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Build a tailored qualification pathway

The RQF Level 4 Diploma in Financial Planning meets the FCA's qualification requirements for retail investment advisers, subject to gap fill, and develops core technical knowledge and understanding across a broad range of key advisory areas, including 16 topics at Level 4.

Modular in structure, with no compulsory units, the Diploma allows you to develop a learning programme that reflects your personal circumstances or career aspirations.

Unit syllabuses setting out the learning outcomes for each unit can be found on the right of this page. 

Who it's for

The Diploma in particularly suitable for:

  • Anyone seeking to give retail investment advice, in particular those who already hold CII credits that count towards completion (otherwise the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning is more suitable)
  • Paraplanners, technical consultants and staff in related support roles.

Entry requirements

None, but one of the following CII qualifications, or equivalent, must be held in order to complete:

Completion requirements can be found on the right of this page.

Learning support

Unit study materials for this qualification typically include:

  • Study text with updates
  • RevisionMate online study support
  • Revision courses.

How you're tested

Diploma units are tested in one of two ways: multiple-choice on screen exams or short answer written exams. Find out more by selecting the completion requirements link to the right of this page.

Member designation

Completion entitles PFS members to use the designation Dip PFS. Continuing professional development requirements apply.

Your next step

The links at the top right of this page contain all the information you need to finalise your entry.

To order your study text and assessment entry, please use the individual unit links. 

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 Advanced Diploma units (991) London market insurance specialisation and (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. 

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).

Key facts

Key facts for the Diploma in Financial Planning

Ofqual Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) Level Level 4
Number of available units 16 Diploma units
Plus access to Certificate and Advanced Diploma units
Compulsory units None
CII credits required to complete (existing credits carried forward) 140
Minimum 80 credits at Diploma level or above (a maximum of 30 Advanced Diploma credits are allowed)
CII credits per unit J02/J03/J07/J10-J12 - 20 credits
R01/R02 - 20 credits
R03-R05 - 10 credits
J09/R06 - 30 credits
R07 - 15 credits
R08 - 10 credits 
Combination of units at any level allowed Yes
Subject to completion requirements
Exam format

J02/J03/J05/J07
• 2 hours
• Written short answer questions
J10
• Online, 2 hours
• 70 multiple choice questions (MCQs) and 4 case studies, each comprising 5 MCQs
J11
• 2 hours
• Written short answer questions and 2 essay-style questions
J12
• Online, 2 hours
• 60 MCQs and 3 case studies, each comprising 5 MCQs
R01/R02
• Online, 2 hours
• 100 multiple choice questions
R03-R05
• Online, 1 hour
• 50 multiple choice questions
J09
• Non-exam based. 3 written coursework assignments
R06
• 3 hours
• 2 written case studies
R07
• 2 hours
• 55 multiple choice questions and 4 case studies, each comprising 5 MCQs
R08
• 1 hour
•  40 multiple choice questions (MCQs) and 1 case study comprising 5 MCQs

Average study time per unit

J02/J03/J05/J07/J09/J11 - 100 hours
J12/R07 - 70 hours
R06 - 100 hours
J10/R01/R02 - 60 hours
R03-R05, R08 - 50 hours 

Availability of exam sessions (Details shown apply to the UK. Outside of the UK exams are offered twice-yearly)

Twice a year (J02/J03/J05/J07/J11)
April/October
Four times a year (R06)
January/April/July/October 
Year-round (R01-R05/R08/J10/J12)
Availability varies from centre to centre, but typically weekly
Assessments can be submitted for marking and re-marking throughout the 12 month enrolment (J09)

Entry requirements? None
Credits available for prior learning? Yes
Record of Achievement issued for each exam pass? Yes
CII/PFS membership designation DipPFS
PFS members are entitled to use on completion

 

Completion requirements

To complete you need to obtain 140 CII credits, of which:

Completion requirements

To complete the Diploma you need to:

  • At least 80 credits must be at Diploma level  (units J02, J03, J05, J07, J09-J12, R01-R04, R06-R08). The following can also count towards this requirement:
    • Advanced Diploma level credits from withdrawn AFPC units;
    • One Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning unit (AF1-AF6) or a maximum of 30 non-specific Advanced Diploma credits.
  • The remaining credits can come from any CII financial services units, excluding unit LF1, subject to a maximum of 30 Advanced Diploma-level credits or 30 non-specific Advanced Diploma-level credits being used overall.

