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Personal Finance Society
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Targeted learning for operational development

The RQF Level 3 Certificate in Regulated Financial Services Operations is a flexible qualification that develops provides the essential knowledge and skills needed by those working in administrative and operational roles.

The Certificate offers the choice between two of five areas of life, pensions and investments, with each topic satisfying the FCA qualification requirements for overseers of certain administration and operations functions.  

The Certificate is an ideal next-step for holders of the CII Award in Financial Administration or CII Certificate in Investment Operations, only requiring completion of one further unit. 

The Certificate involves completion of three units, one from:

And two units 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 Certificate is particularly suitable for:

  • Operational or administrative staff working in financial services
  • 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
  • Blended learning package
  • Key fact booklets
  • Question packs
  • Audio revision

How you are 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 designation

Completion 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 Regulated Financial Services Operations 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 Regulated Financial Services Operations

Ofqual Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) Level Level 3
Number of available units 6 Certificate units and 1 Diploma unit
Compulsory units 1 unit:
• (R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics; or
• (CF1) UK financial services, regulation and ethics
Elective units 2 units from:
• (FA1) Life office administration; 
• (FA2) Pensions administration; 
• (FA4) Collective investment scheme administration;
• (FA5) Individual savings account administration; or
• (FA6) Investment client servicing
CII credits required to complete
(existing credits carried forward)
CII credits per unit • R01 - 20 credits
• CF1 - 15 credits
• FA1/FA2/FA4-FA6 - 10 credits
Exam format R01/CF1
• Online, 2 hours
• 100 multiple choice questions (MCQs)
• Online, 1 hour
• 50 MCQs

Average study time per unit • R01/CF1/FA1/FA2 - 60 hours
FA4-FA6 - 70 hours
Availability of exam sessions
(Details shown apply to the UK. Outside of the UK exams are offered twice-yearly)
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 Cert CII (FS)


Completion requirements

To complete the Certificate you need to obtain 35 CII credits by passing three units, which must include compulsory units R01 or CF1 and two units from: FA1, FA2, FA4, FA5 and FA6.

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 20 - Level 3 70%
FA1 10 - Level 3 60 1 hour online exam comprising 50 MCQs
FA4 70

* 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.

FA4 Collective investment scheme administration

At the end of this unit, candidates should understand the:
• main features of collective investment schemes;
• regulatory framework applicable to collective investment schemes;
• roles and responsibilities associated with collective investment schemes;
• registration process, dealing and settlement, contract notes/dematerialisation, transfers and

FA5 Individual savings account administration

At the end of this unit, candidates should understand the:
• main features and uses of Individual Savings Accounts;
• ISA investors and applications;
• ISA withdrawals, closure, deaths of investors, transfers;
• HMRC rules concerning ISAs.



FA6 Investment client servicing

At the end of this unit, candidates should understand the:
• investment client servicing cycle from setting up clients to closing customer accounts;
• rules applicable to client money;
• relevant conduct of business and client asset rules;
• processes involved in settlement;
• key features of investing in international markets.