How to succeed in the FPIR assessment

06 June, 2022Sue Wiggins

If you’re a financial adviser looking to help clients prepare for the long term, our Level 6 in Financial Planning in Retirement (FPIR) will help. It will also set you on the road to chartered status, but the assessment is different to most qualifications. Sue Wiggins outlines how you will be assessed for FPIR, and shares her advice on the best approach to success.

hand holding pencil writing notesThe FPIR assessment is based on what you do in the day job and client interactions, rather than a straight exam. So you already have the skills you need for the assessment. There are three stages and it’s open book all the way through.

1. Forum participation

The Forum’s a platform where you can ask tutors and introduce yourself to other people in your cohort. You don’t have to post anything to the discussion at first unless you want to.

But then comes the forum assessment case study. The tutors deliver a task and divide the cohort into smaller groups. You work on the assessment with five or six other people in your group, chatting among yourselves about the task and sharing your thoughts.

Everyone’s different. Some will participate every hour of every day. Others will share all their thoughts at once.

My top tip would be not to get drawn into comparing how much you contribute with other people. Focus on what you think about the case study and what you want to say. In the end – although in you will bounce ideas of each other in the group – you all need to come up with individual responses.

Remember, you’re not submitting the task as a group. The idea is that you talk it through as a group to support your individual responses, which will be marked.

2. Video presentation

A big part of an adviser’s role is to present information and recommendations to clients. So this part of the assessment offers you the chance to use the skills you already have.

You’ll be given a case study and need to respond by presenting your recommendations on a 12-minute video.

In the real world, if you were with the client you’d probably have an hour or so to go through everything. But you’d also be, say, having a cup of tea and veering off topic. So although this is challenging and does need to be focused, remember that the purpose is just to get the main points across.

The easiest approach is to write it all down and then practise it, timing yourself with a stopwatch. You can record it as many times as you want to and create ‘test runs’ to watch before submitting a final version that you’re happy with.

You don’t have to go into the minutiae during the presentation, because you can add supporting documents to the submission. You might, for example, summarise income and outgoings, and mention that more details are on the appendix.

3. Timed assessment

You’ll receive the fact-find at least a week before the final part of the assessment. It’s open book and you have four hours to complete it.

That allows you to take one or two good breaks during the exam, to get some air or a cup of tea.

But be aware that the exam isn’t just based on the case study. There will also be questions that test you on other areas of the FPIR syllabus. My advice is, while you’re looking at that fact-find, go back through the learning materials as well.

You might also consider looking at past papers and considering where you would need to find additional details if you had similar questions. Whilst you do need to reference sources of information a full referencing process isn’t necessary.

And don’t take ‘open book’ too literally. You’re allowed to use Google and other sources, but that can take time and take you off on a tangent. All the answers are in the learning materials so if you’ve revised those thoroughly, you’ll easily be able to find the information you need.

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