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Rolling on to AFPC success

There are now only 12 weeks to the next sitting of the Advanced Financial Planning Certificate examinations.

If you are one of the many people who are planning on taking an exam in April (tables 1-3) then you will become either one of the 38 per cent or so of candidates who pass their exam or one of the 62 per cent who fail.

Without a plan you are more likely than not to fail in achieving your objective of AFPC success. Whichever subject you intend to study, you should first get the exam guide from the Chartered Insurance Institute.

This provides guidance on assumed knowledge that you should already possess as well as the standard and structure of the exam. As well as giving hints on exam technique, it provides you with a specimen paper together with suggested answers.

As far as length of study is concerned, the CII suggests 120 hours over six months. But most people only start to study about four months ahead meaning you must then allocate seven hours a week.

Next, read the syllabus. If you do not do this how will you be able to focus your study on the topics that may come up in the examination? Then, in conjunction with the study materials you have bought, plan a schedule of study and stick to it. You have a choice of the following study methods.

Self-study using a course book alone

The CII course book costs £60 for non-members but do not forget that BPP Financial Education also publishes course books. Both are different in style so try to find out which suits you best.

CII continuous assessment

Here, you receive the course book and submit seven assignments as well as a mock examination. Meeting the required standards in this leads to a 10 per cent addition to your actual examination mark.

While this may mean the difference between failure and success, you should note that the final assessment must be submitted about six weeks before the examinations – on March 4. This is therefore a long-term programme of study which costs £165. It is not available for G70, H25 or the K numbers.

CII correspondence course

This is similar to the above although no fixed addition is given to your exam mark. On the other hand, there are no deadlines to meet. This option costs £160.

Sofa study groups

The subjects available and locations appear on the Sofa website. G10 and G60 are offered at 13 locations nationally. G20, G30 and G80 can also be had but in only one location each.

You should appreciate that these groups are not usually run by professional trainers but by facilitators. As such, the benefit of attendance does vary. They tend to run over a period of 13 weeks (three hours a week) and cost £199 for non-members.

You also need to buy the CII/Taxbriefs case study workbooks at £40. The advantage is that it does allow you to study and benchmark your knowledge against other candidates in a disciplined way. You can, of course, establish your own study group.

Self-help study groups

Your local LIA regional education officer could be your first point of contact to establish if there is sufficient local interest from other people to enable you to establish or join a self-help group.

Alternatively, try giving Sofa a call or maybe your head office or network training department. Partnerships in Planning also provides guidance.

Apart from the course books there are the following study aids to choose from:

Audio tapes. The CII produce these for both G10 and G60. They are useful as a back-up to your study programme at £25 each. Some other training companies also produce these.

Case Study Workbooks. These are produced by the CII and Taxbriefs and consist of a series of case studies with answers. They are £40 each, available for G10, G20, G30, G60 and H15.

LIA Easy Steps guides. These are excellent as a means of focusing on partic-ular areas of the syllabus.

Key Facts cards. The CII produces pocket-sized cards for G10, G60 and H15 priced at £15 a set. While these do not “bullet-point” the main text, they are more easily portable and are useful to keep with you when you have a few spare moments perhaps on the train.

CD-Rom. CII Training Technology produces a CD-Rom that consists of four case studies for each of G10, G20, G30 and G60. All are on one disk at a cost of £100.

Examiner&#39s Reports. These are available from the CII at £6 for each sitting and include model answers and the all important examiner&#39s comments. If you buy nothing else you must buy these,as they tell you what the examiner is looking for in answering questions.

The choice of study aid depends very much upon your learning style and the amount of time you have allowed yourself to complete your study schedule. My main recommendation is that you try to get hold of a sample copy before you buy.

To obtain the full AFPC, you must pass (or be exempt from) G10 Taxation & Trusts. After that, add on any two full credits. Importantly, you should now note that the Mortgage Advice Qualification of the CII and FPC count as half-credits.

Remember also that K10 and K20 are half-credit exams. Because of this, it is now much easier to acquire AFPC than it used to be.

Do not lose sight of which subjects would actually help you do your job.

Table 4 gives an indication of what subjects you should consider taking, based upon the role in which you find yourself.

Knowledge gained in these subjects can only enhance your ability to generate income and make yourself more marketable to your clients and/or potential employers.

Subject Subject title

reference

G10 Taxation & Trusts

G20 Personal Investment Planning

G30 Business Financial Planning

G60 Pensions

G70 Investment Portfolio Management

G80 Long-term care, life & health protection

H15 Supervision & Sales Management

H25 Holistic Financial Planning

K10 Retirement options

K20 Pension investment options

Subject April 2000 October 2000 April 2001

G10 1,174 1,118 1,234

G20 666 660 698

G30 168 158 160

G60 1,605 1,338 1,292

G70 130 144 155

G80 155 170 133

H15 535 536 404

H25 60 59 74

K10 635

K20

Source: Chartered Insurance Institute

Subject April 2000 October 2000 April 2001

G10 44.6 46.3 41.2

G20 38.3 44.6 40.3

G30 40.5 41.1 33.1

G60 38.9 36.0 29.3

G70 43.1 45.8 47.1

G80 37.4 40.0 40.6

H15 39.8 40.5 47.8

H25 41.7 42.4 35.1

K10 39.1

K20

Source: Chartered Insurance Institute

Your role

General practitioner G10, G20, G30, G60, H25

Personal financial planner G10, G20, G60, H25

Corporate specialist G10, G30, G60

Investment specialist G10, G20, G70

Pensions planning specialist G60, K20

Retirement income specialist G60, G70, K10, K20

Protection specialist G10, G20, G80

Training & competence G10, H15, H25

Paraplanner See relevant roles above

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