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Williams takes career to next level with test

Posted on September 18, 2013 by Taber Times

All Matt Williams wanted to do was pass with his financial planning exam.

Williams happened to do just that and more, finishing third out of 260 candidates across the country who wrote the Financial Planning Examination Level II in June.

Just getting the results back in late July proved a nerve-wracking experience for the Taberite, not knowing for weeks if he’d have to go back to the drawing board and study some more for another six months.

Candace Gibson and Blake Martindale, both from British Columbia, got first and second place respectively.

“Congratulations to Candace, Blake and Matthew for their outstanding performance on FPE2,” said Cary List, president & CEO of the Financial Planning Standards Council. “They have shown an exceptionally high standard of professionalism, competence and judgment through their exemplary performance on this examination.”

Of those individuals writing FPE2 for the first time, 72.8% passed. Of the total 260 individuals who wrote, the pass rate was 65%. The six-hour examination was held in 31 writing centres across Canada.

According to Williams, for a designation for a certified financial planner (CFP) you have five courses you have to do with each having an exam on them exploring various topics like retirement planning, insurance and estate planning. Williams passed his first final exam back in December and then took June’s test.

“It was a mix of multiple choice and short answer case studies. Here’s a situation with follow questions of what you would recommend where you quantify problems,” said Williams. “My main thing was just to get it done. I was taking the courses while working full time and raising a family. I’ve been working on it since 2010 so it’s been a three-year struggle with it. I was just thinking at the time ‘I just want to pass’,” added Williams with a chuckle.

Williams added while writing the test, the second portion made him nervous where he pondered if he should be worried in the answers he gave — which were obviously the right ones given he scored the third highest in the country among hundreds of people.

“For the afternoon session I did all the answers and re-checked some questions and I looked up at the clock and I still had almost an hour left,” said Williams. “I’m thinking this is either really good or really bad. I didn’t want to go back and re-check everything and second guess myself so I just submitted the test and left thinking it’ll go either way.”

Financial planning advice is largely unregulated in Canada. With the exception of Quebec, anyone in any province can call themselves a financial planner without meeting minimum qualifications or standards.

“If you are really serious about being an advisor or planner, this is the route you go to become a certified planner designation. It proves I have some education and I have some backing. In the industry, anyone can call themselves a financial advisor or planner which is kind of crazy if you ask me,” said Williams. “Having a CFP certifies this guy has really done his homework and it’s not a fly-by-night operation. There have been so many high profile cases in the last number of years involving advisors that have been criminal. That doesn’t mean that someone who has a CFP can’t be criminal, but on a CFP you sign your name on the dotted line that you’ll follow an ethical code and you are going to follow best practices. ”

To continue making sure your CFP is maintained, you have to do 30 hours of continuing education every year according to Williams.

“By doing that for 30 hours every year, you’re making sure you are keeping up to date,” said Williams. “When I started my career, this was something on my radar that I wanted to accomplish. It feels good to have it out of the way.”

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