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Which level 4 exams are right for your staff?

There is a bewildering choice of exams at level 4, all tested in different ways.

Here, I want to look at two of the most popular routes: the CII’s Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning and Diploma in Financial Planning.

There are, of course, options from other examining bodies such as the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment, and the London Institute of Banking and Finance.

Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning

The Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning (not to be confused with the Diploma in Financial Planning) is a level 4 qualification that meets the FCA requirements for retail investment advisers.  It is also widely held by paraplanners and technical specialists, as well as those in supporting roles. There are six units – R01, R02, R03, R04, R05 and R06 – with most tested online via multiple-choice exams.

R01 (Financial services, regulation and ethics) and R02 (Investment principles and risk) are two hour exams of 100 questions. The majority of questions are multiple-choice but there are also a number of multi-response questions.

Exam options for entry-level staff

With multiple-choice questions only one answer is correct; with multi-response there will be between four and six answer options. More than one of these options is correct (usually it is just two and very rarely more than three). Both exams give 20 credits with a nominal pass mark of 65 per cent.

R03 (Personal taxation) and R04 (Pensions and retirement planning) both have 50 questions, which must be completed in just one hour. The nominal pass mark is 65 per cent and both exams give 10 credits. Again, the majority of questions are multiple-choice but there are also a number of multi-response questions.

R05 (Financial protection) is arguably the easiest of the six. Providing 10 credits for a one hour exam, there are 50 multiple-choice questions and no multi-response. The pass mark is 70 per cent.

Many candidates like multiple-choice exams sat online, because as soon as you press the “finish” button you find out whether you have passed or failed.  This is better than waiting weeks for results and allows you to plan for the next exam immediately.

R06 (Financial planning practice) is a very different type of exam. It is written sat in an exam hall, and made up of two case studies made available by the CII two weeks before.

It draws on knowledge gained in previous exams so it is advisable to leave this paper until last. It is a three hour paper with a nominal pass mark of 55 per cent giving 30 credits. Candidates must wait six weeks for their result.

CII Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning pass rates for 2017
R01 64%
R02 63%
R03 49%
R04 55%
R05 78%
R06 73%

Diploma in Financial Planning

Also a level 4 qualification, this meets the FCA requirements subject to gap fill. It is most suitable for candidates who already hold CII exam credits that count towards completion. The units are tested in different ways.

J02 (Trusts), J03 (Legal aspects of business), J05 (Pension income options) and J07 (Supervision) are two hour written exams of 15 short answer questions.

J11 (Wrap and platforms) is also a two hour written exam made up of short answer and two essay style questions. The results are released approximately two months after the exam.

Which Level 6 option is right for you?

J10 (Discretionary management) and J12 (Securities advice and dealing) are two hour exams tested by multi-choice questions and case studies.  As they are online exams, results are given immediately.

J09 (Paraplanning) is, as the name suggests, aimed at paraplanners and is tested by three coursework assignments of between 2,000 to 3,000 words.

CII Diploma in Financial Planning pass rates for 2017
J02 51%
J03 50%
J05 69%
J07 49%
J10 86%
J11 47%
J12 74%

Whichever route is best for you or your staff depends on previous exams sat, although the majority go down the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning route, sitting the R0 ones.

Catriona Standingford is managing director at Brand Financial Training



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There are 2 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Must we always only consider CII?

    • Sam I thought the article is some what biased and does not consider other level four examinations by other professional bodies

      May be editor a bit balance is required here

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