Advisers who have successfully undertaken the group risk exam developed by Group Risk Development (GRiD) and the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) have told Health Insurance the qualification has greatly increased their confidence with clients and provided a solid grounding in important market developments such as pensions simplification.
Claire Atkinson and David Cawthorne, both advisers at Hewitt, took the exam last year, when approximately 70% of candidates passed. Howard Rayner, group legislation manager at Canada Life, who led the development of the exam for GRiD, is confident that the course has been pitched at the right level and suggested that an advanced exam might be developed in 2011.
“When we started designing the exam one of the concerns was that we wanted it to be challenging but achievable,” he said. “People who have taken it here [60 employees of Canada Life have passed the exam] felt the need to build up their knowledge to get through the exam. And those that don’t do that have missed getting through.”
Atkinson, who took four months to prepare for the exam, agreed that trying to “blitz” revision in a short period of time was likely to result in failure. She scored full marks in seven out of 11 areas. We asked both her and Cawthorne to share their advice with Health Insurance readers considering following in their footsteps.
Advises on group risk: mainly group life and group income protection
Took the exam in 2009
Formerly advised on group risk for six years
Took exam in 2009
HI: WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO TAKING THE EXAM?
CA: It has definitely made me more confident in front of clients and I still have the study notes and file to refer back to, which is very helpful. It is definitely worth doing. Unlike other courses it was completely relevant to my job and actually quite easy to sit down and study it. It all made sense and you never felt you were wasting time learning something you would never use.
DC: I worked in group risk up until four years ago when I switched over to healthcare. I took the exam because it is a valuable qualification to have in the future and it gave me a chance to make myself current again. If I’m asked a question by clients I can give a broad overview of the answer and continue to understand the benefit.
HI: WERE ANY AREAS NEW TO YOU?
CA: Some of the history behind how group risk has evolved, you don’t always gain that in the day to day job. There have also been a lot of changes to the industry with A-Day and I missed that while travelling so it helped me get up to speed with that.
DC: A lot had changed in four years as I left just as pensions simplification came in.
HI: WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR READERS STUDYING FOR THE EXAM? CA: If you work as a group risk adviser it is definitely worth taking. It helps your general knowledge, understanding and confidence in advising your clients. Our work gave us study leave and I just fitted it in with working full time by studying in the evenings too. I wrote out lots of questions to myself then tested my understanding against them.
DC: I would say it required not far off the 40 hours study recommended. One of the best ways to prepare is to ask questions of more experienced colleagues. We had lunchtime discussions and a lot of support from Hewitt.
CII GROUP RISK EXAM: KEY FACTS
DEVELOPED BY CHARTERED INSURANCE INSTITUTE (CII) AND GROUP RISK DEVELOPMENT (GRiD)
LAUNCHED IN JULY 2008
FIRST EXAMS TAKEN IN SEPTEMBER 2008
OVER 500 CANDIDATES TOOK THE EXAM IN ITS FIRST YEAR AND 1,100 REGISTERED FOR THE SYLLABUS MATERIAL
A ONE HOUR MULTIPLE CHOICE TEST PAPER
AIMED AT ADVISERS WHO HAVE BEEN OPERATING IN THE GROUP RISK MARKET FOR UNDER TWO YEARS