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CII Certificate in Paraplanning

What is the CII Certificate in Paraplanning?

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) Certificate in Paraplanning is a level 4 qualification. It offers a dedicated route for those looking to develop skills and technical knowledge in key areas of the financial planning process. 

The CII Certificate in Paraplanning is made up of four core units. Candidates must complete the following units; J09 Paraplanning, R02 Investment principles and risk, R03 Personal taxation, and either R01 Financial services, regulation and ethics or CF1 UK Financial services, regulation and ethics.

Which units are included in the Certificate in Paraplanning?

Each exam unit covers a specific area of core technical knowledge assessed on the Certificate.

CF1, R01, R02 and R03 are assessed by multiple-choice exams. J09 is assessed by three written coursework assignments.

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

Note: Candidates must chose to take either CF1 or R01.

Exam Recommended study hours Credits Pass mark National pass rate (2021)
CF1 UK Financial Services, Regulation and Ethics 60 15 70% 63%
R01 Financial services, regulation and ethics 60 20 65% 69%
R02 Investment principles and risk 60 20 65% 65%
R03 Personal taxation 50 10 65% 57%
J09 Paraplanning 100 30 65% 78.6%

What is the difference between CF1 and R01?

Candidates have a choice to either sit CF1 or R01. The main difference between these two units is the exam level. CF1 is a level 3 certificate unit whereas R01 is a level 4 diploma unit. 

CF1 is a good entry level unit for someone very new to the industry, or someone new to exams of this level. Having said that, there is significant overlap in content between the two units, so for a candidate considering going on to the study for the Diploma in the future, R01 is a better option.

What order should you sit the exams?

There is no one recommended panacea in relation to the order candidates sit their exams in.

For candidates new to the industry, we usually recommending starting with R01 Financial services, regulation and ethics as this provides a sound knowledge base which is relevant to each of the other units.

It is advisable to take R03 Personal taxation and R02 Investment principles and risk fairly closely together as there is significant syllabus cross-over between these two units.

What are the exams like?

CF1 and R01 – R03 are on-screen multi-choice exams where you have to identify the correct answer from a set of possible answers. This is trickier than it sounds when the options include clever distractors with plausible answers!

CF1, R01 and R02 are both two-hour papers with 100 questions.

R03 is a one-hour papers with 50 questions per paper. R03 in particular can feel time-pressured due to the number of calculations on the paper.

J09 is assessed by three written coursework assignments.

How long does it take to complete the CII Certificate in Paraplanning?

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. If you are approaching this on a full time basis, where study is your only or main focus, you could expect to pass each unit in 4-8 weeks.

If you are working as well as studying however, then it may take 3-4 months per unit (or longer).

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.

It’s worth pointing out that being a good paraplanner is not all about the qualifications. It will take longer to gain experience in doing the job. Skills such as technical research, effective communication, and report writing can take months of practice to hone.

How do I enrol for the Certificate in Paraplanning?

Exam booking optionsThe Certificate in Paraplanning 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 Certificate in Paraplanning 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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