Tag Archives: AF6


CII AF6 changes for 2023/24

The CII AF6 exam has undergone a bit of a revamp. The syllabus has changed and so has the study text. This means that an existing exam will feel very different to anyone who sits it from 1st September 2023. Here is an overview to the changes.

The previous AF6 exam was launched back in 2013. It was the first ‘coursework’ AF exam and was a bit of a trail blazer as it was also the first AF exam to have a study text. As time has gone by, the syllabus and the study text (which based upon this) had changed very little until both were updated from September 2023.

The CII’s AF6 exam is intended for those who are, or aspire to be, a senior manager within their business and also those who wish to gain a greater insight into running a regulated business. With initiatives like SM&CR and Consumer Duty, it is clear that the FCA is increasingly placing emphasis on the quality of management within authorised firms and AF6 reflects this.

Syllabus changes to the CII’s AF6 exam

There are two main changes:

    • The syllabus for the CII’s AF6 exam now starts with a section on the regulatory environment. This previously covered the elements of FCA rules that impact on the role or responsibilities of senior managers. It now looks in more depth at areas such as equality and diversity, data protection, and financial crime: fraud, anti-money laundering and economic crime. The syllabus for the CII’s AF6 exam can be found here.

    • As you would expect, there is also now widespread coverage of Consumer Duty and vulnerable clients. Both of these far-reaching initiatives place responsibility on senior managers on a surprisingly wide range of areas. The result is that senior managers will need to work in ways we haven’t seen before. For example, what does appropriate monitoring and governance look like? Client vulnerability must be considered in every aspect of engaging with clients and the types and severity of vulnerability needs to be understood. What are the senior manager responsibilities for achieving this?

The first of the four learning outcomes is now the ‘business and regulatory environment’. The remaining three learning outcomes are ‘risk management’, ‘senior manager competence/ general competence arrangements’ and ‘culture’. Whilst the themes are broadly similar to the previous three AF6 learning outcomes, the content looks very different in many ways.

How will the CII AF6 exam change?

Time will tell but the way AF6 is examined is likely to change quite markedly. Including regulations explicitly within the exam is likely to result in this being tested more widely. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Consumer Duty, SM&CR and Vulnerability feature prominently in assignments going forward.

The ‘balance’ of the exam is also likely to shift. Previously, assignment 1 would be based on Chapters 2, 3 and 4 (chapter 1 was intended to just provide background knowledge), assignment 2 was based on chapter 5, and assignment 3 on chapter 6. Only the examiners’ will know for sure, but it’s probably a fair bet that AF6 will become less predictable – if only because there are now 6 chapters to test compared to the previous 5.

The marking scheme for the CII’s AF6 exam has also changed slightly. I’m not 100% sure if this changed for 2023/24 but marks are now awarded as follows:

    • Knowledge and understanding of the topic is 30% of the marks (previously 40%);

    • Application and analysis of the topic is 50% of the marks (previously 40%);

    • The structure in terms of logic and coherence is 15% of the marks (previously 10%); and

    • The use of relevant work and industry examples and/or examples gained from further reading is 5% (previously 10%).

See the ‘AF6 Examplar‘ for 2023/24 for further details.

AF6 exam support

AF6 exam support is largely restricted to the CII Study text, syllabus and Examplar. The onus with this exam is on your own work and so wider support is limited. Our CII AF6 Blog will hopefully provide some additional support for you in completing your assignments.

We hope you find this useful. If you want to know more about our range of study support when you sit other CII AF and R0 exams, click here.

Until the next time…

Sam Patterson


cii af exam results 2022

CII AF exam results 2022

We now have the CII exam results 2022. Which are the easiest AF exams?

The latest CII AF exam results show which are hardest, and which are the easiest. These will be of interest to anyone who is looking to sit these CII exams so go into your AF exams with your eyes open.

Are all the CII AF exams the same style or format?

You could be forgiven for thinking that this should be a straightforward question. It isn’t. Some of the variation in pass rates is not solely due to the subject matter, but how it is examined. Perhaps surprisingly, there are significant differences between the exams.

AF1 and 4 are ‘traditional’ AF exams. They have 160 marks and these are split between three case studies: one worth 80 marks and the two other case studies are usually worth 40 marks each. Written answers are required and you will need around 55% to pass, i.e. 88 marks.

