What’s in a Name? IFA Qualifications

There’s more pressure on people than ever before to save for their

futures. Relying on the state is no longer a safe option for

retirement, benefits and healthcare. As a result, an increasing number

of people are purchasing personal financial products such as life

insurance, investments, private health plans and personal pensions. The

world of financial planning is a jungle, though, and it’s not

surprising that it leaves many people completely baffled – which is why

there has been an enormous rise in the use of independent financial

advisors (IFAs). However, even the world of IFAs is a complicated one –

there are so many different qualifications and some IFAs seem to have

an endless string of letters after their names. It can therefore be

difficult to find the appropriate advisor for your specific needs.

Here’s a brief guide to some of the key IFA qualifications for various

aspects of financial planning, from mortgages and insurance to

pensions and investments.

The financial services industry is highly regulated and its regulatory

body, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) requires professionals

working in the industry to have certain qualifications before they can

provide financial advice.

There are so many different qualifications issued by so many different

professional bodies and institutes that the letters after a financial advisor’s

name can be baffling. Here’s a glossary of some of the qualifications and

abbreviations and memberships of professional bodies you might want to look

out for when selecting a financial advisor to meet your needs.

The basic qualification is the Certificate in Financial Planning (Cert

FP) – although it’s only considered to be about the same level as an

‘O’ grade, and there are much more advanced qualifications available,

both for general financial advice and for specialist products such as

mortgages and pensions.


Certificate in Financial Planning (Cert FP)

Advanced Financial Planning Certificate (AFPC)

Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

Associate, Society of Financial Advisers (ASFA)

Member, Society of Financial Advisers (MSFA)

Fellow, Society of Financial Advisers (FSFA)

Associate, Institute of Financial Planning (AIFP)

Member, Institute of Financial Planning (MIFP)

Fellow, Institute of Financial Planning (FIFP)

Institute of Financial Services (Chartered Institute of Bankers)


Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (CeMap)

Mortgage Advice Qualification (MAQ)


Chartered Insurance Institute’s G60 paper on pension planning

Association of the Pensions Management Institute (APMI)


G70 paper on portfolio management

G30 paper on business investment planning

Certificate in Investment Management (Cert IM)

Investment Management Asset Allocation Qualification (IMAAQ)

Investment Management Certificate (IMC)

Professional Investment Certificate (PIC)

Member, Securities Institute (MSI)

UK Society of Investment Professionals


Associate, Life Insurance Association Diploma (ALIA dip)

Member, Life Insurance Association Diploma (MLIA dip)

Fellow, Life Insurance Association Diploma (FLIA dip)

Associate, Chartered Insurance Institute (ACII)

Member, Chartered Insurance Institute (MCII)

Fellow, Chartered Insurance Institute (FCII)

G80 paper on long-term care, health and life protection

A string of letters after someone’s name isn’t necessarily proof of

their ability as a financial advisor. There are many factors that you

should also take into consideration when looking for a financial

advisor, including cost, the services offered, experience and location.

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