Thought provoking question....

numberjunky Registered Posts: 88 Regular contributor ⭐
I was wondering where all this study will lead me/us.....We, as hard working students, do our very best to remember various methods, formulae and calculations. Not to mention technical terms and FRSs SSAPs - the full works. We are slaves to the 'manual' bookkeeping process and then, when we finally go looking for jobs, we usually find that accounts are done on SAGE or some other accounting software.

Of course it is advisable and beneficial to have the background knowledge, but shouldn't the AAT be putting more emphasis on using computers in accountancy as that seems to be far more common than pen and paper.

I am referring mainly to Level 3 students as I assume at level 4 and beyond there is a lot more number crunching going on - and maybe even the use of a pen!

Your comments please...........

Kevin (ECR down, FRA to go)


  • peugeot
    peugeot Registered Posts: 624 Epic contributor 🐘
    If I could have a £ for every time I asked myself that question when I was doing all my exams!!!

    In exams you have demonstrate your technical knowledge and competence in areas such as double entry bookkeeping and analytical review. Computers invariably would do the double entry bookkeeping for you i.e. when you put an invoice onto a computer.

    There are additional exams you can take to compliment your computer bookkeeping skills, though I doubt that the traditional exam requirements will ever diminish. In other words you'll still have to do the 'debit and credit' stuff!

    So in summary, by making you do the 'manual' bookkeeping approach to say, a financial reporting paper, they are making you demonstrate how competent/technically sound you actually are - which doing it using a computer system, say, Sage, would not allow.

    Kind regards
  • lessci
    lessci Registered Posts: 180 Dedicated contributor 🦉
    I think the idea behind learnig the manual system is so that you understand what the correct [procedures are, and thsi helps when you use a computerised accounts system, otherwise you would just be doing data entry without understanding the whys and wherefores, and if there are any errors you can solve them more easily, rather than seeking help from someone who understands manual accounts, but sometimes I feel the same way.
  • richardw
    richardw Registered Posts: 108 Dedicated contributor 🦉
    I think there are a few areas that are only covered briefly in the AAT:
    maths, computer skills, & reporting

    double entry etc is vital, but when did you last see or even use any T a/c's?
    on our finance system, it is double entry, but it works on horizontal lines, with debits & credits on seperate lines. you also cant do a transaction that dosnt balance out to zero.
  • melc25
    melc25 Registered Posts: 8 New contributor 🐸
    I disagree, I like the way the course is structured and provides a broad base for everyone. If it was computer based although it would be more modern, I don't think I'd have any idea what was really happening in the accounts, I'd have very little understanding. I think the AAT do drag things out alot and could simplify some of the course by adding computer training to the Intermediate level, but I suspect that there's just too much to learn to pass the exam.
  • visha
    visha Registered Posts: 218 Dedicated contributor 🦉
    Remenber AAT is an organisation that wants to be sucessful, an alternative accounts professional qualification provider, and ofcourse make money and not lose money.

    They do not want to make the life of their students difficult. It is not in their interest. If they can get away with providing computerised accounuts training and award it's students with an accountant's status then they would have done by now!

    Remember you are not training to be CELRKS but Accountants! And as such understaning double-entry, Accruals concepts, accounting equations, are the cornerstone of accounts.

    So are the new IASs.

    There is an old cliche that says "Gabbage in- gabbage out".

    Yes the computer will do the double entry for you, but will it be able to recognise that the expense of petrol is being debited into the the "Motor car at cost" account is incorrect? Error of principle!

    The clerk who is entering data in the computer does not need to dicipher the information that is being fed into the computer programme! Therefore, just because someone who can use a sage line 50 accounts package does not mean that the accounts are correct. In fact I have known Inland revenue to reject the accounts prepared on sage line 50 and impose it's own assessment on the owner of the business.

    When planning for how to tackle some of the accounting problems for a new, complicated income and expense,(solicitors need to account for legal aid funds),it is imperative to understand double entry and T accounts.
    Funds recieved from Legal Aid is money on account are not solicitor's income until a job is completed. How do you deal with this?

