Tag Archives: AF3


CII AF8 – new syllabus released

On the 6th October 2017, the long awaited syllabus for the new AF8 Pension Planning exam was released.

It’s nearly a year ago since the CII announced that it was going to withdraw its hugely popular AF3 exam. One of it’s successors – AF7 – will be examined for the first time in October 2017.  In simple terms, AF7 picks up the DB transfers elements of the AF3 exam. If you would like to know more about AF7, click here.  For more information about our AF7 talking books, click here

So what about the accumulation and decumulation elements of the AF3 exam?  The release of the AF8 syllabus confirms what this subject will be picking up, and what it isn’t. And there are a few surprises in there!  First, I’ll take a quick look at how AF8 is assessed.

How will AF8 be examined?

The approach to assessing AF8 is different to most of the other CII AF exams.  Currently, most of these are assessed using a 3 hour written exam (apart from AF6).

Coursework assessment will require you to successfully complete three assignments over a 12 month period. The good news is that you can complete the work when you choose, research is allowed (so no more trying to remember information like revaluation rates), and technique (while you still have to understand the rules) is less likely to catch out candidates. If you don’t like exams, then this is manner from heaven!

On the other hand, candidates will have to be structured in how they plan and complete the assignments. Allowing for a re-sit, then the timescale then becomes 7-8 months – and not 12 months.  The rules on receiving assistance are tight. There is no more going on a course or asking a friend. Finally, the depth of your answer will have to be greater than the examiners would have accepted in a corresponding exam. This is NOT a soft option.

What about the syllabus?

Like any CII exam, it is based on the syllabus. If you haven’t seen this yet, then click here for the link.

When the CII announced the demise of AF3, the general feeling was that the AF3 content would be split between AF7 (Pension Transfers) with AF8 picking up the rest.  The syllabus shows that this isn’t fully the case. AF8 is migrating away from being a pensions exam, and towards pensions being a part of wider later life planning issues.

So the AF8 exam will look at pension decumulation issues. But it will also look at estate planning and ‘later life issues’. This also suggests ill-health and care scenarios (potentially). We’ll have to wait and see whether the exam will pick up much in the way of long term care planning but if nothing else, expect to find some scenarios where a client is in their 70’s in receipt of pension income, has suffered an illness or is in  ill-health and probably has alternative investment income that can utilise to meet their care costs.

It also looks as if this will be more of a ‘planning’ paper, rather than a ‘technical’ paper. If so, how will this be different? Well, a planning paper will have more ‘additional information’ (or fact find) questions, it will ask you to evaluate the client’s circumstances, and ask you to make recommendations and provide solutions and evaluate different options.

Perhaps the main surprise is about pension accumulation. The AF8 is focussed on those approaching retirement or in retirement. So pension accumulation is unlikely to play any major part in the AF8 exam (apart, perhaps, from people maximising their pension contributions prior to retirement. If so, this means that this important aspect of pension planning isn’t going to be directly tested at AF level anymore.  Interesting times….

Until the next blog


The Diploma Doctor