Garry Hale, director, HK Wealth Managers
I have to admit I had intended to be further along my journey by now and failing AF3 Pensions a few times has really delayed my progress towards chartered status. It serves to highlight
the challenges when studying for advanced-level qualifications while running a business that is going through major regulatory change and still trying to spend time with a young family.
That said, I am still focused on my goal of passing these advanced exams to allow me to apply for Chartered Financial Planner status. I am, therefore, re-sitting the AF3 Pensions exam before the year-end and am in the final stages of study and revision towards that.
I have sought additional support this time around and attended a two-day Financial Adviser Academy revision course, which was excellent. It focused on breaking down the huge pensions syllabus and on providing detail around the core material on which we are likely to be examined.
It also focused on exam technique, which has been a difficult area for me. It is very important in AF exams to reference answers specifically to the case study and use the correct language and terminology.
My final few weeks of revision will, therefore, be focused on repeating past paper questions on the core material identified, including working on example and past paper calculations that may arise. I will also ensure I am referencing answers back to the case study, looking at past papers to make sure I am doing it correctly. The final component is using the correct language and definitions and again the use of past papers should help.
I feel passionately that candidates studying for these exams receive as much support as possible. Since joining the Personal Finance Society board I have championed this point and as the newly appointed PFS president I will be working with the PFS and Chartered Insurance Institute to support this important development.
The PFS has developed new material, ‘Join The Advice Elite’, which supports members to progress beyond Level 4 towards chartered status, providing a wealth of detail.
There is other support available to members and Technical Connection has recently launched an AF3 Exam Preparation Guide, which is 65 pages full of calculations, including a mock exam. It is offered at a discount to PFS members. It has also launched guides for other AF exam studies. This is the sort of practical material members require.
I am working hard on this exam and my study programme to ensure that I do pass AF3 this time, which will allow me to progress onto my next unit, where I intend to sit AF1 Personal Tax and Trust Planning and make use of the resources that I have found over recent months.
I hope that those who have not yet started to study towards advanced level exams and chartered status give some serious consideration to doing so. I believe the rewards will be rich.