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Personal Finance Society
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Become a pension transfers specialist

The level 4 Certificate in Pension Transfer Advice develops the in-depth knowledge and practical skills needed by anyone seeking to advise on the transfer of safeguarded benefits, an increasingly important part of the advice process following the Government’s pension reforms.

The Certificate satisfies the appropriate FCA qualification requirements for those wanting to undertake pension transfer activities.

Read the qualification specification here.

Find out more about enhancements being made to CII Level 6 pensions units >

Who’s it for?

  • Retail investment advisers and non-advisers alike seeking to undertake pension transfer work and become pension transfer specialists
  • Retail investment advisers, paraplanners, technical consultants and those in financial planning support roles wanting to update their knowledge in this area

FCA announcement – October 2018

The Certificate in Pension Transfer Advice meets the current FCA requirements to be a pension transfer specialist. However, the FCA have announced in October 2018 that, from 2020, those requirements will increase so that all pension transfer specialists will have to have the full qualification for retail investment advice. For many people this will entail no new qualification requirement as they already hold the CII’s Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning or Diploma in Financial Planning. However, those holding only the Certificate in Pension Transfer Advice will need to undertake further qualification study.

The FCA’s October 2018 announcement does not immediately change anyone’s qualification to practise. We already had draft plans to create clear guidance and a path to qualification in line with the new rules when they came out and were awaiting the final direction of the FCA decisions. Now that this has been confirmed, we will finalise and publicise our plans soon.

Recognition of prior learning

Before studying, check to see whether any of your previous academic qualifications or credits from other professional bodies and institutes can be carried towards completion of the Certificate.

Find out more about recognition of prior learning >

Completion requirements

The Certificate involves completion of four units from the Personal Finance qualifications framework, providing 70 credits on completion.

See our key information link to the right of this page for details

For further information, see our key information link to the right of the page

Assessment method

Certificate level units (R0 units) are assessed by multiple-choice question exam (MCQ). For online MCQ exams, result notification is immediate on completion. For paper-based MCQ exams, results are released five weeks’ following the exam sitting. Unit AF7 is assessed by written short answer and case study based exam questions.

Find out more about assessments, including policies and exam centres >

Learning support

Each qualification unit comes with the essential tools to support core learning. For a single fee, study packages typically include: study text, assessment entry and access to RevisionMate, our online study tool.

We also offer additional study materials to support individual learning. These range from key fact booklets and next-edition study texts, to question packs and Learn interactive tutorials.

For full unit availability, click the unit links to the right of this page


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).

This qualification in detail

Key information

What does the qualification involve?

The Certificate comprises four core units from the Personal Finance qualifications framework providing 70 credits on successful completion.

Candidates are required to take the following compulsory units:

  • (R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics
  • (R02) Investment principles and risks
  • (R04) Pensions and retirement planning
  • (AF7) Pension transfers

There is no prescribed order in which units must be taken, however as AF7 builds on knowledge gained from R04, we recommend you complete R04 before moving on to AF7.

For the unit syllabuses, return to the Certificate in Pension Transfer Advice landing page where you will find the syllabus link at the top right of the page.


Unit overview:


Assessment method

Study hours*

Credits awarded

Unit level






(R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics

·         2-hour exam

·         100 multiple choice questions

·         65% nominal pass mark**




(R02) Investment principles and risk

·         2-hour exam

·         100 multiple choice questions

·          65% nominal pass mark**




(R04) Pensions and retirement planning

·         1-hour exam

·         50 multiple choice questions

·         65% nominal pass mark**




(AF7) Pension transfers

·         2-hour exam

·         3-4 written short answer questions

·         2 case study based questions

·         60% nominal pass mark**




Find out more about assessment methods, including exam policies and centres »

Units treated as equivalent

Due to the extent of syllabus overlap, certain combinations of current and withdrawn CII units will result in only one award of credits.

If a withdrawn equivalent is held you may not need to complete a current unit in order to satisfy a qualification's completion rules. Clarification should always be sought from CII Customer Service.

Find out more about credit awards for equivalent units »

*The recommended minimum study hours will vary depending on your experience and ability.

** The actual pass mark may vary from one session to another to ensure consistency in pass standards.

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.


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.

R04 Pensions and retirement planning

At the end of this unit candidates will be able to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and skill in applying the following topic areas:

  • the main tax and legal frameworks applicable to pension schemes;
  • the features of defined contributions and defined benefit pension schemes;
  • state retirement benefits including risks and suitability of contracting out;
  • the aims and objectives of retirement planning including relevant investment issues.

(AF7) Pension transfers

At the end of this unit candidates will be able to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and skill in applying the following topic areas:

  • explain fundamental aspects of the pension transfer process;
  • explain the implications of transferring between different types of pensions; and

advise on pension transfers in a range of client specific circumstances and scenarios.