Paul de Vries FPFS, from Nuneaton-based adviser firm Newell Palmer, has been named a Worldwide Excellence Award student for receiving the highest mark in his STEP Certificate for Financial Services exam.
He told Financial Planning Today how this achievement and the knowledge he has accrued has translated to daily life working in Financial Planning so far.
He said it has boosted his confidence dealing with clients regarding trust and estate planning issues such as Will Trusts and the relatively new Residence Nil Rate Band.
“It has also translated into referrals from solicitors and accountants because they recognise the STEP qualification and feel more confident referring clients onto us,” he told FPT.
“I have advised clients on that area previously although I now feel more equipped to have a deeper understanding and more confident to communicate complex issues and a more accurate and client friendly way.
“I am hoping to do more work in this area specifically because I feel it’s an area that isn’t going to go away and something that isn’t given the attention it deserves. Once you understand key themes more it is amazing how much more aware you are of planning issues and how you are able to add-value to clients.”
Massive congratulations and well done to our Nuneaton based Financial Adviser Paul de Vries, who has been named a Worldwide Excellence Award student for receiving the highest mark in his @STEPSociety Certificate for Financial Services exam. 👨🎓🥇🍾 pic.twitter.com/YVQgxgNWyr— Newell Palmer (@NewellPalmer) April 11, 2018
He said: “Too often with Financial Planning it is easy to focus on investment and pension planning although I am mindful that we need to offer more value to the clients and be able to advise on other key areas which are important to the client - such as discussing existing Will Trust/Estate issues and so on.”
He said that the Trust and Estate planning world is “complex and I have only really scratched the service” but from a client perspective “I feel I have all the knowledge that is required at this point - although improving knowledge further can’t be a bad thing”.
He said: “I didn’t expect to achieve the worldwide excellence award and am very grateful to get the recognition. It took 4-5 months from enrolling to completing the exam and then another few months to get the result.
"I was happy to pass and had almost forgotten about it until they told me about the Worldwide Excellence Award – it certainly brightened my day when I was told the news.”
The material was “really interesting” but the exam “challenging”, he said. He enrolled for the exam in July 17 and took it in November 17, learning the syllabus in his spare time. He described it as “slightly more intensive” than a CII Advanced Diploma exam.
He said: “The course content was more varied and you had to have a deeper understanding of the underlying content. The amount that needs to be covered in the exam is also quite challenging - I’ve never written so much in 3 hours!”
He added: “For those that are completing the CII exams I would really recommend the STEP Financial Services qualification. There is some cross-over of content and they complement each other well."