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Mind the gap-fill

I felt a big sigh of relief when I left the Corn Exchange building in Edinburgh on Wednesday, October 20, having just re-sat AF4 investment planning. I thought the exam went well and I felt more prepared than I had in April.

I think it was a fair exam and I am pleased I spent so much time on past papers going over calculations and formulae, which was a big part of this exam.

It would be good to have a break from study for a bit but I have decided to move onward and upward and I have already ordered from the CII my AF3 pension planning workbook with support from the J04 pension funding and J05 pension income study texts.

I intend to start work on this now and sit the exam at the next sitting in April 2011.

While working towards chartered status, I have also been onto the CII gap-fill tool site, www.gapfill.cii.co.uk, to establish where I currently sit with regards to my gap fill.

I know this tool has been controversial but the CII and the PFS have not received full credit for its advances with this type of adviser support. This is a free tool to all CII and PFS members and clearly marks out what has been achieved to date and what still has to be covered.

The gap-fill tool is excellent for “transitional qualification” holders to establish what CPD will need to be recorded to achieve the FSA’s 132 core learning points. The PFS and the CII have also made a commitment to provide sessions at the free regional events to help advisers fill the most relevant gaps. My score is 85 out of 132. My biggest gaps are in regulation and ethics and investment and pensions. Hopefully, my AF3 and AF4 exams will cover some or all these points.

Remember that the gap-fill requirements are an FSA requirement and not implemented by the PFS or the CII. I know that the PFS and the CII are doing all they can to support members through the RDR, including qualifications, gap fill and business transition. I am an IFA but also on a voluntary basis sit on the board of the PFS as a member-nominated director and this year vice-chairman. I therefore have a personal and business interest in what the PFS are doing to support members and I will do all I can in my capacity to support advisers and our members during my term.

I wish everyone the best of luck with their exams as I know it is difficult but equally rewarding. I have until December 17 to wait for my AF4 result, hopefully an early Christmas present. But in the meantime, on with AF3.

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