The length of time it takes to complete the full level 4 Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning depends on whether you are studying full-time or part-time alongside other work. The CII issue study time guidelines for each R0 unit which, in total, amount to a notional 370 hours as the time a student might take to complete the Diploma. You can find out more about the recommended study hours for each unit on our What Are The R0 Exams? page.
You don’t have to complete the Diploma in one syllabus year (1st September – 31st August). You can complete some R0 exams in one syllabus year and others in another.
There isn’t a set order in which to complete the R0 exams. For new trainees, BTS recommend started with R01 Financial Services, Regulation and Ethics as it covers a broad introduction to the financial services industry, with a focus on regulation, legislation and ethics. After this, the R05 Financial Protection lies at the core of financial planning, so this unit makes a sensible next step. R03 Personal Taxation and R02 Investment Principles and Risk fit well as consecutive units due to the common areas across the syllabus in each. That leaves R04 Pensions and Retirement Planning and finally, R06 Financial Planning Practice.
You may prefer to attempt the exams in a different order if you have prior experience in some units.
You may be eligible to claim exemptions for previous exams and qualifications. To confirm which exams you need to sit to be awarded the Diploma you must complete an application to the CII for recognition of prior learning.
The CII syllabus for the Diploma on Regulated Financial Planning is examined from 1st September to 31st August each year. BTS study materials are updated every summer to reflect the changes to the syllabus. New syllabus materials are available to purchase from the beginning of August, ready for the new syllabus exam year commencing 1st September. These are valid for exams up to 31st August the following year.
BTS support learners from a variety of backgrounds. The following case studies provide examples of the different routes taken by real BTS candidates.
Sam first came to BTS after grappling with the examining body’s study materials. He successfully achieved his diploma, self-funding his studies along side full-time work.
Sam Phillips, Business Development Consultant CN Goodall GmbH IFA
“When I started studying for RO1 I assumed that the CII guide was going to be the best / most helpful resource for the exam, as it’s their exam, therefore their material would be the best to use surely. Nope!! I passed RO1 first time but despite studying the CII workbook extensively I felt as though I hadn’t seen a lot of the material the exam was asking about before. I then did the same for R04, I invested countless hours reading & working through the CII study guide and revision mate questions, to the point where I was extremely confident I’d pass the exam, only to once again feel as though I hadn’t seen any of the material before that the exam was actually asking questions about. I failed the exam this time.”
BTS says: It is not uncommon for learners to find BTS having first struggled with other study materials.
“I had been recommended BTS by a LinkedIn connection a couple of months earlier. So I reached out to Luiza on LinkedIn. I then bought the BTS RO4 guide, and both sets of questions for RO4 on their RO Study Buddy App. Two weeks later I passed R04 with 82% using only BTS material in that time, and paying the CII solely for an exam sitting. I then passed RO2, RO3 and R05 within four weeks of each other using only the BTS study guides and the BTS study buddy App. All with very respectable scores around.”
“I didn’t bother paying for any further CII materials after I’d done R04 with BTS. I then used the BTS case study analysis when revising for RO6 in October and it was extremely helpful, some of the practice questions were very similar to what came up in the exam and I wouldn’t have passed first time without it. If I hadn’t used BTS materials it would have either taken me two to three years (rather than the nine months it did take me) to get my level 4, or more likely, I’d have given up completely! I cannot recommend using BTS enough whilst studying for your CII Level 4. It is an absolute must in my opinion!”
BTS says: You absolutely do not have to purchase the examining body’s study materials when you book your exam. You can book the exam ‘stand-alone’ and then use BTS study materials to prepare for your exam.
Kelly accessed BTS support via a full-time Academy Trainee Programme with her employer.
Kelly Davenport, Academy Trainee Adviser Schroders Personal Wealth
“Shortly after becoming a Mother to my wonderful daughter I decided that it was time for me to take the next step in my career and become a qualified financial advisor. I had worked in a retail bank for nearly 20 years and this step did feel quite natural. However as soon as I started my RO1 journey I will be honest I found the material in the R01 book very dry and albeit boring. That is until I was introduced to BTS.
BTS says: An R01 pass is often a prerequisite when joining an Academy programme. Many learners find studying this unit quite hard going. The BTS Study Guide has been designed to bring the subject matter to life (as much as you can with topics like regulation and ethics!).
I read the BTS R01 study guide with ease, it is written in such a way that the material is easy to remember, relatable and modern. The study guide itself is extremely user friendly with key points that indicate when there is critical information. It helps you to pause and to think about how your learning relates to your own knowledge and experience. I was able to get to grips with the fine details at pace. Each chapter has an end of module test that is bite size and these checkpoints solidified my learning and encouraged me to re visit specific areas.
In conjunction with the BTS study guide I used the BTS Study Buddy app. You can practise RO style questions and complete mock tests as a whole or as separate modules. I found it really useful to complete separate module tests whilst hopping on and off the train. After each question the app explains the method behind each multiple choice so if you selected a correct or incorrect answer you know why.
BTS says: Passing R01 requires both strong knowledge of the syllabus AND an understanding of the questioning techniques used in the exam. Practising as many exam-style questions as you can will increase your confidence and improve your question answering skill.
I walked into the exam feeling 100% confident as I had not only read the RO1 book but I was armed with all of the knowledge and skills the BTS study guide and Study Buddy app had given me, enabling me to achieve a PASS first time. I truly believe this would not have been the case without the support of the BTS.
I have one exam remaining to complete my diploma and I know what my game plan will be = BTS all the way!”
Ruth completed her Diploma studying part-time alongside her role as a Financial Adviser. She accessed a bespoke programme of BTS training provided in collaboration with her employer.
Ruth Downs, Financial Adviser
“I’ve been with BTS right from the start of my financial adviser journey. I have now completed R01, 2, 3, 4 & 5 with BTS and passed first time on all of them and on some getting 100%. The help they have given me both personally and professionally along my journey has been second to none.
The BTS training days help lock in all the knowledge from the book and they cleverly put you under a similar pressure that you might find in the exam by asking question under pressure. The training days also help you to explore any areas of uncertainty you might have by asking specific questions.
BTS says: Training days are designed to revise the key areas required for an exam pass. Candidates can access BTS training days through their employer, like Ruth, or via the BTS/PFS workshops that are open to individuals to attend.
I backed all this learning up by buying the BTS Study Buddy app. This allowed me to test myself along the way on each chapter and my learning.
Going into the exam I can confidently say I couldn’t have been any more prepared to the extent I actually brought forward my exam! The questions and revision I had completed with BTS helped prepare me thoroughly for the exam. The CII questions have a very specific technique they use including extra information you think you might need to include but you don’t! BTS helped me to practice what a CII question was asking and to realise the areas to disregard.
I am looking forward to completing my journey now with BTS as I undertake R06 very soon!”
BTS says: Our R06 workshops are open to anybody to attend. You can find out when the next available dates are by checking the Events calendar.