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AF8 – How to Prepare & Pass

The AF8 Pension Income Planning advanced unit was introduced by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) a few years ago now (2019). It’s an assignment-based unit built around the submission and passing of three assignments based on a client fact find.

Is it a popular unit with candidates?

It is a very popular unit with candidates for three main reasons:

  • Once passed it gives the individual 30 valuable advanced CII credits.


  • The 2023 pass rate is 75%.


  • Assignments are submitted over a 12-month period.
AF8 Exam

What are the three assignments all about?

Assignment Number CII Requirements
Assignment 1 Assess the adequacy of the client(s) current financial arrangements to meet their immediate and longer-term objectives. You need to make sure you analyse any strengths and weaknesses in their current financial position.
Assignment 2 Evaluate a range of suitable and affordable options to help the client improve their current financial arrangements (so before they retire).
Assignment 3 Recommend and justify how the client(s) should use their savings, investments, and pensions to generate a sustainable, tax-efficient income of £xxx per annum throughout their retirement.
AF8 Exam
AF8 Exam

How tough is the 12-month submissions window?

It’s not a timeframe to be relaxed about. Candidates must consider the likelihood that they may need to resubmit one or more of their assignments (apparently Assignments 2 and 3 are the most common ones that candidates can fall down on). 

So earlier submissions are to be recommended… 

What is the ‘word on the street’ in relation to this unit?

BTS recently did a poll on social media, asking candidate three questions in terms of AF8 experiences and support available. 

14% of votes were for the option that said that yes, there was support out there, if you knew where to look. 

32% of votes were for the option of some support being available but it was patchy. 

And a whopping 54% of candidates voted for the option that said there was very little support and they had felt alone when completing their assignments. 

So that 75% pass rate may look appealing but many candidates find it much harder than it appears. And deferring success on one of more of your assignments is very common in practice. 

Why is there not more candidate support available? 

The main reason is that all three assignments need to be the candidate’s own work, not put together by using a provider’s materials. Which we understand and applaud for sure. 

However, there is very little to guide AF8 candidates on what good looks like – a few example CII exemplars are provided on their website, and that’s about it. And that is just not enough… 

What can a L&D provider such as BTS, do to help? 

Well, we have already started by producing some e-Learning that is made up of a general introduction to the unit, plus one module on each of the three assignments. Whilst we cannot give you a template on exactly what your assignments should look like we can share all the hints and tips we have picked up along the way. This includes the technical sites out there that you can use to reference key knowledge areas, plus useful tools such as chargeable gain calculators. 

This eLearning support is purchased for a 12-month enrolment period, as let’s face it any less than this would not be that helpful! 

We are also currently in the process of making this e-Learning even more useful, following extensive feedback from candidates that have gone through the experience themselves. We also have plans in the pipeline as well to develop some live demos of some of the tools out there that could help you with the body of your assignments. 

One of the key messages coming back from our candidates (and it’s not really a surprise) is the more complex some of your assignment detail is the better (this is an advanced unit after all). And it may be a pensions unit but the likelihood of a nice top slicing bond calculation or capital gains tax liability needing to be included is very high. So, the sort of stuff that you may be tempted to shy away from is just the sort of content you need to gird your loins with and include👍. 

Our final word on the subject of the AF8 unit – watch this space, there will be more support to come from Bespoke Training Solutions, for sure. 


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 information about the AF exams.  

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