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Let’s talk about deferred success

In a second article for Mental Health Awareness Week, Luiza Todd, BTS Director, shares her views on supporting candidates when it comes to deferred success

Let’s start with a few questions

What is important to an exam candidate / corporate Academy?

Is it all about first time exam pass rates and successes?

How do you treat the candidates that dip out, either first time around, or perhaps take a few goes?

Lets talk about deferred success

They’re questions we should all be thinking about

As we’ve said, social media can be very glittery on the surface, we can all easily find ourselves having a bit of that ‘keep up with the Jones’s’ feeling even with exams and professional development. It can be full of exam certificates and candidates rightfully delighted that they have passed a certain exam unit and sharing that with their connections – and there aint nothing wrong with that.


How does that make someone feel that has ‘deferred their success’ on that self-same day or exam unit. We rarely see that shared, the nitty gritty reality that not everyone is likely to pass. I can remember only two examples of this – our lovely Natalie with her brave and honest video and a connection called David (that narrows it down then ????) that shared his experiences – but that is it folks.

If you’re working with an internal Corporate Academy, how do you support those that don’t get a positive exam result? Is there a structure in place? Just talking about it would be a great start, ensuring that individuals don’t feel a failure (harsh words but I am pretty sure that’s how a lot of candidates feel in this situation from my conversations over the years). Having a plan where the candidate can reflect on their exam, identify weaker areas / question styles, how that can be improved, what coaching they require from the Academy to help with this. Individuals can need support in all walks of life and their exam journey is no different.

First things first

I want to look at the CII R01 Financial Services, Regulation and Ethics unit. This is commonly the first unit that candidates looking to pass the CII Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning start with. And it’s a tough gig. Why?

To start with it’s not the most interesting subject matter. Who can get that excited about regulatory bodies, the FCA Handbook et al (no offence meant to anyone that does ????).

Candidates don’t look around for alternative study options – they go straight to the examining body thinking this will be the best option for them (and it may suit them, but then again it might not).

Actual exam questions tend to be quite a lot harder than those candidates practice on beforehand. Always a nasty shock to get in the actual exam sitting.

Over the years I have spoken to many candidates that come to BTS having dipped out on an R01 pass (some a few times, one candidate had tried for a pass seven times before coming to us). Many of these candidates have been really affected by their apparent inability to pass this unit, feeling stupid, ashamed and other such emotions. For some, the R01 experience is enough to put them off the financial services industry for good.


What a terrible way to feel – please come and talk to us if you are in this position with any unit. Just sharing your worries will help, I promise. And there is no judgement here – all of us here at BTS know how dipping out feels. Please, please don’t keep such thoughts to yourself, they can cause such harm to an individual’s self-esteem, self-worth and mental health.

Lets talk about deferred success
Lets talk about deferred success

What have BTS said to every single candidate that is struggling with any exam unit?

1. It’s not you, it could be the support materials you are using (there could be a mismatch).

2. Look at materials that suit your learning style, don’t just make assumptions that there is only one option for you.

3. Talk to someone – LinkedIn is full of the most amazing people (I see this every day with posts) that will give up their time to chat to and guide you.

4. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you defer your exam success? You have to resit the unit. That’s not worth any amount of mentally beating yourself over.

5. Ask for help. Share your experiences. Don’t sit there feeling rubbish pick up the phone to one of us, DM me for a virtual natter and pep talk (I am pretty good at them after 35 years in L&D).

What support looks like

I have been in this industry 35 years, to start with as a foxy chick, now a bit of an old bantam hen with scraggy feathers. In all that time I have never lost my passion for the industry and the players within it. Even pushing 60 as I am now, I still have the same drive and motivation to support candidates to the best of my ability (and that’s what Jeff, myself and the entire team here at BTS try to do).

So, what should that support look like?

Is it about the best materials, the most helpful support staff, trainers that can bring concepts to life?

Is it achieving amazing pass rates with candidates and corporate Academies?

Is it about showcasing this on social media such as LinkedIn?

Well, they are certainly part of the support deal, and really important ones at that. But they are not the whole deal…We had some amazing feedback last week from one of our candidates that has recently gone through their R01 – R06 journey with us.

The bit that really got me right in the feels (a Jon Dunckley-ism) were these words: ‘I felt your (the firm) arm around me as those questions appeared in front of me. R01 to R06 has been a journey for me, one that I had not expected at this time in my life, but many thanks for your support, guidance and belief that I can do it. Your Firm provides an invaluable vision to help the industry produce superior advisors.’

I think the key learns for us, and it’s something we have always believed in, is that support aint all about the knowledge and technical aspects, it’s feeling that arm around you, that someone cares about you when you are doing well and when you are struggling.

My final comment – we are that firm; we are those people that give a monkey’s ❤. Don’t hide your journey and experiences – come and talk to any of us. #shareyourjourney



Find out helpful in depth tips and advise for Paraplanners.

Read our Testimonials page to see how we have supported our candidates reach their goals.

Read another insightful article on mental health ‘The Importance of Talking about our Experiences’ to find out more about the importance of sharing your journey.   

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