What is the difference between financial planning and financial advice?

Financial Advice offers an exciting and potentially lucrative career for anyone who is good with numbers and enjoys working with people. If you’re thinking of becoming a financial adviser, you may have also seen the term ‘financial planner’ used and wondered if there is a difference between the two terms.

The use of the title ‘Financial Planner’ is restricted in many countries but in the UK, any financial adviser can also use the term financial planner. 

However there are actually several key differences between financial advice and financial planning, from the services they provide to the way their fees are structured. In this blog post, we’ll look at some of the differences between financial planning and financial advice.

What is the definition of financial advice?

Financial advice is a term which refers to recommendations provided about a specific financial investment. The recommendations will be based on each client’s own personal circumstances, financial goals and attitude to investment risk. 

Financial advisers give advice on managing money, which could include buying or selling shares in a particular company, arranging insurance or investing in a personal pension. They tend to focus on a single specific issue rather than creating a long-term plan.

A fee will usually be charged for providing financial advice and these fees should be clearly explained before any recommendations are made. Financial advisors usually charge a percentage fee, which is usually around 2-3% of the value of the client’s investment.

Who can give financial advice?

Only firms and advisers who are authorised by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) can provide financial advice in the UK. All financial advisers must hold an FCA-approved financial advice qualification such as the Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA) and will be listed on the FCA’s Financial Services Register. This shows that they are approved and regulated by the FCA and their clients will be protected by the Financial Ombudsman and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme in the event of things going wrong.

Financial advisers may work within a company or for themselves on either an independent or restricted basis. Independent financial advisors will offer unbiased advice based upon a comprehensive analysis of the market and can not allow themselves to be influenced by any product providers. Restricted financial advisers may offer advice on one specific area such as pensions but look at the whole of the market, or provide advice on all providers of one type of product such as unit trusts.

What is financial planning?

Whereas financial advice provides recommendations to help their clients meet specific objectives, financial planning tends to be more concerned with long term goals.

Financial planning aims to give the client a clear picture of their financial future, helping to put them in control of their finances. The financial plan that the client receives will show them their current financial situation, what their end goal is, and a strategy to help them get there. This may or may not include recommendations for specific products such as investments or pensions.

What is the role of a financial planner?

 A financial planner will help their clients to understand why they want to achieve these goals, what plans they need to make and how much money will be needed to reach their targets. 

They ask questions about a client’s approach to finances and other personal matters which will allow them to build up a more detailed understanding of the client and provide them with a personalised financial plan. 

As with financial advisers, financial planners are regulated by the FCA and need to hold an FCA-approved financial planning qualification. However they tend to charge a set fee for their services rather than working on a variable fee basis. Financial planner fees are usually between £1000 and £3000 on average and will generally include the cost of setting up any financial products.

Which to choose: financial planner or financial advisor?

People who already know that they simply want to set up a pension or ISA would be better off working with a financial adviser. But clients who want someone who can help them take control of their finances and plan for the long term may prefer to work with a financial planner.

Everything you need to know about CeMAP 2&3

Studying CeMAP is the perfect first step towards a new career as a Mortgage Adviser.

CeMAP is the Financial Service industry’s benchmark qualification, held by around 80% of UK Mortgage Advisers. It is approved by the FCA, accredited by Ofqual and awarded by the London Institute of Banking & Finance (LIBF).

CeMAP certification demonstrates to potential clients and employers that you are qualified to offer professional mortgage advice. The qualification meets industry regulatory requirements and is highly respected by Financial Services employers. So it’s no surprise that over 10,000 students have chosen to study CeMAP courses with Simply Academy since 2006.

This post will answer all your CeMAP2 questions, including what the course syllabus covers, the available study options and the cost of studying CEMAP 2.

What is CeMAP 2?

Studied together within one course, CeMAP 2 and 3 follow on from CeMAP 1 as the final part of the CeMAP (Certificate in Mortgage Advice & Practice) qualification.

Before you can study CeMAP 2&3, you need to either complete the CeMAP1 course  and pass the associated exam or alternatively complete the FSRE unit of the DipFA (Diploma for Financial Advisers) course.

What does the CeMAP 2&3 course cover?

The four units of CeMAP Module 2 (Mortgages) cover the essential knowledge you will need to fully understand mortgage advice. The course syllabus covers topics such as mortgage law, applications, mortgage protection products and payment methods as well as issues that may arise after completion. All of this will give you a thorough grounding in the mortgage application process.

CeMAP 3 is concerned with the Assessment of Mortgage Advice Knowledge. This module is based upon your knowledge and understanding of the previous two modules (CeMAP 1 and CeMAP 2). The course helps you to consolidate your knowledge and learn how to put it into practice in various scenarios.

How can I study CeMAP 2&3?

There are three options for studying CeMAP 2&3 with Simply Academy. Each study method has its own advantages which allows you to select the right CeMAP course to suit your own learning style and requirements.

CeMAP 2 Fast Track course

The Simply Academy CeMAP 2&3 Fast Track course is ideal if you prefer face-to-face tuition and enjoy the atmosphere of classroom-based study. You can study our CeMAP Fast Track course in the comfortable surroundings of one of our six UK training centres, which are all in convenient city centre locations.

Our expert training staff deliver the CeMAP 2&3 course syllabus in a five day workshop which also includes exam preparation. You’ll receive our clear, high quality course materials to reinforce your studies and we keep our class sizes small so early booking is recommended.

