One STEP at a time

It’s been a long time since I did an exam; longer than I care to remember! So, when I was asked to consider completing the STEP Diploma in Trusts & Estates I was more than a little bit apprehensive about what would be involved. Anyone who knows me knows my life is never anything but busy especially with two young boys! Could I really find time to study again?

What’s it all about?

STEP is the Society of Trust & Estates Practitioners. The STEP Diploma in Trusts & Estates is the professional qualification benchmark within the trusts and estates industry and comprises of four Advanced Certificates.

With reassurance and encouragement from the Partners I completed the Prior Qualification and Prior Experience applications and was delighted to be accepted as a STEP affiliate member in December 2017. This meant I was able to enrol on the diploma course. I opted to take Administration of Estates as the first of the four certificates.

What to expect?

When I turned up on day one I found I was one of only two accountants in a room full of lawyers. This is typically representative of the Society as a whole and is one of the reasons why at CK we are keen to be involved with STEP. Here at CK we have an experienced team who can provide advice on all areas of Trust and Estate planning, administration and compliance, as well as being able to act as trustee or executor if required. I am keen to ensure we maintain our lead in an area which is primarily lawyer lead.

So having registered for the May 2018 exam I thought I had plenty of time to take in the extensive course manual I found myself faced with. But the usual flurry of Christmas came and went, then the frenzy of tax return season, something that only a fellow private client tax adviser will relate to, was well and truly upon me and before I knew February arrived and I was just two weeks away from the first of the Workshop days!

Study time

With my study plan at the ready, I started to logically go through the course material and make my own notes.

Fast forward through hours of home study and lots of cups of tea I found myself at the morning of the exam in May. The sun was shining gloriously. Why does it always do that for exam season? Still it had made revision over the Bank Holiday weekend more bearable!

The time from registering to the exam day had flown by but I was content that I had put in all the study time I could and overall, I felt happy with my knowledge and preparation. I have learnt a great deal about the legal complexities of Wills and Estate Administration which will enhance my ability to give clients practical advice on these matters. Perhaps more significantly I am fully aware of what can go wrong when executing a will and therefore know the importance of getting good legal advice and ensuring a will is well drafted by a suitably qualified and experienced solicitor. 

Unfortunately, I found the exam itself very frustrating. I did not feel that the questions allowed me to display my knowledge well. So now I am playing the waiting game; trying to put results day to the back of my mind! If I have been successful I will go on to take the second certificate in November this year. Watch this space!

The STEP Diploma is highly regarded and would be a huge personal achievement for me and an asset to CK. At CK we pride ourselves on our long-standing relationships with clients. In the Private Client Department, we develop working relationships with several generations of a family and know the importance of understanding a family’s structure and ethos to be able to give the best advice for their circumstances. If you have any questions regarding the taxation and administration of trusts or estates I would be happy to help. I can be contacted on 01384 245246 or via email at