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Personal Finance Society
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Building expertise in life or pension administration

The RQF Level 3 Award in Financial Administration provides the essential knowledge and skills needed by those working in administrative and operational life or pensions roles.

The Award offers the choice between life or pensions administration, each satisfying the FCA qualification requirements for overseers of certain administrative life and pensions functions.

The Award involves completion of two units, one from: 

And a second unit from:

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

Who it's for

The Award is particularly suitable for:

  • Operational or administrative staff working in the life and pensions sector 
  • Those moving into an administrative overseer role needing to comply with FCA appropriate qualification requirements.

Entry requirements


Learning support

Unit study materials for this qualification include: 

  • Study text with updates
  • RevisionMate online study support
  • Key fact booklets
  • Question packs
  • Audio revision
  • Learn interactive tutorial
  • Revision courses

How you're tested

Each unit is assessed by a single multiple-choice on screen exam, tested year-round throughout the UK at a choice of over 40 centres. Find out more by selecting the completion requirements link to the right of this page. 

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 select the individual unit links. 

Read the Award in Financial Administration specification »


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 Award in Financial Administration

Ofqual Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) Level Level 3
Number of available units 3 Certificate units and 1 Diploma unit
Compulsory units 2 units
• (R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics; or
• (CF1) UK financial services, regulation and ethics; and
• (FA1) Life office administration; or
• (FA2) Pensions administration
CII credits required to complete (existing credits carried forward) 25
CII credits per unit R01 - 20 credits
CF1 - 15 credits
FA1/FA2 - 10 credits
Combination of units at any level allowed Yes
At Certificate and Diploma level
(subject to completion requirements)
Exam format R01/CF1
• Online, 2 hours
• 100 multiple choice questions (MCQs)
• Online, 1 hour
• 50 multiple choicequestions (MCQs)
Average study time per unit R01/CF1 - 60 hours
FA1/FA2 - 60 hours
Availability of exam sessions (Details shown apply to the UK. Outside of the UK exams are offered twice-yearly) Year-round. Availability varies from centre to centre, but typically weekly
Entry requirements? None
Credits available for prior learning? Yes
Record of Achievement issued for each exam pass? Yes
CII/PFS membership designation No

Completion requirements

To complete the Certificate you need to obtain 25 CII credits by passing two compulsory units: R01 or CF1 and FA1 or FA2.

Units Credits and level  Study hours per unit * Assesment method Exam sessions Nominal pass mark ** Results notification
R01 20 - Level 4 60 2 hour exam comprising 100 multiples choice questions (MCQs) Year-round 65% Immediate notification of results
CF1 15 - Level 3 60
FA1 10 - Level 3 60 1 hour exam comprising 50 MCQs 70%
FA2 10 - Level 3 60

* 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.



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.


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.


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.


FA1 Life office administration

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

• basic product types, including group life;
• principles of financial and medical underwriting;
• policy issues likely to arise with life policies;
• administration of life policies, including the different payment methods and consequences of non-payment;
• handling of life policy claims.


FA2 Pensions administration

At the end of this unit, candidates should understand:

• the regulatory and legislative environment governing pensions;
• the basic principles of pension taxation and administration;
• the basic pension product types, including group pensions;
• with-profits and unit-linked investments;
• the different pensions and options available when taking benefits.