Chartered Financial Planner Amyr Rocha-Lima is working full time while studying for the MSc Wealth Management at City, University of London's Cass Business School
What made you choose this postgraduate course and institution?
I was attracted to this MSc programme because it's accredited by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) as their recommended postgraduate qualification.
The course at Cass Business School is founded on the combined principles of academic rigour, relevant industry knowledge and has a strong vocational orientation.
How have you found the return to study while continuing to work full time?
I'm a Chartered Financial Planner at fmifa, an independent financial planning firm in Penn, Buckinghamshire. My hours vary according to my workload and I mainly deal with clients who are approaching retirement or are already retired, so I'm typically in the office by 8am and leave at around 6pm.
Between full-time work, becoming a first-time parent and travelling to London twice a week for lectures, I quickly realised that returning to academia wasn't going to be easy. The studying aspect itself didn't daunt me too much, as I'd recently completed my professional qualifications.
Simultaneously attending business school, working full time and being a parent is not for everyone. However, if you're determined, it can be done. I've no doubt that the key to successfully balancing all of these commitments is good time management.
How does the postgraduate course fit in with your career aspirations, and the professional finance qualifications you already hold?
One of the main attractions of the financial services industry is the ability to progressively build a career where customer relations, technical skills and experience run in parallel with gaining academic qualifications.
Having completed the CII's Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning, and achieved the highly coveted Chartered Financial Planner status, I still had an academic itch to scratch. I wanted to couple this with being able to demonstrate enhanced expertise in wealth management to my existing (and prospective) clients.
The diversity of academic challenges at Cass gives you an incentive to get rid of bad habits while forcing you to shape new and more effective ones. The postgraduate degree has created the right environment for me to make connections with different people and ideas - ultimately helping me become a better professional.
Were your professional qualifications essential for the job you've been doing?
Yes, in order to advise on retail investment products, you need a professional financial planning qualification that meets the RQF Level 4 requirements - for example, the CII's Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning.
However, clients expect more than the minimum qualifications from the people they're trusting their life savings to, hence why I continued studying towards the CII's Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning (RQF Level 6 qualification), which builds on existing skills and knowledge, and gives you the tools to offer a more sophisticated and comprehensive approach to financial planning.
What have you enjoyed most about working as a financial planner?
Being a financial planner can be a very rewarding experience, both monetarily as well as with the relationships you build and the value you can add to people's lives.
What advice would you give to other students and graduates interested in wealth management/financial planning?
Increased qualification requirements and professionalism should help to encourage young people to choose a career in financial planning and wealth management.
This is a very dynamic profession where you bring your skills to bear on a range of situations. No two days will be the same, because no two clients are the same.
As a financial planner, you'll need to develop excellent people skills to understand your clients' aims and needs, and the technical skills to build relevant solutions and communicate them in an effective way.
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