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I'm all right Jack

By Jack Haskins, published 13 September 2017.

I’ve just finished my first year at Candid. It’s raced by, but during the haze I’ve passed the six exams required to become a qualified financial adviser.

When I first joined it felt daunting. A friend was sitting the same exams and his company aim for their trainees to complete them within three years. He was two years in to the job and had passed half of the exams. Justin and Ian on the other hand told me the exams could be done comfortably in a year.

I remember thinking I had just purchased a house, which needed to be completely redecorated, whist also coping with the news I was going to be a dad for the first time. And now I had to pass six exams in a year. My life had just gotten a bit serious.

My approach was to sit an exam every two months and before I knew it, I was sat at a computer in the centre of Bristol taking the first one. It was a success, I was one sixth of the way there.

The next exam fell the week before Christmas, so I played safe and opted for the easiest one. On the morning of the 23rd of December I remember sitting in my car outside the exam centre, thinking if things go badly my family would have had to of put up with scrooge over the festive period. Fortunately, all went well and it allowed me to enjoy a well- earned break (after finishing the decoration for the nursery).

The next two exams were the tough ones, pensions in February and Tax in May. Not least because during this time of year Candid is even busier than usual, so squeezing in study between work was hard Somehow, I got through both exams and I could see light at the end of the tunnel.

My partner gave birth in early June and after a nice break with my family, I was soon back at it, but with a new determination (and a lot less sleep!).

The fifth exam was based on two case studies. While not as hard as the pension and tax exams, it really tested my newly found knowledge over the three hour exam. A four week wait followed before I finally received my result and by then the one year target felt achievable and was in sight. I had one month to complete the last exam.

The tight time scale meant my last sitting had to be in Cardiff. The week building up to this exam was tiring, going home from work and revising each night for two hours. But my desire to complete these exams was huge, so it didn’t feel so onerous.

The 9.30am exam in Cardiff meant a 6am train for me, but whilst I was not impressed with the early alarm clock, it was a great decision, I had a solid couple of baby-free hours revision before the exam and felt the most confident I had felt so far. I felt elated with a score of 85%, smashing the 65% pass mark. I had completed the process in 50 weeks (two weeks ahead of target Justin & Ian).

One thing I have learned from this process is mindset. If you have it in your mind it is going to take three years, then it will take three years. By booking the exams over the course of the year I committed myself which helped me find a new gear and focus which didn’t exist before.

The plan now is to continue gaining as much experience as I can by working on the cases with Ian, so I can quickly get to the point of being a fully-fledged adviser. I doubt the steep learning curve (or close supervision) will end for a long time yet, as there’s always new things to get to grips with, but it feels great to have gotten over my first big hurdle.

Next step will be taking the advanced exams to become a Chartered Financial Planner, so I can catch up with Ian and keep him on his toes.