Kay Mechial, Senior Financial Planner at Black Lion, tells us about studying for the Diploma in Financial Advice (DipFA) qualification, what he loves about working as a financial adviser, and how to balance study, work, and personal life.
What were you doing before you did DipFA?
I was involved in protection policies – giving holistic protection advice in a smaller part of financial planning. I continued to do that, while I was studying for the DipFA.
What made you decide to DipFA?
What I liked about DipFA was the practical element. It allowed me to learn while applying that knowledge to my role. This suited me well because a lot of financial advice involves softer skills.
It also focused on specific topics that were relevant and gave me an insight into a lot of practical ways to do things.
How did you find DipFA?
I would say it was challenging at first. The difficulty level wasn’t too bad, but it was hard to make the time to study whilst working. I was balancing work, studying, and my social life and other things.
But once I picked up the book, spoke to colleagues and looked at materials, I felt like it was easier.
I also felt like I was really part of the institution, because of the amount of support given.
Have you got any tips for those doing DipFA on how to fit it around life/complete it successfully?
Be mindful that you will have to take a step back from some things for a while.
For example, if you go to the gym every night, you might have to cut back but not stop going completely. There is value in what you’re studying for, so it’s worth prioritising.
Try to be strict with yourself and stay organised and regimented about your day. There’s a lot of downtime during the working day and you’ve got to try and switch on the studying element of it.
Regardless of what time of day it is, it’s about creating a specific space and time for studying – as you would for a customer or client. Try to set specific goals, such as aiming to have a certain topic completed by a particular date.
It helps to work towards deadlines and exams. I know some people prefer to study first and then book the exam, but for me it was better to book the exam and then learn the content. Because if you have a deadline to stick to and you won’t get complacent and try to put it off.
What’s the best thing about working in financial advice?
One of the reasons I chose to do DipFA was because of the practical element. I love financial planning, speaking to people and getting to know clients, the softer skills, and knowing that you’re making a difference.
I think a lot of early financial planners worry about the products and the technical aspects and getting everything right. But learning these softer skills helps with that.
I’ve really enjoyed meeting new people, building a rapport and knowing you’re changing someone’s life and watching the journey the client goes on.
Any thoughts on what you might do next? Or where you hope to get to?
My main aspiration is to provide the best quality financial advice that you can possibly get from any financial adviser in the UK.
I’m part of Quilter Financial Planning and since completing DipFA, I’ve set up my own business practice within that with Black Lion. I want to continue to grow my company, by getting the best client outcomes.
Find out more about our Diploma in Financial Advice
Find out more about our Professional Qualifications