Which Route To Take

The 2 most widely taken routes are the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning through the Chartered Institute of Insurance (CII) and the Diploma in Financial Advice through the Institute of Financial Services (IFS).

Route 1: Chartered Institute of Insurance (CII)

What does this involve?

You need to pass 6 units –

  • R01) Financial Services, Regulation & Ethics (20 credits)
  • R02) Investment Principles & Risk (20 credits)
  • R03) Personal Taxation (10 credits)
  • R04) Pensions & Retirement Planning (10 credits)
  • R05) Financial Protection (10 credits)
  • R06) Financial Planning Practice (30 credits)
How is it assessed?

You require 100 credits to achieve level 4 status.

  • R01 (Financial Services, Regulation & Ethics – 20 credits) – this is a 100 question multiple choice with the average pass score requirement of around 65%.
  • R02 (Investment Principles & Risk – 20 credits) – this is a 100 question multiple choice with the average pass score requirement of around 65%.
  • R03 (Personal Taxation – 10 credits) – this is a 50 question multiple choice with the average pass score requirement of around 65%.
  • R04 (Pensions & Retirement Planning – 10 credits) – this is a 50 question multiple choice with the average pass score requirement of around 65%.
  • R05 (Financial Protection – 10 credits) – this is a 50 question multiple choice with the average pass score requirement of around 70%.
  • R06 (Financial Planning Practice – 30 credits) – this is a written case study exam based on 2 case studies that are issued 2 weeks prior to the exam. The average pass score requirement is around 55%.
How much does it cost?
Module Study Text Exam Fee Combined Cost
Member * Non-Member Member * Non-Member Member * Non-Member
R01 (Financial Services, Regulation & Ethics) £106 £152 £120 £164 £226 £316
R02 (Investment Principles & Risk) £106 £152 £120 £164 £226 £316
R03 (Personal Taxation) £64 £85 £72 £95 £136 £180
R04 (Pensions & Retirement Planning) £64 £85 £72 £95 £136 £180
R05 (Financial Protection) £64 £85 £72 £95 £136 £180
R06 (Financial Planning Practice) £106 £152 £143 £188 £249 £340
Totals £510 £711 £599 £801 £1,109 £1,512

M:Members
N-M:Non-members

* Membership costs £73 for the year and, as can be seen from the cost savings above, it is definitely advisable to join if you intend to take this route.

Pros

  • This is an extensive course that will give you a broad understanding of the main areas of Financial planning.
  • The qualifications are also well regarded in the industry.
  • R01-05 are computer based exams and it is possible to study the text and book the exam within a short time frame rather than be restricted to 9 months like you are with the IFS Diploma. If you fail, you can instantly book on to another exam and re-sit whilst the knowledge is fresh in your mind.

Cons

  • This is a slower and more expensive route than the IFS (Diploma in Financial Advice).

Route 2: Institute of Financial Services (IFS)

What does this involve?

You need to pass 2 units –

  • 1) Financial Services Regulation & Ethics
  • 2) Advanced Financial Advice
How is it assessed?
  • You are given 9 months to complete the course.
  • Unit 1 (Financial Services Regulation & Ethics) – this assessment has to be completed within the first 4 months and the results will be confirmed within 6 weeks. You need to score 70% on a 100 question multiple choice test.
  • Unit 2 (Advanced Financial Advice) – this comes in 2 parts, first of all you have to complete a 4,000 word coursework on a subject of their choice. Following that you are sent a Fact Find to prepare for your written exam. Using the Fact Find you will be expected to complete a Suitability Report and answer some questions on related issues with a score of 50% required to pass.
How much does it cost?
  • This costs £585 to enter (£695 with tutor support). My colleagues that have taken this route have advised that the tutor support option is not necessary. Re-sits are £129.
  • IFS offer a membership option for £72 per annum, but this does not provide any discount on the course price or provide you with any tangible benefits.

Pros

  • By far the cheapest and fastest route to level 4. It would take less than 3 days on your new enhanced day rate to repay the initial outlay.

Cons

  • The course content is not as extensive as the CII syllabus and this qualification is not regarded as highly within the industry. A lot of self study will also be required.