THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTHAMPTON
Faculty of Business and Law
1st September 2021 to 31st August 2022
MODULE NAME: Financial Decision Making
Module Code Level Credit Value Module Leader
Ewan J Tracey
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Feedback and Grades due:
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This assessment requires students to produce an individual report analyzing the performance and operations of a publicly listed company within a selected sector. A list of companies will be provided for students to select from. This assessment represents 50% of the total marks.
Module Assignment Information
Due date: To be determined- UK semester 1 / overseas assignment due from 1st September 2021 to 31st August 2022
FINM036 Written Assignment
The aim of this assignment is to test students’ knowledge and understanding of key accounting and corporate finance concepts, theories and tools that can be used to critically analyse organisations. It will also test the ability to present non-financial information
You have been asked to write a report to the board of directors of one of the selected companies below as part of the interview process for your first appointment as a Finance Director of a company listed on AIM (which is the Alternative Investment Market for small companies) within the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The board of directors have asked you to write a report about your vision and strategic financial goals for the company.
The companies are within a selected sector of the AIM. Assume that your selected company has ambitions and plans to become a FTSE 100 (the largest UK listed companies) company in the near future.
You need to introduce the company, discuss the product or services, location, turnover, number of employees, etc. The report should be maximum 2,500 words (+/- 10%). Remember you need to make an impression on the board of directors for you to be considered for the critical post of Finance Director.
The essence of this assignment is to test your knowledge and understanding of key accounting and corporate governance concepts, theories and tools and ability to present data in a concise manner.
You have been asked to write a report to the board of directors of one of the selected companies below as part of the interview process for your first appointment as a Finance Director of a AIM company. The board of directors have asked you to write a report about your vision and strategic financial goals for the company.
The companies are within the AIM index. Assume that your selected company wants to become a FTSE 100 (the largest UK listed companies) company in the near future.
You need to introduce the company, discuss the product or services, location, turnover, number of employees, the contribution of the sector to the UK economy. To analyse, you need to compare the financial data / ratios of your selected company with either a competitor within the sector or the average of the sector. The report should be maximum 2,500 words. Remember you need to make an impression on the board of directors for you to be considered for the critical post of Finance Director.
Please note that you must select a company from the list below for 2021/22
List of companies to select from for 2021/2022
Company Name ICB Super-Sector Country of Incorporation Market Company Market Cap (£m)
ACCSYS TECHNOLOGIES PLC Construction & Materials United Kingdom AIM £87.65
BILLINGTON HOLDINGS PLC Construction & Materials United Kingdom AIM £37.25
EPWIN GROUP PLC Construction & Materials United Kingdom AIM £114.34
JAMES HALSTEAD PLC Construction & Materials United Kingdom AIM £848.53
MICHELMERSH BRICK HOLDINGS PLC Construction & Materials United Kingdom AIM £82.33
NEXUS INFRASTRUCTURE PLC Construction & Materials United Kingdom AIM £78.90
SIGMAROC PLC Construction & Materials United Kingdom AIM £56.46
VAN ELLE HOLDINGS PLC Construction & Materials United Kingdom AIM £72.80
Section A- 2000 words.
1. Analyse the performance of your chosen company using relevant financial and non-financial ratios (5 years). Your analysis should include profit ratios, efficiency, liquidity and other ratios that you consider relevant.
Section B 500 words
1. Critically evaluate the company’s corporate governance compliance and its impact on the brand and reputation as reported in the press (print, online and social media)
2. Discuss the proposed medium term financial strategies for your selected company to become a FTSE100 company or for your company to become dominant in the industry / sector.
If you select a company outside of the list above, you will automatically fail this part of the assignment, unless you get a prior written approval from your tutor.
You can use www.northcote.co.uk, pro-share and the FT to identify companies within their sectoral classifications. It is essential that all sources of information are correctly referenced using the Harvard system.
The word limit for this assignment is 2500 words (+/- 10%)
Where the submission exceeds the stipulated word limit by more than 10%, the submission will only be marked up to and including the additional 10%. Anything over this will not be included in the final grade for the assessment item. Abstracts, bibliographies, reference lists, appendices and footnotes are excluded from any word limit requirements.
