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Key benefits

Why becoming Chartered will benefit you...

  • Differentiation
    You will join an elite group of financial advisers with proven, exceptional capability
  • Specialised knowledge
    You will deepen and broaden your experience through the Advanced Diploma, the route to Chartered status
  • Acknowledged professionalism
    'Chartered' offers professional parity, it opens doors to important new business streams from other professions
  • Public perception
    The title is the trusted mark of professionals and enjoys consumer preference

Available units

There are 6 Advanced Diploma units to choose from, each covering a key advisory topic. Note, AF5 is the only compulsory unit.


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.

And with study options at Advanced Diploma level providing online access to the relevant Diploma-level study texts, you can be sure you'll have access to the necessary technical knowledge.


Chartered suits you

There are many good excuses for not becoming Chartered, but no good reasons.

It won't take over your life

The Advanced Diploma has been designed with work-life balance in mind. It's flexible, adaptable and in-tune with the pressures and strains of modern living. Firstly, it's modular. You create a learning schedule to fit your other commitments. There's no fixed programme in terms of subject choice or enrolment timings and it's up to you when you sit the exam. Effectively, you pick up study as and when it's convenient for you.

You won't feel unsupported

Study support at this level includes case study workbooks that explore work-based scenarios - similar to those you'll complete in the exam and mirroring the work that you do. And you're given free access to online support tools including a knowledge check facility and 3 mock exams. You'll also be able to access electronic copies of relevant Diploma level study texts, so you can be sure you have the necessary technical knowledge. Audio revision and face-to-face revision courses are also available, providing extra support as the exams approach.

It isn't academic study

Crucially, you will see immediate and significant improvement in your capabilities. The Advanced Diploma isn't about academic study - each unit is designed to develop the practical knowledge and skills needed to deliver sophisticated, in-depth advice. So you can get better at your job straight away. Chartered status is a valuable business asset - it's not simply a title put after your name.

It doesn't cost the earth

Upgrading to the Advanced Diploma typically costs CII/PFS members, who already hold the Diploma, in the region of £1,100. And there is no upfront payment - you pay as you study - spreading the costs over the entire period. That's a lot less than other Chartered professions - and the returns, in terms of long-term earning potential, mean it represents fantastic value. And can you really put a price on true professional status?

Chartered research

This article summarises the findings from the latest Chartered research studies. It includes outcomes from consumer research, a study into the views and experiences of corporate Chartered Financial Planners title holders, and other Chartered professions' opinions on the Chartered Financial Planner title.

2012 consumer research

In April 2012, the CII ran a national survey assessing public attitudes towards Chartered status. The 2012 survey was conducted online nationally by Opinium Research: 2,015 adults

  • CII's Chartered status is six and a half times more recognised than the IFP's CFP*. 65% replied absolutely that they have heard of or seen qualifications/logos associated with Chartered, compared to only 10% who replied absolutely that they have heard of or seen qualifications/logos associated with CFP

*Institute of Financial Planning's Certified Financial Planner

  • Most people are more likely to use Chartered firms than firms without the Chartered title: 64% of customers who had a view (excluding the 'don't know's) said they would be more likely to use a Chartered practitioner than otherwise
  • Consumers who said that it makes no difference to them whether a practitioner is professional or not has decreased from 13% in 2009 to 10% in 2012
  • Only 5% thought that the existing benchmark of A-level (Level 3) was an appropriate level of qualification for someone advising on financial planning such as pensions, life assurance and taxation

Skandia research

Skandia UK surveyed 706 consumers (financial decision makers or at least joint financial decision makers) in July 2012 on their feelings towards independent versus restricted advice. The research found that the 'Chartered' status, the highest level of qualifications a financial adviser can achieve, is more important to consumers than the 'independent' label:

  • Consumers were asked whether they would prefer an independent or restricted adviser: 51% said they would prefer an independent adviser, compared to just 1% who said they would prefer restricting. 32% didn't mind, believing the quality of advice was most important
  • Researchers then asked consumers their thoughts on Chartered status. 86% found Chartered status to be attractive, with 49% considering it extremely attractive
  • Finally Skandia asked consumers what was more important, independent status or Chartered status by asking individuals what they would prefer: a restricted adviser with Chartered status or an independent adviser without Chartered status. Two thirds (67%) said they would prefer a restricted adviser with Chartered status - clearly showing when compared to the first bullet point that it is the expertise of the adviser which really matters to consumers

Skandia UK carried out an adviser confidence survey in Q3 of 2012 (closed 3 Sept 2012), in which 550 advisers were questioned.

