We would like to extend our congratulations to Divan Barnard, who was named as the top achiever for the Postgraduate Diploma: Financial Planning programme at the April 2023 awards ceremony.

Divan decided to pursue the Postgraduate Diploma in Financial planning after becoming aware of the low financial literacy levels in South Africa. This decision was further fuelled by his passion for finance and a desire to help people gain greater control over their finances, especially in terms of budgeting and planning for their financial future. Divan considers the most valuable knowledge gained from the Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning to be centred around financial planning tools and the psychology of money, which allowed him to better adapt the financial planning process to peoples' unique needs and circumstances.

Divan noted some significant challenges during his studies. This included studying from home without access to lecturers to clear up course material issues and delays in responses due to high volumes of emails. In addition to this, working full-time while studying full-time also posed challenges.  Studying from home enabled this greatly, leading to a situation where the volume of work to complete was difficult to manage but having the flexibility to go through course material when and where he wanted to, made it possible to juggle.

During the latter half of his studies, Divan worked full-time. This meant that he had to work during the evenings and on the weekends to keep up with university work and deadlines. When asked how he managed to maintain the balance, Divan said “The trick is to finish as much as you can, any time you have time but simultaneously keeping in mind that maintaining some level of a social life is important. This discouraged me from losing motivation to study, as more than just one aspect of my life was active.”

In order to stay engaged with his studies, and remain motivated, Divan found that time management and maintaining a balance was crucial.  He found it extremely beneficial to make a semester timetable and track his progress along that too see how far he had come and what lies ahead, and then plan accordingly on a smaller scale. Maintaining social bonds were equally important as it enabled him to take breathers and engage with other aspects of his life. Divan believes that this helped him become well-rounded and prevented him from feeling overworked.

When asked what advice he would extend to other students who are looking to achieve academic success and make the most of their university experience, Divan said: “Always plan. Having a plan for what needs to be done in a semester, month and week with regards to university and extracurriculars allows us to mentally prepare for that period and avoids bottlenecking. Never procrastinate and stick to the schedule you've made. This way, if an emergency arises, you can deal with that and the work that might pile up in the meantime is minimised, as there wasn't a backlog to begin with.”

Prior to studying Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning, Divan studied BCom (General) Business Management and was subsequently awarded the top achiever award for his undergraduate degree as well. Currently, Divan is employed full-time with the same organisation that he worked at during his studies.