In 2021, I became a chartered member of the Personal Finance Society and received the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning (APFS), which is one of the highest designations awarded by the organisation.
This achievement has only been obtained by a very small percentage of advisers operating in the UK. Recent data indicates that while there are approximately 30,000 such professionals in the country, less than one-fifth of these hold this advanced qualification.
From the early stages of my career, it has been important for me to join this select group and to hold Chartered Financial Planner status. I have always found that academic proficiency is high on a client’s list of priorities, and for good reason, considering that they entrust us with significant amounts of wealth.
My journey first began shortly after I graduated from university in 2013. I remember one of my biggest reliefs at the time was that I thought I was finally finished with exams.
In hindsight, this was incredibly naïve, as it couldn’t have been further from the truth! In reality, my relationship with exams was only just beginning, I just didn’t know it yet.
What I would soon engage in would span eight years and involve over 1,000 hours of study,
marked by three-hour long exams that would finally be completed with an N95 mask (due to covid guidelines) and a very sweaty face.
Even once I had gained the required credits by passing a total of 14 exams, chartered status was still out of reach until I had demonstrated that I had obtained a minimum of five years' industry experience.
In the end, I believe this effort has served me well and will continue to do so, as the chartered status is a symbol of technical competence and something that is highly sought after.
The qualification shows that I have met a demanding set of criteria and engaged in continuous professional development, so I can be better equipped to provide useful support to my clients.
I believe that this extra step of accomplishment demonstrates my commitment to professional standards and also serves as a mark of trust with my clients.
This is not the end, however, as fellowship is the next natural step after achieving my APFS. Despite being less well-known, this status is the highest-level qualification within the financial planning industry.
It is held by even fewer professionals than chartered status and is my next academic goal, which I hope to achieve by the end of 2022.
Watch this space!