No adviser should take the FASEA exam lightly. It is not a tick and flick exam. I have yet to speak to an adviser who came out of their June exam brimming with confidence.
The exam requires a significant amount of reasoning ability, not only base knowledge. So rote learning isn’t going to cut it.
The reason is that most questions in the exam are case study based. In other words, there are many scenarios which contain a set of circumstances, from which a series of questions flow.
To add to the degree of difficulty, you can expect an academic treatment of a profession practice exam. In other words, the persons setting the exam are more likely to have a PhD rather than an authority to practice as a financial adviser.
So it is very important to get the feel of the type of questions you will encounter by studying the practice questions published by FASEA in the PDF document “The Financial Adviser Exam Practice Questions” Version 1.0, May 2019.
Because this is an exam for all advisers in a variety of employment situations, you will be confronted with examiner-created situations you have never encountered before.
You will see artificial scenarios that seem overly long winded and sometimes confusing. You may be asked questions where you have to choose ‘the most likely’ from a range of possible options.
And yet you have to prepare!
So my answer to this challenge is to be ready for anything and everything. The best preparation for a challenge of this nature is to know your stuff.
Know the rules and how to apply them, and know how to construct personal advice knowledgeably and ethically, that is genuinely in the client’s best interests by any definition.
How to prepare
The answer is to learn the base knowledge and then practice, practice and practice. And when you think you have done enough practice, do more practice.
Change your mindset
I have heard some older advisers say, “I have been in the industry for 25 years and if I can’t pass this exam, no one will”. That attitude will not get you through this exam.
The reason is that although many advisers will have a general, intuitive understanding of the advice rules, only a relative few will know it to examination standard.
A large part of preparing for this exam is to change your mindset and adapt to what is clearly a rapidly changing advice landscape. Resistance will be useless if you want to stay in the industry. If you hang onto past practices, you risk going the way of the dinosaurs.
Whilst, I disagree with the compressed time frame for existing advisers to pass the exam, and the brutal consequences for those who don’t pass by the end of next year, I do believe that this exam has a lot of merit.
The intense and focused preparation; plus the sitting and passing this University standard exam under strict exam conditions may ultimately be a blessing in disguise, both for your education upgrade and overall improved knowledge as an advice professional.
Finally, my advice to every adviser going into their exam is:
- Study in detail every document, example and (candidate) video related to the adviser exam that FASEA has released
- Prepare and practice well for the exam, then learn and practice some more
In the exam:
- Manage your exam time well
- Stay calm
- Take the time to read every question properly
- Don’t walk out of the exam if you finish early. Use the extra time wisely
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