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Putting professionalism into practice

The QCF Level 6 Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning builds on existing skills and knowledge, enabling advisers to develop specialist planning capabilities and offer a sophisticated and comprehensive approach to financial management.

And with completion leading to Chartered Financial Planner status, the Advanced Diploma gives holders clear differentiation from the main body of advisers. 

The Advanced Diploma requires completion of at least four of the following six financial planning units:

  • (AF1) Personal tax and trust planning
  • (AF2) Business financial planning
  • (AF3) Pension planning *
  • (AF4) Investment planning
  • (AF5) Financial planning process (compulsory)
  • (AF6) Senior management and supervision (New - coursework assessment, see 'how you are tested' below). 

Unit syllabuses can be found using the link opposite.

PFS member designation Level  Next step qualification 
Continuing Professional Development requirements apply
6 PFS Fellowship (see below) 

Pension transfers
* For those advisers wanting to undertake pensions transfers activities, unit '(AF3) Pensions planning' is an FCA appropriate exam for this class of business. Withdrawn CII unit '(G60) Pensions' also satisfies this requirement.

Who it's for

The Advanced Diploma is appropriate for a wide range of people, including:

  • Anyone who gives financial advice to clients, including independent and restricted financial planners;
  • Financial planning staff, for example paraplanners, compliance officers and those in technical roles; and 
  • Accountants, lawyers, actuaries and other staff carrying out financial planning activities.

Entry requirements

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

  • Diploma in Financial Planning; or
  • Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning.

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

Learning support

Unit study materials for this qualification typically include:

  • Case study workbook or study text
  • RevisionMate online study support
  • Audio revision
  • Two day revision workshops.

How you are tested

Each unit is tested by a three hour exam held at over 50 centres across the UK and almost 120 centres outside the UK. AF1-AF4 and AF6 exams are case study based and the AF5 exam is based on a completed client 'fact find'.

NEW - AF6 coursework assessment 
Coursework assessment is now available for unit AF6 and is particularly suited to this unit given the evaluative and reflective approach in which senior management and supervision issues are tackled in the workplace. The final written exam for unit AF6 will be in October 2016. Use the links to the top right of this page to access further information.

Chartered Financial Planner

In addition to the APFS designation, Advanced Diploma holders are eligible for Chartered Financial Planner status, subject to having five years' experience, not necessarily post-qualification.

Independent research confirms that the public places huge importance on talking to a professional; it also confirms that 'Chartered' is the most respected indicator of professionalism. The CII also offers corporate Chartered status to qualifying financial advice firms, further enhancing the visible professionalism of the advice sector.

PFS Fellowship

Those wishing to continue their studies can also work towards Fellowship of the Personal Finance Society. A total of 350 credits are required to obtain the Fellowship, this must include obtaining 290 credits through completion of the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning. The remaining 60 credits can come from any of the units offered within the CII financial services qualifications framework.

Your next step

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

As you read through these, you will learn about the units on offer, the available learning materials, terms and conditions relating to entry, and the different ways you can enter.

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

Request your learning statement »


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 financial services 'R0' Diploma units 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 100 public centres outside the UK.
  • Coursework assessment - available for a select number of Advanced Diploma in Insurance units and the financial services unit (J09) Paraplanning, coursework assessment involves the completion of three written assignments during a 12 month period.
  • Mixed assessment - Initially introduced for unit (P92) Insurance business and finance, this has been extended to units (P05) Insurance law, (P80) Underwriting practice, (P81) Insurance broking practice and (P85) Claims practice from April 2015 and and will be extended to 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. 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 Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning

Qualification and Credit Framework (QCF) Level Level 6
Number of available units 6 Advanced Diploma units
Plus access to Diploma and Certificate units
Compulsory units 1 unit
• (AF5) Financial planning process
Credits required to complete (existing credits carried forward) 290
Minimum 120 credits at Advanced Diploma level and 40 at Diploma level or above
Credits per unit 30
Combination of units at any level allowed Yes
Subject to completion requirements
Assessment format

• 3 hour exam
• Written case study questions
• 3 hour exam
• Client scenario
3 hour exam
Written case study questions 
•  3 coursework assignments 

Average study time per unit 150 hours
Availability of exam sessions  Twice yearly
Entry requirements? None
Credits available for prior learning? Yes
Record of Achievement issued for each exam pass? Yes
CII/PFS membership designation APFS/Chartered Financial Planner


Completion requirements

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning units. However, the Advanced Diploma will only be awarded where you hold the Diploma in Financial Planning or the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning.

A CII financial planning Diploma provides the essential technical knowledge required when completing the Advanced Diploma. For this reason it is strongly recommended that, if you have not already done so, you complete a Diploma qualification before tackling the Advanced Diploma, or that you study the two simultaneously.

Completion requirements

To complete you need to obtain 290 credits, of which: 

  • at least 120 credits must be at Advanced Diploma-level (units AF1-AF6). Where you already hold withdrawn CII AFPC units these will count towards this requirement. These must include compulsory unit AF5 (holders of AFPC unit (H25) Holistic financial planning satisfy this requirement). 
  • a further 40 credits must be at Diploma-level or above.
  • the remaining credits can come from any of the units offered within the CII financial services qualifications framework.

Note: To be awarded the Advanced Diploma, you must obtain, by CII examination, a pass in an AF or withdrawn AFPC unit. This rule applied irrespective of how many credits your existing qualifications might provide. 

The following Advanced Diploma units are available:

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

The mechanics of entering

There is no prescribed order in which units must be taken, and you select those most appropriate to your learning needs. The one exception is compulsory unit (AF5) Financial planning process, which should be completed last, as this tests skills developed through completion of the other advanced Diploma units.

