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Fast-track to Chartered Financial Planner Within the Year

Fast-track to Chartered Financial Planner Within the Year

Written by John Reynolds
the pension professor @expertpensions

Chartered Financial Planner in one yearYou might have seen the recent article ‘Chartered Adviser numbers swell by 24% on last year’, which highlights the increase in Chartered Financial Planners since last year (based on figures released by CII).

Don’t be surprised at these numbers.

I’m going to explain how to become a Chartered financial planner within the year and you can be part of the 24% next year.

The CII has got a lot going for it. For one thing, diploma qualified advisers can get to chartered status within the year. Forget the iFS, CISI, STEP, CFP or anybody else; this is about how to achieve chartered status and the gold standard Chartered Financial planner title, within the year.

I got started writing this after speaking to one adviser who wanted to do just that: become chartered within the year because he wanted to enhance and accelerate his career to Chartered Status – and do it quickly. He asked my advice and I’ve shared that advice because I thought there might be a few others who are thinking along the same lines.

I’m going to map out for you how to get to chartered in the quickest possible way – with the help of the CII. You know the CII might get the odd bit criticism now and again (believe me, they know their shortcomings and are constantly working to get better). CII members expect high standards and they have had to up their game in recent years; why shouldn’t they expect same from their professional body in equal measure?  Likewise, give praise where praise is due: the CII have a comprehensive professional exam structure that DOES allow you to fast-track to success.

Of all the various options available, I concentrate on pensions and investments specialist exams; that’s what I do – and that’s what I’m going to focus on.

If you want to become a pensions and investment specialist Chartered Financial Planner it will require 290 credits – with 120 of those at AF (advanced) level.

  1. AF level

That translates into, 4 AF papers x 30 credits = 120 credits: one of which MUST be the compulsory AF5 (Financial planning paper) making a total of 4 papers (see the table below).

  1. Any level

Meantime, the remaining 170 credits can be made up from ANY level (even prior learning or transfer credits from other institutions). And I’m going to assume that you are a L4 qualified adviser thinking about the future – and you want to get there sooner rather than later. I’m going to assume that you have got a minimum of 140 credits from your diploma level 4 exams (you might have sat a couple of CF papers of even an old G paper in your past). I’m also going to assume you have done all your R0 papers as part of that combination and have at least 140 credits.

What that means you only need an additional 30 credits – from any exam, to make up the difference. You are nearly there!

Here’s how that might look:

Subject specialist

AF (120)





J05 (20) + R04 (10)



J10(20) + R02 (20)

+ AF5







What does it mean in plain English?

The two figures in red are the ones that matter: AF credits (120 needed) and the ‘other’ (30 needed) – which when combined with your 140 = 140+30+120 = 290

It means we are 1 AF paper short (30 credits) of magic total of 290, but have got both the pensions and investments specialisms in place.

How do you make this work?

It means that you apply and sit the AF3 and J05 pension papers this October (7th and 10th October); both complement each other and are integrated. It is NOT double the studying – far from it; they are totally integrated. Remember, the AF3 exam used to be based on a combined J04 and J05.

You can start studying to get pensions specialist qualifications in October.

Meantime, you can plan to sit the AF4 exam in April 2014.

It means you can sit it J10 BEFORE April2014 – again, J10 integrates very, very nicely into your AF4 studies. They are very complementary – and you can schedule in the J10 when it suits you.

Two subjects, two exams and two exam sittings – you are nearly there.

If you started today and you pass both of these first time, by June next year (results day) you will almost be chartered…

But, you need two more things inbetween times…

A strategy to pass AF5 and one more AF paper (ONLY if you don’t have any older advanced credits).

If you do that, you will have the gold standard Chartered Financial planner title and both pensions and investment specialist qualifications; 3 fantastic professional qualifications that all complement each other.

The fast-link, high-speed option is there, if you want it – through the CII.

The fast-track to Chartered status is there and you could be part of the 24% increase in Chartered advisers next year when the figures come out.

It can be done.



The information and notes contained within are based on CII guidance and relevant research from a wide range of official websites and reference materials. Acknowledgement of use of the reference notes from all sources is fully recognised in making this summary note of essential facts and no intention to claim any credit for any original material is intended, proposed or otherwise promoted and is wholly based on our own interpretation of its suitability for exam study material.

‘Chartered Adviser numbers swell by 24% on last year’: full article here


John Reynolds BSc CiTP IMC FPFS

Chartered Financial Planner

Dubbed by friends and colleagues “The Pensions Professor” John Reynolds is widely acknowledged as one of the country’s leading experts in the financial services education sector; having spent 20 years teaching, consulting, mentoring and writing on the subject.

John regularly shares expert tips and industry comment on his blog at