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Tailor your financial planning learning pathway

The RQF level 4 Diploma in Financial Planning meets the FCA’s qualification requirements for retail investment advisers (subject to gap fill), and develops core technical understanding across a broad range of key advisory areas. 

Read the Diploma in Financial Planning specification >>

Who’s it for?

  • Those seeking to give retail investment advice, in particular those who already hold CII credits that count towards completion (otherwise, the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning is more suitable)
  • Paraplanners, technical consultants, and those in financial planning support roles  


Entry requirements

One of the following CII qualifications, or equivalent, must be held to complete the Diploma:

  • Certificate in Financial Services (General route)
  • Certificate in Financial Services (Life and pensions route)
  • Certificate in Regulated Financial Services Operations
  • Withdrawn Certificate in Financial Planning


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 Diploma.

To be awarded the Diploma, you must obtain at least one CII Diploma-level J0 or R0 unit.

Find out more about recognition of prior learning >


Completion requirements

With no compulsory units, the Diploma in Financial Planning lets you tailor your learning pathway to reflect your needs. A total of 140 credits must be achieved to be awarded the Diploma.

At least 80 credits must be at Diploma level (J02, J03, J05, J07, J09-J12, R01-R04, R06-R08).

The following also count towards this requirement:

  • One Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning unit (AF1-AF8) - or a maximum of 30 Advanced Diploma non-specific credits awarded after 2006
  • Advanced Diploma level credits from withdrawn AFPC units, credits from some specified units in the general insurance framework.

The remaining credits can come from any CII financial services units, excluding LF1 and subject to a maximum of 30 Advanced Diploma unit credits. A total of 140 credits must be achieved. The credits can consist of any CII financial services non-specific credits or credits from financial services units, excluding LF1, credits from some specified units in the general insurance framework. This requirement is subject to a maximum of 30 credits gained from Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning units (AF1-AF8) counting towards the qualification as a whole.

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

Members are entitled to use the designation DipPFS, subject to membership and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements.


Assessment methods

Diploma level units are assessed by multiple-choice question exam (MCQ), written case study based exam or by coursework assignment. 

For online MCQ exams, result notification is immediate on completion. For paper-based MCQ exams, results are released five weeks following the exam sitting. Written exam results are normally released 6-8 weeks following exam sitting, and coursework results are released 40 days following submission.

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

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).

This qualification in detail

Key information

What does the qualification involve?

In order to complete the Diploma in Financial Planning:

 

  1. One of the following CII qualifications, or equivalent, must be held; Certificate in Financial Services (General route or Life and pensions route), Certificate in Regulated Financial Services Operations or the withdrawn Certificate in Financial Planning.
  2. You must pass at least one unit from the Diploma in Financial Planning by CII assessment.
  3. At least 80 credits must be at Diploma level. The following also count towards this requirement:
      • One Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning unit (AF1-AF8) - or a maximum of 30 Advanced Diploma non-specific credits awarded after the end of 2006.
      • Advanced Diploma level credits from withdrawn AFPC units, credits from some specified units in the general insurance framework.
  4. A total of 140 credits must be achieved. The credits can consist of any CII financial services non-specific credits or credits from financial services units, excluding LF1, credits from some specified units in the general insurance framework. This requirement is subject to a maximum of 30 credits gained from Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning units (AF1-AF8) counting towards the qualification as a whole.

Unit overview:

Unit

Assessment method

Study hours*

Credits awarded

Unit level

 

 

 

 

 

(J02) Trusts

·         2-hour exam

·         Written short answer questions

·         55% nominal pass mark**

100

20

4

(J03) The tax and legal aspects of business

·         2-hour exam

·         Written short answer questions

·         55% nominal pass mark**

100

20

4

(J05) Pension income options

·         2-hour exam

·         Written short answer questions

·         55% nominal pass mark**

100

20

4

(J07) Supervision in a regulated environment

·         2-hour exam

·         Written short answer questions

·         55% nominal pass mark**

100

20

4

(J09) Paraplanning

·         3 written coursework assignments, each typically 2,000 to 3,000 words

·         65% nominal pass mark

100

30

4

(J10) Discretionary investment management

·         2-hour exam

·         70 multiple choice questions and 4 case studies each comprising 5 multiple choice questions

·         65% nominal pass mark**

80

20

4

(J11) Wrap and platform services

·         2-hour exam

·         Written Short answer questions plus 2 essay-style questions

·         55% nominal pass mark**

100

20

4

(J12) Securities advice and dealing

·         2-hour exam

·         60 multiple choice questions and 3 case studies each comprising 5 multiple choice questions

