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If you follow our social media activity, you will likely see that we often celebrate exam successes at Vintage. Something that we are incredibly proud of is our commitment to lifelong learning for all of our team.

That said, there are so many qualifications available within financial advice, that it can be hard to distinguish what each of them means, and which qualifications are higher than others, particularly when you’re looking for advice yourself.


Our planning and analytical teams mostly follow the Chartered Insurance Institute route of qualifications, a popular route for advisers seeking their credentials.

Today, our team study towards the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning, but as Vintage has been around for some time, some of our planners have taken different routes, depending on the structure at the time.


Certificate Cert PFS
Diploma Dip PFS
Advanced Diploma APFS
Chartership APFS and likely to use the title ‘Chartered Financial Planner’
Fellowship FPFS


Like other qualifications across the UK, the CII qualifications are split into various levels from Level 1 to Level 8.

An adviser or planner must reach Level 4 (known as diploma level), within 2 and a half years of passing their first exam, in order to give advice.

Once they achieve the diploma, they can display DipPFS after their name on letters and business cards etc. Really this is the minimum level of qualification the planner you deal with should have unless they are supervised throughout. At Vintage, all of our advisers are at least diploma qualified, meaning they have the equivalent of higher than an A Level, but less than a foundation degree. Those wishing to achieve this status must sit and pass six exams.

To obtain the next level, the advanced diploma, they must sit additional exams. Once complete, the adviser will have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. As well as this, at this point, a planner can usually call themselves Chartered (provided they have 5 years of experience), which is the level many aspire to and an indicator of quality.

Within Vintage, we also have three Fellows – partners and financial planners Steven Hodgson and Anthony Long and Lisa Tipton, our head of analysis and compliance.

To achieve this level, a planner must first pass the qualifications required for the advanced diploma but go on to sit additional exams and show evidence of continual professional development for the last three years. According to the CII “attainment is globally recognised as an indicator of expertise and experience.”



As well as individuals achieving chartered status, firms can also apply for corporate chartered status. If they’ve achieved this, they are likely to use the term ‘Chartered Financial Planners’ within or after their name.

In order to achieve Chartered status, the firm must meet the following criteria:

  • A minimum of one of the firm’s board members should hold the individual Chartered Financial Planner title
  • One of the firm’s board members, who hold the individual Chartered Financial Planner title must take on the role of ‘responsible member’ who will be the firm’s main point of contact and is responsible for the application and renewal, and any related issues.
  • The firm’s board, together with 90% of customer-facing staff must be members of the Chartered Insurance Institute.
  • A minimum of 25% of the firm’s advisers must hold the Chartered Financial Planner title (50% from January 2020).
  • A full financial planning service and a Chartered Financial Adviser must be available to customers.
  • Three years trading as an authorised and regulated firm.
  • The firm must have in place core values, business practices and a diversity and inclusion policy that align with the CII Code of Ethics.
  • The firm must have an appropriate professional development programme in place.

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This post was written by Karen Parker