Where a submission is notably under the word limit, the full submission will be marked on the extent to which the requirements of the assessment brief have been met.
Assessment Learning Outcomes
The learning outcomes to be addressed through this assignment are:
(a) Demonstrate a critical understanding of the nature and role of the finance professional and how financial control processes impact on the organisation and its stakeholders.
(b) Critically evaluate the impact of the external context on the financial domain, both domestically and internationally.
(c) Identify, critically appraise and analyse the content, relevance and use of key financial accounting information and techniques, both within organisations and by reference to relevant research.
(d) Demonstrate the ability to evaluate critically and communicate effectively the financial performance of an organisation by reference to internal or published financial information.
Assessment Grading Criteria
The marking criteria
Criteria Exceptional 70-100% A- to A+ Good C- to C+ Pass D- to D+ Fail F- to F+
Introduction, presentation and refereeing of the report
Exceptional report. The introduction is exemplary and provides evidence of a complete understanding of the company’s activities. The industry and the company analysed are outline and justified clearly. The significance of the industry and comparative report is presented clearly. There is clear evidence of originality and ability to justify the research effort. Compelling evidence of research. 6 -6 points
Good: The introduction is relevant and illustrates an attempt to address the assessment requirements. The industry and company are described in detail. The rationale and comparative data is limited. Good rationale, but lacks the details expected to score top marks probably due to general unsupported statements or grammatical / spelling mistakes. 5 to 5 points
Satisfactory: The introduction shows some correlation with the project requirements. There is irrelevant information. The rationale and objectives are not vague. Generally descriptive. There is very limited evidence of research. 1 to 4 points
Fail. The introduction is descriptive and irrelevant. The work lacks clear justification of the report purpose. Industry and company choice are not justified. Limited support for the information given. The student selected a company not on the list without approval
Application of the theories underpinning the report
20% 16to 20 points
Exceptional. A clear demonstration of complete grasp of knowledge of the key factors that drive performance in the chosen company and the industry in general. Critical relevant theories are identified such as the application of PESTEL or any other competition or management theories to support your argument must apply and critically appraise the theories. Industry examples and published literature are used to develop a logical case on the relevance of the sector, its importance and some key financial indicators such as the GDP contribution of the sector or contribution to the country’s economy over the past five years.
Theories such as the SWOT analysis (strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) within the sector or PEST analysis (Political, economical, social and technological) impact of the industry or sector 13 to 15 points
Good: The analysis demonstrates adequate knowledge of a fair range of the factors that affect company performance. There is intermittent evidence of an appreciation of the significance of the factors to the industry being analysed. Critical success factors are outlined. Some examples and limited literature are used. Contributions of the sector to the county’s economy may be missing 10 to 12 points
Satisfactory: The analysis is largely descriptive and narrative with little evidence of analysis. There is no clear evaluation of how the identified factors affect the selected company. Critical success factors are vague. Limited evidence of research. Lack of concrete supporting evidence 1 to 9 points
Fail: The analysis is not linked to the company. The analysis is descriptive and generally irrelevant to the company. Critical success factors are not clear or missing. No relevant examples are presented. Little evidence of research
The student selected a company not on the list without approval.
Depth of research including the use of appropriate ratios / explained
30% 22 to 30 points
Exceptional. The selected financial ratios are clearly justified within the context of the industry being analysed. Selected financial ratios for the past five years are shown and clearly presented and labelled in appendices. Comparison to the competitors financial and non financial data or the sector figures. The use of examples and published literature to justify choice of ratios is compelling. The interpretation of financial ratios and their importance demonstrates complete grasp of knowledge. Relevant examples and references used in discussion 18 to 21 points
Good: Financial ratios are selected and outlined clearly. Most of the financial ratios for the past five years are presented in appendices. The interpretation and justification of financial ratios lack consistency. There is intermittent evidence of an understanding of the significance of the financial ratios. Some examples and references are used in discussion. 15 to 17 points
Satisfactory: Financial ratios are stated but not clearly justified. Incomplete financial ratios for the past five years are presented in appendices. A basic argument is evident but lacks clarity and coherence. Limited examples and references used in discussion 1 to 14 points
Fail: Financial ratios are defined and described with no justification. Financial ratios for the past five years are incomplete or missing. Insufficient evidence of knowledge and research. No examples and lack of cited published work.