CeMAP 2 Live Webinar course

Simply Academy Live Webinar study blends the structure of classroom based learning with the convenience of studying CeMAP online from any location. Our CeMAP 2 Live Webinar course comprises ten Live Webinar lectures scheduled over five days.

Each three hour session is delivered by one of our expert trainers and is also recorded so you can watch them back for revision purposes. We keep our class sizes small so that you can engage with your tutor and fellow students, and you’ll also be able to contact your tutor for feedback on your learning.

CeMAP 2 self-study course

If you need to fit learning in around your existing job or want to study at your own pace, the Simply Academy CeMAP 2 e-learning course is ideal for your requirements.

Upon enrolment, you will receive access to our interactive online study portal including our high quality CeMAP training course materials and exam preparation tips. If you need tutor support, you can also access this through our online helpdesk.

Completing CeMAP 2&3 through this method takes around 60 hours of study, which can generally be completed within 3-4 months. However you will have 12 months’ access to the study portal and CeMAP course materials.

Is there a CeMAP 2 exam?

Modules 2 and 3 of the CeMAP qualification are assessed through two separate exams. Your Simply Academy CeMAP 2&3 course includes exam tips and mock exam papers which will help to prepare you for your CeMAP exams.

CeMAP module 2 is assessed via a 2 hour exam with 100 multiple choice questions. The exam for CeMAP 3 is a 2 hour exam comprising 10 multiple choice questions on each of 6 case studies.

You can take the CeMAP 2&3 exams at one of 150+ UK locations throughout the UK or online through remote invigilation. You will receive CeMAP exam booking details when you enrol on your course, and the separate CeMAP exam fees of £190 per module are payable when you book your exam.

How much does CeMAP 2 cost?

The cost of a CeMAP 2&3 course depends on which study option you choose:

  • CeMAP 2 Fast Track costs £575.00 plus VAT
  • CeMAP 2 Live Webinar costs £475.00 plus VAT
  • CeMAP 2 Online Study costs £325 plus VAT

These prices include your study materials and tuition. Your CeMAP 2&3 exam fee is paid separately when you register for your exam

What comes next?

Once you have passed your CeMAP 2&3 exam, you will receive your CeMAP certification and can use the letters CeMAP after your name. You will be qualified to provide your clients with advice on mortgage products ether while working within a company or as an independent Mortgage Adviser.

You may also wish to consider studying CeRER (Certificate in Equity Release) which will allow you to add Equity Release products to your portfolio of services.

How can I book a CeMAP training course?

You can find more information about studying CeMAP and book your CeMAP 2&3 course online on our CeMAP course pages. Our friendly Student Support Team are also on hand to help with any queries you may have or to take your course booking on Freephone 0808 208 0002.

Everything you need to know about CeMAP 1

If you’re considering a career in Mortgage Advice, studying CeMAP is your ideal first step.

Since 2006 over 10,000 students have passed CeMAP courses with us and around 80% of all UK mortgage advisers hold CeMAP, making it the industry’s benchmark qualification. It meets all of the regulatory requirements and is highly respected by Financial Services employers.

In this post, we’ll take a look at what you need to know about studying the CeMAP 1 module, including details of what is included in the course, how you can study CeMAP1 and how much studying CEMAP 1 costs.

What is CeMAP 1?

CeMAP1 is the first module in the CeMAP (Certificate in Mortgage Advice & Practice) qualification.

CeMAP is a level 3 Mortgage Advice qualification which is FCA approved, Ofqual accredited and awarded by the London Institute of Banking & Finance (LIBF). CeMAP certification allows you to add the letters ‘CeMAP’ after your name, showing both potential clients and potential employers that you are qualified to work as a Mortgage Adviser.

You will need to complete this module and pass the CeMAP1 exam before studying the second part of the CeMAP qualification. However, if you have already completed the FSRE unit of DipFA (Diploma for Financial Advisers), you are exempt from passing CeMAP1 and can progress directly onto the CeMAP 2&3 course.

What does the CeMAP1 course cover?

The Simply Academy CeMAP 1 course is a broad-based module that introduces you to the structure and purpose of the UK Financial Services industry.

The UK Financial Regulation (UKFR) module is split into two units which help you to develop the required specialist knowledge of the sector. You will be introduced to the Financial Services Environment and relevant financial services products, as well as the rules and regulations that apply to the sector. The course also covers the main aims and activities of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and how socio-economic factors impact on personal financial planning.

How can I study CeMAP 1?

Simply Academy offers three different options for studying CeMAP1. Each of these options has its own benefits so you can select the best CeMAP course to suit your own learning style and requirements.

CeMAP 1 Fast Track course

If you prefer face-to-face tuition, our CeMAP1 Fast Track course will be ideal for you. The syllabus is delivered over the course of a five day workshop, which also includes exam technique preparation.

You can study our CeMAP1 Fast Track course at one of our six training centres, which are all conveniently located in UK city centres. We keep our class sizes small so early booking is recommended.

CeMAP 1 Live Webinar course

The CeMAP 1 Live Webinar course is perfect if you like the structure of classroom-based learning but don’t want to travel to a CeMAP training centre for tuition. You will receive ten Live Webinar lectures scheduled over the course of five days. Each session will last three hours and be delivered by one of our expert trainers.

