Career story: studying retirement planning as a trainer in financial advice

16 June, 2022Juno Baker

Financial Planning in Retirement (FPIR) is a Level 6 qualification which prepares advisers to help customers take an overall approach to organising their later-life finances. So why did a professional trainer of financial advisers want to study it? Barry Cunningham gives his professional opinion of FPIR and shares his tips on fitting study around work.

Barry CunninghamI haven’t sold a pension in the last ten years. So I wanted to do FPIR to refresh my technical knowledge. Also it’s a Level 6 exam and I’m thinking of working towards chartered.

What you find is, because pensions haven’t been sold much over the last ten years, a lot people have read a book but never done the job. So they know what the book says but they don’t know the reality of taking a holistic approach to retirement planning. They don’t know the mechanics of it and how to apply the knowledge.

As a trainer, what did you think of the course? 

Learning nowadays is hugely different to  how it has been traditionally. It’s even changed a lot over the last three years. The way we train people is completely different. So, I really liked the way that LIBF trained and assessed people on FPIR.

There were three parts to the assessment. The first was based on your contribution to a discussion forum, which was good.

The next part I really liked. Basically what they said was, here’s a question, this is the situation, we want you to make a ten-minute video presentation as if you’re giving recommendations face to face.

It’s a great idea because it lets people talk. The last bit was a timed assessment based on a case study.

It’s good to see LIBF innovating.

How do you fit study round work?

Lately I’ve been working from home so I just go to my garden office. Because I’ve done this for a long time I know what I have to do and I just get it done. So, I look at my schedule and fit my study in around it.

I never found it overly taxing because a lot of the content in FPIR was stuff I already knew. I was just refreshing my knowledge. Studying the material wasn’t a big issue and the exam was more about how you put it into practice.

What’s the best thing about working in financial services?

It’s an enjoyable job. I’m a people person and I enjoy working with people, talking to them and getting to understand them.

I’m naturally a nosey person. Fact finding is something we do as financial advisers. If I’m writing new training, I’ll look at the topics and go research it. That goes back to my training on the Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA).

The other thing is, as a financial adviser, you’re helping people. Being a trainer is just an extension of that – really the same thing I was doing when I was advising people on managing their money.

In both jobs you’re helping people to help themselves. With financial planning you’re training people to manage their finances to look after themselves and their families. Training people to do that job is helping people in a different area of their lives.

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