Should I choose ACCA APM or AFM?

Choose The Right DirectionSometimes we get this question from our Czech ACCA students who arrive at the Professional level. So, here it comes, straight from our tutor who has been teaching both of these for many years:

Should I choose APM or AFM as my options exam?

Before we go into specifics – please go online and download maybe 2 last exams of both APM and AFM and take a look. AFM, Advanced Financial Management, is “advanced F9” while APM, Advanced Performance Management, is “advanced F5” but you need to look at the exams to really get an idea. You can do this even before you start preparing for the exam – you will understand enough to get a picture.

Which one is less difficult in view of technical skills and topics?

AFM is definitely more technically challenging – adjusted present values, swap valuations, Black Scholes option pricing model, advanced investment appraisal, corporate valuations. However, with sufficient practice, the methods and techniques do repeat, to a certain extent.

APM is probably more demanding when it comes to creativity and business understanding – what are the key performance drivers in a retailer? What are the risks for a manufacturer of high-tech products? What should a performance report look like for mining company or a hospital? You cannot find “textbook answers” to many of these topics, you need to “think on your feet”

Which requires more advanced English language skills?

APM is probably somewhat more difficult, because AFM has more “clearly right or wrong” answers in the written part, so it’s arguably easier to answer – your arguments, if correct, are easier to write since you don’t need to make them that convincing.

Which one is less or more time demanding for preparation time?

Both would probably take a similar amount of time. However, for AFM you will know when you need to do more work – you will not be able to do the calculations right, or you will not know tha answers. For APM, there is a risk that you will get a false idea that you already know the theory and therefore you are ready, but a lot of practice is required.

Is for self-study preparation better APM or AFM (without need to face to face course)?

I think AFM is definitely harder to understand without a course, because of the advanced technical skills and calculations. When I started teaching AFM, even after the preparation I was scared that I would make mistakes in my answers in front of the whole class!

On the other hand, APM is much harder to “diagnose” when you try out questions. A professional who can mark your exam will tell you whether your particular answer (which will often be quite different from suggested solution in this exam) would actually score.

I know that the decision is individual…

It is, absolutely. That’s why you should look at the exams, and also think about what you might actually use in your life. You have made it this far – now you don’t necessarily look for the easy way out instead of a more useful way out 🙂

Can I use my P3 knowledge for any of these?

P3 has really transitioned into SBL, so it does not have that much overlap with APM or AFM. My guess is that you will be able to use F5 and F9 terminology but not that much P3… However, if you want a head start, the online Ethics Module will give you a number of useful ideas…

Good luck choosing, and if you’d like to take a course with use, look here for options and dates.

Ing. Jakub Guttner, FCCA, Ph.D., FHEA is a partner and tutor at ineo and has been teaching ACCA since 2007.

(Image (cc) MaxPixel)