Which exam to start with?

I've been a financial administrator for approx 8 years now. I just wanted to get advice from similar minded people outside of the company I work for on which exams are essential to pass and in what order I should pursue to become a fully competent paraplanner.



  • I'd suggest working your way through the PFS diploma first as it's widely recognised (there are other routes). R01 is a logical place to start but be prepared that it is quite dry. Once you get it out of the way the other exams tend to be more directly applicable to the role.

    im sure some other people will share about the CISI and IFS routes too
    Chartered Financial Planner FPFS APP Chartered MCSI
    Head of Technical at EQ Investors

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  • I agree with Dan. The diploma would be a great thing to aim for. Have a look at the modules that you can do to get your diploma and pick that ones that best suit your knwledge, experience and expected areas of work.
  • Whilst R01 has to be done personally I would do it towards the end as it is so dull! Pick one of the papers you feel strongest about to start with - getting a pass first time is always going to spur you on to greater things.

    When you've got your diploma you can start on the AF papers; then CFP, Chartered, maybe IMC, Fellowship of CISI (assuming they still offer it) and a Masters - you could be doing exams for the next, what, 10 years!!!! - I speak from experience (although the Masters was a step too far for me!!)
  • R01 is by far one of the must dull exams I have done yet, but don't let that put you off.  Although I did find it useful after only being in the industry a short while.

    I have found the rest of the R0 exams very interesting and relevant to where I want to go with my study.  They will help you get a good base, and you can focus on other aspects after that.

    The IMC study is very heavy going. 
  • How long did you take to revise for the RO1 before taking the exam/how many hours did you put in a day?

  • Because I was new to the industry I was studying off and on for a few months.  Tried to study most lunch breaks, almost 9-5 on a Saturday, and 2-3 hours every couple of nights during the week.
    I found I had to keep going back and re-reading things though.  I learn best through doing something.  I never have been particularly great at learning only from text.  I think it's because it starts to put me to sleep.

    I have had the same approach with almost all of the exams I've done now.  It is difficult to fit things around other commitments which is why I don't study more during the week.

    One of my colleagues studied for about a month.  Did some on lunch breaks, some on his journey to and from work, and some most nights of the week and passed R01, R02 & R03 no problems.  However, he did have years of industry experience behind him.
  • I'd suggest doing R01 first to get it out of the way!
  • I sat R01 last week. For someone just starting out on exams at level 4 I'd describe it as 'easily failable'. It is very dull and in places really gets into a lot of detail.

    I agree with Richard Gough and if I was starting out now I'd pick one of the exams in an area where I had an interest in the subject.

    The other reason to perhaps choose the PFS Diploma route as the starting point is that it is the most easily identifiable qualification by the most people. If you tell anyone in this part of the industry that you are DipPFS they will know instantly what you've done to get there and realistically benchmark your knowledge.
    Benjamin Fabi FPFS
    Chartered Financial Planner

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