose up the rankings, reflecting their governments leadership in the eurozone crisis. Weaker eurozone cities Dublin, Madrid and Milan fell behind. Offshore financial centres have fallen back because of recent reputational damage.

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  • IFRS paNEL GETS wIDER bRIEF The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is to extend the activities of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) interpretations committee and issue fewer rejection notices, following its most recent meeting. Michael Stewart, director of implementation activities, outlined new proposals agreed by the committee, in response to the trustees call for a more active role in helping implement IFRS. The proposed new tools, agreed by the IASB, include allowing it to propose that application guidance (which has mandatory effect) be added as standard and that it can provide non-mandatory illustrative examples. The IASB stressed that it now expects the interpretations committee to take on more agenda items and, as a result, issue fewer rejection notices.

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  • CFO ROLE SET TO ExpaND CFOs will increasingly focus on keeping investors happy, according to a report by KPMG, From Keeping Score to Adding Value. There will also be more attention paid by CFOs to innovation and growth, while seeking to increase their influence over the range of their companies activities. Having focused unrelentingly on efficiency drives and cost-cutting initiatives since the start of the current economic crisis, many finance executives are now looking to help their organisations grow again, said Patrick Fenton, partner and UK head of financial management consulting at KPMG.

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  • bRICS TO USE OwN CURRENCIESThe BRICS nations Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have agreed to use national currencies for their trade and loan transactions. The decision marks a further move away from dollar dependency by emerging nations, with Chinas renminbi becoming increasingly powerful. The move could particularly benefit Africa, which trades extensively with China and for whom transaction costs will now be cut. Standard Bank predicts $100bn a year in Chinese-African trades will be settled in renminbi by 2015; China has announced that the renminbi will be fully internationally convertible by then. Chinas trade with India grew by 25% last year and with Russia by 42%.

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  • aCCa REvampS pER mODULE FOR STUDENTS ACCA has launched a new online system called My Experience for students to record their practical experience. The new module takes over from the trainee development matrix (TDM).

    My Experience will make it much easier for students to keep an accurate record of their work experience, and update their skills base, said Judith Bennett, ACCA director of service delivery.

    Look out for further details in due course.

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  • BEING ASSERTIVE IN THE WORKPLACE

    We take a look at hoW to be assertive at Work Without coming across as arrogant or rude. aleX miller reports

    According to experts at Temple Universitys Fox School of Business in Philadelphia and George Mason University near Washington DC, workers who avoid salary discussions at appraisals or in interviews almost never receive a pay rise. Their study also found those who actively seek out a pay rise earn on average 3,200 a year more than those who havent.

    But higher pay is just one of the many perks that can come with being assertive at work. But what does being assertive mean and can anybody command such a demeanour?

    Being assertive is a set of communication skills or behaviours and it can also be a state of mind, with an accompanying set of beliefs about the workplace and how you fit in. To get the ball rolling, there are a number of simple tips trainees can develop.

    Remember when communicating that a big part comes from the tone of voice. Pause and take regular deep breaths when faced with stressful moments breathing correctly can help deflect negative effects and enhance calmness. By being calmer, what you say will then sound more assertive.

    Choice of language is also important. The language of aggression is insulting, bossy and argumentative, while patronising terms can be insulting. As a rule, take the Yous and Buts out of your vocabulary and change to words such as I or And to own your words and intentions.

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  • Body language is a massive part of assertive communication. When you need to look assertive, consciously limit your hand movements to support your words. Eye contact is also vital; look people in the eye, especially when they are talking to you. When you break eye contact, do it to look at something the other person can look at too.

    Lead by example because what you do can be more powerful than what you say.

    Matt Weston, Robert Half director, says: Volunteering for projects is always a good idea. Not only will you be seen as a team player, but it will give you the platform to really prove yourself early in your job. Those who display a can-do attitude will increasingly be called for interesting projects and are more likely to be promoted.

    Always aim to be on the same physical level as the person you are talking to the easiest way to achieve this is to invite the other person to sit down. And if you need some extra confidence, steepling is a great way to feel confident pressing the tips of your fingers together in a prayer-like position.

    Finally, it may be beneficial to identify a mentor. Finding a mentor is one of the best things you can do in your career, says Weston. Someone with whom you can bounce off ideas with, share challenging situations and look to for advice will help you today and for years to come. This person doesnt have to be a finance professional, but should have worked in an office environment and have managed people. They can help you navigate office politics, negotiate for a raise, or even discuss your next career move. Having someone you can count on will raise your assertiveness in your current role as youll feel more confident and at ease.

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  • HOW TO: STAY COOL IN INTERVIEWS

    We ask several eXperts for their top tips on remaining cool When the pressure is on in intervieW situations. aleX miller reports

    Staying cool in stressful and testing times is an absolutely vital quality in the workplace and where better to demonstrate that skill than in an interview situation?

    There are a number of useful tips to remember that will help you manage interview nerves and stay cool under pressure.

    The first consideration is good preparation. There is a famous Abraham Lincoln quote these days often used as a motivational line that says: If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, Id spend six sharpening my axe.

    Peter Istead, managing director of Page Personnel Finance, says: You might have the necessary skills to do the job, but do you know how the company operates? Have you thought about how to explain why you want this job? Have you prepared any questions for the interviewer?

    By doing your research and thinking carefully about your potential responses, youll feel more confident and able to perform to the best of your ability. Even the most seasoned professional can get interview nerves. Remember that both you and the interviewer want a successful outcome from the interview, he adds.

    Phil Sheridan, managing director of Robert Half UK, concurs: Find out everything you can about the company by researching websites, social media accounts, news articles, executive blogs and stock information, when available.

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  • It is also worth researching some of the key competitors of your target company to find out how you can help them effectively position themselves for success. As accountants are increasingly charged with maintaining a commercial focus, any insight you can provide that demonstrates you have astute business acumen will work in your favour. By being prepared, you will come across as relaxed and confident.

    It is also important to be precise and clear in interviews. Make sure your answers are well phrased and try to ensure the interview is as jargon-free as possible to help avoid confusion.

    There may be particular terms and expressions that you use internally that wont always translate to an external audience. Always explain something as if you were explaining to someone who didnt have a finance background. Support your answers by giving relevant examples and, if you are not sure, ask the interviewer if you have answered their question.

    Also try to stay positive. Sometimes this is easier than it sounds, but when you are nervous it is easy to focus on the negative and think about everything that can go wrong during an interview. This inevitably makes the nerves worse.

    Stay positive by focusing on the reasons that attracted you to the job in the first place. Imagine yours