I attended the Capstone 2 module workshop at home this past weekend. Due to the social distancing rules in place, candidates either attended the workshop asynchronously or live online. My Capstone 2 workshop took place in the former format so I had the option to break the two-day workshop down if I wanted to. However, it turned out I wasn’t able to start the workshop until after lunch on Saturday anyway. I wanted to write this post to share what I learned from the two-day Capstone 2 module workshop. As tiring as the workshop was, I actually took away a lot of valuable information about CFE and CFE prep in general.
What Did I Do During The Capstone 2 Workshop?
The Capstone 2 workshop was arguably the hardest PEP workshop (the first Core 1 workshop being the second hardest). This was because of the amount of work involved. Over the two-day workshop, I did the following:
- watched videos about Day 1, 2 & 3 cases and their structures
- watched a video about CFE and Capstone 2
- learned about CFE Board of Examiners’ reports (BOE report)
- learned about the interconnectedness of my role & FR/MA
- outlined, attempted and debriefed a Day 3 case (Dogani Inc.)
- outlined, attempted (partially) and debriefed a Day 1 case (WDI, 4-hour case)
- outlined, attempted (partially) and debriefed a Day 2 case (TankCo, 5-hour case)
- watched a video specifically about “next steps”
What Did I Learn About Day 1 of CFE?
You should know by now that the Day 1 case of CFE is linked to our Cap 1 case (few years into the future). To tackle the case, follow the steps below:
- Role, Users & Strategic Objectives, Timeline
- create your situational analysis framework
- Vision/Mission, Values, KSF, SWOT, Goals/Targets, Findings From High-Level Review of F/S
- marks are awarded if candidates link factors identified in this framework into their analyses of the strategic options
note, this framework is NOT worth any mark so it is only for reference purposes(removed on Jul 31, 2021 as it is inaccurate)
- QQC (quantitative, qualitative & conclusion) analyses for each strategic option
- you should be relying on the situational framework heavily for this
- this part is one of the two parts where you will be marked for pass/fail
- overall recommendation
- this part is one of the two parts where you will be marked for pass/fail
Some other tips I learned from the presenter and BOE report:
- read BOE report’s Appendix H for comments relating to Day 1
- candidates spent too much time on their quantitative analyses in the past
What Did I Learn About Day 2 of CFE?
Some tips specifically on writing Day 2:
- avoid spending too much time on common AOs at the expense of role AOs
- this is because Day 2 is your only chance to pass Level 3 (depth in your role)
- avoid short and generic responses as they will not help you achieve depth
- always remember to explain ‘WHAT + WHY’ and incorporate case facts
- don’t simply label a criteria MET or NOT MET without explaining why
- after writing past CFE Day 2 cases, read the BOE report as part of your debrief
- Appendix F of BOE
- helpful to understand what weak and strong candidates did
- there will not be any required in the background information paragraph
- it is important to rank your issues because just because an AO appears first doesn’t mean it’s most important
- day 2 is NOT designed to be time constrained (unlike Day 3)
~ More CPA Posts ~
CPA PEP Core 1 – How to Study for the Module and the Exam
CPA PERT – Ultimate Guide on How to Get Your First Experience Report via EVR Approved
CPA PERT – Enabling Competencies Examples
Densmore for CPA PEP – Are The PEP Essentials Packages Worth It?
CPA PEP Module – Regular Module or Extended Module?
What Other Tips Did I Learn For CFE?
Day 3 – Time Management
For day 3, it is important for candidates to know that time is truly of the essence. Being able to prioritize and stick to your time budgets are crucial ingredients to success.
Critical Reading Skill
This is important because if you misinterpret a required, it will lead to an irrelevant discussion. If you catch it during your review (if time allows; most likely on Day 1 & 2), you would have wasted time. If you don’t catch it at all, you are at risk of receiving an NC (not competent) or RC (which is not enough to score marks for Level 2 & 3).
Financial Reporting Issues
- there is no need to state handbook numbers (e.g., ‘per ASPE for revenue recognition’ instead of ‘per ASPE 3400’)
- the presenter suggested the use of bullets for criteria and sub-bullets for case facts so it is more marker-friendly (also easier for you to review your work)
- MET – as the payment has already been received
- use these headers: IGAR (issue, GAAP, analysis, recommendation)
- important to focus your discussion on relevant case facts – better several correct ones than many incorrect/irrelevant ones
- whenever there are FR issues (which is common), ranking your AOs become even more important
- consider the impact FR issue adjustments have on F/S and materiality
What Did I Learn About Proper Outlining For A Case?
The common themes I heard from candidates who attended the Capstone 2 workshop the same time I did: I have not been outlining right/I don’t know if I should outline on paper or electronically. For the former, the format I am sharing below should help you get started. For the latter, the presenter said past CFE writers were 50/50 on that. This means it is completely up to you. However, I suggest you experiment sooner rather than later. This way, you have plenty of chances to practice your outlining skills in the exact same scenario as you would on exam days!
Outline (for Day 2 & Day 3 cases)
- for Day 1, see here
- Users and their strategic objectives
- specific requests/highlights
- page number
- ranking (e.g., FR issues before valuation)
- time budget
What Should I Be Doing After The Module Workshop?
Strengths & Weaknesses Assessment
I knew about this before I started the workshop but I was reminded of the importance during the workshop. I need to identify my strengths and weaknesses. You will be provided with a standard study calendar by Capstone 2 but everyone’s CFE prep schedule is going to be slightly different. This makes sense because everyone’s strengths, weaknesses, background and schedules are different.
For me, I tend to read too fast and miss critical information. I don’t normally miss an AO completely (so no NA) but I might miss a critical case-fact or misinterpret the required (which might lead me to an NC or RC). I am also weaker in Tax and FR AOs. As a contrast, I am more comfortable with Assurance, S&G, MA and Finance AOs. As a result, I plan on spending slightly more time on technical reviews for tax and FR than the other competencies. I also realized there is some work to be done to my current outlining process (I never considered users’ objectives in-depth on an outline before). I am also considering switching from paper to electronic outlines.
After the workshop, I completed most of the following tasks at the time of writing this post. However, I wanted to share so you can have a reference:
- download the flashcards (available on Capstone 2 module on D2L; Table of Content > Reference material)
- renamed the files I download from the workshop and Densmore (e.g., competency map, CFE blueprint)
- import the Capstone 2 case tracking sheet (available on Capstone 2 module on D2L; Table of Content > Reference material) to Google Sheets and modified it so it fits my needs best