How long to achieve the Level 4 Diploma?

11 December 2022

How long does it take to achieve the Diploma in Financial Planning? Caroline Evans, business development adviser, Bespoke Training Solutions, has the answer.

2023 might be the year you decide to go after that Level 4 Diploma and we are going to show you how to make it happen – all in the space of 9 months! (It may take you less or more time than this, but 9 months is a common goal).

Spend Wisely – Money

Money might be your first consideration – how much on average will this 9-month journey cost me?

Each exam sitting costs between £103 – 113 (for CII/PFS members) and £123 – 154 (for non-members) – this cost is in addition to your study resources. Becoming a student member of the CII/PFS, whilst an additional expense, comes with benefits such as accessing CPD events at a subsidised cost, reduced CII exam fees and other perks. Membership is also required for those wishing to use the designation DipPFS after their name, following completion of the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning.

Study materials vary and you must find what works best for you. On average most students spend between £200 to £550 when it comes to supplementing their study resources. You don’t want to purchase something and then realise it didn’t do what it said on the tin! Do your research, download samples, and talk to the providers.

Spend Wisely -Time

Step 1 – Plan the order you intend to sit the exam. We do have a recommended order in which to tackle them, this being to start with R01, then R05, R03, R02, R04 and finally R06. R01 gives a foundation knowledge of the regulation of the sector. R05 is a level three unit focusing on financial protection products.

Step 2 – Check out the CII website for the exam dates so you can plan ahead.

R01 to R05 can be sat at most times during the year. R06 sittings are scheduled for January, April, July and October 2023.

Step 3 – Allocate the time.

If you study, you will pass! You need to take a moment to look at your lifestyle and see how quickly you can feasibly get through the required studying – there are no short cuts (we checked)! Ask yourself: What will my work schedule look like? Have I got holidays/family events to attend?

Spend Wisely – Effort

Yes, it takes effort. No one can do it for you! Don’t make radical New Year’s resolutions you know you won’t keep. Instead, let’s start at the end of January:

W/c 30th January 2023 : Start with R01. This one is a biggie with lots of info to learn and retain. Whilst not the most exciting title, this exam should not be underestimated. [6 weeks]

W/c 6th March 2023: R05 next. We were surprised at the number of tax questions in the R05 exam – one such question was technical in the extreme. Underestimate this unit at your peril. [6 weeks]

W/c 3rd April 2023 – If the right study path isn’t chosen, new learners can be overwhelmed by R03. You to need to have a strong base knowledge that you will then apply in different ways, to different ‘mini-scenarios’ that will make up your exam questions. [6 weeks]

W/c 15th May 2023 – R02 has a wide syllabus, so candidates need to make sure that they don’t spend too much of their study effort on one subject at the expense of others. [6 weeks]

W/ 3rd July 2023 – Tricky R04. This one is anything but simple – full of different rules, dates and calculations! [6 weeks]

W/c 28th August- Book you R06 exam in October! This exam is a different beast altogether! More about answering the question being asked and relating answers back to the case study scenarios. [6 weeks]

The above plan is based on full time study. Recommended study hours for each unit are listed on the CII website, but for some candidates it can take longer than this. A full-time student with a clear study plan could progress through all six units in 6 – 9 months. A student working alongside their study might take 12 – 18 months. A student working with weekly study leave may achieve this in 9 months.

9 months to achieve the Diploma – what are you waiting for?

About Bespoke Training Solutions
Bespoke Training Solutions (BTS) have been supporting regulated exams for 19 years. Resources include digital and printed study guides, interactive-Learning modules, revision workshops and a mobile app of exam-standard practice exam questions. Visit or contact BTS on [email protected] to find out more about support options to suit you.

This article was first published in the December 2022 issue of Professional Paraplanner.

Professional Paraplanner