Recognition of prior learning applicants should note that in order to be awarded the Diploma in Financial Planning, they must obtain at least one CII assessment pass in a Diploma-level J0 or R0 unit.

Credits awarded for prerequisite qualifications

One of the following CII qualifications, or equivalent, must be held in order to complete the Diploma. Associated credit values are given to help you plan your unit pathway.

Qualification Credits and level
Certificate in Financial Services (General route) 35 - Certificate 
(Level 3)
Certificate in Financial Services (Life and Pensions route) 45 - Certificate 
(Level 3)
Certificate in Financial Planning 70 - Certificate 
(Level 3)
Certificate in Regulated Financial Services Operations 35 - Certificate 
(Level 3)
Financial Planning Certificate (1994 scheme - including unit FP3) 50 - Certificate 
(Level 3)
Financial Planning Certificate (pre-1994 scheme - excluding unit FP3) 32 - Certificate 
(Level 3)

Available units

Diploma units Cedits and level
(R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics
20 per unit - Diploma 
(Level 4)
(R02) Investment principles & risk
(R03) Personal taxation
10 per unit - Diploma 
(Level 4)
(R04) Pensions and retirement planning
(R05) Financial protection
10 - Certificate 
(Level 3)
(R06) Financial planning practice
30 - Diploma
(Level 4)
(R07) Advanced mortgage advice
15 - Diploma 
(Level 4)
(R08) Pensions update
10 - Diploma 
(Level 4)
(J02) Trusts  20 - Diploma
(Level 4)
(J03) The tax and legal aspects of business
(J05) Pension income options
(J07) Supervision in a regulated environment
(J10) Discretionary investment management
(J11) Wrap and platform services
(J12) Securities advice and dealing 
(J09) Paraplanning 30 - Diploma 
(Level 4)

 

Advanced Diploma units Credits and level
(AF1) Personal tax and trust planning 30 per unit - Advanced Diploma
(Level 6)
(AF2) Business financial planning
(AF3) Pension planning
(AF4) Investment planning
(AF5) Financial planning process
(AF6) Senior management and supervision

 

Certificate units Credits and level 
(CF1) UK financial services, regulation and ethics 15 - Certificate
(Level 3)
(CF6) Mortgage advice 20 - Certificate 
(Level 3)
(CF8) Long term care insurance 15 - Certificate
(Level 3)
(ER1) Equity release 15 - Certificate 
(Level 3)
(GR1) Group risk 10 - Certificate 
(Level 3)
(FA1) Life office administration 10 - Certificate 
(Level 3)
(FA2) Pensions administration 10 - Certificate 
(Level 3)
(FA4) Collective investment scheme administration 10 - Certificate 
(Level 3)
(FA5) Individual savings account administration 10 - Certificate 
(Level 3)
(FA6) Investment client servicing 10 - Certificate 
(Level 3)
(FA7) Financial services products 20 - Certificate 
(Level 3)
(LP1) Life and pensions customer operations 15 - Certificate 
(Level 3)
(LP2) Financial services products and solutions  20 - Certificate 
(Level 3)
(LP3) Life and pensions principles and practices 10 - Certificate
(Level 3)


The mechanics of entering 

There is no prescribed order in which Diploma units must be taken and you select those most appropriate to your learning needs. 

