How to clear your Integrated Financial Planning Module in the first attempt?
Dear CFP candidates,
As a student who has cleared all the three papers of the CFPcm program, the biggest question is how do we go ahead with the final module? The final module i.e. the Integrated Financial planning module is a different ball game altogether. The students first need to steer clear all the three Specialist exams in order to qualify for the final paper. Once a student has registered for the same, he has to first submit the financial plan to FPSB. Once the plan has been approved, the student can then appear for the 3-hour online test.
Thus, to make these challenges easier for you, we interviewed some of our CFP pass-outs, and have few years of working experience. Let us share some of the deep insights with you, so that you may implement the same in your preparation.
Q. Heartiest Congratulations for clearing your paper in the first attempt. How did you prepare for your final paper?
A: Thank you for the wishes.I am indeed grateful to IMS Proschool for their constant support & guidance during this journey of 12-15 months. To begin with, I started revising all my modules from the scratch. The two month training provided by proschool & the mentoring sessions provided by FPSB, proved very helpful for me in preparing my financial plan. Since I am a working professional, preparing the plan was a relatively easier task for me. I also referred to the sample financial plans provided by FPSB & IMS Proschool. For the final IFP 3-hour online exam, I ensured I solve all the 7 case studies provided by Proschool. That helped in complete the exams timely.
Q: Was the time sufficient for 3-hour online test?
A: Well, the 3-hour exam consisted of 25 questions based on financial planning process and regulations and 25 questions based on one case study. The 3-hour time duration was sufficient to attempt the paper, however some questions were very lengthy and difficult. I knew that if I go around solving them, I would end up wasting my half an hour. So I kept them for a the last and focused more on other questions where I was confident. One thing I would advise is get into the habit of sitting at place and studying for 3 hours and solve as many questions as possible. Luckily, I was provided with 2000+ question bank throughout the CFP journey by IMS proschool. That helped me a lot.
Q. How did you create the financial plan? What guidance would you give to your fellow batchmates?
A. I prepared the financial planning thinking that I have to explain this to a layman. I tried creating that simple a financial plan. Here, we have to take numerous assumptions and it is important to mention the rationale behind each assumption. For eg: I assumed an higher inflation rate in my case study and explained that given the current Geo-political conditions, inflation may remain higher for a while & thus client goal’s should be inflated at a higher rate.
My suggestion would be – try making the financial plan as simple as possible.Take guidance from your faculties & mentors if you are stuck anywhere. Show it any of your family member and see if they can understand what you are trying to explain through the workings. If they can understand what solutions you have provided, then FPSB will surely appreciate your plan.
Q. What should be the ideal size or number of pages for the Financial plan? Also, what about the executive summary?
A. There are no specific number of pages as such, but we need to ensure that every aspect of Financial planning such as Investments, Insurance, EFP, PPF, Tax planning, all the Goals mentioned in the case study, estate planning & retirement planning of the couple in the question are covered. Ensure that you don’t miss any part. The workings can be made in excel and tools such as charts, graphs etc can be used to make it easier to comprehend. Also, the executive summary is supposed to be of only 3-5 pages – giving a summary of whatever key recommendations are given to the client in the case study. The material provided by FPSB is quite useful. I referred to their 2-3 sample plans, sample outline of Commercial Plan, Data gathering Sheet etc. Do not copy their content as it is. Just try to understand their pattern and recreate in your own words. That way, you will be able to meet up the FPSB standards.
Q. Thank you for all your inputs. Just a final question. What would you advise our students who lack practical experience? What should be their approach towards financial plan creation & final online exam?
A. I will say that in case a student has cleared 1 or 2 modules, they should join some internship which will help them help them learn the practical aspects of Financial planning. Fortunately IMS Proshool has a placement team which provides the students with good internship & placement offers from time to time. One should totally take advantage of this facility. Practical exposure helps a lot in your exams too. In case you are not able to get internship due to any reason – then for the financial plans, refer the Financial plans as shared by IMS proschool and FPSB. That will give you some idea for creating the plan.
Similarly, IMS Proschool provided us with 7 case studies to prepare for the exam. Solve all of them with clear understanding of what you are solving. Put it on a timer of 2 hours and solve them same to ensure that you are able to complete the same during your actual exam. And ofcourse, our Mentors are always there to guide the students.
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10 efficient study tips for the IFP module
Here are some wise techniques that have helped many students clear the final module on the first attempt.
