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This qualification is being withdrawn in 2015

Originally developed to meet regulatory 'appropriate qualification' requirements for financial advisers, the Certificate has been superseded by the RDR requirements to hold a Level 4 qualification, e.g. the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning. In turn, demand for the Certificate has fallen sharply.

Reflecting this drop in demand, the Certificate will be awarded for the final time on 31 December 2015.

CF2, CF4 and CF5 withdrawal in 2015

Units CF2 and CF4 are last being examined in August 2015 and are typically available to sit weekly prior to their withdrawal. CF5 is being examined for the final time on 06 July and entries have now closed.

Candidates who pass these three units but don't complete the Certificate in Financial Planning once they are withdrawn, will have until 31 December 2015 to satisfy the qualification completion requirements in full.

The remaining Certificate in Financial Planning units - R01 or CF1 and R05 - are not are not being withdrawn, as they form part of other CII qualifications.

Access our FAQs for more information »

Relevant for those in support roles

For candidates employed in support roles who are partway towards completion, the Certificate in Financial Planning remains a relevant learning pathway. It provides a solid grounding in the financial services market in general and financial planning advice in particular.

The Certificate develops knowledge and understanding of:

  • regulatory issues;
  • the mechanics and purpose of the main investment products; and
  • the process of giving advice to clients.

Upon completion PFS members are entitled to use the designation 'CertPFS' (Continuing Professional Development requirements apply).

New Certificate in Financial Services

To ensure the CII qualifications framework aligns to industry needs, a new QCF Level 3 qualification, the Certificate in Financial Services, has been developed.

This provides targeted learning pathways for those seeking a solid grounding in financial services, and meets the needs of those working in operational and technical support roles.

Introduction

CII qualifications involve the completion of one or more units, each covering an individually assessed topic. Assessment methods vary and depend on a unit's level and subject matter.


Assessment methods include:

  • Multiple-choice exams - the assessment method for Award, Certificate, and Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning units R01-R05 assessed in the UK. Exams are delivered on-screen at a network of over 40 public centres across the UK. Sittings are available year-round, often on a weekly basis.
  • Written exams - the assessment method for some Diploma and Advanced Diploma units and all units examined outside the UK. Sittings are typically available twice-yearly in April and October at over 50 public centres throughout the UK and over 120 public centres outside the UK.
  • Coursework assessment - available for a select number of Advanced Diploma in Insurance units, Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning unit (AF6) Senior management and supervision and financial services unit (J09) Paraplanning, coursework assessment involves the completion of three written assignments during a 12 month period.
  • Mixed assessment - available for a number of Diploma in Insurance units and all Diploma in Insurance units by April 2018 (unit codes begin with the letter M). This involves the successful completion of both a coursework assignment and a multiple-choice exam. This has an 18 month enrolment period.
  • Dissertation assessment - available for the Advanced Diploma unit (991) London market insurance specialisation and being introduced in October 2016 for (994) Insurance market specialisation. This involves the submission of a dissertation proposal and an 11,000 word dissertation. This has an 18 month enrolment period. This unit should only be taken by those who have access to the necessary information and people in the London Market.

Find out more

It is essential that candidates familiarise themselves with the guidelines and instructions which are shown on the CII website under the relevant units. In addition candidates should familiarise themselves with the coursework and dissertation policies as well as exam policies (before the assessment) and notes to results (after the assessment).

Withdrawal FAQs

Here we answer some of our most frequently asked questions on the withdrawal of units CF2, CF4 and CF5 and the Certificate in Financial Planning.

1. Why is the Certificate in Financial Planning and units CF2, CF4 and CF5 being withdrawn?

Originally developed to meet regulatory 'appropriate qualification' requirements for financial advisers, the Certificate has been superseded by the RDR requirements to hold a Level 4 qualification. In turn, demand for the Certificate has fallen sharply.

Reflecting this drop in demand, and with units CF2, CF4 and CF5 having effectively been replaced by Diploma-level units, these units and qualification are now being withdrawn.

A new QCF Level 3 qualification, the Certificate in Financial Services, has also been developed, providing targeted learning pathways for those seeking a solid grounding in financial services, and meeting the needs of those working in operational and technical support roles.

