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Point of order

On the level: exam diary

Peter Hicks, Head of UK retail sales, Fidelity International
Peter Hicks, Head of UK retail sales, Fidelity International

I read the other day that about 60 per cent of IFAs already have a level four qualification or are already studying.

My own plans to begin studying in earnest were somewhat scuppered during our launch of the new Anthony Bolton investment trust. After travelling up and down the UK during the week, I could not face burying my head in study aids at the weekend. With the investment trust offer successfully closed, there are no excuses.

I would like to take a couple of the diploma exams later this year and harking back to my school days I have been wondering about short cuts. One idea that used to work well for me was to minimise the studying by answering past papers. First, it adds a bit of confidence and has the additional benefit of getting used to framing and articulating answers with an exam technique.

It seems sensible to take the exams in order of those I might actually pass, especially if there are one or two that might not require that much extra work. With that in mind, I spent a day in front of CII papers from 2009. Actually, I have no idea whether I am allowed to take the papers in the order of my choice. If anyone would care to confirm the rules to me on that topic, I would be really grateful.

I decided to begin with the paper on JO6 from last October in the hope that the subject of investment principles, markets and environment would be a penalty kick. Happily it did turn out to be pretty uncomplicated (famous last words) and subject to any sequencing rules I will definitely be sitting JO6 this year. On to JO1 (personal tax) which I am confident I will be okay on, with a bit of work and brushing up. Oddly enough, the JO7 (supervisory) seemed to come fairly naturally too, as did the financial practice paper JO8. I am getting a much better feeling about all this.

Buoyed by confidence, which turned out to be misplaced, I turned my attention to JO 2, 3, 4 and 5. I now realise – or it was confirmed, to be more precise – that I know next to nothing about trusts, pension funding and pension income. However, hope was restored when I got to the tax and legal paper (JO3) as the subject seems not only logical but also quite interesting.

It just remains for me to up my work rate, study sensibly and book some exam sittings. I definitely feel the diploma is going to be able to fit in with my work and life and it is interesting too.


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There are 2 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Peter, you can take the exams in any order and resit them as many times as is necessary to pass. The CII also has a no negative marking policy so should your brain turn to mush and you write a load of twaddle as well as the right answer they won’t mark you down for the twaddle. The CII/PFS now has a new diploma qualification, the JO exams won’t get you to the new diploma level but you can gap fill with the new diploma modules or use CPD. Good luck!

  2. Why did you chose the CII route when there is a more relevant way to gain level 4 qualifications ie IFs which offers a diploma qualification after 3 exam passes. the cost is less as IFS have not adopted the cynical approach of the CII to expand the number of mini exams to improve their income stream

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