1) What made you decide to upskill in trusts and estate planning? Were you seeing demand from clients, or looking to build up new clients in that area?

    I want to be the best financial adviser I can and am continually seeking to deepen and broaden my knowledge.

    I have built good professional relationships with a number of private client solicitors and was invited along to a STEP seminar which touched on things we learn within CII exams AF3 Tax & Trusts but at a much deeper level.

    I also found in conversations with solicitors about client issues, this was one area I felt would help support my existing work, while showing my commitment and hopefully give solicitors further confidence in referring clients to me.

    2) Why did you choose STEP?

    I have an ongoing development plan and I had STEP, SOLLA and Resolution on this.  I felt STEP was the most widely applicable and relevant to the sort of clients I deal with so I decided to tackle this first. The others are still to come!

    3) Why do you think it is worthwhile for advisers to look outside their current skill set?

    I don’t think it is about being outside your skill set, but rather learning knowledge which is relevant to the job we do.

    It is important to keep up to date and do relevant study for the technical areas we advise on, but also train in related areas.  STEP isn’t a separate area; it is very much geared to IFAs.

    4)  How did you juggle learning about a new area and completing a qualification in it, while doing your day job of advising clients and maintaining a health work/life balance?

    I am a good diligent student, I get up early and tend to study before heading into the office.

    It is easier for me now as I am in control of my own time, whereas when I started in the industry I had to do it all outside of the office hours.

    I completed AFPS in three years and I didn’t really have much life balance at that time – almost all my evenings and weekends were spent studying.

    I think it is important to have a balance and completing it quickly was good professionally but I didn’t really have much personal time for fun stuff.

    5) What advice would you give to a fellow adviser looking to upskill into a new area?

    Do it! With STEP in the end it wasn’t so much about passing the exam but I found the study itself really enhanced my knowledge and I feel much more confident about the areas covered which in the long term will reap benefits.

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