Financial adviser qualifications

It is always good to ask about your financial adviser’s qualifications. But you probably want to understand what all those letters and numbers mean.

In the menu on the left you can read about the qualifications approved by the FCA (the only kind that we recognise).

What grade? - The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)

Most financial qualifications are assessed under the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). You will see that these have a QCF grade, from level 1 to level 8. To help you interpret the levels, we compare them here to more familiar qualifications: 

QCF level 

Equivalent to:


1 – 2

Below A-level 




Minimum qualification pre-2013 


Components of a degree

Minimum qualification from 2013 onwards 

5 – 7



Degree / masters degree



Examining bodies offer advanced examinations at QCF levels 5, 6 and 7.  Universities award financial services degrees, post-graduate masters and PhDs

More things to note

  1. As you can see from the table, the minimum qualification requirements were raised from 2013 onwards. This was a result of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) which came into effect at the end of 2012.
  2. Every individual financial adviser who sells investment products, securities or derivatives must have a current Statement of Professional Standing. This indicates that they have signed up to a code of ethics and that they have completed at least 35 hours of professional training each year, to stay up to date with changes in the industry and in regulation.