What is the AF8 exam?

The CII announced that it was going to withdraw the popular AF3 exam and replace it with the coursework assessed AF8 exam.  This exam allowed students to complete three assignments over a 12 month period.  If sitting exams is not your thing then this exam could seem like the ideal solution!

Is AF8 proving to be the ‘soft’ option?

No – seems to the general consensus with Advisers becoming increasingly frustrated about the ‘vague’ feedback provided by the CII on failed assignments (especially assignment 3)! With concepts such as financial objectives, estate planning, taxation, cash flow modelling, risk profiling, asset allocation, vulnerable clients, and investment risk all featuring in the syllabus. It’s fair to conclude that this is (very much like the AF7 exam), not just a technicians’ technical qualification, but is a practical, pragmatic assessment of the ability to provide sound retirement income planning advice. In particular, the coursework structure allows for critical analysis of the subject matter being tested AND requires the ability to give sound recommendations.

In an exam where you are faced with three assignments your job is to produce a unique solution for your client case study.  Whilst this may seem fairly straight forward you have to couple this with ensuring you outline the appropriate solutions and approaches the CII are looking for.

Lack of guidance?

So how does the CII marker approach marking case studies which may offer different (but appropriate) client solutions?  This is where students feel that the lack of guidance leaves them wide open to failure.   Is it time for the CII to provide feedback that will show those students what went right or wrong and avoids them repeating the same mistakes allowing them to move forward?  Ultimately, effective feedback  should focus on the larger overall goal instead of being generic.

Advisers are ‘disappointed’ with the AF8 exam

CII ‘too vague’ with AF8 coursework feedback, say advisers https://bit.ly/2t6Rg3H via Professional Adviser.  We get a mixed response from our students but there is no getting away from the comments about ‘vague’ feedback.  Also mentioned in this article is the word count for assignments and whether the word count is enough for students to pinpoint and outline their solutions, within the word count, in order to be able to bag those all important marks.

Expert Pensions AF8 studying solution

This exam will test your ability to evaluate a clients’ personal and financial positions. You will also need the ability to formulate strategies for areas such as fund withdrawals, investment risks and estate planning and other later life concerns.

Our AF8 course teaches content, learning outcomes, assessment criteria, techniques, and referencing, using our own original case study and assignments to demonstrate. We give you the tools, including a cash flow modeller and techniques, to help you write your assignments successfully.

We are planning on adding some ‘mini case studies that look at a single advice aspect.  These will help the students analyse a simpler situation and get used to rationalizing a recommendation and putting it down on paper.   We also have our Drawdown and Retirement Income Proposition Masterclass, aimed at Chartered Financial Planners who want a strong technical and practical refresh of drawdown and retirement investment propositions.
The Masterclass comprises video tutorials, PDF downloads, and a quiz to test your understanding, to provide you with 4 hours of high quality online Structured CPD. The practical and technical aspects of capped/flexi-access drawdown, death benefits, and retirement income investment portfolios are all carefully examined – including the use of smoothed funds, ratio analysis, and more.

This is essential viewing for any drawdown-focused adviser and links back very neatly to the AF8 exam. I know there will be a lot of advisers who will want to become chartered and access CPD at the highest level in the ‘’at-retirement’’ space’.

Our CPD masterclasses and AF8 exam support do just that for those who want to develop their expertise at the highest levels.

If you are beginning your AF8 journey and this is your starting point, then it may well be the first time you’ve been taught anything about critically evaluating appropriate advice. This course has been designed with you in mind and is essential to guide you through to exam success:

Click here to view our courses