Our small class sizes allow you to engage with your fellow students and your tutor will provide you with feedback on your learning.

CeMAP 1 self-study course

Our CeMAP 1 e-learning course is ideally suited to those who need to fit their learning in around other commitments.

You will access the CeMAP Module 1 materials through our online study portal and can study your CeMAP course online or download the materials for offline use. The course also includes exam preparation materials, and you can access tutor support through our online helpdesk.

It typically takes around 60 hours of self-paced study to complete the CeMAP 1 course, but you will receive 12 months’ access to the materials.

Is there a CeMAP 1 exam?

The CeMAP 1 module is assessed via a 2 hour exam which includes 100 multiple choice questions. Exam preparation advice and CeMAP mock exam questions are included in your CeMAP course to give you the best chance of passing your exam first time.

You can sit your exam at one of the 150+ locations throughout the UK or online with remote invigilation. The exam entry fee is £190 per module and you will receive CeMAP exam booking details when you enrol on your course.

How much does CeMAP 1 cost?

The cost of the CeMAP1 course varies depending on the study method that you choose:

  • CeMAP 1 Fast Track costs £575.00 plus VAT
  • CeMAP 1 Live Webinar costs £475.00 plus VAT
  • CeMAP 1 Online Study costs £325.00 plus VAT

These prices include your study materials and tuition, but you will need to pay your CeMAP exam registration fees separately.

What comes next?

Once you have passed your CeMAP 1 exam, you can complete your CeMAP qualification by progressing onto the CeMAP 2&3 course. When you have passed CeMAP Modules 2 and 3, you will be able to use the letters CeMAP after your name.

How can I book a CeMAP 1 course?

For more information or to book your CeMAP training course online, please visit our CeMAP course pages. You can also call our friendly Student Support Team on Freephone 0808 208 0002 to discuss any queries you may have or to book your course over the phone.

The CeMAP Exams Explained

If you are looking to complete your CeMAP training to become a mortgage adviser, or you are currently undertaking one of our courses, then you know what stands between you and your career goals – the CeMAP examinations. Many people who take on CeMAP training haven’t had to sit an exam since school or college, but don’t be put off by the faint memories of pre-test nerves. In this handy guide, here at Simply Academy we have laid out all you need to know about your CeMAP exams to set your mind at ease and help you prepare to achieve that all important qualification. So, for a comprehensive unit-by-unit breakdown and an explanation of CeMAP pass rates, as well as a selection of our top tips to help you achieve the grade you deserve, read on.

CeMAP exams breakdown

The Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (CeMAP) consists of three mandatory modules made up of seven units in total. Each module examination is two hours in length and you will answer a set number of questions per unit. Below we outline what should be expected in each module:

Module 1

This initial module consists of two units. The first unit provides an introduction to the financial service industry and financial products that are commonly used and sold. The second unit will take you into more specific detail, learning about financial regulations. Overall, this module provides a good introductory overview of the services and regulatory frameworks used in the financial services industry.

For CeMAP module one, there are 100 multiple choice questions to answer over two one-hour exams:

Module 1 Unit Title Duration Questions
Unit 1 Introduction to the Financial Services Environments and Products 60 minutes 50 multiple choice questions
Unit 2 UK Financial Services and Regulation 60 minutes 50 multiple choice questions


Module 2

This module is more in-depth and consists of four units. The first unit focuses on mortgage law, market policies and good practice, while unit two concentrates more on the actual processes involved in mortgage applications. Unit three looks at different types of mortgage products and various payment methods and models, and, finally, unit four deals with mortgage arrears and the problems that can occur after a mortgage has been sold.

For module two’s four units, you will have a two hour exam that will consist of 25 multiple choice questions for each one:


Module 2 Unit Title Duration Questions
Unit 3 Mortgage Law, Policy, Practice and Markets 30 minutes 25 multiple choice questions
Unit 4 Mortgage Applications 30 minutes 25 multiple choice questions
Unit 5 Mortgage Payment Methods and Product 30 minutes 25 multiple choice questions
Unit 6 Mortgage Arrears and Post-Completion Issues 30 minutes 25 multiple choice questions


Module 3

The third and final module, made up of just one unit, aims to pull together all of the knowledge and skills you have learnt in the first two modules, using case studies to bring some more hands-on experience to the learning process. This typically involves the use of roleplaying where you will be asked to play the role of a mortgage advisor dealing with a number of different scenarios. However, it’s worth noting that the module three exam itself is still a written assessment. In order to prepare you for your CeMAP exam, you will be provided with previous exam questions that can be used to study.

For module three, you will have two hours to review six case studies and answer a series of multiple choice questions based on those studies:


Module 3 Unit Title Duration Questions
Unit 7 Assessment of Mortgage Advice and Knowledge 120 minutes 6 case studies

10 multiple choice questions per case study


CeMAP exams pass rates

Pass rates for the CeMAP exams are calculated on a percentage basis for each unit, so you must correctly answer at least 70% correctly in order to successfully pass that unit. Pass marks are also graded, with 70% plus giving you a pass, 80% plus is a merit and 90% plus is a distinction. No one wants to think about failing an exam, but should this happen, you will only need to resit the unit that you did not pass. This means you wouldn’t have to retake the whole module exam again.

