Candidate feedback from the first sitting of the AF7 Pension Transfers unit has been encouraging
Last year, the Chartered Insurance Institute launched its new Certificate in Pension Transfer Advice qualification, which includes the new CII AF7 Pension Transfers unit.
The new CII AF8 Retirement Income Planning unit was launched at the same time to replace the headache-inducing AF3 Pension Planning unit, which had a pass rate far below the 50 per cent mark.
The move to replace AF3 with the new AF7 and AF8 units was broadly welcomed. With the first AF7 having been sat in October and the next one just around the corner, let’s take a look at the unit and boarder qualification in more detail.
The Certificate in Pension Transfer Advice is a great place to start for those looking to advise on the transfer of safeguarded benefits, although they would also do well to look at options offered by other examining bodies such as the London Institute of Banking and Finance Award in Pension Transfers (AwPETR).
The Certificate satisfies the FCA qualification requirements for pension transfer activities but it is a Level 4 qualification, unlike other examining bodies that offer a Level 6 solution.
There are two schools of thought here: some might argue it would be better to go elsewhere for a Level 6 qualification, but others would ask why bother going down a more complicated route if you can meet the FCA requirements with a Level 4 qualification.
To achieve the Certificate in Pension Transfer Advice you must pass the CII’s AF7 Pension Transfers unit along with its R01 Financial Services, Regulation and Ethics unit, R02 Investment Principles and Risk unit and R04 Pensions and Retirement Planning unit.
Many will already have achieved R01, R02 and R04 through their Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning qualification. If you have sat other equivalent exams then do check with the CII they will be recognised as part of this qualification, and what steps you may need to take in that regard.
R01, R02 and R04 are all Level 4 multiple choice question exams that can be sat year-round but AF7 is very different.
While the wider Certificate in Pension Transfer Advice is a Level 4 qualification, AF7 itself is a Level 6 unit examined by way of a short-answer written exam with two case study based questions. So expect it to be tougher.
Note also that AF7 contributes credits towards the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning. But do bear in mind that AF7 is worth 20 Advanced Diploma credits whereas other AF units are worth 30 credits.
This can put a bit of a spanner in the works if you are also working towards the Advanced Diploma, as you require 120 credits to achieve that, which would normally require four AF exams worth 30 credits each. If you sit AF7, you will still need to sit an additional four AF exams to reach the minimum 120 credits required.
The second sitting of AF7 is in April and we are very interested to see how it pans out. The first sitting in October was met with an overall feeling of positivity, with candidates reporting it was a relatively straightforward exam.
In comparison with the hefty AF3 Pension Planning exam which was the predecessor to the AF7 and AF8 Retirement Income Planning units and has its last sitting in April, AF7 was a source of great relief for many.
But this attitude could lead to a tougher AF7 paper this April. We will have to wait and see.
Further information on the CII Certificate in Pension Transfer Advice and AF7 can be found at:
Catriona Standingford is managing director at Brand Financial Training