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We Asked, You Bowled Us Over!

We Asked, You Bowled Us Over!

In February of this year I asked, on behalf of everyone here at Brand Financial Training, if you would spare us a few minutes of your time to fill out a feedback questionnaire with regards to how you are getting on with your exams.  I expected a good response, but was bowled over by the huge number of responses which far exceeded my expectations.  So a big THANK YOU for all of your responses.

It was extremely interesting and informative to find out just how many of you are passing your exams and – very importantly – how many are passing first time, second time or third time.  This isn’t information that the CII lets us have, so it’s good to see how you, our customers, are actually doing.

It was also very interesting reading for myself and the team as it indicates what resources you find useful, and which we could improve.  Comparing the use of our resources to your exam passes really showed us that we are helping you get through your exams and you told us how helpful you found our resources.  As well as putting a smile on our faces here at Brand Financial Training, it is good to know that the time we put in to research and development of our resources really does pay off in terms of your exam passes.

I’m not going to pretend that all responses were smiles and roses, but where you had criticisms I appreciated the time you took to explain why certain resources weren’t working for you and how you thought we could improve upon them.  Such feedback is extremely valuable and I appreciate the time you took to give it.

So in this month’s newsletter I thought you would be interested to hear how others are doing in their exams in relation to what you told us in our feedback questionnaire.

Passing First Time

In the 12 months to February 2012 the majority of you passed your exams first time, regardless of which exams you sat.  This was great to discover but also made me think about why the pass rates of our customers were higher than the CII’s published pass rates for 2011.

Here are some examples:

  • For those of you who sat R01 in the 12 months to February 2012, 93% of you passed.  However,  only 63% of the CII’s overall candidates passed in 2011.  Even more interesting was that of the 93% of you that passed R01, a whopping 71% of you had passed first time. I’d love to tell you the percentage of overall CII exam candidates that had passed first time, but unfortunately the CII won’t tell us so we can’t do the comparison.
  • 85% of you had passed R02 in the 12 months to Feb 2012.  This is in very stark comparison to only 59% of the CII’s overall candidates who passed in 2011.  Furthermore, of the 85% of our customers who passed R02, 61% of you passed first time.
  • For J04, 93% of you passed in the 12 months to Feb 2012, with 79% having passed first time. According to the CII’s published 2011 pass rates, only 61% of overall CII candidates passed.
  • Again, for CF5, 88% of our survey respondents passed in the 12 months to Feb 2012, with 76% having passed first time. But only 59% of overall CII candidates passed according to their 2011 pass rates.

Before I bore you with statistics, just one last one.

  • For AF4, 86% of our customers passed in the 12 months to Feb 2012, with 64% having passed first time. Only 61% of overall CII candidates passed in 2011.  As with all exams, we have no idea what percentage of overall candidates passed first time as the CII won’t release that data.

So Why the Difference Between Pass Rates?

There is a very marked difference between the pass rates of our customers who sat exams in the 12 months to Feb 2012, as opposed to the CII’s overall candidate pass rates published for 2011.  And of our customers who have passed, the number of you passing first time is very high.  So why the difference?

My personal opinion is that this is probably due to the fact that our customers, by their very nature, are pro-active.  You have come to us to get your hands on more learning resources to give you the best chance of exam success, so you are the kind of people who are actively putting in as much time and effort as needed to get through the exams.  We don’t have customers who aren’t willing to put in the time and effort to pass exams (and invariably fail) because those candidates just aren’t interested in increasing their chances of exam success by making use of additional resources.

But Are Brand Financial Training’s Learning Resources Helpful?

We asked you how helpful you had found our learning resources for the exams you had passed in the 12 months to February 2012.  It was really important for us to discover if there were some resources which just weren’t quite meeting your needs (and why), and which resources you found the most useful.

The overwhelming response from you was that our learning resources were either “Helpful” or you “Couldn’t have done it without them”.  It’s great to know that they really are helping you.  Some of you also spent the time making specific comments, some positive and some negative, which we are now using to tweak some resources and to develop them further.

Here are some examples:

  • For those of you who used our resources for your R05 exam, a whopping 95% of you found our resources, at the very least, helpful.  For J02, the figure was 89%.
  • For R06, 83% of you said you “Couldn’t have done it without them”.
  • For CF2, 77% said you “Couldn’t have done it without them” and 100% of you said that they were helpful or more.

Bored Yet?

Ok, so I realise statistics can get a little boring.  The point I’m trying to make is that it’s great to hear that our customers – that’s you! – are benefitting from our learning resources and are passing your exams – often first time!  However, whilst this is great to know, it was actually the comments boxes that some of you filled out that have given us some solid insight into why certain resources help (or not) and how they can be improved.

Here at Brand Financial Training we pride ourselves on our customer service and the fact that we genuinely listen to you and act upon what you tell us.  We don’t just hear you, nod, and then carry on as before. We take every bit of feedback – both positive and negative – very seriously.  With the help of your responses we are now reviewing our resources and will be making some changes during the update process in the summer when the examinable tax year changes.

So a HUGE thank you to you all for taking the time to respond.

Whether you responded or not, I am always eager to receive your feedback both positive and negative, and always welcome comments, suggestions and chocolate (!) at

Oh yes, you may also remember that two respondents would be randomly chosen to win a £30 Amazon voucher each.  The winners were Lynne McPheat and Jon Clark.  You should both have received your vouchers a few weeks ago via email.  Happy spending!