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Q: How can I meet the FSA’s qualification criteria?

These are existing qualifications that satisfy the new RDR qualification requirements.

They include the CII’s Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning (R0) and Diploma in Financial Planning (J0).

The CII’s Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning (R0) comprises six exam units, all of which must be passed to achieve completion.

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Designed to match the new exam standards set by the FSA and FSP, anyone completing this qualification will meet the new requirements in full and no additional qualification gap fill will be required.

According to the CII, this is the relevant route for all new entrants to the sector but it is also relevant for some existing qualified advisers.

Ordinarily, the CII stated advisers need only study some of the units to attain a level four qualification.

The CII’s Diploma in Financial Planning (J0) is a long-established qualification that continues to be available to advisers currently en route to completion as well as to new entrants - typically those qualified to certificate level and typically holding additional relevant exams that will provide credits towards completion.

In addition to the existing available exam unit options from the CII – certificate, diploma, advanced diploma – entrants have access to a range of new Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning units, giving access to more than 20 units from which to build a study programme.

According to the CII it is important to note that anyone completing this route is likely to have some qualification gap fill requirements that will need to be addressed by the stated 2012 deadline.

Candidates who are CII or PFS members can use the CII’s gap fill tool to discover what their gaps are at www.gapfill.cii.co.uk.

Candidates will be able to minimise their gaps by sitting the new diploma units as part of their studies.

The other option is alternative assessment. This is designed for experienced advisers seeking a non-exam route to achieving a level four qualification, requiring advisers to provide evidence of compliance with all of the new FSA exam standards, primarily through a rigorous one-to-one assessment day.

According to the CII this is an intensive assessment, only suitable for those advisers who have, and are able to demonstrate, a full and detailed understanding of the new exam standards.

On successful completion of the CII’s alternative assessment the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning will be awarded.

A full listing of qualifications can be found in the FSA Consultation Paper CP10/14 on the FSA website: www.fsa.gov.uk