A conversation with the FAE elective advisory examiners

Jun 30, 2020

Joe Healy, Lead Educator at FAE advisory elective, spoke with the advisory examining team in advance of this August’s examinations about their views on the syllabus, its relevance to candidates’ future careers, the commercial nature of the exam papers.

The commercial nature of the advisory syllabus often manifests itself in exam cases that are set against references to current events. The examining team in advisory are themselves c-suite level professionals and this is reflected in the style, syntax, and narrative of the cases. They have been very supportive of the introduction of new topic areas at the newly reformed advisory elective and the examiners feel the new breadth of the syllabus really does prepare advisory candidates for their future career as financial professionals either in practice or industry. However, the examining team are very practical in their approach to examining material for this topic.

Therefore, how you approach cases, understand and communicate what is going on in a case, explain the issues and come up with clear advice are key skills that you will need to pick up in the coming months.

Understand the real world

Examiners understand the limited experience candidates may have at this point in their training. Candidates should appreciate what is going on around them at a macroeconomic level. This is why they appeal to candidates to engage with reputable publications at least once a week. If candidates want one tip where to start, it would be with the Financial Times weekend edition. The Lex column in the FT typically reviews the moving business and finance themes of the week. 

Obviously, recent global events have resulted in economic uncertainty, but candidates should reflect on the impact this has had on financial markets, interest rates, currency appreciation/depreciation and redundancies. Equally, understanding how companies and institutions have reacted to these economic events can give candidates an insight into leadership. Candidates should be able to point to leaders who have excelled or struggled during these uncertain times and look at how different companies and different industries are impacted by change in different ways. Candidates will need to consider everything from the viewpoint of the specific organisation they are advising.

Merging facts and real-world examples

Stepping outside of the syllabus and taking a view on what is going on at a wider level can help candidates apply real-world application and enhancing answers in the exams, however, candidates still need to focus on the facts of the specific case.

What the examiners wish to see is that candidates can bring relevant real-world application to their answers. At advisory, the examiners are looking to see how candidates react to the indicators before them. The examiners understand this topic is an open book exam, therefore supporting answers with facts from the case, backed up by relevant real-world examples clearly demonstrates candidate understanding.

Between July and August, there is ample time for candidates to widen their real-world focus, attune their ears and understand what macro events are ongoing that are shaping all our economic narratives. If candidates make this change, it will bring success.

Best of luck in the summer.