One of the aspects of grown-up life that is seldom heard or seen until you reach that epiphany-point is actual life-advice. Many careers-fares, teachers and peers can only really give you advice on life from their perspective. However after doing a degree and obtaining financial qualifications I am in a position to offer you my advice from my perspective….
It took me 1 business and management degree, £20,000 student debt and 5 years to realise that actually; a financial qualification was much more valuable to me than my degree.
After graduating - like so many other graduates in my generation, grad-jobs were few and far between. So after having to settle for an entry-level job and work tirelessly to climb the corporate ladder it suddenly dawned on me that the financial qualification to be able to give mortgage advice - CeMAP - gave me unparalleled opportunities compared to my degree.
After trading for a number of years successfully for the biggest building society in the world - I want to share with you the reasons as to why I feel obtaining a finance qualification was more important to me than my degree…
Less time-consuming than a degree
Like most degrees you can expect to spend 3-4 years studying to obtain your degree - and as you'll see later, it may take you years before you can start to earn your worth from said degree. However, studying for your CeMAP is much more time-efficient. There's 2 ways of studying CeMAP.
1) Full-time. So this is where you don't have a job and are solely studying for your qualification. This is the way I did it (and to be honest I hated school and reading long-winded terminology) and I managed it in 6 weeks relatively easily.
2) Part-time. This is where you have a 9-5 job and you have to study a few hours in the evening and weekends. Depending on your work ethic this can take anywhere between 6-12 months whilst also understanding how demanding your work/life balance is at that stage. As an absolute worst case scenario you can qualify in a 3rd of the time it takes to get a university degree....and you can guarantee your base-line income to a very attractive number (which we'll see later on) without £50k of student debts
Cheaper to obtain
Completing a degree can be very time-consuming, stressful and more worryingly is a huge financial burden, with many graduates unknowingly coming out with an average debt of £50k. One of the disappointing and abundantly clear issues with degrees was the sheer amount of additional spare time. In 3rd year we would have 8 hours of lectures a week....in the real world of working...12hour days are not uncommon and so the ratio between; 'time wasted vs money earn ‘t' is not conducive to a young person’s lifestyle. As we mentioned before with time spent to study for CeMAP, the ratio of: 'time spent vs money earn‘t’ is much more favourable.
In terms of costing you can expect to pay anywhere between £500 - £1000 for the qualifications which includes, 3 modules of learning, additional study material, support and 3 exams. If you fail any of the exams these can be re-sat at an additional cost
Anyone can do it
One thing that is necessary when applying to get in to a Uni is the need to obtain certain grades for certain subjects or amass a certain number of UCAS points to be eligible to study your chosen subject. Even then there's no certainty you'll get into your desired Uni depending on how many other people apply to go and study also. The beauty about CeMAP is that you don't need to obtain any grades and there are no entry levels to start studying. So long as you can afford the outlay of the study material and exams that's all you need.
Opens more doors
Before getting a degree I thought that a degree was a golden ticket to securing a big pay cheque straight from Uni. Studying such a generic degree such as business and management didn't open many doors for me when I left university and left me in a very confused space. Studying CeMAP allows you to set the foundations for a long and illustrious career in finance. From this you can complete your Dipfa - which allows you to become a financial advisor - not to mention add £10,000 to your annual wage for very little financial outlay. From there the opportunities and rewards are endless
Better life skills
Asides from the financial benefits the other main benefit a financial qualification offers that university degree will never equal are life skills. The life skills acquired through being a mortgage advisor are pivotal to growing up and being able to make sound and logical decisions. Buying a house is by far the most stressful and costly expenditure you will ever have. The amount of people I have dealt with that have no idea what they are getting themselves into or what pitfalls lay ahead is scary. Having awareness and experience of this will absolutely improve your outlook and decision-making in later life - more so than any degree.
More money once qualified
When you graduate from university essentially your path is what you dictate. After conducting 100's of interviews throughout my career working for a financial institution, it's saddens me to see the vast amount of graduates that I see applying for roles that are essentially entry level and for salaries as little as £15k a year. As soon as you qualify to become a mortgage advisor, your basic salary - on average - is £25k a year. Which leads me on to....
The minimum you can get paid!!
One thing that became abundantly clear being a Manager for a company is that - if the worst was to happen and I lost my job - I would have to go to another company and start from the ground-up. Losing all that valuable networking and relinquishing my hard-fought 8 years-worth of annual pay rises.
The good thing about obtaining a financial qualification is that there is a minimum you can get paid. Due to the governance and regulations surrounding and offering advice there is always a minimum salary that you will be paid. On average you can expect to be paid £25,000 - £35,000 basic salary as a mortgage advisor (without bonus) and a financial advisor will earn anything over £40,000 per annum before bonus. Not only do you have plenty of opportunities but you have the security of knowing that there will always be a ‘minimum’ to get paid which is much more lucrative than an entry-level graduate job and something a degree and absolutely never guarantee you once graduated.
Endless job opportunities
With the growing government policies around building new homes and the amount of money being invested by the government for new houses - the opportunities to sell mortgages are abundant. The thing is - people are always going to need houses and so mortgage advisors are key to the house buying process. Whether you work as a broker or an advisor for a company job opportunities are abundant.
The more you put in - the more you get out
Unlike obtaining a job with a degree - mortgage and financial advising allows you to reap the benefits of your hard labour. Unless you are working on the trading floor of the London stock exchange or have your own business - a salary-fed job with consistent income is an all too real situation. A very frustrating occurrence in a normal 9-5 is that you can work twice as hard as Joe Blogs sitting next to you, but you will always earn the same money. The benefits of working in the mortgage/financial advice industry is that very often you will receive additional bonus or commission based on the volume of applications and products you secure. So people who wish to grind and graft in this arena can earn a considerable amount of additional income allowing you to enjoy the finer things in life
So there you have it my reasons as to why obtaining financial qualifications are more beneficial than a university degree.
If you are seriously considering entering the world of mortgage advice visit out other blog to see whether a broker or advisor is the best path for you - good luck