My disappointing start to the year continues. The new approach to the exams, of getting an examination date in the diary in order to force me to find time to study in preparation, looked to be working. I had cleared some time for study and managed to make a start on reading the course material.
Sadly, the good intentions came to a crashing halt due to a surprise deadline and some unexpected commitments outside work. The exam date came and went and unfortunately I was sat in the office instead of sitting in the exam room. In terms the English cricket team would understand, so far this year, I am 0 for 1 and batting on an uneven wicket.
The immediate future does not offer a much sunnier outlook. With the Budget looming and several long bank holiday weekends due in April, this means that short weeks and uneven deadlines will continue to disrupt the working week and the chances of taking much time off to study is not looking good.
On a more positive note, the reports that Money Marketing is receiving back from advisers who are finding time to sit the exams, attend gap-fill courses or try alternative assessments is encouraging.
Last month, Money Marketing carried the account of Ian Highton, partner at IFA firm Essential Financial Planners, who gave his experience of being among the first people to get to QCA level four by using the new alternative assessment offered by the CII.
Highton’s situation will be a familiar one to many IFAs. Despite having been in the industry for 14 years, the fact that his qualifications were from 1997 meant a considerable amount of work was left ahead of him to get from 50 credits to the 140 needed.
The assessment sounds like it is no easy option. A full day of assessment needs to be supplemented by evidence of three years’ worth of CPD and the preparation time needed in advance is considerable. Highton says that from signing up to the alternative assessment pilot in early December until the date of the examination at the end of January, he was doing roughly three hours of study and revision a day.
This is a considerable amount of time to have to find but Highton says that for experienced advisers who do not want to take written exams or who would rather get their studying done in one short, sharp burst, this is a worthwhile option.
Sadly, for those of us who have opted for the more drawnout traditional exam route, the long slog continues. Hopefully by next month, I will have some tangible process to report.