The CII introduces diploma in financial planning

The Chartered Insurance Institute is to introduce a diploma in financial planning for 2006 as part of the phased replacement of the advanced financial planning certificate with a new modular qualifications framework.

In the eight years since the last major review of the AFPC there have been significant changes not only in regulation and distribution but also in the products available and consumer expectations.

These changes and the need to more closely tailor the examinations to suit the business and career plans of financial planners have been the driving force in creating the diploma, which offers a choice of seven new units. These include personal tax (J01), trusts (J02), the tax and legal aspects of business (J03), pension funding options (J04), pension income options (J05), investment principles, markets and environment (J06) and supervision in a regulated environment (J07).

Bob Bullivant, deputy director general at CII and chairman of the Personal Finance Society, says: “When we embarked on this review we spent a lot of time talking to our clients and financial planners and the message that came through loud and clear was to make the syllabuses (and examinations) more relevant to their business, job role and career aspirations.

“Our aim therefore has been to break the syllabus down into bite-size chunks which fit more logically with the type of advice IFAs clients want. The diploma develops advanced technical knowledge and understanding across a range of key advisory areas.”

The units will have a credit value and candidates can work towards the qualification by accruing credits. At the diploma level each unit attracts 20 credits. To complete the diploma an individual will need 140 credits in total with at least 80 obtained at diploma level. Holders will then be able to apply to the PFS for membership at DipPFS level. As an example, someone who holds the post-1994 FPC (50 credits) and pensions simplification update programme (10 credits) would then need to complete four of the diploma units to complete the qualification.

Bullivant adds: “Credit-based qualification frameworks are an essential element of the UK governments approach to education. These changes will ensure that our financial planning qualifications keep abreast of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authoritys latest thinking in this area.”

The CII will continue to offer six AFPC units in 2006 to allow those currently studying for the AFPC Associateship or Fellowship to complete these qualifications. In 2007 the advanced diploma in financial planning will be introduced, requiring a total of 290 credits for completion.

Holders will be eligible for the APFS designation and also satisfy the qualification element for the chartered financial planner title. Transitional arrangements will ensure that people who are part way through studying for the AFPC will not be disadvantaged.

Individual personalised learning statements explaining credits achieved to date, an outline of how the transition arrangements will work and options for further study will be issued to candidates in November and December.