CeMAP exam tips

Before you head off to sit your CeMAP exam, here are a few top tips to help you achieve that all important qualification:

  • Revise smart

While revising is clearly essential when it comes to passing the CeMAP exams, revising in the right way can make the whole process much easier. That is to say, don’t leave everything to the last minute and expect to pass after a late night cramming session the night before your exam. Create a structured timetable a few weeks before test day – one that allows for regular breaks and rest periods. This is the best way to learn. 

  • Make sure you are well-rested and dressed comfortably

There is no substitute for a good night’s sleep before your exam. This will help you feel relaxed and ready to go. In a similar vein, wearing comfortable clothing during your exam can also help to keep you calm, cool and completely collected. 

  • Always read each question carefully

Again, while this may sound obvious, it’s easy to let nerves get the better of you on exam day, and when this happens, silly errors can occur. The way CeMAP questions are worded can be tricky, so make sure you read each one thoroughly to make sure you have fully understood the question before attempting to answer it. 

  • Take a cautious approach to answering questions

As a rule, CeMAP questions relating to mortgage lending tend to be based on a cautious lending mindset. This is to say, while you may have learnt about more ‘adventurous’ products, the CeMAP exam expects you to advise on sensible products that use standard income multipliers. With this in mind, assume you are not lending to people with bad credit history and approach each case study question with a cautious approach. 

  • Maintain a positive attitude

Staying positive is key when sitting any exam. At the end of the day, what’s the worst that can happen? Yes, you can fail aspects of the exam, but (as we touched on above) if this should happen, you will only need to resit the one unit that you did not pass.

Going into your exam with a positive mindset, on the back of a good amount of preparation and revision, will calm the nerves and help you to achieve the grade you truly deserve.

If you need further information or assistance with your CeMAP qualification or have questions about the CeMAP exams, do get in touch with Simply Academy on 0808 208 0002 (Freephone) or email [email protected] for friendly, professional advice and guidance. We look forward to helping you achieve your career goals.

What is a diploma equivalent to?

Not all that long ago, the most traditional way to start a professional career in a field like financial advice or accounting was by going to university and obtaining a three or four year bachelor’s degree. However, with the way people can learn and gain qualifications rapidly changing and evolving, other educational routes are now available when considering a new career. Depending what field you’d like to work in, one of these pathways may involve gaining a diploma. These tiered qualifications, that start at a basic entry level and, in some areas, progress to a level 8, postgraduate equivalent, can provide a more flexible and cheaper alternative to traditional higher school and university qualifications.

However, what is a diploma? What can you do specifically with a Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA)? And what are diplomas equivalent to when compared with other forms of qualification? In this blog, we will answer all of these questions and more as we take a deep dive into diplomas.

What is a diploma?

A diploma is a qualification that shows you have achieved a level of proficiency in a particular subject. Like any qualification, you can add your diploma to your CV, helping you to get jobs and prove your skill level to employers and clients.

Some jobs require that you hold a certain level of knowledge and expertise before you are legally allowed to begin employment. The right diploma can open doors to new professions and help you progress along your chosen career path. With this in mind, there are different types of diplomas that each relate to different levels of educational qualification. Typically, these are awarded from entry-level to level 8 diplomas, and include the following:

National diplomas (levels 1-3) – a level 3 national diploma is recognised as an equivalent level to GCE A-levels)
Higher National Diplomas (levels 4-5) – Pearson qualifications and DipHEs – level 4 relates to year one of a university degree while level 5 qualifications equates to the first two years of a university bachelor’s degree)
Graduate diplomas (levels 6+) – same recognition as a bachelor’s degree, but more limited in scope)
Postgraduate diplomas (7+) – same recognition and qualification as a Master’s degree, if a dissertation is completed)

Different levels of diploma are based on the standards of knowledge, skill and competence in a chosen field, with entry level diplomas providing basic foundation information, through levels 3 and 4 which equate to A-Level qualifications, to levels 6, 7 and 8 which are compared to graduate and postgraduate level qualifications. It’s worth noting that qualifications viewed at a similar level can vary greatly in terms of content, as well as the length of time they take to complete and the methods of assessment they use.

What is the DipFA diploma equivalent to?

As touched upon above, when it comes to diplomas, different qualifications are assigned a level to show their difficulty. As a rule of thumb, a grade 9 (formally an A*) at GCSE equals to a level 2 diploma qualification, while A levels are comparable to level 3 diplomas. In terms of higher education, a level 6 diploma qualification or above is equivalent to a degree with honours, such as a BA or BSc.

When it comes specifically to DipFAs, these qualifications are level 4 accreditations, meaning they are highly respected diplomas that can open the door to an exciting new career in financial services. Accredited by Ofqual and awarded by the London Institute of Banking & Finance, these qualifications are roughly equivalent to a first year university degree programme. Open to adults of all ages and any walk of life, DipFA meets the FCA requirements for all investment advisors and is also a commonly held qualification for paraplanners and those in other financial support roles.

What can I do with a DipFA?

Despite being a highly regarded level 4 qualification, there are no entry requirements in order to begin studying a Diploma for Financial Advisers. It can even be completed in just nine months.

This qualification prepares you with the knowledge and skills to offer specialist advice on retail investment. It has been designed for students of all skill levels, making it perfect for those with no industry experience as well as those wishing to change career paths within the financial services industry.