You may sit as many exams as desired at a single sitting, although we recommend that no more than two 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 Assessment format Nominal pass mark Exam sessions
AF1-AF4 150 3 hour case study based exam. 160 marks spread over three compulsory questions.  55% April/October
AF5 150 Candidates receive a 'fact find' two weeks before the examination. The examination tests key aspects of the financial planning process as applied to the client scenario. 55% April/October
AF6 150 3 hour case study based exam. 160 marks spread over 3 compulsory questions; or 55% April/October
150 3 written coursework assignments, each typically 2,000 to 3,000 words 50% n/a

Specialist study streams

When studying for the Advanced Diploma you can combine different units to build on prior learning and complement your particular area of work, or an area of financial advice you aspire to move into, as the following indicates:

Study -streams

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 »

Important deadlines

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

    Oct 2015 exams 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 02 Sep 15 R06 only
18 Dec 16
All units
02 Mar 16
R06 only
03 Jun 16
All units
24 Aug 16
At late fee 25 Sep 15 R06 only
04 Jan 16
All units
24 Mar 16
R06 only
17 Jun 16
All units
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 12-14 Oct 15 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 R06 only
20 Nov 15

All units excl. R06
11 Dec 15
R06 only
26 Feb 16
R06 only
12 Aug 16

All units excl. R06
10 Jun 16
R06 only
12 Aug 16
R06 only
11 Nov 16
All units excl. 02 Dec 16
Non-UK exam centre R06 only
20 Nov 15

All units excl. R06
11 Dec 15
N/A R06 only
20 May 16

All units
excl. R06
17 Jun 16
N/A R06 only
11 Nov 16

All units
excl. R06
09 Dec 16

ase 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.

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.


AF1 Personal tax and trust planning.

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

Evaluate the needs of complex clients and recommend appropriate solutions based upon detailed understanding and analysis of the:

  • Basic structure of the tax system and self assessment;
  • Main personal taxes on income and capital that may be charged on individuals during life and on death, the self assessment system and how tax liabilities are computed;
  • Tax treatment of main social security benefits and interaction with other sources of income;
  • National Insurance, how it is calculated and applied;
  • Tax treatment of different kinds of investments;
  • Impact of residence and domicile on an individual's liability to UK tax;
  • Legal principles associated with the creation and management of a trust;
  • Main types and uses of trusts that are common in the UK and duties, powers and responsibilities of trustees;
  • Powers of Attorney including different types of power of attorney, the procedures for establishing a Power of Attorney and the implications of doing so;
  • Consequences of making a Will and dying intestate;
  • Bankruptcy; rules and the role of the trustee in bankruptcy;
  • Taxation considerations relevant to trusts.

AF2 Business financial planning

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

Evaluate the needs of complex clients and recommend appropriate solutions based upon detailed understanding and analysis of the:the main legal forms of business;

  • Main legal forms of business and how they are set up and managed;
  • Consequences of bankruptcy or insolvency;
  • Business accounts and financial controls;
  • Taxation of business entities, its owners and employees;
  • Main legal responsibilities businesses have to employees, suppliers and customers;
  • Main principles of business protection insurance, including key person insurance, share protection insurance and partnership protection insurance;
  • Main uses of pensions for business planning.

AF3 Pension planning

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

Evaluate the needs of complex clients and recommend appropriate solutions based upon detailed understanding and analysis of the:

  • HM Revenue & Customs tax regime for pensions;
  • Legal framework of pensions;
  • Features and risks of defined contributions and defined benefit pension schemes;
  • State retirement benefits;
  • Choices facing early leavers, transfer value analysis and transfer advice;
  • Various options for drawing income - their features, risks and tax treatment;
  • Different needs and solutions available to personal and corporate customers.

AF4 Investment planning

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

Evaluate the needs of complex clients and recommend appropriate solutions based upon detailed understanding and analysis of the:

  • Economic environment and its impact on investment performance and investment decision making;
  • Main features, risks and returns of direct financial investments, collective investments and other investments;
  • Individual company performance and company accounts;
  • Measurement and management of risk and returns;
  • Main principles governing how to construct an investment portfolio;
  • Range of investment management services, how their performance is evaluated, and their regulatory environment.

AF5 Financial planning process

At the end of this unit, candidates will be able to apply the financial plan that demonstrates:

  • Understanding of the relationship and responsibilities between adviser and client and the need to establish the scope of the planning brief;
  • Evaluation of the different remuneration strategies available and how they might suit the different services required by clients;
  • Understanding and evaluation of the client's financial objectives, including the importance of prioritising those financial objectives;
  • Understanding of the assumptions underlying the financial plan;
  • Understanding of the client's financial status;
  • Understanding of what is meant by risk, the various risks faced by the client and the importance of the client risk profile in formulating a financial plan;
  • Evaluation of the different options available to the client with relevant evidence;
  • The ability to put forward an appropriate financial plan based upon analysis of client objectives, circumstances and options;
  • The ability to explain the meaning of any technical terms, the features of proposed products and the consequences of the proposed course of action;
  • Understanding of the importance of documenting any changes to the plan required by the client and how to document such changes;
  • Understanding of the review process and the different frequencies and methods available to review the plan.

AF6 Senior management and supervision

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

  • Apply supervision principles and practice in a retail financial services business;
  • Evaluate supervision principles and practice;
  • Evaluate the competency requirements for senior executives and the governance of competence arrangements;
  • Evaluate the impact of leadership and culture in a regulated environment.