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Winter of discontent

Gregor tells how a combination of illnesses, holidays and reshuffled deadlines meant he missed an exam and is behind schedule but determined to get back on track

Gregor Watt, Deputy editor Money Marketing
Gregor Watt, Deputy editor Money Marketing

January has been a frustrating month so far. The start of the new year brought a renewed enthusiasm for work and even for the CII exams.

I spent less time looking at the course material over Christmas than was ideal but in the few days I did manage I was pleased with my progress.

The quiet weeks of January usually bring the perfect opportunity to get into good habits as the combination of too much rich living over Christmas and too little spending money in January mean there are fewer distractions.

I also had my first exam lined up for the second week of January, which I thought would give me sufficient time to get my study finished while not being too far into the new year to get distracted by other things.

Sadly, the weather put paid to much of my planning and instead of being able to report back that I had sat the exam and (fingers crossed) passed the first one, instead I am now trying to find a suitable date to reschedule CF1.

As I live in London, I was able to watch the worst of the winter storms from the comfortable intermediary of the TV.

Although my journies were longer and less pleasant, I was not prevented from getting into work or the exam centre by artic storms, metre deep snowdrifts or packs of marauding polar bears pursued by Inuit hunters. The prosaic truth is that illness, holiday and reshuffled deadlines meant
that I could not manage to get out of the office at the time I had booked for the exam.

So, instead of being one exam down and on my way to the target of CF5 before July, I am starting the year behind schedule and with very little leeway if I am to hit the final target of QCA level four by 2012.

The extra couple of weeks also means that I have no excuse for not passing at the first attempt.

The other option, of course, would be to fall back on my previous experience of the CII exams. As I have mentioned before, before becoming a jour-nalist, I spent a brief period working for a life company and during this time they put me forward for the financial planning certificate. I passed FPC1 before I left the company.

The CII tells me that the exam is still on my record and as a result, I have sufficient credits to bypass CF1 and go straight to the second exam.

However tempting, this seems to go against the spirit of the exercise which is to chart the experience of attempting to gain new qualifications rather than rely on old exams.

By next month, I should be back on track. But until then, and despite the improvement in the weather, January has not been the start to the year I had hoped.

Gregor Watt
Deputy editor
Money Marketing

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