AF5 is based on a completed fact find that is issued 2 weeks before the exam. On the exam day, you will be faced with 8 questions (usually with sub-sections) that are based on this case study. The pass rate for this exam is relatively high because you should be able to identify some of the technical areas that will be tested and prepare for them before the exam.

AF7 is again different, perhaps because it is only worth 20 credits whereas all the other AF exams are worth 30 credits towards Chartered status. It is also a 2 hour exam rather than a 3 hour exam and the exam has 100 marks with a nominal pass rate of 60%. Section A has 3-4 short answer questions which test your knowledge across the syllabus. Section B consists of two case studies and EACH will usually account for 30-35% of the total marks for the exam.

Finally, we have AF6 and AF8. The format of these exams is very different because they are all assignment-based which means that you never have to enjoy the pressure of a timed written exam.  Instead, three assignments need to be successfully completed within a 12 month period. This creates it’s own pressures but ultimately, it should allow you to complete them when it suits you best.

What are the CII AF exam results 2022?

The latest pass rates are actually those up to the year ending in 2021. These are the latest available at the time of writing (July 2022):

AF1 – 43%  (minus 1% on the previous period)

AF4 – 50%  (minus 5% on the previous period)

AF5 – 63% (minus 9% on the previous period)

AF6 – 97% (minus 1.7% on the previous period)

AF7 – 56% (plus 13% on the previous period)

AF8 – 75.3% (plus 3.8% on the previous period)

What conclusions can we draw from this?

Overall, these figures reflect the ‘easiest’ and the ‘hardest’ exams but we believe that you still have to be careful how you interpret these figures. If you look at the data over a period of time, AF5 has always been the easiest of the written exams – probably because of the pre-issue of the fact find information allows candidates to pre-prepare. Conversely, AF7 (slightly worryingly given the importance of DB transfers), has always been one of the hardest AF exams – until this year where there was a welcome improvement. The ‘mantle’ of hardest AF exam now falls to AF1 although to be fair,  AF1 has consistently been one of the harder AF exams.

AF6 and AF8 deserve a special note. The pass rates for these subjects are sky-high – especially AF6. Many people will assume that these are much easier than the written exams but this would be a mistake. Being assignment-based exams does NOT automatically mean that this format is easier and you need to understand why this is. The CII base their pass rates for these subjects on those that complete their assignments. So anyone who drops out or doesn’t complete all their assignments ISN’T counted as a fail. In other words, just about everyone who completes AF6 passes but people will have dropped out along the way. Third-party support with your specific assignments is banned under the CII rules so you will need to work alone when completing your assignments – and this can be daunting.

We’ll look in more detail on each individual AF exam subject below.

AF1 – Personal tax and trusts.

In terms of CII AF exam results, this is the hardest AF exam. This is probably due to the fact that taxation, whilst very important to most financial planning, is not something that all people get directly involved in. It’s a very wide ranging subject so other than saying that the typical AF1 exam will have questions on income tax, CGT and IHT, that doesn’t narrow your study options down too much. It is also the one AF exam that will almost certainly ask you to complete calculations.

For many people, this will be the first AF exam they complete and it sets the foundation to some of the other subjects. For example, there is some overlap with AF4 on the taxation of investments. AF5 is quite likely to have some element of tax planning in it such as VCT or EIS schemes.

Click here to find out more about AF1 and how to pass it.

AF4 – Investment planning.

This is usually one of the harder AF exams and there was a relatively small drop on the previous year’s results. This exam does like testing things like dividend yield, P/E ratios, money weighted return and sharpe ratios. It’s fair to say that these (and similar direct investment ratios) are not something the average paraplanner or adviser will deal with in their day job (or perhaps is even allowed to). Prepare well and don’t just rely on your day job, and you can do well.

Click here to see what get’s examined in AF4.

AF5 – Financial planning process.

Statistically, this is the easiest ‘written’ exam. We’ve already alluded to why this is so why do some people still fail? This is partly because they didn’t prepare sufficiently around the potential technical areas before the exam. For example, if the case study says the client’s have an elderly infirm parent, this might mean that LPAs will be tested. But how? It could be the duties of being an attorney, the process of setting them up, or the benefits to the client of doing so. Make sure you cover all the bases and don’t try to be too clever and cherry pick.

Equally important is poor exam technique. You must understand what the examiner is asking you to do when reading the question. The only way to develop this is to practice this art using the past papers that are available on the CII website.

