The Diploma in Professional Financial Advice (DipPFA) – Level 4 Course

I have previously discussed the merits of the London Institute of Banking & Finance (LIBF – formerly IFS) Diploma in Financial Advice (DipFA) and Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) Diploma in Financial Planning (DipFP). These are primarily the 2 most widely chosen routes to attaining a Level 4 qualification in the Financial Services Contracting industry.

Click the button below for the Pros and Cons of each:

The Pros and Cons of each Diploma

Pros (CII)

  • This is an extensive course that will give you a broad understanding of the main areas of Financial planning.
  • The qualifications are also well regarded in the industry.
  • R01-05 are computer based exams and it is possible to study the text and book the exam within a short time frame rather than be restricted to 9 months like you are with the IFS Diploma. If you fail, you can instantly book on to another exam and re-sit whilst the knowledge is fresh in your mind.

Cons (CII)

  • This is a slower and more expensive route than the IFS DipFA.

Pros (LIBF)

  • A cheaper and faster route to level 4 than the CII DipFP. It would take less than 3 days on your new enhanced day rate to repay the initial outlay.

Cons (LIBF)

  • The course content is not as extensive as the CII syllabus and this qualification is not regarded as highly within the industry. A lot of self study will also be required.


As you can see, the CII course is more extensive and will put you in a better position to work on an Investment Advice Review after the qualification but the LIBF is cheaper and faster to complete. Candidates from an LIBF DipFA background often have a shortfall when it comes to Product Knowledge unless they have come from a Regulated Financial Advice background.

What if there was a course that provided the level of detail that the CII course offers but it was priced more similarly to the LIBF and could be completed as quickly?

That would be ideal and after researching the market I have found a course that meets the above criteria.

The Diploma in Professional Financial Advice (DipPFA) – Level 4 Course

What is it?

The qualification is purpose built to fulfil the requirements set out by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the Retail Distribution Review (RDR).  The DipPFA is listed on the FCA’s Consultation Paper of RDR adviser qualifications and recognised as a full qualification that is awarded by the Chartered Banker Institute.

The qualification is divided up into six individual units:

  • Unit 1 – Financial Services, Regulation and Ethics
  • Unit 2 – Personal Taxation
  • Unit 3 – Investment Principles and Risk
  • Unit 4 – Pensions and Retirement Planning
  • Unit 5 – Financial Protection
  • Unit 6 – Application of Professional Financial Advice

This may look familiar, as it is based on the framework of the CII course.


How is it assessed?
How is it assessed?
Unit TitleExaminationPass Mark
Unit 1 – Financial Services, Regulation and Ethics80 Questions
90 minutes
Multiple Choice – single response
Unit 2 – Personal Taxation80 Questions
105 Minutes
Multiple Choice – single response
Unit 3 – Investment Principles and Risk80 Questions
90 Minutes
Multiple Choice – single response
Unit 4 – Pensions and Retirement Planning80 Questions
90 Minutes
Multiple Choice – single response
Unit 5 – Financial Protection50 Questions
60 Minutes
Multiple Choice – single response
Unit 6 – Application of Professional Financial AdviceCase Study
3 hours
12-15 Short Written Answers based on Case Study

The pass rate is higher than the industry average, which means there’s significantly more chance of you passing first time.  Furthermore, the single response multiple choice questions are a lot more straightforward than the multiple response questions that can be used on the CII exams.

A unique feature for Units 1-5 is that the exams can be sat in 3 different ways to suit your preferences:

  1. Conventional Test Centre – you book online to sit the text at one of the test centres available Nationwide.
  2. Local Invigilation – you can complete the test at your place of choosing under the observation of an invigilator of your choosing that has completed the invigilator agreement form.
  3. Remote Examination – you complete the test at your place of choosing with your webcam and microphone turned on so that you can be remotely invigilated.

Gone are the expenses of travelling to a test centre or booking a day off work.  This can all be done at a time that suits you in a convenient location.

For Unit 6 you will have to complete this in the test centre in Derby, however these are run a lot more frequently than the CII and the LIBF written assessments.


What if I’m already part qualified with another Exam Board?

Other related qualifications (such as the CII RO exams) are recognised by the provider and can be used towards the Diploma instead of the equivalent unit.  Therefore just because you’ve already started with another exam board doesn’t mean that you can’t switch now to save time and money.

How much does it cost and what do you get?

Reveal cost and contents

How much?

Units 1-5 cost £160.00 each and Unit 6 is £180.00 which amounts to £980.00.

However, if you purchase the Diploma as a whole then this is discounted to £900.00.

This is a legitimate business expense and can be claimed accordingly, which will directly reduce your Corporation Tax bill.

What do you get included?

  • Online Access to all of the training material
  • Online practice exams
  • Entry to all of the exams


Submit the following form to register your interest in this qualification and our partner will be in touch with you as soon as possible.


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