The student selected a company not on the list without approval
Formulation of an effective summary of key issues
and potential actions/ changes
30% 22 to 30 points
Exceptional. The report summarises the key elements and brings out the compelling reasons why potential investors and other stakeholders should be keen to invest in the company.
The strategic direction of the company and key advice on competitor’s analysis and the future of the company when compared to other sectors within the economy.
The main CG rules and the analysis of the company’s compliance with corporate governance rules such as rules on diversity, effectiveness, control, directors’ attendance at board meetings
The arguments are logical and backed up with supporting evidenced that are within the report. Exceptional comparisons with competitors and advantages are enumerated and clearly stated including plan for future financial strategy for the company 18 to 21 points
Good: A good attempt to construct a coherent and logical discussion of the relevant issues. The report shows some relevance and justification but does not give details on corporate governance compliance by the selected company
There is a lack of focus and consistency in the discussion. There is tendency to narrate and lacks analysis. Some examples and limited literature are used. 15 to 17 points
Satisfactory: Basic understanding of the report is understood, but lacks coherent and logical flow of the discussion. Some of the analysis are not customised to the selected company or comparison made to the industry.
Very descriptive outline of company. Limited analysis with no links to industry. No or limited CG compliance issue 1 to 14 points
Fail. Intermittent and vague description of the report requirements and their impact on the industry. The writing rarely goes beyond simplifying paraphrase on the essential elements of the requirements of the report without adequate justification or any convincing demonstration of essence of the report
No discussion of CG rules or application of the rules to the selected company
10% 7 to 10 points
Excellent. The conclusion is a summative review of the report. The evaluation is compelling, interpretation is accurate and the discourse is clear. Citation and referencing is accurate, up-to-date and well presented.
Justification for appointment into the FD role
6 to 6 points
Good:. The conclusion is a good review of the report. The discussion is clear and orderly. Citation and referencing is clear throughout. No details on the justification for the post
5 to 5 points
Satisfactory: The conclusion is descriptive and lacks analysis and critical evaluation. Citation and referencing is good in some parts. Lacks the reason for the appointment as FD
1 to 4 points
Fail: The conclusion show a lack of understanding of the report requirement and material presented in the document. Conclusion has some information that is irrelevant to the report. Citation and referencing is incorrect / missing in most parts
Generic Grading Criteria for Level 7
See grading criteria below
Please look out for announcement on NILE on additional support to help with your work. We are unable to provide individual review of the draft of your work
To submit, please go to the ‘Submit your work’ area on the NILE site and use the TBC submission point to upload your work. The deadline for this is 11.59pm (UK local time) on the date of submission.
The work will be subject to Turnitin anti-plagiarism detection software. Turnitin checks student work for possible textual matches against internet available resources and its own proprietary database.
N.B Work emailed directly to your tutor will not be marked.
Late submission of work
If an item of assessment is submitted late and an extension has not been granted, the following will apply:
• Within one week of the original deadline – work will be marked and returned with full feedback, and awarded a maximum bare pass grade of C-.
• More than one week from original deadline – maximum grade achievable LG (L indicating late).
Or, if a resit
Any work submitted late will be awarded a LG grade.
The University of Northampton’s general policy with regard to extensions is to be supportive of students who have genuine difficulties, but not against pressures of work that could have reasonably been anticipated. Please refer to Appendix I of the Post Graduate Handbook for advice on extensions.
Or, if a resit
There are NO extensions for resits
Feedback and Grades
Your grade and overall summary feedback will be available in Grade Centre. Please also click through to Turnitin for within text comments.
Academic Practice and Integrity
This is an individual assignment.
