Another Diploma in the bag!

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Lee Hastie Dip.PFS.

That’s right – Lee has achieved his CII Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning *insert party emoji*.

Lee joined The Grad Scheme in 2017 and has had an incredible journey so far – we asked him to tell us more about this below…

What were your biggest challenges?

My biggest challenge was trying to be disciplined with revision – having a busy schedule with work and then sport/gym and then, on top of that, trying to have a social life too. Some days working a busy 9-5 and then trying to pick the book up was difficult because you’re just too tired and find your mind wandering at times. What worked for me in this respect was having a break at 5pm after work and doing something like the gym… and then doing a couple of hours when I got home after releasing those endorphins!

Also, it’s not just finding the time to revise, it’s the quality of the revision. 30 mins in the right way could be more beneficial than 3 hours if you’re being distracted or not really applying yourself.

Which did you find to be the hardest exam?

My first two exams were R01 (Financial Services, Regulations and Ethics) and R05 (Financial Protection). Luckily, I passed both of these!

Then I did pensions. Although a lot of the content was relatable to the reports we were beginning to write in the office, some of the content, such as the Defined Benefits sections, is quite advanced and complex, (considering I hadn’t even been in the industry one year at that point!). Despite nerves being a part and parcel of every exam, this was definitely the one I felt least confident with. Nonetheless, I continued my streak and passed on the pass mark!

I then did R02 (Investment Principles and Risk) and R03 (Personal Taxation). Ironically, these are the two exams that many of the more experienced planners have found the most difficult, yet when I sat them myself, I passed both comfortably.

What are your top 3 tips for any new grads?

1 – Don’t feel the need to rush exams – I passed my first three fairly quickly and then wanted to have a rest over the summer to watch the World Cup (and what a summer it was). After summer and my birthday had passed, I then knuckled back down to sit my final three exams and achieve my Diploma.

2 – No question is a stupid question – whether exam-related or work-related. There are online platforms that can be used to discuss exams and topics and also as the atmosphere within our office is so helpful and friendly, you don’t feel silly asking any questions. There are often revision/breakfast clubs within the office too.

3 – Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – thankfully I passed all my exams the first time but I would like to think that if I hadn’t, then I wouldn’t have let this get me down too much. Also, most of us do the exams in Newcastle for convenience but there’s always the option to do them elsewhere. I sat my final exam in Manchester which was a bit different and also Holly sat her final exam in Bristol – do some exploring whilst passing exams!

If you’re thinking of taking the leap into financial services, check out our latest vacancies.

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