Cookies on the PFS website

By using and browsing the PFS website, you consent to cookies being used in accordance with our policy. If you do not consent, you are always free to disable cookies if your browser permits, although doing so may interfere with your use of some of our sites or services. Find out more »

Personal Finance Society
Recently added to my basket
Sorry but there was an error adding this to your basket. Please try adding it again


The knowledge and skills for the successful paraplanner

The RQF Level 4 Certificate in Paraplanning meets the specific needs or paraplanners by offering a dedicated qualification route that develops paraplanning skills and expertise, and imparts advanced technical knowledge in a number of key advisory areas.

The Certificate involves completion of four compulsory units:

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

Who it's for

  • Senior and mid-level paraplanners looking to further their knowledge and sharpen their skills
  • New industry entrants, graduates or otherwise, aspiring to become paraplanners or looking for an entry route into financial planning.

Entry requirements


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

Learning support

Unit study materials for this qualification include:

  • Study text with updates
  • RevisionMate online study support
  • Blended learning package
  • Key fact booklets
  • Question packs
  • Audio revision

How you are tested

CF1 and R0 units are assessed by multiple-choice on screen exams, tested year-round throughout the UK at a choice of over 40 centres. The paraplanning unit, J09, is assessed by three 2,000 to 3,000 word coursework assignments which must be passed within the 12 month enrolment period.

Find out more by selecting the 'completion requirements' and J09 links to the right of this page 

Member designation

Completion entitles members to use the designation CertPFS (Paraplanning).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 Paraplanning qualification 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 Certificate in Paraplanning

Ofqual Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) Level

Level 4
Number of available units 4 Diploma units
Compulsory units 4 units
• (R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics
• (R02) Investment principles and risk
• (R03) Personal taxation
• (J09) Paraplanning
CII credits required to complete (existing credits carried forward) 80
CII credits per unit J09 - 30 credits
R01/R02 - 20 credits
R03 - 10 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
• Non-exam based. 3 written coursework assignments
Average study time per unit R01/R02 - 60 hours
R03 - 50 hours
J09 - 100 hours
Availability of exam sessions (Details shown apply to the UK. Outside of the UK exams are offered twice-yearly) Year-round (R01/R03)
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 CertPFS (Paraplanning)
PFS members are entitled to use on completion

Completion requirements

To complete the Certificate you need to obtain 60 CII credits by passing four compulsory units: R01 or CF1, R02, R03 and J09. 

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 70%
R02 20 - Level 4 60 65%
R03 10 - Level 4 50 1 hour exam comprising 50 MCQs 65%
J09 30 - Level 4 100 3 written coursework assignments,each typically 2,000 to 3,000 words 65% 8 weeks

The requirements to pass units R01, R02 and R03 can also satisfied by the following withdrawn CII units:

  • R01 = (FP1) financial services and their regulation;
  • R02 = (J06) Investment principles, markets and environment or (G70) Investment portfolio management; and
  • R03 = (J01) Personal tax.

* 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.

Coursework assignments

Unit (J09) Paraplanning is assessed by coursework assignments rather than a traditional examination. This involves the submission of three written assignments, all of which must be submitted within the 12 month enrolment period in order to achieve a pass. This means that all assignments, plus any re-submissions, must be submitted to the CII during the 12 month period.

'Successful completion' is where you obtain a minimum of 65% of the available marks for each of the three assignments. There is no exam element with this course.

Coursework assessments involve the application of knowledge to work-related questions and require you to explore issues in the workplace relevant to Paraplanning. The aim is that you should thereafter be able to apply this learning in the workplace.

Essential guidance

Before enrolling for unit J09, we recommend you familiarise yourself with the course requirements by reading our 'guidelines and instructions'.

You can also access our 'frequently asked questions'.

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.


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.


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.