Nicola is the best in the world


A University of South Wales (USW) student has proved she has knowledge you can count on by achieving the highest mark in the world in a professional exam.

Nicola Lloyd, 27, originally from Brecon and now living in Pontypool, who’s been studying for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants  (ACCA) Qualification at USW, achieved the highest mark worldwide in the organisation’s Strategic Professional Level exams, which she sat in June.

She has also been recognised for achieving the joint highest mark worldwide in her Advanced Financial Management paper, with a score of 86%.

Nicola’s was just one of more than 57,000 entries in the Strategic Professional exams in June, with more than 10,000 students sitting the Advanced Financial Management paper.

Nicola passed her two final papers - Advanced Financial Management and Strategic Business Reporting – so is now an affiliate member of ACCA, with her Chartered Certified membership awaiting final approval.

Nicola started her ACCA studies at USW in 2015 and works for Marsh Vision, Chartered Certified Accountants, in Newport.

She originally wanted to be a clinical psychologist and completed a Masters in the subject, but found it difficult to secure a role in the sector.  She had always loved working with numbers, and a neighbour, for whom she worked part time, organised an interview with the Dewan Partnership in Brecon. The company hired her despite the fact she had no accountancy experience.

The Dewan Partnership was eager for her to complete the ACCA qualification.  After more than three years with the Brecon company, Nicola moved closer to Newport and started with Marsh Vision in May 2018 to get wider industry experience.


As with all exams, Nicola found some much harder than others

“The jump from the Applied Knowledge and Skills levels to the Professional level was incredible, not just with the difficulty of the topic and breadth of knowledge required, but also the time restraints in the exam,” she said.

“The final two exams I sat (SBR & AFM) I consider to be the most difficult out of all of them.  I was convinced I had failed SBR, and was getting ready to get the revision material back out ready for a resit in September.

“Staff and tuition at USW were brilliant.  Everyone is so helpful and will go out of their way to help you and make sure you're not struggling. 

“They really seem to care about their students and are really approachable and friendly, so you never really think of there being a status difference between lecturer and student.

“I am really grateful to all the teaching staff at USW as I would never have achieved such good results without their help and support.”

Looking to the future, Nicola would like to study for the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) as she loved studying tax as part of her ACCA qualification, and enjoys that line of work. 


Lloyd Powell, Head of ACCA Cymru Wales, congratulated Nicola on her achievement.

“This is a fantastic reward for all Nicola’s hard work, as well as the dedication of her tutors at USW and the support received from her employer, Marsh Vision.” he said.

“We are immensely proud to have a student from Wales as an ACCA global prize-winner, and look forward to following the progress of Nicola’s career in the coming years.”


Stuart Marsh FCCA, owner of Marsh Vision, added: “When Nicola informed me that she had achieved marks of 85% and 86% in her final two Strategic Professional Level exams, my initial reaction was ‘wow’, those marks are exceptional and must be right up there with the best.

“Little did we know at the time that she was a world-beater. This was confirmed shortly afterwards when Nicola received two emails from the ACCA.

“Hard work and dedication certainly do pay dividends and Nicola’s inquisitive nature, along with her willingness to tackle unfamiliar tasks and projects, has all contributed to her development as an integral part of the team at Marsh Vision.

“I have no doubt that Nicola will continue to thrive throughout her career. I am personally thrilled for Nicola and for what she has achieved.’’


Nicola Gilbert, ACCA Course Leader at USW and Advanced Financial Management tutor, said:

“This is a truly exceptional achievement for Nic and I couldn’t be more pleased for her. Our SBR & AFM classes ran from 1.30pm to 9pm every Wednesday. This meant that Nic did a morning’s work before coming in to university to study two really tough papers.

“She was a perfect student – hard working, quiet and unassuming - but always ready to ask questions and take part in class discussions. All of the ACCA teaching team here at USW are very proud of her.”