Tuesday, 04 December 2018 16:32

Financial Planning with the Chartered Insurance Institute

I think we can all agree 10 seconds is a pretty insignificant amount of time. Usain Bolt ‘s 100m world record, the fast goal in premier league history, the fastest try in rugby union history; these are all things that have taken less than 10 seconds. In fact, it’s probably the time you have taken to read my opening two sentences. I can assure you, each time I sit in the Chartered Insurance Institutes (CII) examination room, having seen the electronic timer on my exam hit 00:00 and the phrase “results pending” flash up on the screen, 10 seconds feels like a lifetime.

It’s a situation I have found myself in numerous times as a large percentage of the CII exams are tested online with results available 10 seconds after completion. Although these 10 seconds have felt like an eternity, I am delighted to say that so far they have all ended with a smile and a huge sigh of relief on my part.

The CII is the largest professional body for Financial Planners in the UK and the main examination body for people working within financial planning who want to achieve professional qualifications. These qualifications range from the Certificate in Financial Planning to the holy grail of the Advanced Diploma and the award of Chartered or Fellowship status.  

All of the CII’s exams are self-taught and can be taken at your own pace to suit your commitments inside and outside of work. This means there are no lectures or tutorials to attend, you simply receive a textbook in the post and have to ensure you are sufficiently prepared; which is daunting at first! Thankfully there is loads of support within the firm to help you manage this, from other colleagues who have sat the exams and have those useful hints on what to expect; to the firms dedicated Training and Development Manager, Laura, and her tips on the best methods for learning and revision. Over time you establish what study methods work for you; personally I try to read the textbook cover to cover by 2 weeks before the exam, at which point I start to look at past papers and hone in on areas that come up frequently or topics I am struggling to understand.

My exam journey with the CII started in February 2017, when I sat their ‘Financial Services, Products and Solutions’ exam. In the 20 months since, I have sat a further 8 exams coving topics such as Investments, Securities Trading, Personal Tax, Pensions, and Financial Protection Policies. This has worked out at an exam every 2 and a half months on average, which has required a lot of studying, commitment and sacrifice. However, it’s definitely been worth it as I have now obtained my Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning, started working towards achieving the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning and seen my responsibilities at work increase significantly. The latter is undoubtedly a result of the knowledge gained through the exams and subsequently applied on a daily basis.

For anyone looking at undertaking the CII exams as part of a career in financial planning, I couldn’t recommend them highly enough. They have provided me with an abundance of knowledge which I am able to apply to my work on a daily basis, helping to provide clients with innovative solutions to their specific financial goals and objectives.

Alastair Moore, Paraplanner with AAB Wealth