What am I letting myself in for?

The case study is due to be released any day now, 30 credits and 160 marks up for grabs and with two weeks to the exam and 150 hours of study to cram in – is this achievable? It’s all about working smarter and understanding what this exam involves. 3 hours is the time allowed to show you know your stuff and you can rock your client’s needs.

How can I increase my chances?

AF5 is designed to test your understanding and application, in particular, of the financial planning process. You may also find a small element of business investment planning. This is an advanced diploma exam and it is important that you demonstrate your application of your understanding of relevant subject matter when answering questions rather than simply recalling the facts. There is no need for any pre-learning, although additional experience of R06 (financial planning practice) would be helpful.

Handy Tips or Study Spell?

Handy tips all the way! Spells can be temperamental. This exam is a process – a memory test in large part. Don’t over complicate it.

• Take 10 minutes reading over the whole of the paper first, relate it to what you already know about the case study and jot down notes
• With any calculations – show your workings
• Explain technical terms and concepts as you go along
• Evaluate your clients objectives – ask questions about your clients to ensure you fully understand what they need
• You are not being asked to write a report – you are being asked how you would address specific client issues within the context of a report
• Put forward appropriate recommendations and most importantly justify your recommendations – you will be rewarded for thinking logically about the objectives and potential solutions for your client – You must concentrate on the needs of the individual clients
• When writing your answer reflect on whether your answer will have an impact on other factors and show that you have considered this
• Demonstrate knowledge of recent or timely changes and how this may impact your considerations – read financial papers as topical issues (ie the last 12 months) are often tested
• If the client has an investment portfolio, make sure you are familiar with all the investments held within the portfolio. You should understand the risk profile, tax treatment, accessibility and yield of each investment.
• You need to demonstrate you know what needs to be done in relation to each of the key aspects of the financial planning process
• Time waits for no man or woman – remember you only have 3 hours – manage your time well
• Save 10 minutes for the end of exam to review, amend and proof read your paper

Is there anything else I should know?

Get a good’s night sleep before the exam – relax those nerves and be confident. It’s not going to be easy but it is going to be worth it.

Best of luck everyone!