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We live in the real world and are not full-time students so studying for exams means striking a balance between business, family and other commitments. The path to chartered status should not be taken lightly

Gary Hale
Gary Hale Director HK Wealth Managers

And so the journey continues… Well, I recall saying in my last update, all I need to do is pass four exams in two years and, of course, study very hard. I think I underestimated the commitment required to do this. After all, I do run my own business, I have a wife, I have two young sons and have various other commitments, including being a director of the Personal Finance Society. I’m not complaining but…

This is the real world we live in and fortunately or unfortunately we are not full-time students (my liver probably couldn’t handle it). We have to plan this journey appropriately and treat it with the respect it deserves. This is a journey to chartered status after all and should not be taken lightly. The advanced diploma subjects – as the course book suggests – are “significantly higher standards than those required in the Certificate in Financial Planning”.

Since my last update, I have enrolled to study the AF4 investment planning subject and I have entered the exam sitting on April 21. I have also applied for the diploma J06 investment principles, markets and environment study material as it is assumed candidate’s already have this knowledge.

The AF4 exam is testing the application of knowledge in a three-hour case study environment. Clients who feature in the advanced diploma case studies;

  • Generally have significantly higher levels of income and capital and
  • Require more sophisticated advice.

The AF4 workbook consists of two parts – part 1 considers the main investment planning issues followed by 12 case studies in part 2 ranging from low income pensioner through to interpreting company accounts, with detailed model answers.

To give me the best possible chance in these advanced subjects, I have also decided to attend the CII Face to Face training day and have booked to attend on April 1.

Full details of the support available for these subjects can be found at and The programme is structured to concentrate on the key elements of the syllabus, suggestions for effective revision and techniques for the exam.

I think I will need all the support I can get with these exams and studying can be very solitary so I think a revision course will be useful. I would
like to see more support developed to help advisers raise the bar through to chartered status as I don’t feel they should do it alone. I think some form of Chartered Academy to help advisers move from diploma through to chartered would be very beneficial.

In the meantime, I did receive a good suggestion for studying for advanced diploma subjects and that is to buddy up with a fellow member who is studying the same subject to share ideas, assist with complex sections and motivate each other to succeed.

Anyway, I have just realised I have only around five weeks to get the head down and study.

I will update you next time on how the study is going and on how the revision course went. Until then…

Sample diploma questions from the CII


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