Was interesting and a bit disappointing
So I took the Financial Planner 3rd Grade test yesterday in Sendai. It was quite interesting and I enjoyed the process (I'm weird, and like taking tests).
A few thoughts below:
- My Japanese language skills (and my reading skills in particular) aren't really good enough for this. I ended up guessing a few of the questions from context.
- This is not a particularly good test. The multiple-choice structure with only 2-3 items means that a monkey choosing bananas should get around 42%...
- There were lots of students there. High school students and university students. I guess this is one of the 'professional' qualifications that is fairly easy to get.
- So I guess that is why you often see Financial Planner qualifications on meishi from people working in construction or insurance companies.
- The test gives waaaaaay too much time. It's in two parts, a two-hour academic test and a one-hour practical test, and I finished both in under half the time, even with my basic reading skills. If it were in English I'd have finished in about ten minutes...
I won't get the results until March, but the association uploads the answers in the afternoon of the same day. I scored my own, and it seems like I passed the practical test (I chose the investment option rather than the insurance option), and failed the academic test. Maybe I should have gotten more than half-way through my study guide...
Luckily you can take them separately, so I'll be retaking the academic paper whenever they hold the test next.
Ultimately I would like to pass the 2nd Grade test, which seems achievable (unlike the First Grade, which is unlikely to be worth the sheer effort I would have to put in: the pass rate is low for that one, even among the professionals that tend to take it).
However, I am not very impressed with this qualification. The financial planners I talked to last year had CFP qualifications as well as the FP, which I think is more rigorous and practical. I still found them very solid on details and less so on strategy or goals.
Looking at the financial planner test, I kind of understand. The test broadly includes taxation, insurance, investing, inheritance, and real estate. As it's a multiple-choice test, the focus is on details: rules and regulation, numbers, ratios, etc.
The result is you get a bunch of people with no practical experience (the high school and university students I took the test with yesterday) who think they know about these subjects because they have a paper qualification, but only know the fiddly bits.
They don't understand why people would want to make certain choices, or what is possible.
I also don't really understand why all this stuff is on the same test. I mean, I guess it makes sense to require financial planners to have a basic understanding of all aspects of personal finance, but it seems to me to be far preferable to have separate tests for each topic so that they can go a bit deeper.
For example, the investment portion of the test (the only part I did well on) had questions on calculating bond yields over five years or defining PER, but didn't ask why people would want to invest or how to think about asset allocation.
I would argue that those are far more important than something you could look up, although probably harder to test ;)
Anyway, my big takeaways from yesterday: I need to study more next time, my Japanese really should be better after 16 years in the country, and I wouldn't give the FP qualifications too much credit.
Anyone else have any experience with this, either in the form of taking the test or dealing with someone with an FP qualification?