Case Study: Hard work and dedication is key to course success

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He was put in for the Securities and Futures Authority 'Registered Persons' exams the following June.

'I started a home-study course about a month-and-a-half before the exams. I came in to work an hour-and-a-half early each day and went through the manual, and I also put in a few weekday evenings as the exams got closer.'

Winchester says none of the work was terribly complicated, but that the volume was a challenge.

'You really need to know your stuff backwards, because the multiple choice questions are actually quite hard. The pass rate is 75%, and if I'd failed, I would have had to pay for the retakes myself. That was a good incentive to work hard.'

After a few months off, and a pay rise of 2,000 a year, Winchester began preparing for the SI diploma.

'Everyone I spoke to in the market says that you don't get anywhere without the diploma, so I was very keen to do it.'

Winchester got an A for the private client module in December, and will start the financial statements module soon. Regulation and compliance modules will follow.

'The work is very intense. I start off with a three-day introductory course run by The Financial Training Company - that's two months before the exam, and I find it invaluable. Then I work through a manual on my own until the week-long revision course, which takes place a fortnight before the exam.

'The revision courses are very good, and I don't think I would have done half as well as I did last time without one.'

Winchester says the other key to his success, obviously, is a solid study routine.

'I study three evenings a week, and put in an extra 10 hours each weekend. I also take a few days off work to study at home before the actual exam day itself.'

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