This diploma can help those wishing to forge a career in this industry, both finding employment with an established firm as well as setting the foundations for future self-employment. Indeed, if you wish to one day become an independent financial advisor, DipFA can provide you with the skills needed to start your own business. This, combined with the flexibility financial advice can provide in terms of career progression, can help you achieve the perfect work/homelife lifestyle you want.

Additionally, mortgage advisers, paraplanners and professionals who currently hold a role supporting financial planning processes could study the DipFA to add specialist skills to their service offering. Further study following on from DipFA is also very much an option, with CeMAP (Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice) and CeRER (Certificate in Regulated Equity Release) qualifications both complementary accreditations that can help to further your career and widen your skillset.

Find out more

If you would like to find out more about the Diploma for Financial Advisers, or any of our other courses, contact Simply Academy today. Our friendly, knowledgeable team is on hand to answer all your questions.

How to revise for exams

If you’re studying for a professional qualification, you will probably have to sit an exam in order to pass the course. For example, Financial Services courses such as CeMAP, CeRER and DipFA require you to pass one or more exams which may have a multiple choice format or have questions based on case studies.

Few people enjoy exams but effective revision is the best way to ensure that you are well prepared, giving you the greatest chance of passing your exams.

So here are some exam revision tips to help you learn how to revise effectively and different exam revision methods to try.

How to study for exams

Everybody studies in their own personal way, but here are a few things you can do to be well prepared for your exams.

Don’t leave it too late

The earlier you start your exam revision and the better organised you are, the more likely you are to achieve exam success. You’ll feel more relaxed and in control and won’t need to do last minute cramming.

Set a revision routine

It’s also a good idea to set a regular schedule for exam preparation, starting and finishing at roughly the same time. Many people find that revising earlier in the day works better, as you will take in the information better when you are mentally fresh.

Make a revision plan

First decide which parts of the syllabus you need to revise, and then make a detailed revision plan that sets out exactly what you will revise on each day. Remember to include practice exams and block out some time for exercise and relaxation.

Use the right study methods

You may already know which exam revision techniques work well for you. If not, you could try out different techniques like mind mapping, flashcards or recording the material and playing back the recording.

Prepare for the exam

Make sure that you know how long the exam will be and what format the questions will be in. The more you know about what will happen on the day, the more familiar it will feel and that will help you to feel less nervous.

Stick to a healthy lifestyle

It’s easy to get so caught up in your revision that you end up surviving on caffeine and junk food. But try to eat a healthy diet, drink enough water, get some exercise and plenty of sleep so that you can get the best results from your exam revision.

How many hours should I study for an exam?

There’s no set rule on how many hours of revision you need to do, but there are some general guidelines on how many hours you should do at one time.

Studying for three to five hours per day seems to be the upper limit for effective exam revision. Beyond this, you are more likely to lose concentration and not retain the information that you are revising.

Taking regular breaks throughout your study sessions will give you more chance of retaining the information that you’re studying. And if you find that you’re losing focus totally, it’s better to call it a day. Doing something completely different will refresh you ready for the next study session.

How to remember things for exams

There are many techniques for revising and it’s important to find the best revision techniques for you. Some popular revision methods include:


Creating a phrase or acronym can help you to remember details more easily. For example, the mnemonic Richard of York Gave Battle In Vain is used to remember the colours of the rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet

Test and repeat

Try covering a section of your notes and writing down as much as you can remember. When you check back, you’ll be able to see any areas that need further revision.

Revision cards

Flashcards can be a useful revision tool for facts such as names, dates and definitions. Using highlighters, coloured pens and diagrams will make them more memorable and A5-sized cards are a good size to carry around with you for extra revision. You can also use Q&A cards for testing yourself or get a friend or family member to test you.

Study buddies

Revising with a fellow student can be great for motivation and encouragement. You’ll probably have different strengths and weaknesses so you can help each other to understand the topics that you find more difficult. And working through past papers with another student can help you to find new ways to approach questions.

How to revise for essay based exams

Whereas short questions require you to have a broad knowledge of the whole syllabus, studying for an essay based exam is more effective if you focus on specific topics in greater detail.

Once you’ve decided which areas you are going to focus on, one of the best ways to prepare is to practice writing the sort of essays that you will need to write in the exam. Past papers are very useful as you can see what questions are likely to come up and prepare for them.

When you’ve completed your revision and exam day arrives, try to go to sleep at a reasonable time the night before. Last minute cramming is rarely effective and you will remember more if you’re feeling fresh on the day.

There’s no guarantee for exam success but preparing a revision plan and sticking it to it as much as possible will give you the best chance of passing your exams.

What is a CeRER qualification?

Equity release products have become a highly sought-after financial service for people exploring their options for retirement planning. Mortgage advisers who wish to add equity release to their service portfolio need to hold an appropriate, recognised qualification before they can legally offer these services to their clients.

Successfully completing a CeRER course with Simply Academy is your pathway to providing equity release advice, but what is a CeRER qualification and why should you choose to study CeRER?

Why is Equity Release in demand?

Equity release allows homeowners to release capital from their home without the need to sell the property, on the basis of an agreement that they will repay the money in the future. The sale of equity release products, including lifetime mortgages and home reversion plans, is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

For many older homeowners, their property is the most significant asset they possess and equity release has become a popular part of retirement planning. With the housing market remaining buoyant and more equity release products becoming available, demand for professional equity release advice is likely to remain high.

And for mortgage advisers, adding equity release to your portfolio makes good commercial sense. It’s important to ensure that you enrol on a high quality training course so that you can provide your clients with the high quality services they require.

