11 days of Christmas AF3…day 1

This is a true story. The characters in this Christmas story are true. It is all true. It’s not a Christmas fairytale, but I’m going to predict it has a happy ending.

It’ll be interesting for all of you who have been through or thinking about the AF3 exam. I don’t know the ending, but in 11 days time we will all know what happens at the end.

Over the next 11 days, I’ll serialise the full story as written by the student who described their own personal AF3 journey with EPL….now, sit back and I’ll begin the story…


”I moved to the network at the start of January 2015. I didn’t have the opportunity to see advice pension recommendations in my previous role and I felt that sitting exams that required applied knowledge would be too difficult. So I joined TP to help get that experience.

Until the start of the year I hadn’t seen a full suitability report, let alone a pension recommendation (!)

In my previous role I was as an investment analyst focussing solely on structured products, an area I got to know very, very well (more of that later).

Going from a pension knowledge that was vague at best and based on passing R04 in January 14 (forgetting most of the content as I didn’t ever use it), to sitting AF3 in 9 months was always going to be a challenge!

AF3 Essential Study Notes

As you may remember, we spoke on the phone mid-August, just after I had passed R08 and purchased your essential study notes on 19th August.  I recall you saying it would be very difficult to pass the exam with such limited time for revision and only the AF3 essential study notes.

As the CII hadn’t released the textbooks, I first read your essential notes.  This was quite difficult, as I hadn’t done the required pre-learn of R04 and J05, and I struggled with some of the workbook questions due to a lack of understanding some of the underlying concepts.  The notes were, however, very easy to read and well laid out.

A frustrating element was the references to diagrams or tables, such as the Scottish Widows GMP table, which I couldn’t access.  That said, they do work as a constant reminder that there is another level of support. There were some topics which I picked up straight away, others I only understood having read the R04/J05 books, and some on which I was completely lost, such as IP14.  I couldn’t fathom the revaluation of previous BCEs, and wasn’t quite sure I really understood any of the transitional protections.

I found the GMP and non GMP revaluation section difficult to follow, although it is impossible to understand in the CII textbooks.  It was only when I saw the SW table later on that it all became clear.

Overall though the notes were fantastic.  Despite my initial horror at the length of them (this was before I received the huge R04 textbook!) they were well written and generally explained the different concepts well.

Once I had finished my first read through the essential study notes, I also went through the R04 and J05 textbooks.  This was a long, slow process!  A lot of the information I’d picked up from the essential study notes started to make more sense as I understood the more generic concepts.  At the end of J05, I read the first 70 pages of the CII AF3 case study book only to find them to essentially be a cut down J05 book (that was a little irritating!).

Having gone through the CII text, I moved onto reading the essential study notes again….

Now things really started to make sense.”

See you all tomorrow for day 2 of the 11 days of Christmas AF3……..