Well done – Josh passes financial advice exams

Article by Christina

Huge congratulations to Josh, who has passed his final financial adviser exam, the Chartered Insurance Institute RO6 Financial Planning Practice paper.

This means that Josh now receives his Level 4 Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning. He now gets the letters Dip PFS after his name, to add his current Cert CII (MP) which is his certificate in mortgage practice. Josh also qualifies for the European Financial Adviser designation EFA.

Josh will now be working with Christina and Adele to work towards competency status so that he can start to advise clients.

It’s been a long road for Josh to reach this point and he deserves his congratulations. We asked Josh to reflect on the last few years.

“Over 4 years ago when I first began working for an Independent Financial Adviser, I had a long road ahead of me in terms of achieving my level 4 diploma in regulated financial planning. It was clear that there was a lack of external support for the six exams you needed to take and after applying to a twelve-month programme that was subsequently cancelled it did begin to look like it was a case of ‘you’re on your own’.

Following several articles detailing the heavily declining number of advisers, bigger firms seemed to begin releasing their own training programmes where you were given six months off to pass all 6 exams. But what if you didn’t work for a big firm? What if you worked for a company that couldn’t afford to just give you 6 months off? This is the situation I found myself in.

I took two of the six exams nearly twelve months apart and shortly after passing my second a new ‘apprenticeship’ programme became available. The plan was to pass your exams in twelve months, taking an exam every two months with further training after that. They promised webinars, study material and workshops to help you through your exams, however the idea was that you would still work full time which was much more appealing when working for a smaller company.

Even with two exams passed and having more time to revise, reading through the syllabus of these exams can be very laborious. The amount of knowledge and technical facts you have to dissect makes it hard reading and even harder to learn. It was clear that many people on the programme had struggled as by the time I went to the third exam workshop the number of people attending had more than halved since the introductory meeting.

You have to manage your time both during work and outside of work, it’s not enough to just rely on time during work to revise for these exams. Even with my head-start I still failed my fourth exam first time and there is nothing more disappointing than pressing the final submit button to see a ‘fail’ rather than a ‘pass’.

Once you have passed your first five exams they are amalgamated into a final assessment. You are finally used to the exam technique of ‘multiple choice and response’ or ‘multiple guess’ as my boss likes to call it at times; when you are told the final exam is a three-hour written exam. The exam technique you have adopted over your last five exams is out of the window and you have to start from scratch, bringing together all of your knowledge to answer questions surrounding two case studies. I felt confident for the exam, brushed up on my exam technique and attended the revision workshop. Unfortunately, after a six week wait for my results, I had the disappointment of reading I had failed.

The final exam R06 is only available to take every three months and as I had already organised to be away for the next sitting (maybe slightly overconfident), I had to wait six months to take the exam again. When I returned from my trip I began to revise straight away, utilising mock case studies and ensuring my exam technique was up to scratch. When the case study was released, I spent time with the advisers in our office, talked it through with other candidates on the programme and went to two workshops to ensure I knew the case studies like the back of my hand.

Again, the exam came around and three hours later with severe hand cramp all I could do was to wait. Six weeks later and I received confirmation that I had this time passed; the feeling was a mixture of huge relief and happiness.

In total my exams took me three years from my first qualification back in 2016. It is a lot of hard work and if your company allow you six months off, just to do your exams it may be doable if you can push yourself to revise day in day out. If you do work full-time even twelve months is a stretch which is what these ‘apprenticeship’ programmes expect of you. It sometimes means sacrificing your evenings or not meeting your friends for one weekend to cram that last few hours revision in.

You have to be able to deal with that disappointment if you fail and push yourself onto the next one if you pass. There isn’t time to take a few weeks off revision and when you are working full-time this can be mentally draining however, I can tell you that the satisfaction when all your hard work pays off is definitely worth the effort.”

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Adele was very easy to like from the moment we met her. She always arrives on time, and she has changed our lives in as much as showing us how to enjoy our money more.

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