Why study the CeRER qualification?

The Certificate in Regulatory Equity Release (CeRER) is one of the regulated equity release qualifications for qualified mortgage advisers, which allows you to offer advice on equity release products.

The CeRER qualification will equip you with the in-depth knowledge required to provide sound financial advice to your clients, including the legal and regulatory aspects that they need to take into consideration.

The course is divided into two units which cover topics such as when equity release may be appropriate, the types of equity release available and the advantages, disadvantages and potential risks involved. You’ll also learn how to select the right equity release solutions to meet your clients’ individual circumstances.

As a qualified Equity Release Adviser, you will be able to work in roles such as Mortgage Adviser or Senior Mortgage Adviser. And you’ll start to benefit even before you start offering equity release products, as studying CeRER will also contribute towards your annual CPD requirement.

Who can study for the CeRER Qualification?

If you wish to undertake equity release training, you will need to be a qualified mortgage adviser. You should already hold the Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (CeMAP) qualification or an equivalent qualification for mortgage advisers.

Once you’ve passed CeRER, you will be able to confidently offer equity release advice and recommend appropriate equity release products for your clients’ needs. This makes the CeRER qualification a great way to enhance your CV and expand your service portfolio.

Studying the CeRER qualification with Simply Academy

CeRER is a Level 3 FCA-approved Equity Release qualification which is accredited by Ofqual and awarded by the London Institute of Banking & Finance (LIBF). CeRER courses from Simply Academy cover the syllabus in four tutorials over two days, and once you’ve completed your training you will need to sit a two hour multiple choice equity release exam.

Simply Academy’s CeRER course is delivered via Live Webinar, which means that you can study it from any location. You’ll benefit from small class sizes, clear course materials and support from industry-experienced tutors. And with regular course start dates throughout the year, it’s the convenient way to qualify as an equity release adviser.

Read more about studying CeRER with Simply Academy here.

You can book a CeRER course online or for more information get in touch with our friendly Student Support team by email at [email protected] or on Freephone 0808 208 0002

Your guide to CeRER

Successful mortgage advisers know the importance of providing their clients with the most up-to-date advice possible. And the popularity of equity release as a part of retirement planning means that the demand for qualified equity release advisers has never been higher.

Read on to discover how passing the CeRER qualification can help you to expand your service portfolio, enhance your CV and add a new dimension to your mortgage advice business.

What is equity release?

For many people, their home is the most valuable asset that they own and so equity release has become a popular way for older homeowners to boost their retirement funds. Equity release allows homeowners to access capital from their home without having to sell it, by signing an agreement to repay the money at a later date.

The strong housing market and growing range of equity release products has led to rising demand for equity release advice. All of the evidence points to demand remaining strong, which makes equity release products a great addition to any mortgage advisor’s portfolio.

The two main equity release options are home reversion plans and lifetime mortgages, and sales of these products are regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). Mortgage advisers need to pass an approved equity release qualification in order to offer their clients advice on these products.

What is the CeRER qualification?

The Certificate in Regulated Equity Release (CeRER) is one of the equity release qualifications that will provide you with the knowledge and understanding that you need in order to offer this advice to clients. This Level 3 course is FCA approved, Ofqual accredited and awarded by the London Institute of Banking & Finance (LIBF).

CeRER certification is awarded when you have completed your CeRER course and passed the required examination. You can then use the letters CeRER after your name, demonstrating to potential clients and employers that you have achieved this qualification.

What are the requirements for studying CeRER?

In order to study CeRER, you must be a qualified mortgage adviser who has passed either the Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (CeMAP) qualification or a similar mortgage advice qualification. If you have already passed CeMAP, CeRER offers a great opportunity for career progression towards roles such as Senior Mortgage Adviser.

If you don’t already hold a suitable mortgage advice qualification, you can find more details about our CeMAP course here.

The CeRER qualification is primarily aimed at students aged 19+ but there are no specific academic requirements to enrol on the course. However you should be confident that you will be able to study at Level 3 standard in English.

What does the CeRER course cover?

The two units of the CeRER qualification will give you the detailed knowledge you need so that you can provide your clients with high quality financial advice on equity release products.

The topics covered in the first unit include the types of equity release that are available, when equity release is appropriate and the legal and regulatory aspects of equity release. In the second unit, you’ll learn how to assess your clients’ individual requirements and select the equity release products that best meet their needs.

The Simply Academy CeRER course covers the course material in four tutorials scheduled over two days. The lectures are delivered by Live Webinar with small class sizes so that you can engage with your fellow students and benefit from online tutor feedback. All Simply Academy tutors have in-depth industry experience and along with our high quality course materials, they help to make learning easy.

Enrolling on a CeRER online course means that you can join the lectures from any location.The lectures are all recorded which makes them a great resource if you need to go back over any of the sections. And we offer regular course start dates throughout the year, making our CeRER course the convenient way to qualify as a professional equity release adviser.

How do I become CeRER qualified?

After you have completed the CeRER course, you will need to sit an equity release exam in order to become CeRER qualified. You can book a CeRER exam at over 150 locations nationwide or alternatively you can sit the exam online with remote invigilation. You will receive details of how to register for your CeRER exam once you have enrolled on the CeRER course

The CeRER exam is two hours long and is presented in two sections. The first section covers the first unit of the CeRER course and contains 50 multiple choice questions. The second section assesses your understanding of the second unit of the CeRER course and includes 10 multiple choice questions on each of three case studies.

