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Personal Finance Society
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Supporting staff development and customer service excellence

The RQF Level 3 Certificate in Financial Services has been developed to meet the needs of those working in operational and technical support roles, and offers two targeted learning routes. 

Life and Pensions route

This three unit route is particularly suitable for those working in the life, pensions and long term savings sector, including customer operations back-office staff and contact centre team leaders.

It develops knowledge and understanding the sector's role and its activities; key customer needs, solutions and products; and how individuals and organisations work within a regulatory and legislative environment.

The life and pensions route involves completion of three compulsory units: 

General route

This two unit route is ideal for those providing operational support to financial planners, including paraplanners, and technical support staff working in financial services.

It develops knowledge and understanding of the financial services industry in general, including regulation and legislation; and fundamental aspects of customer service, administration and marketing in financial services, and key retail investment products.

The general route involves completion of two compulsory units: 

Entry requirements

None.

Learning support

Unit study materials for this qualification typically include:

  • Study text with updates (first exam included for units LP1, LP2 and LP3)
  • RevisionMate online study support
  • 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. 

Member designations

Completion of the life and pensions route entitles members to use the designation Cert CII (Life and Pensions). Completion of the general route entitles members to use the designation Cert CII (FS). 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. 

Read the Certificate in Financial Services specification here »

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 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 Certificate in Financial Services

Ofqual Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) Level Level 3
Number of available units 5 Certificate units and 1 Diploma unit
Route options

Life and pensions route
• (LP1) Life and pensions customer operations; and 
• (LP2) Financial services products and solutions or  (FA7) Financial services products; and 
• (LP3) Life and pensions principles and practices   

General route
• (R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics; or
 (CF1) UK financial services, regulation and ethics; and 
• (FA7) Financial services products or (LP2) Financial services products and solutions

CII credits required to complete
(existing credits carried forward)
Life and pensions route: 45
General route: 35 
CII credits per unit • R01/FA7/LP2 - 20 credits
• CF1/LP1 - 15 credits
• LP3 - 10 credits
Exam format

R01/CF1
• Online, 2 hours
• 100 multiple choice questions (MCQs)

FA7/LP2
• Online, 2 hours
• 75 MCQs
LP1 
• 90 minute exam comprising 15 MCQs plus 35 MCQs linked to 7 case studies 
LP3
• 90 minute exam comprising 50 MCQs
 

Average study time per unit • R01/CF1/LP1 - 60 hours
• FA7/LP2 - 100 hours
• LP3 - 50 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 at over 40 centres across the UK.
Entry requirements? None
Credits available for prior learning? Yes
Record of Achievement issued for each exam pass? Yes
CII/PFS membership designations Life and Pensions route: Cert CII (Life and Pensions)
General route: Cert CII (FS)
 

 

Completion requirements

Life and pensions route

To complete the life and pensions route you need to obtain 45 CII credits by passing three compulsory units: LP1, LP2 and LP3.

Units Credits and level  Study hours per unit ** Assesment method Exam sessions Nominal pass mark *** Results notification
LP1 15 - Level 3 60 2 hour exam comprising 15 multiples choice questions (MCQs) plus 35 MCQs linked to 7 case studies  Year-round 70% Immediate notification of results
LP2* 20 - Level 3 100 2 hour exam comprising 75 MCQs
LP3 10 - Level 3 50 90 minute exam comprising 50 MCQs


General route

To complete the general route you need to obtain 35 CII credits by passing two compulsory units: CF1 or R01 and LP2.

Units Credits and level  Study hours per unit ** Assesment method Exam sessions Nominal pass mark *** Results notification
CF1 15 - Level 3 60 2 hour exam comprising 100 multiples choice questions (MCQs) Year-round 70% Immediate notification of results
R01 20 - Level 4 60 2 hour exam comprising 100 MCQs 65%
LP2* 20 - Level 3 100 2 hour exam comprising 75 MCQs 70%

* Holders of '(FA7) Financial services products'  satisfy this requirement.

** 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.

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.

 

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.

 

FA7 Financial services products

Important notice to candidates:  The 2016-17 syllabus, tested from September, will include a number of enhancements. From September the unit title will also change from FA7 to LP2.


Access our FAQs to find out more »

LP1 Life and pensions customer operations

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of:

  • the life and pensions customer and the wider consumer environment;
  • customer operations functions and activities;
  • how individuals and teams can ensure effective customer service;

and to apply this appropriately to a range of customer operations scenarios.

LP2 Financial services products and solutions

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of:

  • key customer needs and the factors that affect these;
  • how customers and financial services professionals identify needs and solutions;
  • the main protection, mortgage repayment and savings and investment products;
  • the main tax wrappers.

(LP3) Life and pensions principles and practices

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of

  • the role of the life and pensions sector;
  • the sector's operational functions and activities and;
  • the sector's regulatory and legislative environment, including individual professional responsibilities.