Financial planning - exams and career with ADHD etc.

Hi everyone,

Hope this is ok for the forum, but if people are willing to share I would really appreciate people's experiences of managing work and conditions that might make concentration/ focus etc more difficult i.e. in a paraplanning/ planner support/ financial planner capacity, including the sitting of exams.

What spurred this post is that I'm struggling with passing exams (received a fail for AF5 this morning) and coursework, I am quite comfortable applying the same technical content to reports/ client discussions/ relaying information to colleagues but sitting exams and coursework is proving incredibly difficult for me. It's so demoralising... despite working hard and getting good feedback in all other areas I'm viewed to be working at an unsatisfactory level as I can't pass at the same rate as my peers.

Appreciate any responses or advice, but also thank you for reading.

Have a good weekend all.


  • Hi @Planner12
    An advisor I work with has a child with ASD and ADHD and has come to terms with the fact that he also has ADHD. If it's OK with you, can I share your message and see if he has any pearls of wisdom?

    We are also taking on new admin apprentice soon who is currently undiagnosed, but possibly has ASD/ADHD. We're working alongside an external SENDCO to find out how we can adapt our way of working to help him feel comfortable and reach his potential. I'll feed back any useful nuggets once I get some.

  • AdminAdmin Administrator

    Hello @Planner12

    Thank you for sharing this post and your experiences.

    We were wondering whether more people might benefit from more information and guidance on this topic, and will look into what else we can do.

    @BeckyJ Thank you for contributing to this thread.

    @Planner12 Once again, thank you for sharing.

  • @BeckyJ Of course! I would be more than happy for you to do that. Much appreciated :)

    Thanks Admin! I

  • BeckyJBeckyJ Member

    Hi @Planner12

    Really sorry about the slow reply.
    I have some words of "wisdom" from the advisor I work with:

    _"The exam situation is still in the dark ages, every time I bring up reasonable adjustments the qualifications folk disappear behind a tumble weed. I am expecting the formal diagnosis will give me a bit more leverage to get a proper approach, well that and the drugs.

    I know a suspected ADHD case that have chartered using the LIBF route might be worth looking if the structure is more of a fit.

    But mostly look at drugs."_

    In terms of the guidance that we've been given for our new starter

    *Use the pomodoro technique to schedule short breaks
    * Break your work or study into 25 minute chunks so that you can complete a task before the break.
    * Listen to music on headphones or use noise cancelling / reducing earplugs to reduce background office noise.
    * Let your colleagues know whether you are available for interruptions or not - put a note or stuffed toy on your desk if you don't want to be disturbed.
    * I find using a screen reader for reading long bits of text is useful, as I tend to "zone out". Use the "Read Aloud" feature in Word and there is a Text to Speech Screen Reader called Pericles which is a Chrome add in so useful for websites.

    Hope this is some help?

  • RobHRobH Member
    I am a paraplanner with ADHD and I am not going to lie, it has been challenging over the years with organising, concentration and keeping my work free of too many errors. All of this is amplified by stress, what helps reduce stress for me is getting myself to the gym and giving myself long bikerides on my own.

    Believe that you can find ways to work. You cant change yoir brain, but you can build tools for tour self which acts as workarounds.

    I've had to put in place some very specific tools and systems to work effectively. I have been determined to find ways which work.

    In terms of exams I have found them not to be too much of a hardship and became fellow of the cii in my early 30s.

    Whilst ADHD does make some things more challenging, I find that I can muster up quite a bit of extra thinking power that perhaps others without ADHD won't have - so to an extent - I feel this compensates for some of the poor concentration.

    When studying I eliminate all distractions. Phones, TVS and tablets. I physically disconnect them and remove them from view so they are harder to attain. And if i need break I go for a walk around the block... reset and go again. Not for too long.

    With exams - I find that mind maps help me to group everything together. It keeps me engaged and I try and colour code different chapters.

    I try to only read the text book once and put it all in to notes. It makes the content much less overwhelming.its the long text which I cannot stand.

    I don't have the patience to do practice exams in one go so I break them into three parts.

    I don't prioritise as its hars work for me doinf so - I just read everything over and over again on my mind maps. There are sometimes 100 of them for an AF exam.

    Believe its possible... accept yoi for who you are. Don't try and change, just give yourselves the tools in your environment to make things easier.
  • RickSanchezRickSanchez Member
    edited July 2022
    On this topic, how have your employers been when you told them about having ADHD?

    Did your employers react negatively?

    How and when did you tell them - did you ask for a 121 with HR or your manager?

    I have Asperger’s Syndrome and haven’t told my employer in case My employer doesn’t pass my probation because I’m ‘different’

    I’m 4 months into 6 months probation.

    I’m also worried colleagues might make fun of me by giving me nicknames like Rain Man and similar.
  • There's an article in Professional Paraplanner this week about exams and neurodiversity.

  • I know this post is a little old, but just thought I'd say hello from another ADHD paraplanner!

    We went through diagnosis for my daughter last year, and in doing so I realised most of the struggles I've had over the years have been due to ADHD (combined with ASD which I've suspected for years now). It's been such a relevation that I'm not scatty and lacking in common sense, which is how people have seen me all my life, and so reassuring to understand why I could never concentrate in school, yet could still get great marks after skim-reading the material through the night before.

    CII exams have been a real mixture, with me struggling to focus on reading the course material, which can take me months to steel myself to do, but then when I have read it I can ace the exams by hyper focus on what questions are most common and for R06 learning all of the model answers! It takes so much out of me with each one I do though.

    In work, as someone noted above, it's hard to not make mistakes as I do everything at 120mph, and hate proof reading my own work (including exams - I can't ever go back through the MCQs and check my answers, I have to just submit and hope for the best so I can get out of the room before I melt down). On the flip side, I get work done quickly and my overanalytical nature is great for the job!

    Hoping to go down the diagnosis route and get started on meds, but I suspect that won't happen for several years given the waiting lists. In the meantime, I'm thankfully laid back about being known in the office as the one who always leaves a half made tea in the office kitchen!

    Lets keep this thread open - I love knowing there's other paraplanners out there like me, and we might be able to help each other with study techniques that work for our super ADHD brains!

  • Just stumbled across this and waving hello as another ADHD paraplanner :)

  • richallumrichallum Administrator

    If you haven't seen or heard it yet, we did a session on a paraplanner’s guide to neurodiversity which you can access here. It was inspired by this thread.

    Paraplanner. F1, Apple, Nutella, ice cream. No trite motivational quotes. Turning a bit northern. 

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