Once you have passed your exam, you will be awarded full CeRER certification and can begin to offer your clients advice on equity release products.

How much does the CeRER qualification cost?

At the time of writing, the Simply Academy CeRER Live Webinar course costs £325 plus VAT. This includes online access to the lectures and course materials plus online support from your tutor.

In addition to this, there is a £220 fee for your CeRER exam registration. Details of how to pay for the CeRER exam will be given to you when you enrol on your course.

Studying CeRER with Simply Academy

Simply Academy has been designing and delivering training courses for the Financial Services sector for over 15 years. Our in depth experience makes us the perfect partner to help you prepare to deliver equity release advice to your clients by achieving your CeRER certification.

You can book your CeRER course online through our course pages or for help with planning your studies, please feel free to get in touch with our friendly Student Support team. You can contact them by email at [email protected] or on Freephone 0808 208 0002.


What are the requirements for an apprenticeship

Apprenticeships are an excellent opportunity to learn as you earn, combining paid work with training for a professional qualification. They offer a chance to gain valuable industry experience alongside the skills and knowledge that you’ll need for your chosen career. 

There are six different levels of apprenticeships, ranging from the Intermediate level which is equivalent to GCSE study up to levels 6 and 7 which are Degree level courses. Each level has different requirements and you can start at the level that suits your stage of learning and the job that you want to apply for. You should also check the job description carefully as different employers may require specific skills and qualifications.

In order to become an apprentice, you need to be at least 16 years old and not in full-time education. There’s no upper age limit so you can apply for an apprenticeship if you’re at the start of your career, upskilling in your current profession or looking to change careers.

Do I need experience for an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are a great start to a new career, so a lack of work experience shouldn’t put you off from applying. However you may have other skills and experience that can support your application. 

For example, you might have helped to organise an event, led a school project or captained a sports team. Volunteering work can also be useful, especially if it is related to your chosen career. Anything that you have done that shows you gained valuable skills can help you to stand out against other candidates. 

Can you do an apprenticeship without GCSEs?

It’s possible to enrol on Level 2 Intermediate apprenticeships without GCSEs, as they don’t always require you to have any qualifications. It may be sufficient to show that you are passionate about the industry and have gained skills through work experience and volunteer work. 

An Intermediate apprenticeship is equivalent to 5 GCSE passes and once you’ve completed this course, you would be able to progress onto a Level 3 Advanced apprenticeship. 

Level 3 apprenticeships like the Simply Academy Financial Services Administrator, Insurance Practitioner and Mortgage Adviser apprenticeships are equivalent to two A level passes. They usually require you to have five GCSEs at grades A*-C or 5-9, including English and Maths. 

Do you need A levels for an apprenticeship?

Level 4 Higher apprenticeships like the Simply Academy Paraplanner apprenticeship or Financial Adviser apprenticeship are equivalent to an NVQ level 4 or a Foundation degree. They are an excellent option if you don’t want to study full-time after A levels.

To apply for a Level 4 apprenticeship, you need to have five GCSEs including English and Maths at grades A*-C or 5-9. You may also need Level 3 qualifications, including A levels, NVQs or a BTEC and these may need to be in subjects that are relevant to your apprenticeship.

If you don’t have the necessary qualifications, you could first take a Level 3 apprenticeship before progressing onto the Higher apprenticeship.

Can you apply for an apprenticeship without a degree?

Level 6 and 7 apprenticeships are equivalent to Bachelor’s or Master’s degree study. You’ll study for your degree alongside paid work, allowing you to graduate without the tuition fees and student loans associated with university. 

Degree level apprenticeships last at least 2.5 years and the academic work can be very challenging. You’ll need to have some Level 3 qualifications such as A levels, BTECs or an Advanced apprenticeship to enrol on a degree apprenticeship and may need a Bachelor’s degree to progress onto some Level 7 apprenticeships.

Can you do an apprenticeship if you have a degree?

It’s possible to do an undergraduate degree at university and then enrol on a level 7 degree apprenticeship in the same or a similar field. This can be an excellent way to attain a postgraduate degree while also taking your first steps into your chosen career. However there isn’t a wide selection of Master’s level apprenticeships and they tend to be very specialised.

If you have a degree and want to enrol on a lower level apprenticeship, this can be more complicated. The guidelines state that an apprenticeship has to cover significantly new skills and knowledge so there can’t be any significant overlap between your degree study and your apprenticeship.

The definition of ‘significantly new’ is quite vague, so you should check with the training provider to see if you will be eligible for the apprenticeship you want to enrol on. This also applies if you have dropped out of university before graduating, as the training provider will need to check how much of the apprenticeship material you have already covered.

Can anyone do an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are suitable for most people, subject to the criteria for each level of study and the individual employer’s requirements.

They provide an excellent alternative to full time study for school leavers, and a pathway into a new career for those who want a new challenge. And if you’re happy in your current career, an apprenticeship can help you to enhance your CV and progress to a new level.

If you’re interested in a Level 3 or Level 4 Financial Services apprenticeship, get in touch with our dedicated Apprenticeships team for more information. You can contact them by email at [email protected] or on Freephone 0808 208 0002.

