Tag Archives: chartered status


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

Which CII AF Exam should I sit next?

One of the questions that we frequently get asked is ‘which CII AF exam should I sit next?’. Oh, if only there was a simple answer!

We believe that the purpose of exams is to make people more knowledgeable so sensibly, people would choose the AF exam that is most useful to both themselves, and their business. The road to chartered is a long journey and that also means that many people want to select the subjects that help them to shorten this journey.

This is a big subject area so, in this blog, I’ll consider some of the main CII AF exam options.  In two subsequent blogs, I’ll look at the options for the Certificate and Diploma subjects that are worth considering:

CII exams: getting to Chartered. To view it, click here

CII exams: getting to CII Chartered status (part 2). To view it, click here

CII Chartered requirements

To complete Chartered Status, the CII require a total of 290 exam credits. 120 of these must be from AF subjects which means that a minimum of four 30 credit Advanced Diploma subjects will have to be completed (if you don’t have existing credits from the previous AFPC or earlier exams). This must include AF5, as it is compulsory. The remaining credits can come from other Diploma or certificate level exams.

Click here for a link to the CII qualification guide.

Remember that there are two exam sittings per year of the written AF exams: in April and October. Coursework-based exams can be entered when you like during the year and you will then have 12 months to complete them.

CII AF exam options

You need at least four AF exams, but which ones are best for you?  There’s the usual caveat about prioritising the ones that are most relevant to your work – and this might make your choice obvious.  If not, here are the key questions to consider:

Do you prefer coursework, rather than exams?

If so, you have two choices: Senior management and supervision (AF6) and  Retirement income planning (AF8).

AF6 is aimed at people who run a regulated firm (or might do so in the future). With AF8, it might be called ‘Retirement income planning’ but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it’s all about pensions. It’s more of a later life planning module that includes at-retirement pension options, tax and estate planning, and potentially care planning.

How much of a hurry are you in?

The benefit of doing coursework is that you will have a year to complete it. With some sensible planning, this shouldn’t prevent you from also sitting two or more written AF exams. With 3 exam sittings, this opens up a chance of you getting 4 x 30 exam credits within a year (three exam-based exams and one assignment-based exam).  We never recommend trying to sit two written AF exams at the same sitting – this usually ends in tears. But completing a coursework option as well as a written AF exam is possible with hard work.

What is the easiest CII AF exam (in terms of pass rate)?

If this is how you want to select your AF exams, then the current traditional exam-based CII AF subjects can be ranked as follows (easiest first): AF5 (Financial planning process), AF7 (Pension transfers), AF4 (Investment planning), AF1 (Personal tax and trust planning). This is based on the latest published results. Please note that AF7 has traditionally been one of the harder exams and may be again in the future.

The pass rates for AF6 and AF8 tend to be higher (much so in the case of AF6). These appear artificially high as anyone who drops out once they have started is regarded as being ‘timed out’ rather than failing the subject.  In other words, the pass rates are based on those that complete their 3 assignments. The assignments are not as easy as these pass marks might suggest.

Click here and scroll down to see the actual pass rates.

Is there an order you would recommend sitting the AF exams?

Yes. AF1 is the CII AF exam that underpins most of the other AF written exams so we believe this is a good subject to start with – even if it is the hardest AF exam. With suitable preparation, it’s also possible to prepare for the four key areas it covers and give you a decent chance of being successful.

Also, look to sit AF5 as soon as you can. It is examined 3 times a year and, because it’s based on a fact find that is issued 2 weeks before the exam, there isn’t too much preparation you are able to do before this 2 week period. It’s also a test of your financial planning skills so the depth of technical knowledge needed usually isn’t that great. What technical knowledge that is required can be mostly be identified from the client scenario that is provided.

Where do I get more information about these CII AF exams?

The CII website (using the earlier link) is a good place to start. We produce free ‘preparation guides’ for AF1, 4, 5 and 7 which set out your study options, how to study, and the common areas that are tested in each exam.  Click here to access them.


Until the next time,

Ian Patterson

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