1 Create an intensive study plan
The CFP institute has recommended that students should study for 250 hours before attempting the exams. Assuming you have 2-3 hours a day to spare for your preparation, you need to start at least 3 or 4 months before the exam. Remember, you may not be able to study 7 days a week. So plan for emergencies and special events. Once you have your timetable ready, you can proceed. This kind of advanced planning will really benefit you in the long run. On the face of it, the vast amount of work pending can be very overwhelming. Breaking it down into smaller parts will help you minimise the pressure of learning.
2 Understand the type of learner you are.
Do you work well with visuals, or does listening to the material on audio work?
Does making notes help you learn faster?
Do you retain information better in the morning?
Would you prefer to study in groups?
Not everyone has a similar pattern of studying. If you don’t know, think it over and find out what techniques will make you an efficient learner.
If you prefer watching videos or listening to online recordings, you may be better as an audio-visual learner. Some students like to write out everything on paper as it helps them absorb the text quicker. Figure this out before you start your prep work. It will really help you to retain the concepts. It will also make it easier for you to stick to your study schedule.
It is important to note that you should learn, not memorise the material. Apply your knowledge, not blindly repeat the facts.
3 An internship between modules can help you get first-hand industry experience
Learning on the job is the best way to learn about financial planning. In a classroom, the information is in black and white in your textbook. In an office, you see things from a more colourful and realistic perspective. It can help you sink your teeth into the fundamentals of case studies and what is expected of you during your exam. You can apply for a job after completing any of the specialist exams.
4 Study with a coaching institute that has a proven pass record with CFP students
A reputed organisation like IMS Proschool is fully equipped to help students learn to the best of their abilities. The faculty consists of industry experts who mentor and train the students. They also help you clear doubts, practice previous years’ test papers and work with you in real-time to ensure you are ready.
5 Practice, practice, practice
Solve as many case studies as you can manage. Some students have even done one a day. If you can’t accomplish that, try for a fixed number every week. Solved a case? Do it again. Writing it down over and over will make you perfect. Also, familiarise yourself with MS Excel and its formulae till it becomes second nature to you.
Don’t forget to time yourself when you practice, so you know you will be able to solve it within the exam duration.
6 Read and review each case study slowly and thoroughly
The above topic spoke about quantity. This point is about quality. Don’t rush through hundreds of case studies and pat yourself on the back. You need to ensure you have gone through every minute detail. Don’t be in a rush to finish. Take some time to understand the nuances of each case, the concepts that apply and how you would provide a solution.
7 Practice with the approved financial calculator
You are not allowed to use any calculator during the exam. The CFP institute requires all students to possess a particular type of calculator. One with an IRR function and no alphabetic keys. There is a list of approved devices online. You can have a look here and find one. Use it when you are studying, so you become familiar with it.
8 Get tips from other CFP-certified students
Students who have completed the integrated financial planning module have first-hand experience of what it was like to give the exam. Find someone to speak to, either online, amongst your peers or in your coaching institute. They can offer insider tips on how they prepared for the test. You can also learn from their mistakes.
9 Keep some time reserved for revision
You need to review your financial concepts as the exam date approaches. Ensure you stick to your pre-planned schedule. It is helpful to have a few days leftover to revise the material as you could have forgotten certain key points you studied months ago.
10 Take some time off to relax your mind
Preparing for an exam of this magnitude can be very stressful. You don’t want to overwork or overload your brain. To unwind, try breathing exercises, meditation, yoga and walking in the fresh air. Anything that is stress relieving and can help rejuvenate your mind. If you can’t release the pressure every so often, your learning will become impaired.
The CFP course at IMS Proschool
One of India’s foremost institutions for professional training, IMS Proschool is the authorized learning partner of FPSB for the CFP program. The organisation has a high success ratio. Over 3,500+ students & 16,000 employees have moved on to lucrative careers in the financial industry after completing Proschool’s CFP course. At Proschool, every CFP hopeful receives high-quality coaching. From motivational learning techniques to cutting-edge facilities, no stone is unturned when it comes to delivering an unmatched standard of teaching.
The study resources are exceptional
Every student receives multi-faceted learning opportunities such as comprehensive study material, training videos, over 2,000 practice tests and mock exams.
Moreover, students who enroll at IMS Proschoo, save upto $250 on FPSB Fees
You have three study options
Students can attend a live classroom, receive online training with recorded lectures or study through distance learning.
Faculty members are industry experts
The professors at Proschool are highly trained, experienced financial planners with a strong understanding of the finance world.
There is 100% placement assistance
Once you clear the course, you can benefit from Proschool’s highly effective placement program. Many students have received the opportunity to work for some of the most reputed companies in the country. You are also groomed to enhance your resume and interview skills.
Moreover, students who enroll at IMS Proschool, save upto $250 on FPSB Fees. Want to know how? Contact us