At LIFT-Financial Group, we invest heavily in the people on our Academy scheme as we know they are the future Financial Planners of the world. We are proud of them for the way they have adapted to the postponement and format of their exams during the Covid-19 crisis. Below, Louie Butlin explains how the CII responded and shares his thoughts on the subject.
Initially, what measures did the CII take with the exams you had scheduled in April?
In March, everyone received correspondence from the CII that they were postponing all April written exams that were due to take place, until October. However, R06 (Financial Planning Practice) and AF7 (Pension Transfers), were still planned for July. There was no guidance on how these exams would go ahead, so I was apprehensive about what would happen, considering how bad the Covid-19 situation was during March and April. As I was due to take AF1 & J02, the July sittings did not apply to me, so I assumed I would be sitting these exams in October.
What further announcements have the CII made about the July sittings?
In April, the CII notified us that further exams would be offered in the July sitting (AF1 & AF5). At first, those of us who were taking these exams were slightly surprised by this as the number of Covid-19 cases was still rising, and there was not a clear indication that the government were going to relax their guidelines any time soon. In May, a further update confirmed that these exams would be remotely invigilated and that exam centres would remain closed. They also offered virtual training sessions to support people who were due to sit an exam in July. After much uncertainty, it was positive to hear that the exam would now be going ahead, and we could start revising again. This is a forward-thinking move from the CII which, I think, will make it easier for people to sit exams in the future.
How do you feel about the postponement of your exams, given the situation with Covid-19?
I thought this was a very sensible and justified decision from the CII. We thought they would make this move because government guidelines stopped non-essential contact and unnecessary travel. Ultimately, everyone’s safety is the primary concern, and there was no way the exams could go ahead in the traditional format. I had toned down my revision before the CII’s announcement as I believed this would be the case.
Do you still feel driven for your exams, despite them being postponed?
At first, I must admit, I did not feel motivated as it was still very unclear whether the exams would go ahead. However, as soon as we got the announcement about the remote invigilation, my drive reignited, and it was back to business. It is nice to have a goal to work towards again and I find that while we are working from home, it is perfect for revising without the daily commute to work. This, for me, has added an extra hour and 30 minutes into my day which I can utilise for revision.
What, if any, impact do you think this could have on you becoming a Chartered Financial Planner?
Personally, I do not feel like it will impact me as luckily this is my first advanced exam. However, for some people, this may have been their last exam, and this could have been a mental push back delaying their personal progression.
Jill Jones, Head of Client Support at LIFT-Financial Group, believes that Covid-19 has slowed things down in terms of the professional exams, but the measures that were put in place were very necessary. The CII have now implemented significant changes to adapt and kick start things again, including virtual training, which is good for those on the Academy and their progression to become Chartered Financial Planners.