Meet Jon Dunckley, technical guru and chief content writer
August 15, 2018 1:04 pm
I joined the financial services industry, pretty much straight out of University, at the age of 21. It was never my intention to become a financial adviser but, like many, I fell into the role – mostly because it was the only job that offered me a company car! Within two years, I was working as an adviser for Equitable Life and handling the financial affairs of some pretty wealthy clients. Unfortunately, much as I enjoyed this, I was rapidly exposed to a significant credibility gap. What did a 23-year-old with huge student debts understand about the pressures facing a wealthy middle-aged company director? The only way I could see myself overcoming this was through qualifications, and I set about becoming as qualified as I could, in as short a time as possible. By the time I turned 27 I was a Fellow the Society of Financial Advisers (now Personal Finance Society) and I kept going, becoming a Chartered and Certified Financial Planner and an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Industry, amongst other things.
I was lucky. I didn’t stop studying after my University days and it came pretty easily to me. I found I was able to pass exams with relative ease while colleagues were really struggling. Many of these colleagues had not taken an exam since they left school – sometimes more than 30 years ago. They were now trying to bring themselves up to a higher standard and were finding the struggle very real. As I progressed through my career, moving on from advising to various senior technical roles, I started trying to help these people. I set about finding ways to explain the more complex aspects of financial planning by referencing other things that they would have come across in their professional lives. The more I did, the more I took from it. Eventually I took the decision to move into this area full-time and set up a business to achieve this. Since then, we’ve helped countless people pass their examinations and we’ve taken particular pleasure in the ones who had failed seven, eight or nine times before using our services. I can’t say we’ve got everyone through first time, but it’s rare we don’t get them through in the end!
Since we started out, the financial services marketplace has changed. The drive to professionalism, as demonstrated partly through qualifications, doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Level four presents its challenges, moving on to Chartered presents new ones. The biggest challenge for many seems to be finding the time in a busy working week to study for ‘nice to have’ exams. There always seem to be too much pressure in the here-and-now, to worry about taking exams that might help at some point in the future. It doesn’t seem uncommon these days for advisers to be working 50 or more hours a week. Putting in the recommended 100 hours’ study for an exam then becomes a luxury that can’t be afforded. Many appreciate the benefits of taking that next step, but just can’t start the journey yet. This has become our new challenge – helping the time constrained make the very best possible use of that limited time.
Qualifications present significant opportunities – whether they be expanding into new business areas for the IFA, or simply developing a CV for those starting out. A lack of time shouldn’t be the barrier to development.