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What is the right route to chartered status?

The right path to take comes down to personal choices involving timescales and units

Are you working towards chartered status as a financial planner and wondering where to start? In CII-speak, you will need 290 credits to meet the qualifications requirement. A minimum of 120 must be at advanced diploma level, 40 at diploma level or above and the remaining credits at any level. But what does that really mean?

Let’s look at Katy. She has achieved the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning by sitting R01 to 6, which provide 100 credits. She has not sat any other exams, so will need an additional 190 credits to gain the 290 required. What are her options to achieving chartered status?

Advanced diploma level

As a minimum of 120 credits must be at advanced diploma level (to achieved the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning qualification), Katy must sit at least four AF units. Her options are:

  • AF1, Personal tax and trust planning – 30 credits
  • AF2, Business financial planning – 30 credit
  • AF3, Pension planning (last exam sitting is in April 2018) – 30 credits
  • AF4, Investment planning – 30 credits
  • AF5, Financial planning process (this unit is compulsory) – 30 credits
  • AF6, Senior management and supervision – 30 credits
  • AF7, Pension Transfers  – 20 credits
  • AF8, Retirement income planning – coursework-based and offering 30 credits.

Katy’s main area of interest is pensions and pension transfers, so she looks at AF3 – but it does concern her the last sitting is in April. She also looks at AF7 but finds the numbers do not really add up: AF7 only offers 20 credits whereas passing AF3 would give her 30. She briefly considers AF8 but is not keen on coursework so rules it out.

After much thought, she opts for:

  • AF1, Personal tax and trust planning – 30 credits
  • AF3, Pension planning – 30 credits
  • AF4, Investment planning – 30 credits
  • AF5, Financial planning process – 30 credits.

Diploma-level credits

Katy has already gained credits for her R0 exams at this level but she is keen to sit other diploma-level exams that will be of use to her in her career. She finds there are a wide variety of options. She now has available to her:

  • J02, Trusts – 20 credits
  • J03, The tax and legal aspects of business – 20 credits
  • J05, Pension income options – 20 credits
  • J07, Supervision in a regulated environment – 20 credits
  • J10, Discretionary investment management – 20 credits
  • J11, Wrap and platform services – 20 credits
  • J12, Securities advice and dealing – 20 credits
  • J09, Paraplanning – coursework-based and 30 credit
  • R07, Advanced mortgage advice – 15 credits
  • R08, Pensions update – 10 credits.

Given the number of options available, Katy decides it is wise to sit diploma-level exams that best match with the advanced diploma AF1, AF3, AF4 and AF5 exams she has chosen. She chooses:

  • J02, Trusts which fits nicely with AF1 Personal tax and trust planning
  • J05, Pension income options which fits nicely with AF3 Pension Planning and her interest in pensions
  • J10, which fits nicely with AF4 Investment planning.

These provide 60 credits in total.

Award and certificate level

Katy needs to find a remaining 10 credits and decides to take a look at the wide variety of award and certificate level exams on offer. She opts for CF8, Long term care insurance, as she feels this may be of most use to her in the future. This provides 15 credits.


One factor that may affect your choices is when the exam units can be sat. AF exam sittings and most J exam sittings are only twice a year in April and October.

This results in a significant delay if a candidate does not pass an exam and has to wait an additional six months for a resit. However, there is always the option of sitting a year-round exam in-between (such as CF8 or J12).

Some candidates sit similar exams at the same time to keep the length of time taken to get to chartered to a minimum and to focus on one subject area with the maximum amount of possible credits, for example, AF1 and J02, AF3 and J05, or AF4 and J10.

Katy may decide to sit AF3 and J05 in October, followed by CF8 in early 2018 and then both AF1 and J02 in April 2018, AF4 and J10 in October 2018 and finally AF5 in April 2019. You can see how long this takes even if you pass each exam first time.

The route each individual takes to chartered status is personal to them but the amount of time required for studying and the overall timescales involved in passing all the units must be considered. It is a big undertaking but it is worth it to stay on top of the game.

Catriona Standingford is managing director at Brand Financial Training



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There are 4 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. This article appears to have overlooked that you can become chartered via CISI and if you are really clever via CFA.

    • That assumes the goal is simply becoming Chartered Harrey rather than learning specific areas to a specific level of detail.
      I am neither (yet Harry) and seem to be taking the longest route possible at the moment as I have enough points to be a Fellow, but not enough at Advanced level (just 30 so far)and doing AF7 is not going to mvoe me furtehr forward as 20 points at advanced is useless as there are no 10 pint exams, which is a bit like when I argued with the CII about my diploma as I had 143 points, but they wouldn’t accept 5 of them and nor my banking qualifications (so to prove I still knew enough about banking I sat the CII’s Banking qualification too).
      I am more interested in LEARNING. Knowing you’ve passed unless it is needed for a ceratin area of business, is just confirmation for oneself that you do know the technical side of things.

      • Judging by my typing it might look like I have opted for a 10 “pint” exam, but don’t worry I haven’t started drinking at 9.20am, I am just a very bad typist who fails to spellcheck before pressing “submit”
        Fortunately AF6 and AF8, although being coursework based are done using word, so it spellchecks unlike these blogs.

        • ha ha……I would luv a 10 pint exam… that really is my type of studying!!!
          So much choice these days – but learning by studying and then applying that knowledge to your daily work is key to value! To study and then not use it-is a sure quick way to lose that knowledge pretty quickly (especially with the many changes we constantly see in our industry)! Nice article

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