Another day, another diploma


This time I actually woke up at 5:50 according to my alarm clock (phone) which is ten minutes ahead of the correct time. Normally I’d spend the next half hour or so snoozing even then it’s a training day. It was Friday and I went downstairs to put my running shoes on to do my usual 10-miler.

Somehow I managed to run the fastest 10-miler for this year, even though I was trying to be slow. I was dreading 8 AM because that’s when my AF5 exam results were released – FYI you need to log on to a website to get your results. Quick shower followed by a big breakfast which I purposefully took my time preparing. 8 AM arrived as I sat down to eat but then I remembered it was also my mother’s birthday.

I figured I’d better call her before finding out my results. Otherwise, if it’s a fail, I might sound depressed or something. I had a 10 minute chat with her until I ran out of Skype credit. It seems that Skype will cut off your call at the 10 minute mark if you run out of money.

Then I checked my result and it was a PASS. I did the usual victory dance every gambler does at a Las Vegas casino. Now I have completed my Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning and also reached Fellowship of the Personal Finance Society, which is the highest qualification you can get here in the UK for financial planning.

About two years ago when I first came to the UK I worked in an admin job, I was miserable and hated it. The only way forward was to get some exams under my belt. I took my first exam in June 2014 and was surprised when I passed it. I made a decision to take exams as often and as fast as possible. It took me 19 exams and a bit less than two years to get to Fellowship. I’ve actually kept up a bit of a study log:

R01 116H
R02 104H
R03   92H (passed on second attempt)
R04 102H
R05   96H
R06 106H (fail) + 40H (passed second attempt)
J10    14H
J05, AF1, AF3, AF4, 206H (took all exams over 3 consecutive days)
FA2, FA7, J12 40H
FA1, FA6 10H
FA4, FA5 56H
AF5 26H (fail) + 20H (passed second attempt)
Roughly 1,028 hours.

I guess it’s true what they say about 1,000 hours of study to become an expert in something.

Anywho, the joy lasted for ten seconds tops. It passed and was replaced with a feeling of emptiness. I didn’t feel accomplished at all. It’s very similar to my uni graduations – neither felt like a big thing. Another day, another diploma… and I found myself asking the question “Now what?”

another day

I didn’t even feel like sharing the news with my colleagues. I sent an email to my manager (we need to do this because the company paid for my exam) and she later shared the news with the office. A few “well done’s“ and “congrats” followed and it wasn’t news anymore.

What next? Surprise, surprise, I’m going to do more exams but this time with CISI – Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments. I think the studying will never end!



Before the race


I and Romario were very poor. We really needed a third tenant. To make matters worse, Romario didn’t cancel his standing order and paid rent to the previous landlord as well. His bank account went over his overdraft limit and the bank charged him £5 for every day his account was above the limit.


He said he’s never been this poor. Then his bank also blocked his card. I found the whole thing hilarious.

We told Amazon that she should look at other flats and give this one a pass. Even though I had about £50 in my bank account and Romario found some change in a drawer – it was all the money we had… However, after Amazon checked out 6-8 other properties she gave us a call and wanted back in. It’s funny how that worked out. Apparently the other flats had weirdos living in them or they didn’t have a living room or in one case she had to walk through a toilet to get to the available room etc. London is weird like that.

The Amazon merger improved our financial position dramatically. Things are looking good again. And she’s been an amazing flatmate so far.

Some other things regarding the rental agency have surfaced and I’m very tired of all the bullshit. I stopped communicating with them as I don’t want to deal with them anymore. Everything they’ve told us or promised has been a lie and I have no interest in interacting with people like that. I’ve got way better things to do with my life.

I took the AF5 exam about a week ago. It’s the one I failed by one point back in October. I’m not too confident about passing it this time around as my thoughts were a bit distracted when studying because of all the stuff I wrote in the last two posts. Anywho, I’ll find out if I passed in about two months.

The London Marathon is tomorrow. The mass start is at 10 AM and based on my training, I should finish within 4 hours. 3H 45 minutes would be a good result. I’m quite excited.

Wish me luck!


Wild wild west


I had the AF5 (Financial Planning Practice) exam today. This is the last advanced level exam I need to pass to get the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning. I’ll get the results in 2 months (11 December). I think this wasn’t my best today but I’m hoping for a pass anyway.

Just two weeks ago I took 2 multiple choice question (MCQ) exams, which were much easier than today’s exam. I was a bit overconfident with these exams and did very little studying. However I managed to pass both. I’m a pro after all. I needed 35 points to pass and I got exactly 35 points in one of the exams. The second one was piss-easy and I think I scored 90%. Getting that 35 point pass felt really good. It’s as if I looked into the eye of death and shouted at the top of my lungs ‘NOT TODAY. NOT. TODAY.” and continued to ride my horse into the wild-wild west sunset.


October started out really well. I got a letter from Virgin Money which said I was one of the lucky ones to secure a public ballot place in the 2016 London Marathon. Awwww yeaaaaah!!!! That made my day. The marathon is in April 2016 and has been on my bucket list for a few years. Hopefully I’ll break 3:07:59 or even 3 hours. I’m very excited.