AF6 and AF8 – Senior management and supervision and Retirement income planning.

These are attractive because of the high pass-rates and because they aren’t timed written exams.  But they still have their pitfalls.  You do have to structure your time well. There is little point in registering and then not starting your first assignment for 3 months. The 12 month clock starts ticking when you register and all 3 assignments must be completed (including any re-sits) within the 12 month period.  Please don’t under-estimate how much work is required writing three 2,500 word assignments and be very clear about how the marks are awarded (see the CII coursework assessment guidelines and instructions).

With AF8, don’t just think that this is a pensions exam. It is more of a ‘later life’ exam and is likely to include elements of pensions, investments, IHT and care planning.

Click here for more information on AF8.

Other resources.

We have a library of posts relevant to each individual exam on our Exam technique and revision hub.

Want to know more about our audio books for AF1, 4 or 7, click here

If you want to know more about our 150-170 page study notes for AF1 or 4, click here

By registering as a member on our website, you can access a FREE preparation guide for either AF1, 4 or 5

Prepare well and pass first time.

Ian Patterson

Ex-examiner and author of the current CII CF8, J07 and AF6 study texts

paraplanners career qualifications

CII exams: getting to CII Chartered status (part 2)

CII Chartered status

If you are sitting exams on the road to CII Chartered status, one of the questions that we frequently get asked is ‘which CII exams should I sit next?’. Likewise, we also sometimes get asked about ‘what exams should I take to get CII Fellowship?’ Some exams could be considered for both. This is a big area – and it’s one that I’ve started to look at in two previous articles:

  1. Which CII AF exam should I sit next? Click here
  2. CII exams: getting to Chartered. Click here

The road to CII chartered status is a long journey and that also means that many people want to select the subjects that help them to shorten this journey. So in this article, I’ll look at a few more ideas that will help you to decide.

Investment subjects

In our article ‘which CII AF exams should I sit next?’, we looked at AF4 and the associated underpinning level 4 exams: R02 and J10. We also said that it is worth also considering J12 (Securitised advice and dealing). Taken together, all of these are worth a whopping 90 credits. The important point is that there is also a significant amount of overlap between each of them which makes revision for them that little bit less onerous.

Let me continue on a similar theme as there are also other investment-related subjects that you could also consider.


Individual savings account administration (FA5) is a level 3 exams that is worth 10 credits. It is a one hour long exam that has 50 multiple-choice questions. But this doesn’t mean that it can’t also be used to get credits towards Chartered and Fellowship.

In simple terms, the content of FA5 overlaps with much of the content of R02. ISAs (and their various reincarnations) are central to the financial planning process for many advisers.

Details of the syllabus for each can be found here.

LP1 and/or LP2

Other options that are definitely worth looking at are Life and pensions customer operations (LP1) and Financial services products and solutions (LP2). These are worth 15 and 20 credits respectively and are again level 3 exams that test using multiple choice questions.

LP1 isn’t a technical paper. Instead it focuses on the fair treatment of customers, effective communication and  teamwork. In contrast, LP2 looks at the basics of life and health insurance products, mortgages, the key asset classes and tax wrappers (investment bonds, ISAs and pensions). As this is level 3, these are all areas that are covered at a relatively basic level.  Both of these could be the easiest 35 credits you’ll ever get!

Details for LP1, for example, can be found here.

AF6 and J07

The final combination I’ll look at is AF6 (senior management and supervision) and J07 (supervision in a regulated environment). If your current or future role might involve managing people (which is what J07 is all about) or managing a regulated firm (that’s what AF6 is about), then this combination also has some overlap. Both might provide a welcome break from the ‘technical’ subjects. AF6 is worth 30 credits at Level 6 so it can count towards the four AF subjects that are required to get to Chartered.  J07 is worth another 20 credits. People sometimes think that J07 is just about regulation and training and competence; it’s not so don’t let that put you off particularly if you manage people.


We believe that the purpose of exams is to make people more knowledgeable and effective. Sensibly, people who are on the road to CII Chartered status would choose the exams that are most useful to both themselves, and their business. That said, it pays to know what your exam options are and how to use this knowledge to your benefit.

Remember, work smarter, not harder. Until the next time.

Ian Patterson

Ex-examiner and author of the current CII study texts: CF8, J07 and AF6