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Put to the test

Money Marketing deputy editor Gregor Watt embarks on the road to QCF level 4

The new minimum requirement set out by the FSA in the retail distribution review has added a significant burden to many advisers over the next three years.

The number of IFAs who will need to sit further exams is difficult to quantify but with the entry requirements varying substantially over the years, it is likely that a large number of IFAs will need to undertake some additional learning between now and the deadline of December 31, 2012.

The number of people embarking on a programme of study because of the RDR is going to be increased by at least one. In a decision that I will probably come to regret, I have volunteered to try and meet the FSA’s new requirement for minimum qualifications within the timescale they have set out.

Sadly for me, most Money Marketing readers have a significant headstart, as most already possess a qualification at least equivalent to QCA level three.

Although I passed the old FPC 1 exam some years ago before I became a journalist, for the sake of an exemption of a few credits under the current system I have decided to start from the very beginning with CF1 and, if all goes according to plan, ending with a full diploma in financial planning. The CII has entered me into its exam programme and I will be following exactly the same route through exams as any new entrant.

The intention of this column is to chart the progress of someone aiming to achieve the new qualification standard, looking at what is required to meet each step in the qualifications ladder, how difficult it is to manage around a job and other practical issues.

The aim of this column is to chart the progress of someone aiming to achieve the new standards

I also hope to be able to look at some of the learning aids, including the adviser academies offered by some providers and what is on offer from some of the independent training companies.

However, this column will not a look at whether the FSA is correct to impose a new minimum standard, if the new level of qualifications is the correct one and which exam is the right one to take.

Barring natural disaster, the minimum standard to operate as an IFA is set to increase and I will look at how difficult or otherwise it will be to meet this in the timescale given.

I have already received details of my CII membership and the initial course material is on its way, so it looks like it is too late for second thoughts.
Unless I have totally misread the information sent to me so far, the first exam dates available are in early 2010 and first up for me is CF1, UK financial services, regulation and ethics.

I will be writing monthly in Adviser Evolution to chart my progress as I work my way through the different exams and will be giving my results on the way. The three-year deadline imposed by the FSA looks like it will be a challenging one but I am hoping that it is not insurmountable.

Suggestions for tried and trusted exam preparation and revision techniques will be gratefully received. For everyone else also working towards 2012, good luck.


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There are 5 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. David Trenner - Intelligent Pensions 30th October 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Good on you Greg! I know Janet Walford has the FPC, but too many journalists are happy to write about matters without any sort of qualification.

    If you have any training issues please give me a call.



  2. Good luck! Happy to share my experiences in sitting exams recently and passing on any tips.

    Obviously knowing the syllabus from A-Z in infinite detail is a good start!

  3. Good on you Gregor. Good luck.
    It’s a pity you are not already at FPC3 as that would be a better comparison. Anyone at MM at FPC3 prepared to take up the gauntlet to go from FPC3 to Diploma in teh same timescale without any special leave?

  4. Having recently obtained my diploma the advice I would give you is to eat, sleep and breath your text books. Also I found wizard learning useful. When you begin the CII JO papers I would recommend at least 100 hours study per paper. Finally get at least 2 past papers per exam and learn the answers inside and out.

    Apart from that good luck and don’t plan to spend too much time with the family over xmas !

  5. Paul – Well done. Question what % of what you have learnt in your diploma would you say is relevant to the work you do?
    Was the diploma info interesting?

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