Be wise to the pensions challenge


With measures to dramatically increase the flexibility of pensions now a reality, Tom Cox, CII product marketing manager introduces the CII’s new Pensions Update Programme, designed to keep advisers informed and up to speed.

Retirees with defined contribution pension schemes now have much greater freedom, choice and more tax efficient options when accessing their pension savings. But with an estimated 400,000 retirees each year, big changes bring big challenges – and creating awareness and empowering people to make appropriate decisions rank among the biggest.

The Treasury’s ‘Pension Wise’ service provides free frontline guidance, on the phone (from The Pensions Advisory Service), face-to-face (from Citizens Advice Bureau) and online at The initiative should also build public awareness and confidence in at-retirement advice services by signposting the importance of taking professional financial advice.

It’s worth reiterating the point: Pension Wise provides general guidance and does not claim to offer advice. It consciously makes the point that individuals will benefit from taking advice that is tailored to their circumstances and requirements.

And with around 33,000 advisers qualified to Level 4 – over 4,500 of these Chartered Financial Planners – there’s plenty of support available. The more experienced advisers of today also have the benefit and hindsight of previous pensions changes, such as ‘pensions simplification’ back in 2006.

Keeping up to speed with the reforms remains a challenge. Many advisers will have already had in-depth conversations with clients nearing retirement, and will have quickly needed to get to grips with the changes. And with HMRC’s guidance on the changes (at the point of writing) expected imminently, the need for on-going structured CPD is key.

New Pensions Update Programme
The new CII Pensions Update Programme offers a complete continuing professional development solution that helps financial planners, paraplanners and those in related roles, to stay on top of the reforms. Crucially it develops understanding of how these changes impact at-retirement advice.

Comprising a new unit, ‘(R08) Pensions update’, the QCF Level 4 programme develops knowledge of the new pension freedoms under the following broad headings:

  • changes to the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) tax regime introduced by the Taxation of Pensions Act 2014
  • new legislative, reporting and compliance requirements arising from the pension reforms
  • developments in pension provision
  • main changes in the rules for members transferring their benefits
  • changes to pension income options
  • changes that will be made to State pension provision from 6 April 2016
  • key factors that should be taken into account when advising a client how to derive an income in retirement.

The programme is suitable for those with existing knowledge and experience of pensions, including those who have previously studied one of the following CII Level 4 units: (R04) Pensions and retirement planning or (J04) Pension funding option (or, as an alternative, any higher level pension unit such as (AF3) Pension planning, or equivalent, or withdrawn unit (G60) Pensions).

Study hours Exam format Testing period/study text enrolment period Nominal pass mark Credits & level
50 1 hour online exam. 40 multiple choice questions (MCQs)  and 1 case study comprising 5 MCQs. 01 Aug 2015 to 31 Aug 2015, then reverting to 1 Sep to 31 Aug 65% 10 – Diploma
(Level 4)

A complete programme of support
Enrolment onto the programme includes a study text and online study support through the CII’s RevisionMate study tool. There’s a choice between a printed study text and a digital ebook for use on portable devices, and RevisionMate is packed with useful support, including end of chapter quizzes and a dedicated peer-to-peer discussion forum.

Additional revision aids can also be purchased to supplement learning:

  • Question packs – flexible and interactive online testing of the syllabus
  • MP3 audio revision – covering key elements of the syllabus.

The programme is backed by a single online exam, which can be taken nationwide, year-round. Employers have the option to run online exams from their premises.

Credits towards Chartered status
The programme offers up to 50 structured CPD hours (this will vary depending on experience), which satisfies advisers, or PFS members’, annual CPD obligations.

Successful completion of the programme awards a pass in new unit ‘(R08) Pensions update’ and 10 Diploma-level credits towards the Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning. This is particularly beneficial for over 7,500 individuals working toward Chartered Financial Planner status.

First available 2015 fees
CII/PFS members Non-members
Study text
Includes first exam
May 2015
ebook June 2015
£134 £176
Exam August 2015 Included with the study text. Re-sits available via Customer Service (member: £71, non-member: £93)
RevisionMate Mid May 2015 Included with the study text
Exam guide July 2015 Free to download from the unit R08 shop web page
Question pack July 2015 £26 £29
MP3 audio revision June 2015 £42 £46

Existing CII financial services units, many of which are either pensions-specific or include pensions-related content, will be updated, together with the associated learning materials, to reflect the reforms. Although the pensions update unit will first be examined in August, the changes will be tested for existing units from September onwards.

To find out more…
To find out more about the programme and to download a full syllabus visit  Enrolments onto the programme open on 30 April.

Key benefits

The programme is designed to meet the immediate needs of the pensions industry offering a range of benefits:

·       Provides comprehensive yet practical guidance on pension reforms

·       Meets the needs of planners, paraplanners and those in related roles

·       Includes a study text and online study support  and an exam to test knowledge – all for a single competitive fee

·       Can typically be completed in 50 hours or under

·       Provides 10 Diploma-level credits towards the Advanced Diploma and Chartered status

Exam sittings available nationwide, year-round, and employers have the option to run online exams from their premises. 


About Author

As the premier professional body for the insurance and financial planning professions, the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) promotes higher standards of integrity, technical competence and business capability. With 125,000 members in 150 countries, the CII is the world's largest professional body dedicated to these sectors. Our membership covers all disciplines within the insurance industry (claims, broking, underwriting and sales), those working in the life and pensions sector, the mortgage advice market and financial advisers (under the Personal Finance Society brand). As one of the largest examination awarding bodies in the UK, we have delivered education to over one million students in 150 countries over the last 10 years. Success in CII qualifications is universally recognised as a global standard. While membership of the CII signals a commitment to developing a broad professional capability and to a willingness to adhere to the standards associated with professional status.

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