The University of Northampton policy will apply in all cases of copying, plagiarism or any other methods by which students have obtained (or attempted to obtain) an unfair advantage. Support and guidance on assessments and academic integrity can be found on: SkillsHub: https://skillshub.northampton.ac.uk/ . If a case of academic misconduct is suspected the tutor will apply a ZZ grade in NILE.
For guidance on Mitigating circumstances please go to https://www.northampton.ac.uk/about-us/governance-and-management/university-policies-procedures-and-regulations/ where under Student Issues you will find detailed guidance on the policy as well as guidance and the form for making an application.
Please note, however, that an application to defer an assessment on the grounds of mitigating circumstances should normally be made in advance of the submission deadline or examination date.
GENERIC GRADE CRITERIA
These are the criteria required to achieve each classification at:
An outstanding Distinction A+
Work which fulfils all the criteria of the grade below, but at an exceptional standard
A very strong Distinction A
Work of distinguished quality which is evidenced by an authoritative comprehensive, detailed and systematic knowledge base and understanding for specialised area of study. A key feature will be the ability to work with creativity and originality using knowledge and insights at the forefront of the area of study. There will be a confident grasp of disciplinary methodologies for the discipline/area of study which will be consistently reflected in both own research and advanced scholarship, effectively integrating advanced skills of analysis, synthesis, evaluation and application on a firm foundation of critical facility. Work will be characterised by strong technical expertise to high professional standards, and there will be sustained evidence of confident, autonomous operation and judgment in complex and unpredictable professional situations both in relation to working with others and in relation to own functioning. Self-direction, creativity, practical understanding will be combined to demonstrate the qualities expected of an effective self critical independent learner exercising excellent measured judgment, and will be a consistent feature of work.
A clear Distinction A-
Work of very good quality which displays most but not all of the criteria for the grade above.
An outstanding merit B+
Work of highly commendable quality which clearly fulfils the criteria for the grade below, but shows a greater degree of capability in relevant advanced intellectual or specialised skills.
A very strong Merit B
Work of commendable quality demonstrating a detailed and systematic knowledge base and understanding in specialised areas, informed by critical awareness of current issues, research based/theoretical insights at the forefront of the area of study. This will be supplemented by a good comprehensive understanding of disciplinary methodologies relevant to own research or advanced scholarship, which will be reflected in work which integrates skills of advanced analysis, synthesis, evaluation and application with critical awareness. There will be some evidence of originality in application of skills/knowledge, underpinned by good technical expertise which permits confident, autonomous operation in a range of complex and unpredictable professional situations. The ability to work autonomously, as a self critical independent learner exercising good and considered judgment, will be a consistent feature of work.
A Merit B-
Work of good quality which contains most, but not all of the characteristics of the grade above.
An Outstanding Pass C+
Work which clearly fulfils the criteria for the grade below, but shows a greater degree of capability in relevant advanced intellectual or specialised skills.
A Very Good Pass C
Work of capable quality which clearly demonstrates a systematic understanding of knowledge in specialised areas and a critical awareness of current issues, research based/theoretical knowledge at the forefront of the area of study, together with a sound understanding of methodologies applicable to own research or advanced scholarship. There may be limitations to the application of this knowledge and/or conceptual understanding of advanced scholarship, but there will be evidence of critical awareness in relation to analysis, synthesis, evaluation and application. The ability to exercise initiative as an independent and self critical learner in complex and unpredictable professional contexts will be demonstrated, as will threshold levels of technical expertise, although the scope of expertise may be limited.
A Pass C-
Work of satisfactory quality which contains most, but not all of the characteristics of the grade above.
Work which indicates some evidence of a systematic, coherent and analytical engagement with key aspects of the field of study, including familiarity with current scholarship, and evidence of ability to utilise specialised skills, but which also contains significant limitations.
Work that falls well short of the threshold standards in relation to one or more of knowledge, intellectual, subject based or key skills at this level.
Work of poor quality which is based on only minimal understanding, application or effort. It will offer only very limited evidence of familiarity with knowledge or skills appropriate to the field of study at this level.
AG Work submitted but academic misconduct proven and penalty given was to award AG grade
LG Work submitted but given an LG grade due to late submission
NG Work submitted but work comprises no value
G Nothing presented