2. When are units CF2, CF4 and CF5 last being examined and when will the Certificate last be awarded?

Units CF2 and CF4 are last being examined in August 2015 and CF5 in July 2015. Prior to their withdrawal, units CF2 and CF4 will be available to sit year-round, typically weekly, and the remaining CF5 sittings will be held in April and July 2015.

Candidates who pass these three units but don't complete the Certificate in Financial Planning once they are withdrawn, will have until 31 December 2015 to satisfy the qualification completion requirements in full.

The remaining Certificate in Financial Planning units - R01 or CF1 and R05 - are not are not being withdrawn, as they form part of other CII qualifications.

3. I'm partway towards completing the Certificate in Financial Planning and am unsure whether I'll complete before it's withdrawn. Can I switch to the new Certificate in Financial Services?

Final exams are scheduled for July and August 2015 in order to allow sufficient time for existing enrolees to complete their studies.

Candidates do however have the option to switch to the Certificate in Financial Services if they feel it better suits their learning needs.

4. I'm working towards the Certificate in Financial Planning, what happens if I haven't passed all compulsory units once CF2, CF4 and CF5 have been withdrawn?

Candidates are being given 16 months notice of the withdrawal of CF2, CF4 and CF5.

If you haven't passed CF2, CF4 or CF5 by the final exam sittings in July and August 2015, your course enrolment(s) will expire and you will be unable to complete the Certificate in Financial Planning.

Candidates who pass these three units but don't complete the Certificate in Financial Planning once they are withdrawn, will have until 31 December 2015 to satisfy the qualification completion requirements in full by passing R01 or CF1 and R05.

5. Once the Certificate in Financial Planning is withdrawn will CertPFS members still be able to use the designation?

Yes. Although the qualification which awards the CertPFS designation is being withdrawn, existing qualified members will continue to be able to use the designation.

6. Holding the Certificate in Financial Planning is a prerequisite for completing the Diploma in Financial Planning; will this change once the Certificate is withdrawn?

Yes. Because of the Certificate in Financial Planning's planned withdrawal, the new Certificate in Financial Services now also satisfies this requirement.

7. To complete the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning you need to hold the Certificate in Financial Planning or Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning. Will this change now that the Certificate in Financial Planning is being withdrawn?

This has now changed. You now need to hold the Diploma in Financial Planning or the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning.

8. I hold a third-party equivalent to the Certificate in Financial Planning (e.g. CeFA, Certificate in Investment Planning or Investment Advice Certificate) and want to apply for recognition of prior learning (RPL). Is there an RPL application deadline?

Yes. Exemptions from units CF2, CF4 and CF5 must be applied for by 30 November 2015. For these exemptions to count towards the Certificate in Financial Planning they must be paid for no later than 31 December 2015, when the Certificate is withdrawn. 

CF2, CF4 and CF5 exemptions awarded on or before 30 November 2015 but paid for after 31 December 2015 (and within 6 months of the award) may still be used towards completing other CII qualifications such as the Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning and Certificate in Life and Pensions, subject to completion requirements.

9. I hold a third party equivalent to the Certificate in Financial Planning (e.g. CeFA, Certificate in Investment Planning or Investment Advice Certificate). What will happen if I delay my recognition of prior learning application until after 30 November 2015?

CII exemptions against third party exams are only awarded where there is a match against current CII units. Once a unit's RPL deadline has passed, immediately prior to its withdrawal, exemptions against it are no longer awarded.

Find out more about our recognition of prior learning service »

Key facts

Key facts for the Certificate in Financial Planning

Qualification and Credit Framework (QCF) Level Level 3
Number of available units 5 Certificate units and 1 Diploma unit
Additional non-compulsory units exist for candidates seeking to develop their knowledge on specialist subjects
Compulsory units 5 units
• (R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics; or
• (CF1) UK financial services, regulation and ethics
• (CF2) Investment and risk
• (R05) Financial protection
• (CF4) Retirement planning
• (CF5) Integrated financial planning
Credits required to complete (existing credits carried forward) 70
Credits per unit CF1/CF5 - 15 credits
R01/CF2 - 20 credits
R05/CF4 - 10 credits
Combination of units at any level allowed Yes
At Certificate and Diploma level
(subject to completion requirements)
Exam format R01/CF1/CF2
• Online, 2 hours
• 100 multiple choice questions (MCQs)
R05/CF4
• Online, 1 hour
• 50 multiple choice questions
CF5
• 2 hours
• 2 written case studies
Average study time per unit R01/CF1 - 60 hours
CF2/CF5 - 70 hours
R05 - 50 hours
CF4 - 40 hours
Availability of exam sessions (Details shown apply to the UK. Outside of the UK exams are offered twice-yearly) Year-round (R01/CF1/CF2/R05/CF4)
Availability varies from centre to centre, but typically weekly
Twice a year (CF5)
April/October 
Entry requirements? None
Credits available for prior learning? Yes
Record of Achievement issued for each exam pass? Yes
CII/PFS membership designation CertPFS
PFS members are entitled to use on completion

