Route to Chartered: Why choose to study investment?
To reach Chartered status with the CII, you require 290 credits, including 120 at Advanced Diploma level. AF5 (30 credits) is compulsory, which leaves 90 credits up for grabs. With 6 other Advanced Diploma AF exams on offer totalling 170 credits, candidates have something of a choice to make about which ones to do.
For pensions and investment focused advisers, we recommend you study investment (AF4) as part of your Chartered journey. Some of the reasons for this include:

1. You need to understand investment for your job
The FCA is increasingly implying via its consultancy papers and policy statements, about the need for Advisers to employ critical analysis in their research and reports. This extends to explaining and justifying why particular investment solutions have been recommended. Why has Fund ABC been recommended over Fund XYZ? How does it meet the client’s needs and objectives? How is the investment management of the fund positioned for potential future interest rate rises? If you’re hesitating, this is where studying investment at an advanced level could really add to your business – not just in terms of marketability and technical know-how, but de-risking.
Furthermore, the role of the Pension Transfer Specialist is changing, with PTSs to be responsible for the full end-to-end advice which includes investment recommendations. In light of this, are Advisers more or less likely to refer DB transfer cases to PTSs with no Level 6 investment qualification, compared to those who do?
Additionally, most candidates we speak to want to have a PTS qualification (such as AF7) as part of their Chartered journey – regardless of whether or not they intend to actually be a PTS now or in future. A PTS qualification is a fantastic add to your CV, and sets you apart from your competition when going for a pensions-oriented job. We believe that pensions and investment have the most syllabus cross-over compared to AF1, AF2, and AF6, with skills easily transferrable across the two subjects. To advise on pensions, you need to be able to advise on investment. Pensions ARE an investment wrapper!

2. Investment is an easier Route to Chartered than other options
Many candidates have avoided AF4 in the past as they were intimidated by “investment” when compared to, say, Business Financial Planning (AF2). But the figures actually suggest that AF4 is the easier course.
Of the four ‘technical’ AF exams (AF1, AF2, AF3, and AF4), AF4 has enjoyed the highest pass rates in the following years: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. In 2011, it was within 0.5% of the highest.
This is extended to other investment exams which can be taken alongside AF4 to boost your credits (see below) with pass rates in excess of 85% for J10 in both 2016 and 2017. In 2016 and 2017, R02 has the highest pass rates of the technical R0 exams (R02, R03, and R04).
The CISI’s PCIAM investment exam (see below) has seen pass rates as high as 78% as of December 2017 (although in fairness, this is much higher than usual, with the June 2018 sitting at a pass rate of 57%).
The point is, that with the potentially easier exams and the amount of double-bubbling of credits that can be done with investment, this could help you get to Chartered more quickly, easily, and efficiently than via alternative routes.

3. People love investment
The Big Short: The real life story of the lead-up to the 2008 global financial crisis triggered by the US housing bubble. $133.4m box office.
The Wolf of Wall Street recounts the real life story of Jordan Belfort’s career as a stockbroker in New York City and how his firm Stratton Oakmont engaged in rampant corruption and fraud on Wall Street that ultimately led to his downfall. $392m box office.
Billions is a Showtime TV drama about the legal battles between a hedge fund manager and a US District Attorney. It was recently renewed for a fourth season having premiered in 2016.
People love investment. It fascinates us.The same cannot generally be said for pensions or tax. But people love investment, andthis is evidenced by the huge number of “Wall Street” hits which have emerged from Hollywood since the 1980s. Margin Call, American Psycho, Assault on Wall Street, Boiler Room, The Prime Gig, Wall Street, Wall Street Money Never Sleeps…
People love investment. Your clients love investment. And, studying investment at Level 6 gives you the opportunity to become a true technical expert in an aspect of their financial planning that genuinely interests them. This will help you engage more clients and help capture their imaginations as their Adviser.

Part Two will cover Route to Chartered: The FOUR key investment exams