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From PA to IFA – ‘Goalposts wree moved when RDR came in’

A former PA has become an IFA after sitting 14 exams while working full-time in a Durham-based advisory practice.

Hannah Witty, who graduated in 2007 after studying acting at Northumbria University, said she decided that financial planning was the life for her after she met an adviser friend of her father’s.

She said: “I wrote to every IFA practice in Newcastle and managed to get a job as a PA at Three Counties in November 2007.

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“From then on I remained in the office after work and did nothing but study. I once almost got locked in the building.” she said, adding: “This became my routine, and I only took a break from studying while waiting for results. My lack of knowledge meant it would take me three to four months to study for each exam.”

The firm was very supportive and gave Ms Witty study leave to sit her exams.

Five months into the job she took her first exam – the CF1, which she passed second time.

“I enjoyed passing exams; each one spurned me on,” she said. “I was very frustrated when the goal post was moved with the introduction of the retail distribution review. I had done CF1-5 by myself and thought I would be qualified, but it added another four exams and up to two years.”

However, undeterred, and after six years of study, Ms Witty became a chartered financial adviser in January 2014. She is an investment specialist, holding the Advanced Investment Planning Qualification (AF4).

In June she married her partner, and she is expecting her first child in March.


PR man Mike McManus has also made the move into the world of financial advice. The account manager is leaving London firm Hill+Knowlton to join Saunderson House as a Trainee Financial Planner.

In 2012 Mail on Sunday journalist Stephen Womack became a chartered financial adviser, for Northampton-based David Williams Independent Financial Advisers.