I am often asked whether or not it is worth working towards the CII’s chartered status, to which I invariably answer “yes”.
However, uncertainty can stem from the number and mix of credits required to achieve the advanced diploma in financial planning, which is the qualification that forms part of the chartered status requirements.
So, let’s take a look at what is needed to achieve the advanced diploma.
A total of 290 credits are required, with at least 120 at advanced diploma level, 40 at diploma level or above, and the remaining credits at any level. This is where you need to know which units are at which level.
I am also often asked if some units are easier than others, which should be avoided and whether there are units that complement each other?
The wide range of units available can make the entire process confusing but, on the plus side, it does provide plenty of opportunity for you to pick and choose the which ones best suit your career and interests.
If you have a strong interest in one area, or simply want to take advantage of some of the overlaps between units, you may opt for taking similar units. For instance, there are a number of pensions units available. At level 6, we have AF7 pension transfers and AF8 retirement income planning, at level 4 we have R04 pensions and retirement planning and J05 pension income options, and at level 3 we have FA2 pensions administration and LP1 life and pensions customer operations.
You might be wondering why you would choose to sit a level 3 unit, but you may find you need an extra few credits at any level to achieve chartered, so a 10 or 15 credit level 3 unit could fit the bill.
Level 6 credits
A minimum of 120 credits are needed at level 6. These are the AF units, all of which offer 30 credits apart from AF7, which is a 20-credit unit. So, four or five units are required depending on whether or not you choose AF7.
The AF units available are:
- AF1 Personal tax and trust planning – 30 credits
- AF2 Business financial planning – 30 credits
- AF4 Investment planning – 30 credits
- AF5 Financial planning process (compulsory) – 30 credits
- AF6 Senior management and supervision- 30 credits
- AF7 Pension Transfers – 20 credits
- AF8 Retirement income planning (coursework-based) 30 credits
Level 4 credits
Many candidates will have achieved the diploma in regulated financial planning, which accounts for 100 credits at diploma level. If you achieved your diploma using a different route, then your options will be slightly different.
Assuming you already have the R01-6 exams, you have a range of level 4 options available:
- 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
- J09 Paraplanning – coursework-based and 30 credits
- J10 Discretionary investment management – 20 credits
- J11 Wrap and platform services – 20 credits
- J12 Securities advice and dealing – 20 credits
- R07 Advanced mortgage advice – 15 credits
Credits at other levels
When you have achieved the credits required at level 4 and level 6, you can opt for credits at any level. So, you may choose an easier level 3 unit where there is a wide variety of award and certificate level units on offer. Popular choices at this level are CF8 long-term care insurance and ER1 equity release.
There is no doubt mapping out your route to chartered takes time and research. The first port of call would be to download the qualifications brochure from the CII website and look at all the options available. Then work out which units you want to study for, and factor in timescales and when the exams can be sat.
Catriona Standingford is managing director at Brand Financial Training