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CII Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning

What is the CII Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning?

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) level 6 Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning develops specialist financial planning skills and knowledge.

To complete the Advanced Diploma, candidates must already hold the level 4 CII Diploma in Financial Planning or the CII Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning.

The Advanced Diploma is made up of a selection of units totalling 290 credits. Candidates must sit one mandatory unit, the AF5 Financial planning process (30 credits). The remaining credits can be made up of a combination of units. A total of 120 credits must be at level 6, taken from the AF exams (including the AF5), a further 40 credits must be at level 4 or above (the J0 and R0 exams), and the remaining 130 credits can come from any unit except LF1. 

What are the AF / J0 exams?

Each AF and J0 exam unit covers a specific area of the specialist technical knowledge.

  • AF1 and AF4 are assessed by written case study exams.
  • AF5 is assessed by a written fact find based exam.
  • AF6, AF8 and J09 are assessed by written coursework assignments.
  • AF7 is assessed by a written exam with 3-4 short answer questions and two case study based questions.
  • J02, J05, J07 are assessed by written short answer exams.
  • J10 is assessed by a multiple-choice exam.
  • J12 is assessed by a two hour exam comprising multiple-choice questions and five case study based multiple-choice questions.

The table below provides an overview of the units choices, their credits, pass mark, national pass rate, and the number of study hours recommended by the CII.

What order should you sit the AF / J0 exams?

Let’s assume you have done all your R0 papers as part of the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning and have at least 100 credits under your belt.  This means you have to achieve 190 credit shortfall with 120 of these credits coming from the Level 6 AF exams.

There is no one recommended panacea in relation to the order candidates sit their exams in, but there are some notably cross-overs in the syllabus which means you can maximise your study time by studying for similar units concurrently:

  • AF5 is mandatory and is an exam that focusses on the advice process, so it is similar to the level 4 R06 exam. To pass AF5, you’ll need to demonstrate detailed analysis and critical evaluation skills. Whilst it is a step-up from R06, sitting it off the back of an R06 pass can be a good strategy as the exam technique is so similar.
  • With the AF1 syllabus you will find crossover from R03 and J02. The exam tests various aspects of the different taxes and will always include technical knowledge around trusts and/or the taxation of the different trusts. 
  • Within AF4 there is cross-over with J10 and R02, covering asset classes, investment advice, portfolio construction, investment ratios and analysis, and investment performance and reviews.
  • J12 is another investment exam so again a good choice to maximise your credits. Note: The dealing, settlement, and clearing chapters are of course only relevant to the J12 module, but much of the rest of the syllabus is covered elsewhere, so if you have already completed R02, J10 and AF1, then J12 would be a great next choice!
  • AF7 is a bit of a tricky beast but with R04 in the bag then J05 (Pension Income Options) could be your next best bet! Unit AF7 forms the Level 6 Award in Regulated Pension Transfer Advice. 
  • Don’t be fooled into thinking the AF8 coursework exam 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 2,500 words and the third 3,000 words.

How long does it take to complete the CII Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning?

Timescales depend on what else you are doing in addition to your study.

The CII publish recommended study hours for each unit. It may take you more or less time depending on your other commitments.

Candidates sometimes find they can progress through some units quickly whilst other units can take a little longer. This can depend on your prior experience and knowledge, or even your preferences and interests. Studying a unit that interests you will usually feel much easier than one that is outside your comfort zone.

How do I achieve Chartered status?

In order to apply for Chartered Status with the CII you will need to: 

·    Hold the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning

·    Have five years’ relevant industry experience

·    Be a CII or PFS member and adhere to the CII’s Code of Ethics and Conduct

·    Demonstrate three years’ existing Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and commit to maintaining this activity

How do I enrol for the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning?

Exam booking optionsThe Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning is examined by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII).

Candidates need to enrol for each unit separately and can do so one at a time.

Each unit is ‘purchased’ from the CII website but be aware, the default option is to purchase ‘enrolment plus’ which includes the exam sitting and examining body revision aids.

Candidates do not have to purchase the examining body study text and revision aids. It is possible to purchase the unit as ‘assessment only’ which means just the exam voucher. You are then free to shop around for study materials that suit you.


You can read more about the CII Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning in the downloadable CII Qualifications Brochure.

The CII website also has several short videos to help candidates navigate the process of booking their exam. 

The videos are well explained and guide candidates through the processes in an easy-to-follow fashion.

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