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Level 4 Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA®)

  • Overview
  • Cost
  • Units
  • Studying
  • Assessment
  • Registration
  • Progression


The Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA®) 501/0114/6 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.

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:

  • it can be completed in nine months
  • it includes comprehensive distance-learning support
  • it contains case-study-based learning and an assessment that is partly multiple-choice with results provided on the day.
  • Institute Membership opportunity available
  • year-round examinations in nationwide locations

Please refer to the 'Studying' tab to view registration and examination dates.

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

Important Qualification Related Information

Further information relating to the DipFA® can be found in the Qualification Specification.
View the Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA®) Product Card.
*Read more about the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).


Registration fee
Includes learning materials and initial examination entry
Without ifs University College tutor support £585.00
Examination resit fee £129.00 per assessment
Deferral fee £129.00 per assessment


DipFA® consists of two mandatory units:

Module Units Details Syllabus
DipFA® 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 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.


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.

To view possible study dates click on the timetables below

DipFA Study Timetable January 2014 - October 2014
DipFA Study Timetable January 2015 - October 2015
DipFA Study Timetable January 2016 - October 2016

Students will receive the following learning support:

  • core learning materials and online access to a variety of learning support material including online student forums
  • individual access to an experienced web tutor to provide expert guidance and support
  • student handbook covering key qualification features, study technique and content applicable for achieving the learning outcomes of the units
  • 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 hard copies will be posted to you
  • for the AFA unit, you will be given online access to further readings
  • 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 units are updated annually. It is your responsibility to ensure you are studying from the most up-to-date materials. The most up-to-date learning materials, updates and amendments can be found on my ifslearning and we suggest that you log in regularly to check for updates.

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.


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% and both must be passed to achieve the DipFA®. In the instance of a fail, you will have the opportunity to pay the relevant fees and retake the component.

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


By phone - call Student and Customer Services 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. You will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer to view this file - you can download this program for free 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 Services on +44 (0) 1227 818609 or email us.


Membership of the Institute of Financial Services includes access to benefits that help you to maintain your skills and knowledge, as well as supporting your career ambitions. It costs £72 per annum and can be paid monthly by Direct Debit at no extra cost. Apply for membership.


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 Level 4 Diploma in Mortgage Advice and Practice (DipMAP®) or the Level 4 Diploma in Retail Banking Conduct of Business (DipRBCB®).