OK, gotta head out. My zouk class is about to start…

Fancy people


It was a late Sunday evening about a month ago. I couldn’t sleep and out of boredom went on to check out what else is there. I guess I was having a crappy day as well.
So I thought I send my resume off to 3 job ads. I quickly updated my resume with my qualifications and job info and a few minutes later it was done.
Somehow I fell asleep.
First thing in the morning I applied to another 4 jobs… mostly because the previous day I thought I wasn’t good enough but in the morning I was happy to apply. Or maybe it’s the case that the morning isn’t as wise as the evening. It’ll remain a mystery.
The first phone call from a recruiter happened at 7:50 AM. I had a quick chat with the guy and then started towards work. It was a 40-50 minute walk to work. During that stroll I received another 4 phone calls from recruiters. Once I got to work I had to put my phone on silent because I was being sneaky and didn’t tell anybody about my plans to jump ship.
Throughout that day I received another 20+ calls, a bunch of texts and emails from recruiters. It felt good to be in demand, very good.
The ones I called back told me that their interest was high mostly because of my quick progression with industry exams. I was glad all that studying was starting to pay off.
My inbox was full of job opportunities. If I was interested I replied “interested”, otherwise “not interested”. Oneliners seemed like douchy replies but I had so many emails to go through.
I had three job interviews that week. I didn’t like the first one – the managing director pretty much insulted me right to my face. He said that I would never be able to advise British clients because I’m Estonian and therefore can only have Estonian clients and there’s not many of them around… I think he didn’t realize what he did so he just continued talking. Anywho, I wasn’t interested in working for that asshole.
The second company seemed nice at first but as the interview progressed I gradually realized how dodgy of a firm they were. For example one of their advisers wasn’t even level 4 (the minimum requirement to legally give financial advice in the UK). Another thing: the list of responsibilities kept getting longer and longer as the interview progressed. Red flags everywhere. No deal.
The third company was a “good” firm. There are a couple of them in London. This Chartered Financial Advisor had a very good reputation in the industry. However, the interview was the shortest in my life. I shared my opinions on financial markets, cashflow forecasting etc and got into a bit of a debate with the director who interviewed me. And then he said “I’m going to stop the interview now.” He said that he doesn’t want people in his office thinking like me. That came as a surprise. A minute later I found myself on the other side of the building’s front door.
I had an exam on the following Monday. This was the R06 (Financial Planning Practice) exam which I failed back in January this year. I had my fourth job interview 2 hours after the exam.
Now this company was fancy as hell. The interview was on the top floor of the building with a fantastic view over London. Its location was nice and central. It was beautiful.
I had a one hour “structural” interview followed by a 50 question multiple-choice knowledge test. I didn’t even know they were going to test me, so I had no prior preparation. I knew my test wasn’t my best and felt a bit crappy about it when I handed it over. I thought, “oh well, I tried”.
After that interview I had a second interview at the dodgy company. Another guy from the firm wanted to have a chat and I was in the area, so I figured I might as well meet him. The red flags remained. I got a better understanding of how their team worked. It was a small company and I guess you need to cut a few corners when you’re small and growing. Otherwise the interview went really well.
Next day I went to work as usual. I had a crapload of work to do because things just pile up when you’re off work “studying for exams”. I ignored my phone and email throughout the day.
I had a few missed calls but didn’t call back because Tuesday was salsa and bachata day. I was too busy to care and needed a bit of time off from everything.
Wednesday was very similar to Tuesday at work. However on the train onroute to London (Wednesday is zouk day) I got a phone call from the recruiter who got me the interview at the fancy company with the nice view over London. He said that they were very pleased with me and that my test went very well. He wanted to let me know that the fancy people wanted to get me onboard. I accepted. The offer was too good to say no.
Now I’m one of the fancy people and just finished my first week there. I’m required to wear a suit and a tie. Except on Fridays. Fridays are barefoot Fridays 🙂
Here’s a pic of me just being nervous me on my first day (I didn’t know I needed a tie):
First day
My new manager told me that my test score was the highest she’s seen anyone get. Looks like I know a thing or two about financial planning.
Speaking of tests, I passed the R06 exam as well. Now I’m only one exam away from the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning. However I won’t get the title “chartered” until I get 5 years of industry experience. I think it’s still worth getting the exams out of the way.

Now I’m living and working in London. The first week’s been very busy but good. I’m enjoying it.

Genius material


If you guys remember I had a big exam in April. What I didn’t tell you is that I actually took 4 exams and kept quiet about the other 3. I thought that I wouldn’t get much support from the office if they knew I was studying for 4 exams. I thought that if I failed one or more, I would’ve just kept quiet about it.
However the results are in and I passed every single one – 4 out of 4.
After sitting the exams I was sure I failed two because let’s be honest, I didn’t focus on them nearly as much compared to the other two. Turns out I underestimated myself and managed to pass the advanced taxes (AF1), investments (AF4) and pensions (AF3) exams along with the pension income options exam (J05). I am only two exams away from the advanced diploma in financial planning i.e. chartered status if I had 5 years of working experience in the industry. I’m well on track.
My boss was very pleased and said I’ll be getting some client exposure and will move into advising. It’s about time!!!
Next I’ve got Financial Planning Practice (R06) for July 6th – that’s the one I failed in January this year and another one will be in the middle of October. That’s it. All the studying will be over soon and I can stop spending money on exams and study stuff. Looking forward!

Ivar the Nerdacious