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AF8 – ‘Critical’ things you need to know

How to tackle AF8

The objective of Retirement Income Planning (AF8) is to develop and demonstrate the advanced skills needed for advising on income planning to those in and approaching retirement. Based on three written coursework assignments testing your ability to critically analyse. The requirement to be ‘critical’ is a key component of level 6 qualifications.

Don’t let the 12 month time frame fool you into thinking AF8 is an ‘easy’ option – it’s not! You have to submit each assignment within a maximum timescale – Assignment 1 within 3 months of enrolment, Assignment 2 within 6 months and Assignment 3 within 9 months. AF8 is assessed on submission of 3 written coursework assignments, the first two must be a maximum 2,500 words and the third 3,000 words (with 10% leeway should you go over this word count).

AF8 'Critical' things you need to know

How to approach and prepare for each assignment

Assignment 1 –Getting to know your clients. Assess the adequacy of your clients current finances to meet their immediate and longer-term objectives. Analyse any strengths and weaknesses in their current financial position. This assignment is about showing you know your clients. 

Assignment 2 – Analysing and evaluating your recommendations. Evaluate a range of suitable and affordable options to improve your clients current financial arrangements. You also need to demonstrate why you have identified particular option. Many find this a tricky assignment in terms of understanding what the CII are looking for.

Assignment 3 – Recommend and justify how your clients should use their assets to generate a specific, sustainable, tax-efficient income throughout their retirement. You must get the whole recommendation process right, and demonstrate that you are able to provide a coherent strategy that will meet the client retirement income needs. This assignment is the one where people often do not achieve a pass first time round.

The key differences between a ‘descriptive’ piece of work and ‘critical’ writing is that the former simply demonstrates what you know. The latter demonstrates that you have thought about what you know sufficiently to be able to evaluate the best option for the client/s, with reasons-why, based on facts and reasoned assessments whilst always referring back to your client-specific details on your case study.

AF8 – ‘Critical’ things you need to know

Using our AF8 E-learning module

✅We will show you how to start constructing your first assignment and give you tips on areas to consider.

✅We help break down the key terms of the CII’s brief to help you understand how you should tackle each assignment. We also look at questions you should be asking yourself, and areas you should be thinking about when constructing assignment 2.

✅We look at how to construct assignment 3, what to consider to ensure you are fully analysing recommendations and providing justifications to support these. We also provide pointers as to where others have gone wrong with this assignment in the past to make sure you don’t!


View Our AF8 Exam overview/toolkit to purchase any AF8 Study support including Study Guides, e-Learning modules, online workshops and study buddy. 

Chat with other AF8 candidates in the dedicated BTS AF8 online forum room to help keep up to date , find out any new information and gain help and advise from others.

Read another insightful article ‘The CII Level 6, Advanced Diploma Exam Pass Rates’ to find out more about information about the AF exams.   

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