    Only you as a qualified accountant will be able to solve this and charge your clients with £60-£80 per hour for your consultaion. You can advise your client on how to delay the payment of VAT to inland revenue by chaning the taxpoint date into the next vat quater, only if you know the vat accounting rules.

    AAT level 3 course certainly arms you with these types of skills. A computer programme will not have a clue!
  • jen
    jen Registered Posts: 13 New contributor 🐸

    I must say, I totally with visha. If the enphesis was onhow to use a computerised accounting package, then the majority of what you whould be learning would be computer skills. Allthough it is neseccary in this day and age to be able to do this, it is an entirely different skill in my opinion.

    The only reason computers are used is because they are quicker and are a lot more convenient and cost effective.

    If we did not learn the fundementals of Accounting, then in the future, the would be very few people with full knowledge of Accounting (which is not being able to use a computer).
    Also, I think it would be far less interesting, but thats just my opinion!
  • CJC
    CJC Registered Posts: 1,657 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    I don't really think it need be a case of either/or. While I quite agree that without the underlying accounting knowledge using Sage is little more than data entry, spreadsheets are another matter. There's an awful lot of mechanical calculation involved in the AAT course, knowing how to use a spreadsheet to do these tasks doesn't detract from the basic knowledge needed just takes a lot of the drudgery out. Moreover, spreadsheets allow for sophisticated financial analysis that would be almost intractable to do 'by hand'. I found some parts of the course extremely frustrating and tedious having to do tasks manually in class and it was a relief to be able to get home and use the computer.

    For example, the development of a cash budget for a year is a task that may require dozens of calculations. Then, we may want to examine the effects of various scenarios, many more calculations are needed. A task that is relatively simple with a spreadsheet becomes complex and time consuming. You still need to know what you're doing,you've just removed the grind from it.

    I'm not arguing that the AAT course should be primarily computer based, but as it stands it is possible to complete the course knowing little more than how to use a spreadsheet to do some basic arithmetic and draw a graph. In this day and age I feel that isn't really sufficient, especially when there are areas of the course that cry out for using spreadsheets.

    The standing joke amongst my fellow students was that we felt like Dickensian clerks and should be using ink pens, the challenge for the AAT is not to replace the underlying accounting knowledge and understanding but to augment that with an understanding of the tools that form a key part of the skill set we will need as accounting technicians.
  • pernickety
    pernickety Registered Posts: 47 Regular contributor ⭐
    I used to be a sage trainer and work on-site for small-medium sized companies - setting up Sage as well as on-site bookkeeping. The times I have gone in to a company and looked at information entered in to their Sage system, by somebody who 'claimed' to know how to use Sage, and had little or no knowledge of double-entry, let alone how they could prepare final accounts.

    As already mentioned by a previous member - you need to know when entering a sales invoice - what code to use as the nominal, whether any management reports may need it to be another income code other than the default 4000. Same with purchase invoices - which 5000 code is it? Is it a direct cost or indirect cost or an overhead, or a asset code? Should there be VAT on it the item? What happens to the VAT when they key in either a sales or purchase invoice. How do they run the VAT return? What should they do then? Many dont know of the journal, let alone how to enter it. Most don't even look at the help files, and just 'bung' it somewhere! Many certainly would not worry about how to record the payment to HMRC? On that point alone, you just would not believe some of the entries I have seen - some even coding to an income code, asset codes - you name it! Sage and any other system will allow change to the default code, permitting any old rubbish to be entered.

    There are so few who can use Sage to its full potential, believe me. Companies' management are very often non the wiser on a lot of occasions. They believe they have someone who is capable, but dont really know what havoc some of their employees may be causing. Most hand all over to their trusty accountants anyway - which makes a mockery of having such a system as Sage, let alone the employee! Usually, because they have someone who 'claims' to know Sage seems to suffice, and never ceases to amaze me (many simply dont know any better). The accountant, after all will sort out any mess at their year-end won't they? Accompanied by a rather hefty bill!

    What I never fail to point out to companies' management is that a bit of thought in who they employee in the first instance is the best option, with consideration on valuing their knowledge (monetarily too). A good accounting technician who has learnt Sage well, could not only do everything, but save them a lot of hassle and reduce that hefty bill!:thumbup:
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