Demand for pension transfer qualification soars as over 500 sign up to CII certificate in first week

Over 500 personal finance professionals have signed up to the Chartered Insurance Institute’s (CII) pension transfers qualification in the first week of its launch, following the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) proposals to tighten the advice requirements for the transfer of safeguarded benefits.

Candidates have enrolled onto the new Level 4 Certificate in Pension Transfers Advice which includes a new Level 6 unit (AF7) Pension transfers, and three existing CII Level 4 units – (R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics, (R02) Investment principles and risk and (R04) Pensions and retirement planning.

Some 7,000 CII SPS holders are qualified to provide pension transfer advice, holding either the withdrawn CII unit (G60) Pensions or current CII unit (AF3) Pension planning. The new Certificate provides advisers with the skills and qualifications required to operate as a pension transfer specialist.

Advisers who hold the CII Diploma in Financial Planning, but not G60 or AF3, will be able to complete AF7 in order to become qualified pension transfer specialists. AF7 involves 50 fewer learning hours than AF3 given its specific focus on pension transfers.

Current holders of AF3 or G60 will also benefit from undertaking AF7, by developing their knowledge in the specialist area of pension transfers.

The CII will also introduce a new Level 6 Advanced Diploma unit (AF8) Retirement income planning in October 2017, covering aspects of pension planning not covered in AF7. Together, the two new units will replace AF3, which will be withdrawn in April 2018.

Keith Richards, CII managing director of engagement and chief executive of the Personal Finance Society, said: “We are delighted so many have pursued these qualifications to gain the in depth enhanced knowledge required to ensure they can help their clients achieve the best outcomes in seeking financial security in retirement.

“It is understandable that the FCA renewed its focus on the qualifications, experience and continuing professional development requirements for pension transfer specialists but our members told us what they wanted ahead of the regulator demonstrating how far the profession has advanced. Our new dedicated pension transfer exam unit is client focused and has been developed in the spirit of the FCA’s current consultation.”