Units Study hours per unit * Assesment method Exam sessions Nominal pass mark ** Results notification
J02, J03, J05, J07 100 2 hour exam comprising 15 compulsory written short answer questions April/October 55% 9 weeks
J09 100 3 written coursework assignments, each typically 2,00 to 3,000 words n/a 65% 8 weeks
J11 100 2 hour exam comprising ompulsory written short answer questions and 2 essay-style questions April/October 55% 9 weeks
J12 70 2 hour exam comprising 60 MCQs and 3 case studies each comprising 5 multiple response questions  Year-round 65% Immediate notification of results
R01, R02 60 2 hour exam comprising 100 multiple choice questions (MCQ) Year-round 65% Immediate notification of results
R03, R04, R05 50 1 hour exam comprising 50 MCQs Year-round R03, R04 - 65%. R05 - 70% Immediate notification of results
R08 50 1 hour exam comprising 40 MCQs and 1 case study comprising 5 MCQs Year-round 65% Immediate notification of results
R06 100 3 hour exam comprising 2 written case studies on financial planning practice. Candidates receive the 2 written case studies two weeks before the exam. January/April/July/October 55% 6 weeeks

* The recommended minimum study hours shown below will vary according to your experience and ability. 

** The nominal pass mark is shown, however, the actual pass mark may vary from one session to another to ensure that the pass standard remains constant.

Recognition of prior learning

Under a scheme known as 'recognition of prior learning' you may be eligible to claim credits for relevant exams and qualifications obtained through awarding bodies other than the CII, such as professional bodies or universities.

Subject to the published completion requirements these can be used towards completing CII qualifications.

Find out more about applying for recognition of prior learning »

Specialist study streams

Candidates completing the Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning often select units based on their particular area of work, or an area of financial advice they aspire to move into. The following role based study streams suggest five such examples.

Study -streams

Written exam dates and deadlines

The information below applies to written exam units R06, J02, J03, J05, J07, J11 and AF1-AF6.

    Jan 2017 exams Apr 2017 exams Jul 2017 exams Oct 2017 exams
Exam entry

The following entry
deadlines apply (after
which changes to entries
won't be accepted)
At normal fee R06 only
16 Dec 16
All units
22 Feb 17
R06 only
02 Jun 17
All units
30 Aug 17
At late fee R06 only
03 Jan 17
All units
17 Mar 17
R06 only
16 Jun 17
All units
22 Sep 17
Exam entry confirmation* Dispatched within seven working days from receipt of application
Receive your exam admission permit* Dispatched ten days before exams begin or six weeks for non-UK applicants
Exam sittings Exams are scheduled on the following dates 16 Jan 17 03-05 Apr 17 03 Jul 17 09-11 Oct 17
Exam results

Results are released online at www.cii.co.uk/results (you will need to log in using your CII PIN and password) and sent by 1st class post on the following dates
UK exam centre R06 only
24 Feb 17
R06 only
12 May 17

All units excl. R06
02 Jun 17
R06 only
11 Aug 17
R06 only
17 Nov 17
All units excl. R06
08 Dec 17
Non-UK exam centre N/A R06 only
12 May 17

All units
excl. R06
09 Jun 17
N/A R06 only
17 Nov 17

All units
excl. R06
15 Dec 17

* Please contact Customer Service if you do not receive these, either by emailing admissionpermitenquiries@cii.co.uk or calling 020 8989 8464. When you receive your admission permit you MUST read it in full and check whether any change has been made in the date or times of the units for which you have entered and that the units shown on your permit are those that you intend to sit. If there is any discrepancy you should contact Customer Service immediately.

** To access your results online you will need to be logged in to the CII website using your CII Permanent Identity Number (PIN) and password.

Important note: By taking a CII exam you are agreeing to the regulations stated on the exam permit as well as those detailed on our exam policies page.

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.

Your completion requirements

For your personalised Diploma completion requirements, based on the CII exams you already hold, request your learning statement online now.

Syllabuses

J02 Trusts

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the:

  • legal principles associated with the creation and management of a trust;
  • main types of trusts that are common in the UK;
  • taxation considerations relevant to trusts.

J03 The tax and legal aspects of business

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to demonstrate an understanding of:

  • the main legal forms of business and how they are set up and managed;
  • the consequences of bankruptcy or insolvency;
  • business accounts and financial controls;
  • the taxation of each type of business entity, its owners and employees;
  • the main legal responsibilities businesses have to employees, suppliers and customers;
  • the use of insurance and associated trust and legal arrangements in business protection;
  • the main uses of pensions for business planning.

