Cookies on the PFS website

By using and browsing the PFS website, you consent to cookies being used in accordance with our policy. If you do not consent, you are always free to disable cookies if your browser permits, although doing so may interfere with your use of some of our sites or services. Find out more »

Personal Finance Society
Recently added to my basket
Sorry but there was an error adding this to your basket. Please try adding it again


Building expertise in life or pension administration

The RQF Level 3 Award in Financial Administration provides the essential knowledge and skills needed by those working in administrative and operational life or pensions roles.

The Award offers the choice between life or pensions administration, each satisfying the FCA qualification requirements for overseers of certain administrative life and pensions functions.

The unit syllabus detailing learning outcomes for the Award can be found on the right of this page.

Read the Award in Financial Administration specification »

Who’s it for?

  • Operational or administrative staff working in the life and pensions sector
  • Those moving into an administrative overseer role and need to comply with FCA appropriate qualification requirements

Recognition of prior learning

Before studying, check to see whether any of your previous academic qualifications or credits from other professional bodies and institutes can be carried towards completion of the Award.

Find out more about recognition of prior learning

Completion requirements

The Award involves completion of one core unit and one option unit from the Personal Finance qualifications framework, providing a minimum of 25 credits on completion:

See our key information link to the right of this page for details

Assessment method

Award level units are assessed by multiple-choice question exam (MCQ). For online MCQ exams, result notification is immediate on completion. For paper-based MCQ exams, results are released five weeks’ following the exam sitting.

Find out more about assessments, including policies and exam centres


Learning support

Each qualification unit comes with the essential tools to support core learning. For a single fee, study packages typically include: study text, assessment entry and access to RevisionMate, our online study tool.

We also offer additional study materials to support individual learning. These range from key fact booklets and next-edition study texts, to question packs and Learn interactive tutorials.

For full unit availability, click the unit links to the right of this page


CII qualifications involve the completion of one or more units, each covering an individually assessed topic. Assessment methods vary and depend on a unit's level and subject matter.

Assessment methods include:

  • Multiple-choice exams - the assessment method for Award, Certificate, and financial services 'R0' Diploma units assessed in the UK. Exams are delivered on-screen at a network of over 40 public centres across the UK. Sittings are available year-round, often on a weekly basis.
  • Written exams - the assessment method for some Diploma and Advanced Diploma units and all units examined outside the UK. Sittings are typically available twice-yearly in April and October at over 50 public centres throughout the UK and over 100 public centres outside the UK.
  • Coursework assessment - available for a select number of Advanced Diploma in Insurance units and the financial services unit (J09) Paraplanning, coursework assessment involves the completion of three written assignments during a 12 month period.
  • Mixed assessment - Initially introduced for unit (P92) Insurance business and finance, this has been extended to units (P05) Insurance law, (P80) Underwriting practice, (P81) Insurance broking practice and (P85) Claims practice from April 2015 and and will be extended to all Diploma in Insurance units by April 2018 (unit codes begin with the letter M). This involves the successful completion of both a coursework assignment and a multiple-choice exam. This has an 18 month enrolment period.
  • Dissertation assessment - available for the Advanced Diploma unit 991 London market insurance specialisation. This involves the submission of a dissertation proposal and an 11,000 word dissertation. This has an 18 month enrolment period. This unit should only be taken by those who have access to the necessary information and people in the London Market.

Find out more

It is essential that candidates familiarise themselves with the guidelines and instructions which are shown on the CII website under the relevant units. In addition candidates should familiarise themselves with the coursework and dissertation policies as well as exam policies (before the assessment) and notes to results (after the assessment).

This qualification in detail

Key information

What does the qualification involve?

The Award comprises two core units and two option units from the Personal Finance qualifications framework, providing a minimum total of 25 credits on successful completion.

Candidates are required to take the following units:

  • (R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics; or
  • (CF1) UK financial services, regulation and ethics

And a second unit from:

  • (FA1) Life office administration; or
  • (FA2) Pensions administration

There is no prescribed order in which units must be taken, but it is strongly recommended that you sit the required compulsory unit(s) first as these provide foundation knowledge upon which the others build.

For unit syllabuses, return to the Award in Financial Administration landing page, and click the ‘syllabuses’ link to the right of the page.

Unit overview:


Assessment method

Study hours*

Credits awarded

Unit level






(R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics

·         2-hour exam

·         100 multiple choice questions

·         65% nominal pass mark**




(CF1) UK Financial services, regulation and ethics

·         2-hour exam

·         100 multiple choice questions

·         65% nominal pass mark**




(FA1) Life office administration

·         1-hour exam

·         50 multiple choice questions

·         70% nominal pass mark**




(FA2) Pensions administration

·         1-hour exam

·         50 multiple choice questions

·         70% nominal pass mark**




Found out more about assessments methods including exam policies and centres.

Units treated as equivalent

Due to the extent of syllabus overlap, certain combinations of current and withdrawn CII units will result in only one award of credits.


*The recommended minimum study hours will vary depending on your experience and ability.

** The actual pass mark may vary from one session to another to ensure consistency in pass standards.

Assessment information

It is important that candidates entering for a CII assessment familiarise themselves with our service, in particular the rules and procedures that are in place.


CF1 UK financial services, regulation and ethics

At the end of this unit, candidates should understand the:

  • purpose and structure of the UK financial services industry;
  • different financial asset classes and product types;
  • process of giving advice and the main areas covered;
  • ethics, regulatory processes, rules and legislation underpinning UK financial services;
  • use of the financial regulators' powers and responsibilities to protect the market's integrity and the impact on individuals and firms of these regulators' powers.


R01 Financial services, regulation and ethics

At the end of this unit candidates will be able to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and skill in applying the following topic areas:

  • UK financial service industry in its European and Global context;
  • how the retail customer is served by the financial service industry;
  • Regulatory framework, powers and responsibilities to protect the consumer;
  • the legal concepts and considerations relevant to financial advice;
  • the Code of Ethics and its impact on the business behaviours of individuals.


FA1 Life office administration

At the end of this unit, candidates should understand the:

• basic product types, including group life;
• principles of financial and medical underwriting;
• policy issues likely to arise with life policies;
• administration of life policies, including the different payment methods and consequences of non-payment;
• handling of life policy claims.


FA2 Pensions administration

At the end of this unit, candidates should understand:

• the regulatory and legislative environment governing pensions;
• the basic principles of pension taxation and administration;
• the basic pension product types, including group pensions;
• with-profits and unit-linked investments;
• the different pensions and options available when taking benefits.