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ifs Level 4 Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA®) - 501/0114/6


The Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA®) is a QCF* Level 4 qualification. It is a high quality, cost-effective, FCA-approved programme that meets the qualification standard required of anyone wishing to work as a financial adviser.

DipFA® is a UK specific qualification and comprises two mandatory units:

Unit 1 - Financial Services Regulation and Ethics Unit 2 - Advanced Financial Advice

The DipFA® meets the FCA's Retail Distribution Review (RDR) qualification requirement for independent retail financial services advice and provides a practically oriented and cost-effective approach to study and assessment. The DipFA® is a benchmark qualification that meets the standards required for those giving professional advice on retail investment products.

DipFA® key facts and benefits:

  • Can be completed in nine months
  • Comprehensive distance-learning support
  • Case-study-based learning and assessment partly multiple choice testing – results provided on the day
  • Institute Membership opportunity available
  • Year-round examinations – nationwide locations

Students can use the CeFAP® qualification as a stepping stone to studying the Level 4 Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA®), helping them to become qualified professional retail investment advisers.

View our video: An introduction to the DipFA®

Important Qualification Related Information

Further information relating to the DipFA® can be found in the Qualification Specification.
An overview of the qualification for the Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA®) Qualification.
To find out more about Ofqual and the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).


Registration fee
Includes learning materials and initial examination entry.


Without ifs University College tutor support


Examination resit fee

£129 - per assessment

Deferral fee

£129 - per assessment


DipFA® consists of two mandatory units:

Unit 1 – Financial Services Regulation and Ethics (FSRE) Y / 601 / 2801

The unit explores the environment within which the financial services industry operates and the key components and interrelationships of the financial system. The unit focuses on the principles underpinning the regulatory framework and the implications for the financial advice process, and develops the learners' understanding of the importance of the concept of risk with specific focus on how risks relate to institutions and individuals. The unit also focuses on the legal concepts relevant to financial advice and the interplay between regulation and legislation. The unit examines the FCA's approach to ethical and unethical behaviors and develops students' understanding of the Code of Ethics. Finally, the unit introduces the concept of the skills required to advise clients.

View the FSRE aims, learning outcomes and assessment criteria.

Unit 2 – Advanced Financial Advice (AFA) F / 601 / 2808

The unit concentrates on products, services and legislation that inform the financial planning and advice process. The unit focuses on the principles and theories that underpin investment, retirement planning and protection, and considers the interrelationships of these topic areas. The unit also develops the students' understanding of the importance of consumer oriented communication and ethical behaviors through the practical application of financial planning knowledge and skills through the financial advice process.

View the AFA aims, learning outcomes and assessment criteria.


Unit 1 - Financial Services, Regulation and Ethics (FSRE)

FSRE has one objective test comprising of 100 multiple choice questions.

To pass this unit you must achieve a minimum of 70%. The FSRE objective test is available at over 150 Pearson VUE test centres nationwide with the result provided on the day.

Unit 2 - Advanced Financial Advice (AFA)

AFA is assessed by coursework and examination. The coursework is submitted after approximately 16 weeks of study and comprises a written assignment and short answer questions.

The AFA examination takes the form of a written examination which centres on the production of a report, based on a client Factfind. The Factfind is made available six weeks prior to the examination date.

The pass mark for both the coursework and the examination are 50%. Both components plus the FSRE examination must be passed to achieve the DipFA®.

Both paper-based and electronic examination venues are available. View AFA examination venues.


DipFA® Study Timetable January 2014-October 2014
DipFA® Study Timetable January 2015-October 2015

The DipFA® is a distance qualification delivered online. It is recommended that the average student spends 400 learning hours of study time on the Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA®). The complete course is achievable within 9 months.

You will be provided with core learning materials and online access to a variety of learning support material including online student forums. You will also have individual access to an experienced web tutor who will provide you with expert guidance and support.

You will also receive a student handbook covering key qualification features, study technique and content applicable for achieving the learning outcomes of the units.

All students will receive online and printed study resources that cover both Financial Services, Regulation and Ethics (FSRE) and Advanced Financial Advice (AFA). For both the FSRE and AFA units, you will receive online access to the study texts and you will also be sent printed copies of the study texts. The study texts also contain review questions and activities. For the AFA unit you will also be given online access to further readings.

An online support service for the FSRE and AFA units will also be available for all students, covering relevant technical knowledge and communication skills.

Please note that in order to reflect any changes to syllabuses, including matters arising from the annual Budget, the study materials for some (though not all) units are updated annually, usually in July. It is your responsibility to ensure you are studying from the most up-to-date materials. The latest learning materials, updates and amendments can be found on my ifs University Collegelearning.

Please be aware when selecting your preferred study session using the timetables above that fees are payable if you wish to change your assessment dates for DipFA® unit two: Advanced Financial Advice (AFA) after registration.


By phone - call Student and Customer Enquiries on +44 (0) 1227 818609. Please have your VISA/MasterCard/debit card to hand when you call.

By post/email- download and complete the registration form. To view this file you need to have Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. This is free and available from the Adobe website. When you have completed the form either send it to the address stated on the form or by email.

Please note that the DipFA® units are available to study separately. For further detail please contact Student and Customer Enquiries on +44 (0) 1227 818609 or email us.


Membership of the Institute of Financial Services provides access to cost-effective and appropriate services that meet the very specific needs of the financial and mortgage adviser community and costs just £72 per annum.


When you have successfully completed the DipFA® qualification, and subject to certain other criteria, you are able to apply for your Statement of Professional Standing (SPS). You will also be eligible to study the Level 6 Diploma for Financial Advisers (Adv DipFA®). Adv DipFA® is an advanced qualification for ambitious retail investment advisers that can lead to Chartered status. It is ideal for those who wish to differentiate themselves from their peers and demonstrate the highest of professional standards and their commitment to their clients and to their own personal development.

Additionally you may consider other ifs Level 4 qualifications such as the ifs Level 4 Diploma in Mortgage Advice and Practice (DipMAP®) or the ifs Level 4 Diploma in Retail Banking Conduct of Business (DipRBCB®).