Completion requirements

Completion requirements

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for the certificate in Financial Planning so it is open to anyone irrespective of experience or educational background.

Whilst there is no prescribed order in which the units must be taken, it is strongly recommended that you complete them in the order listed.

This reflects the fact that each unit builds to a certain degree on the preceding unit (in particular unit CF5 tests your ability to analyse a client's financial planning needs and provide holistic solutions by drawing on the four preceding units).

Studying for the certificate

The recommended minimum study hours are shown in the tables below (these will vary according to your experience and ability).

The nominal pass marks are also shown, however, the actual pass marks may vary slightly over time to ensure that the pass standard remains constant.

Completion requirements

To complete the certificate you are required to pass five units, these are:

Units Study Hours Exam Format Length of exam Nominal pass mark Exam credits

(R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics or


(CF1) UK financial services, regulations and ethics

60





60

100 multiple choice questions


100 multiple choice questions
2 hours




2 hours
65%




70%
20




15
(CF2) Investment and risk (last examined Aug 15) 70 100 multiple choice questions 2 hours 70% 20
(R05) Financial protection 50 50 multiple choice questions 1 hour 70% 10
(CF4) Retirement planning (last examined Aug 15) 40 50 multiple choice questions 1 hour 70% 10
(CF5) Integrated financial planning (last examined Jul 15) 70 2 written case studies 2 hours 55% 15




 
Please note, this qualification and units CF2, CF4 and CF5 are being withdrawn in August 2015. See final exam dates in the table above.

Assessment information

It is important that candidates entering for a CII assessment familiarise themselves with our service, in particular the rules and procedures that are in place.

Syllabuses

CF1 UK financial services, regulation and ethics

At the end of this unit, candidates should understand the:

  • purpose and structure of the UK financial services industry;
  • different financial asset classes and product types;
  • process of giving advice and the main areas covered;
  • ethics, regulatory processes, rules and legislation underpinning UK financial services;
  • use of the financial regulators' powers and responsibilities to protect the market's integrity and the impact on individuals and firms of these regulators' powers.

 

CF2 Investment and risk

At the end of this unit, candidates should understand the:

  • economic and other factors affecting investment returns;
  • key features of the different asset classes and product types and the role of ethical investment in financial advice;
  • risks involved in investment, how risks affect returns and the risk profile of investors;
  • taxation considerations in the investment process;
  • importance of asset allocation in investment decisions;
  • effect of other issues on investment planning.

CF4 Retirement planning

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to understand the:

  • effect that retirement planning has on clients before, at and after retirement;
  • impact that taxation and legislation have on retirement planning;
  • different types of individual, occupational and State pension schemes;
  • main options for drawing benefits at retirement;
  • use of alternative investments in retirement planning;
  • effect of divorce on retirement planning.

CF5 Integrated financial planning

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to apply:

  • their knowledge and understanding of the financial services industry and its regulation;
  • their knowledge and understanding of the products and processes tested in CF1-4.

R01 Financial services, regulation and ethics

At the end of this unit candidates will be able to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and skill in applying the following topic areas:

  • UK financial service industry in its European and Global context;
  • how the retail customer is served by the financial service industry;
  • Regulatory framework, powers and responsibilities to protect the consumer;
  • the legal concepts and considerations relevant to financial advice;
  • the Code of Ethics and its impact on the business behaviours of individuals.

 

R05 Financial protection

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to understand the:

  • purpose and scope of financial protection products and how they interact with State benefits;
  • main features and functions of the different types of contracts and how they are arranged in order to meet the individual client's protection needs;
  • main protection needs of businesses