A guide to becoming a paraplanner

A career in paraplanning offers the opportunity to learn key skills, such as report writing, financial initiative and analytical ability. It also gives individuals the chance to develop their knowledge and experience of the finance industry and can be a great first rung on the financial career ladder.

If you want to find out whether a job as a paraplanner may be right for you, read on. We explain what a paraplanner is, before looking at why someone may consider a career in paraplanning. We also offer help and support on how to start a career in this role.

What is a paraplanner role?

A paraplanner is responsible for carrying out the administrative tasks that a financial professional doesn’t have the time to do. This may include advanced tasks such as compiling extensive reports, conducting research and sourcing important documents or simple duties like handling invoices.

Although the financial professional may be able to do these tasks themselves, they may be time consuming, making it difficult for them to find time while focusing on the client’s other needs. Instead, a member of the financial planning team will carry out these tasks in what’s known as paraplanning.

It will also include a range of duties to fulfil the needs of the financial professional and their client such as grasping an understanding of risk profiles and client objectives, analysing cash flow, identifying opportunities for effective recommendations such as investment strategies and asset allocation, preparing suitability letters, filling out extensive forms, leading review meetings and ensuring compliance is adhered to and all corresponding paperwork is completed.

What type of person makes a good paraplanner?

As we discuss in more detail below, in today’s world the role of paraplanning is a diverse and varied one. This means it would not be wise to pigeonhole a certain type of person who may suit this profession. 

However, as a rule, good paraplanners will be focused, analytical and deeply meticulous. They should also be the type of person who enjoys research and can cope with a job that revolves around process-driven, regulated work. 

Although it is a cliche, the most suited people for a career in paraplanning will also be enthusiastic problem-solvers who are happy to work both individually and as part of a wider team. Ideally, they will also revel in detail, being able to quickly and effectively analyse and summarise a great deal of information in a short period of time.

If you are interested in a career in paraplanning, it is important to remember that before you begin your training you will not tick all of these boxes. However, if you believe you possess the raw skills and personality traits best suited for this career, paraplanning should be a profession you seriously consider. 

Why do you want to be a paraplanner?

Whether you hold lifelong aspirations of moving into a higher position in the financial services industry or are considering a career change into finance but don’t know quite where to start, working as a paraplanner can offer multiple core benefits.

As previously stated, paraplanning is typically based around a specific member of the finance team and involves carrying out administrative or simply time consuming tasks that the financial planner is unable to do. Working in this role carries many benefits including giving entry-level professionals in the financial services industry the ability to learn fundamental skills first-hand.

For instance, operating as a paraplanner means gaining knowledge and experience of analytical and technical processes, such as preparing and reviewing client files and recommending impactful changes. It also allows them to keep up to date with the latest information on compliance within the finance industry and gives them the ability to shadow an experienced colleague.

Although some people work as paraplanners in order to progress into other roles, paraplanning isn’t solely designed as a stepping stone. Many people specialise in paraplanning, with the role developing in recent times to offer a more client-facing approach and the ability to grow skills without necessarily having to change roles. Not only that, but there’s a demand for paraplanners, and operating as a reliable, effective and skilled paraplanner is a valuable asset to clients and potential employers.

The hidden advantages of being a paraplanner

Regardless of whether you see yourself as a career paraplanner or if you view this role as a stepping stone for another career path later down the line, there are many reasons more and more people each year are opting for a job in this often understated industry. Here are just a few hidden advantages of becoming a paraplanner.

  • Earning potential

While you might assume there is big money to be made in financial advising, the truth is that in the current environment firms are not adverse to paying very competitive salaries for high-quality paraplanners too. In fact, according to The Financial Planner Life Podcast, the wage gap between paraplanners and financial advisors is starting to narrow with experienced paraplanners now earning as much as £70,000 per year. Indeed, with the role becoming ever more technical, time-consuming and client-facing, this is a high watermark that is also set to increase. 

  • Industry revolution

The financial industry has been slowly aging from years with the average age of a financial adviser today being 51. On the back of this, it is expected that a significant 38 per cent of advisors are expected to retire within the next decade. This expected industry turnover means there are plenty of opportunities to be taken advantage of in this rapidly modernising industry. Pair this with the fact that training to become a paraplanner opens up clear and quick career progression opportunities (you can develop from a trainee paraplanner with a Certificate in Financial Planning to a senior paraplanners with full diplomas in between five and 10 years), there’s a well-trodden route of progression in this sector. 

  • Plenty of variety

So much more than the glorified administration role it once was viewed as, paraplanner jobs today are highly technical with day-to-day tasks that offer a broad range of variety. From conducting primary research into the financial state of businesses and industries of interest and keeping up-to-date with the latest sector regulatory changes to conducting due diligence and analysing bonds and share markets, every day is different in this role. Paraplanners will also typically be asked to regularly work as part of a team, as well as individually without supervision. With such a diverse range of daily tasks, there is no wonder the demand for trained paraplanners is increasing all the time. 

How to qualify to be a paraplanner

As with many roles in the financial services industry, prospective professionals aren’t required to complete a university degree and, in some cases, financial businesses may offer roles to entry-level paraplanners without any form of qualification. However, even in this scenario, they will be required to earn a qualification alongside gaining experience.

An effective way of qualifying as a professional paraplanner is through completing a course in finance. Simply Academy offers apprenticeships in financial advice that allow students to gain an industry recognised qualification while picking up first-hand experience.

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