In today's competitive Financial Services market, having the Qualified Financial Advisor (QFA) qualification is more important than ever. If you're unsure if this is the correct choice for you then here's what you need to know...
For those pursuing a career in financial services, the QFA exams are often regarded as an integral part of the process in terms of career progression. As the level of rules and regulations within the industry has continued to increase, so too has the requirement for professionals to receive relevant qualifications such as these. However, embarking upon the journey towards being QFA qualified can sometimes be a daunting one.
Recently, I met with a professional who had just completed their QFA exams. Upon completion, they have had a chance to reflect back on the process as a whole and the influence it has had on their career to date and future career prospects. Below is an extract from our conversation, which I believe could be helpful to anyone considering going down a similar career path or pursuing a career within the Financial Services industry in general..
Q1. How did you decide to commence your career within financial services and specifically within the pensions industry?
I studied Business Studies in the University of Limerick for 4 years, so naturally I was bound to pursue a career in the financial services industry at some stage. I majored in Insurance & Risk Management for the final two years of the course. Insurance was the area of business which interested me the most and I went on a 9 month work placement in my 3rd year of college to get experience in the industry. I spent these 9 months working for a large life company in the Life & Pensions area and actually returned to this same company after my final year of college to work full-time.
Q2. Did the pensions industry turn out to be different than you expected?
Yes, you could say there is a lot more to it than I first thought. I found that the more experience I gained the more interesting it became. There is definitely a lot to learn in the industry.
Q3. At what point did you decide it was time to commence your QFA exams?
I decided to commence my QFA exams about 6 months after starting my first role. Working day in and day out within pensions, I felt that it would be beneficial to me to start these exams as soon as possible. The QFA is the recognized benchmark in the industry these days and is what most companies look for when assessing candidates. The knowledge I gained from doing these exams definitely stood to me in my role at the time and having the set of exams done is crucial for my career progression within the industry.
Q4. Did you find the exams difficult or time consuming?
I didn't find the exams too difficult to be honest. I think when you are used to doing college exams then they don't seem as bad. Attending the tutorials on each topic and putting in the study time myself close to the exams was obviously very important as well. Working within the pensions industry for a major life company also meant that a lot of the material on the exams I already knew from daily working life.
Q5. Are you happy you completed the QFA exams and do you think that they have opened more opportunities for you?
Absolutely. They are a great starting point if you are thinking of making a long lasting career in the life & pensions industry anyway. Having the QFA exams completed played a huge role in my career progression and created greater opportunities for myself.
Q6. Do you plan on continuing education and if so which exams do you have in mind?
Yes I do, I plan on obtaining the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) qualification at some point over the next few years - my ultimate goal is to be a financial adviser.
Q7. Can you tell me how your career progression came about?
I actually begin working in customer services for a few months, and I then moved on to working in pensions administration where I began doing my QFA examinations. I have now completed these and have moved on to work in an insurance brokers office once again doing pensions administration. I hope to gather enough experience on both sides of the industry (Life Company & Brokerage) before eventually moving on to work in sales.
Q8. What would you advise graduates who are interested in getting into the financial services industry?
Be prepared and willing to do more exams in whatever area you are in, they are the key to career progression!
It is clear from the above that by completing the QFA examinations, you are automatically giving yourself an edge against your competitors in an increasingly competitive jobs market. This is an attractive sector and there is always going to be lots of competition, therefore completing all six modules of these exams is one way of staying ahead of the game and immensely benefiting your career.
To discuss further career opportunities in the Financial Services sector, please feel free to get in touch with myself at the below contact details.