  • Data from Skandia shows that 78% of advisers could reach Chartered status in the future - 18% of advisers surveyed are currently qualified to Chartered status - 29% are already studying towards it - 31% are thinking about studying towards it. If both these latter groups of advisers pass the exams the number of advisers with Chartered status will increase three fold. Just 22% of advisers do not have any intention of studying towards Chartered status
  • The survey also revealed that 86% of advisers believe Chartered status is of value - 45% of advisers considering it to be important or extremely important

Corporate Chartered Financial Planners research

Survey findings

The CII regularly conducts a short online survey of firms holding the Chartered Financial Planners title to see how Chartered status has impacted on perceptions of firms and also on key business metrics like winning business, increasing referrals and attracting staff. The last survey took place at the beginning of 2014.

What motivated firms to gain corporate Chartered status?

  • Demonstrate commitment to delivering a professional service - 97%

Firms say Chartered status has enhanced perception of the business as a professional organisation for...

  • Prospective customers - 91%
  • Other professionals (e.g. who may refer business) - 91%
  • Potential new staff - 87%
  • Other insurance/financial services businesses - 82%
  • Existing staff - 75%
  • Existing customers - 67%

Impact of Chartered on business metrics

  • 72% believe corporate Chartered status has helped attract more potential clients
  • 64% believe corporate Chartered status has helped win new business
  • 56% believe corporate Chartered status has helped increase referrals

Professional Referrals

J.P. Morgan: Professional Connections report

In May 2012, J.P. Morgan published a report adding to the growing consensus that Chartered status raises IFAs' competitiveness in professional markets. The new report surveys over 200 legal and accountancy firms across the UK, and finds that when evaluating advisers, these professions place very strong emphasis on qualifications, looking for firms with Chartered status

  • 62% of accountants and 68% of solicitors regarded holding Chartered status as important for evaluating a new IFA
  • 70% of solicitors and 83% of accountants already refer clients to an IFA, and both professions believe there is potential to increase this level of referral
  • When assessing an IFA, both solicitors and accountants put very high emphasis on recognised professional qualifications. Chartered status is highly sought after and considered very important by twice as many respondents (Accountants: 62%; Solicitors: 68%) as an IFA's length of experience (Accountants: 38%; Solicitors: 32%)

The Media

PressChoice 2012 * - What the media thinks of Chartered

  • 90% of journalists think Chartered status conveys commitment to ethics/ professional development. Out of that 90% group, 94% would recommend a Chartered practitioner over a non-Chartered practitioner

* Prestige journalists (editors and deputy editors of national personal finance sections)

Of all the qualifications and designations I know of, Chartered status has the strongest recognition among clients. It establishes your credentials straight away and puts the conversation on a whole different level.

Robin Melley, PFS
Chartered Financial Planner 

The beauty of studying for the Advanced Diploma is that you can see the link between what's on the page and what you're doing at work. My practical knowledge and skills increased almost from day one.

Stephen Jones, FPFS
Chartered Financial Planner

Become Chartered

A symbol of technical competence

Holding the Chartered Financial Planner title will place you at the pinnacle of the profession. And help ensure that you are recognised as such by your peers, your employer and, most importantly, by those seeking advice. 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.

If you have a CII Diploma under your belt, you will be well on your way to achieving the Advanced Diploma and, in turn, becoming a Chartered Financial Planner. Studying for the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning builds on the foundations laid at Diploma level, deepening your knowledge, enhancing your skill set, and better preparing you to offer a sophisticated approach to financial management.

In summary, this requires you to obtain 290 credits. CII Diploma holders already have more than a third of this number and, in many cases, more. The diagram below sets out more of the detail.

Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning

100 CII credits across six compulsory units


Diploma in Financial Planning

  • 140 CII credits (minimum 80 at Diploma level or above)
  • Relevant third-party degrees or professional qualifications can also count

Advanced Diploma in
Financial Planning

Obtain 290 CII credits:

  • Minimum 120 from AF1-AF6 (and withdrawn AFPC units) with AF5 bring compulsory
  • A further 40 must be at Diploma level or above.
  • Remaining credits can come from any of personal finance units, excluding LF1

Chartered Financial Planner

Eligibility criteria:

  • Hold the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning
  • Be a member of the PFS/CII
  • Have at least five years' sector experience (not necessarily post-qualification)

Chartered suits you

Becoming a Chartered Financial Planner takes commitment. It's challenging, but certainly achievable because it's designed with you in mind - select the 'Chartered suits you' link opposite to find out more.

Your next steps

Once you've read about how to become Chartered and how it will benefit you, we recommend you take the following next steps:

1. Obtain your personalised 'Advanced Diploma learning statement' to find out exactly what you need to do to complete.

2. Visit our qualifications section for full details on the Advanced Diploma including unit syllabuses, completion requirements and how to enrol.