70

20

4

(R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics

·         2-hour exam

·         100 multiple choice questions

·         65% nominal pass mark**

60

20

4

(R02) Investment principles and risk

·         2-hour exam

·         100 multiple choice questions

·         65% nominal pass mark**

60

20

4

(R03) Personal taxation

·         1-hour exam

·         50 multiple choice questions

·         65% nominal pass mark**

50

10

4

(R04) Pensions and retirement planning

·         1-hour exam

·         50 multiple choice questions

·         65% nominal pass mark**

50

10

4

(R05) Financial protection

·         1-hour exam

·         50 multiple choice questions

·         70% nominal pass mark**

50

10

3

(R06) Financial planning practice

·         3-hour exam comprising 2 written case studies on financial planning practice (candidates receive the case studies 2 weeks prior to exam sitting)

·         55% nominal pass mark**

100

30

4

(R07) Advanced mortgage advice

·         2-hour exam

·         55 multiple choice questions and 4 case studies each comprising 5 multiple choice questions

·         65% nominal pass mark**

70

15

4

(R08) Pensions update (withdrawing August 2018)

·         1-hour exam

·         40 multiple choice questions and 1 case study comprising 5 multiple choice questions

·         65% nominal pass mark**

50

10

4

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.

Your completion requirements

For your personalised Diploma completion requirements, based on the CII exams you already hold, request your learning statement online now.

Syllabuses

GR1 Group risks

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to understand the:

  • nature and purpose of employee benefits;
  • main elements of the State benefits system in the UK;
  • legislative and regulatory context in which group risk operates;
  • principles and operation of group risk schemes;
  • group risk product features and the taxation of premiums and benefits;
  • role of the intermediary, the insurer and the reinsurer.

J02 Trusts

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the:

  • legal principles associated with the creation and management of a trust;
  • main types of trusts that are common in the UK;
  • taxation considerations relevant to trusts.

J03 The tax and legal aspects of business

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to demonstrate an understanding of:

  • the main legal forms of business and how they are set up and managed;
  • the consequences of bankruptcy or insolvency;
  • business accounts and financial controls;
  • the taxation of each type of business entity, its owners and employees;
  • the main legal responsibilities businesses have to employees, suppliers and customers;
  • the use of insurance and associated trust and legal arrangements in business protection;
  • the main uses of pensions for business planning.

J05 Pensions income options

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the:

  • process of decumulating pension funds and the main issues for clients and advisers;
  • main choices facing members of pensions schemes during decumulation;
  • features, risks and tax treatment of the secured pension option;
  • features, risks and tax treatment of phased retirement;
  • features, risks and tax treatment of the alternatively secured pension option.

J07 Supervision in a regulated environment

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to demonstrate an understanding of:

  • the supervisor's role in a regulated organisation;
  • the principles and practices of recruitment and training;
  • attaining, maintaining and supervising competence;
  • management information and performance standards;
  • Financial Services regulation and guidance;
  • the legal and regulatory aspects of employment and supervision.

 

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.

 

J10 Discretionary investment management

At the end of this unit, candidates will be able to advise clients on a range of discretionary investment management issues, including:

  • establish and meeting client objectives;
  • the behaviour, performance, risk profile and correlation of key investment types;
  • the role of the investment manager;
  • discretionary and non-discretionary portfolio management;
  • investment fund objectives and approaches;
  • the fundamentals of economics applicable to investment management;
  • how investment returns are related to investment risk;
  • the principles of portfolio theory;
  • performance measurement;
  • data regression;
  • indices;
  • the principles of performance measurement;
  • financial analysis;
  • ratio analysis;
  • information sources and disclosure obligations and bias thereof;
  • the principles of performance management and portfolio theory;
  • analysis and interpretation of financial information and ratios.

J11 Wrap and platform services

At the end of this unit, candidates will be able to demonstrate an understanding of:

  • the use of platforms in providing financial services;
  • the legal issues specific to using platform services;
  • the specific regulatory issues impacting upon platform services;
  • the suitability of platforms in meeting client requirements;
  • the corporate wrap proposition.

J12 Securities advice and dealing

At the end of this unit, candidates shouble be able to demonstrate an understanding of:

  • the features and risks of different securities;
  • the structure and features of the securities market;
  • relevant factors and considerations for appropriate investment recommendations.

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.

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.

R05 Financial protection

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to understand the:

  • purpose and scope of financial protection products and how they interact with State benefits;
  • main features and functions of the different types of contracts and how they are arranged in order to meet the individual client's protection needs;
  • main protection needs of businesses

 

R06 Financial planning practice

This unit enables candidates to demonstrate their expertise in the application of the financial planning process through combining and applying learning content from all the other units in the CII QCF level 4 Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning:

  • Financial services, regulation and ethics;
  • Investment principles and risk;
  • Personal taxation;
  • Pensions and retirement planning;
  • Financial protection.

R07 Advanced mortgage advice

At the end of this unit, candidates should be able to:

  • explain the key elements of the mortgage process;
  • explain the specialist types of mortgage lending;
  • explain the main challenges in the mortgage industry; and
  • recommend the appropriate mortgage advice to clients with complex needs and circumstances.

R08 Pensions update

At the end of this unit, candidates should understand the:

  • changes introduced by the Taxation of Pensions Act 2014;
  • changes to the State pension provision from 06 April 2016;
  • key factors to take into account when advising clients on their retirement income.