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The benchmark qualification for financial advisers

This benchmark qualification for those advising on retail investment products meets the RQF Level 4 exam standards in full.

The Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning is suitable for those who don't hold additional CII credits counting towards completion of the Diploma in Financial Planning.

Covering the following six compulsory units, the Diploma develops core technical knowledge and financial planning capabilities:

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

Holders of the first unit, Financial services, regulation and ethics, are authorised to advise under supervision while they work towards completion of the full Diploma. 

Five of the six units are multiple-choice tested and therefore examined year-round. The sixth, the planning unit R06, is examined four times a year.

Upon completion candidates will be awarded the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning. PFS members are entitled to use the designation DipPFS (Continuing Professional Development requirements apply). 

Credits obtained in completing the Diploma can also be used towards the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning, leading Chartered Financial Planner status. 

Key Benefits

The Diploma delivers many benefits, these include: 

  • No gap fill  - meets the RQF Level 4 exam standards in full
  • Year-round entry - plan study around business commitments.
  • Modular Learning - learn at your own place.
  • Pay-as-you-learn - fees are payable as you take each unit.
  • Multiple-choice testing - providing immediate notification of results.
  • 80 exam centres with year-round testing - take exams at a convenient time & location.
  • Unrivalled study support - widest range of learning & revision materials.

Your next step

Now that you have read about the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning, gained an understanding of what it offers and established it is the appropriate qualification route for you, it is time to finalise your entry.

Please take time to read more about the requirements of the course using the 'qualification in detail' links above. To enrol onto a study option, access revision material or book an exam you can select the unit links, also above.

Further useful information:

  • Learning statement - For details of credits you hold and confirmation of your personalised completion requirements for the Diploma.
  • FAQs - Our frequently asked questions relating to studying towards CII qualifications and examinations. 


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).

Key facts

Key facts for the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning

Ofqual Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) Level Level 4
Number of available units 6 Diploma 'R0' units
Compulsory units 6 units:
• (R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics
• (R02) Investment principles and risk
• (R03) Personal taxation
• (R04) Pensions and retirement planning
• (R05) Financial protection
• (R06) Financial planning practice
CII credits required to complete (existing credits carried forward) 100
CII credits per unit R01/R02 - 20 credits
R03-R05 - 10 credits
R06 - 30 credits
Combination of units at any level allowed Not applicable
Exam format R01/R02
• Online, 2 hours
• 100 multiple choice questions
• Online, 1 hour
• 50 multiple choice questions
• 3 hours
• 2 written case studies
Average study time per unit R01/R02 - 60 hours
R03-R05 - 50 hours
R06 - 100 hours
Availability of exam sessions (Details shown apply to the UK. Outside of the UK exams are offered twice-yearly)

Year-round (R01-R05)
Availability varies from centre to centre, but typically weekly
4 times a year (R06)

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

Entry requirements

There are no entry requirements in respect of any of the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning units, R01-R06.

Completion requirements

To complete the Diploma you are required to pass 6 units, R01-R06, in turn obtaining 100 credits.

The following units are available:

Diploma units Credits and level
(R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics
20 per unit - Diploma
(R02) Investment principles & risk
(R03) Personal taxation
10 per unit - Diploma
(R04) Pensions and retirement planning
(R05) Financial protection
10 - Certificate
(R06) Financial planning practice
30 - Diploma 

Credit awards for equivalent units

Due to the extent of syllabus overlap, certain combinations of units will result in only one award of credits. Where two comparable units are held, the higher of the two credit figures will be added to your CII Learning Account. However, should you wish, you may still choose to sit an 'overlapping' unit in order to enhance your knowledge.

Current units treated as equivalent (see important note below):

Current unit title Credits and level Current unit title Credits and level
(R02) Investment principles & risk 20 - Diploma  (J06) Investment principles, markets and environment 20 - Diploma 
(R03) Personal taxation 10 - Diploma  (J01) Personal tax 20 - Diploma 
(R04) Pensions and retirement planning 10 - Diploma  (J04) Pension funding options 20 - Diploma 

Important note: For FCA 'appropriate qualifications', such as the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning, all learning outcomes must be matched in order for an exemption to be given against its units. In terms of current and withdrawn CII units, only units CF3 and J08 have this degree of learning outcome match against the comparable new units, R05 and R06, respectively.

The mechanics of entering for Diploma units

There is no prescribed order in which units must be taken. You select those most appropriate to your learning needs. You may sit as many exams as desired at a single sitting, although we recommend that no more than two Diploma units per session are taken.

The recommended minimum study hours shown below will vary according to your experience and ability. The nominal pass mark is also shown. However, the actual pass mark may vary slightly from one session to another to ensure that the pass standard remains constant.

Units Study hours per unit Exam format Length of exam Nominal pass mark Exam sessions Results notification
(R01) & (R02) 60 100 multiple choice questions (MCQ) 2 hours 65% Year-round Immediate notification of results
(R03) - (R05) 50 50 multiple choice questions (MCQ) 1 hour R03, R04 - 65%. R05 - 70% Year-round Immediate notification of results
(R06) 100 2 written case studies on financial planning practice. Candidates receive the 2 written case studies two weeks before the exam. 3 hours 55% January/April/July/October 6 weeks


Important deadlines

The following information applies to R06 exams sat during 2016.

To enter for units R01-R05, which are sat year-round, visit our online exams page.

    Jan 2016 exams Apr 2016 exams Jul 2016 exams Oct 2016 exams
Exam entry

The following entry
deadlines apply (after
which changes to entries
won't be accepted)
At normal fee 18 Dec 16 02 Mar 16 03 Jun 16 24 Aug 16
At late fee 04 Jan 16 24 Mar 16 17 Jun 16 16 Sep 16
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 18 Jan 16 11-13 Apr 16 04 Jul 16 04-06 Oct 16
Exam results

Results are released online at will need to log in using your CII PIN and password) and sent by 1st class post on the following dates
UK exam centre 26 Feb 16 12 Aug 16 12 Aug 16 11 Nov 16
Non-UK exam centre N/A 20 May 16 N/A
11 Nov 16

* Please contact Customer Service if you do not receive these, either by emailing 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.

Alternative Assessment

The entry deadline for the final assessment day was 12 May 2012. Therefore, the Alternative Assessment non-exam option for completion of the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning is no longer available.

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.


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.