J05 Pensions income options

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the:

  • process of decumulating pension funds and the main issues for clients and advisers;
  • main choices facing members of pensions schemes during decumulation;
  • features, risks and tax treatment of the secured pension option;
  • features, risks and tax treatment of phased retirement;
  • features, risks and tax treatment of the alternatively secured pension option.

J07 Supervision in a regulated environment

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to demonstrate an understanding of:

  • the supervisor's role in a regulated organisation;
  • the principles and practices of recruitment and training;
  • attaining, maintaining and supervising competence;
  • management information and performance standards;
  • Financial Services regulation and guidance;
  • the legal and regulatory aspects of employment and supervision.

 

J09 Paraplanning

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to demonstrate an understanding of:

  • the customer's personal circumstances;
  • the financial position of the client;
  • providing potential solutions;
  • the regulatory, legal and ethical frameworks of paraplanning.

 

J10 Discretionary investment management

At the end of this unit, candidates will be able to advise clients on a range of discretionary investment management issues, including:

  • establish and meeting client objectives;
  • the behaviour, performance, risk profile and correlation of key investment types;
  • the role of the investment manager;
  • discretionary and non-discretionary portfolio management;
  • investment fund objectives and approaches;
  • the fundamentals of economics applicable to investment management;
  • how investment returns are related to investment risk;
  • the principles of portfolio theory;
  • performance measurement;
  • data regression;
  • indices;
  • the principles of performance measurement;
  • financial analysis;
  • ratio analysis;
  • information sources and disclosure obligations and bias thereof;
  • the principles of performance management and portfolio theory;
  • analysis and interpretation of financial information and ratios.

J11 Wrap and platform services

At the end of this unit, candidates will be able to demonstrate an understanding of:

  • the use of platforms in providing financial services;
  • the legal issues specific to using platform services;
  • the specific regulatory issues impacting upon platform services;
  • the suitability of platforms in meeting client requirements;
  • the corporate wrap proposition.

J12 Securities advice and dealing

At the end of this unit, candidates shouble be able to demonstrate an understanding of:

  • the features and risks of different securities;
  • the structure and features of the securities market;
  • relevant factors and considerations for appropriate investment recommendations.

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.

 

R02 Investment principles and risk

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

  • the characteristics, inherent risks, behaviour and correlation of asset classes, and investment products;
  • the macro-economic environment and its impact on asset classes;
  • the merits and limitations of the main investment theories;
  • the nature and impact of the main types of risk on investment performance;
  • the performance of investments.

R03 Personal taxation

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

  • the basic structure of the UK tax system;
  • the main taxes on income and capital that may be charged on individuals and trusts, the self assessment system and how tax liabilities are computed;
  • the taxation of investments as relevant to the needs and circumstances of individuals and trusts.

R04 Pensions and retirement planning

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

  • the main tax and legal frameworks applicable to pension schemes;
  • the features of defined contributions and defined benefit pension schemes;
  • state retirement benefits including risks and suitability of contracting out;
  • the aims and objectives of retirement planning including relevant investment issues.

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

 

R06 Financial planning practice

This unit enables candidates to demonstrate their expertise in the application of the financial planning process through combining and applying learning content from all the other units in the CII QCF level 4 Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning:

  • Financial services, regulation and ethics;
  • Investment principles and risk;
  • Personal taxation;
  • Pensions and retirement planning;
  • Financial protection.

R07 Advanced mortgage advice

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

  • explain the key elements of the mortgage process;
  • explain the specialist types of mortgage lending;
  • explain the main challenges in the mortgage industry; and
  • recommend the appropriate mortgage advice to clients with complex needs and circumstances.

R08 Pensions update

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

  • changes introduced by the Taxation of Pensions Act 2014;
  • changes to the State pension provision from 06 April 2016;
  • key factors to take into account when advising clients on their retirement income.