Master the Applied Wealth Management Exam : Essential Tips

Discover valuable tips and strategies to pass the Applied Wealth Management exam and achieve the prestigious Chartered Wealth Manager qualification.


The Applied Wealth Management module is the third and final paper from a suite of three that makes up the Institute’s Level 7 Chartered Wealth Manager (CWM) qualification. This is the CISI’s top award and the benchmark for private client investment advisers and managers, if you want to demonstrate that you have the highest standards of knowledge and expertise.

The pass rate for the AWM exam is reasonable and has hovered around the 60% mark in recent exams. A lot of this will be down to the experience of the candidates and in many respects, the more practical nature of some of the exam questions.


AWM Exam Structure

The structure of the exam is rather like the first paper, Financial Markets, in that:-

  • Section A provides a choice of answering four short questions from an available six with each question worth 5 marks
  • Section B has two compulsory case studies with associated questions each worth 20 marks
  • Section C has a larger case study and questions worth a total of 40 marks.

However, candidates still fail and often for similar reasons. 


AWM Exam Technique Tips

Here are my top tips to steer your exam technique to help you pass the first time.


  1. Use the words in the questions to gain maximum marks

Imagine that you are an investment manager or adviser (not hard hopefully given most candidates’ day-to-day roles!). Now consider that there is a fundamental staged process to providing investment advice namely:

  • Understanding client goals,
  • Gathering information,
  • Performing analysis,
  • Making recommendations including their justification
  • Reviewing the plan.


Now imagine that these processes in “exam land” rarely overlap. You should be getting an idea of the types of questions you will face in this paper. Relative to a scenario presented, the examiner will specifically ask you using key words and phrases, to carry out one of the parts of the above process. The style is one of the few effective ways that you can objectively assess both a candidate’s advisory skills and knowledge in timed narrative exams.

The reason I start off with this point is that consistent failure to adhere to the specific tasks set in the exam is one of the biggest reasons why people don’t pass. In a day-to-day management or advisory role, we often assess a client’s situation “in the round” that is, whilst gathering information about their circumstances, our brains are whirring away analysing the situation, its pros and cons and maybe, we are even beginning to consider potential solutions.

To summarise, look out for the key words in the question and decide whether you are being asked a “client goals”, fact-finding, analysis, recommendation or review type question. Answer accordingly. It is so easy to deviate away for instance, making recommendations when you should be analysing a situation. 


Here are a few examples of what some of the key words and phrases may look like in the exam:



  • “Identify the further information that you would require from the clients in respect of their protection and pensions savings needs.”
  • “What further questions would you ask your client in respect of their investment needs?”


  • “Critically assess the merits and pitfalls of Mr X investing into either investment trusts or life assurance investment bonds.”
  • “Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of Miss Y using her available funds to save regularly into either her SIPP or her ISA.”


  • “Recommend a suitable asset allocation to meet your clients’ investment needs in accordance with their risk profile.”
  • “Justify your recommendations.”


  1. Answer the exam sections in any preferred order

Many people answer the questions in these exams in numerical order. This can suit an awful lot of candidates but not everyone. If you don’t think about this, two problems could surface in the exam.

Firstly, you could simply spend too much time on low mark questions at the beginning of the paper, leaving yourself little time at the end to answer questions that are worth a lot more.

Secondly, you need to understand which questions are going to require more thought to answer (e.g. portfolio construction, product recommendations etc) and which are more knowledge-based forms of testing such as understanding features and benefits of different product solutions which could be answered a lot quicker.

You can answer the sections of the paper in ANY order you wish. You just need to clearly identify the questions you have addressed both in the script itself and on the front of your answer book.

In terms of the route you decide to take, go into the exam with a preferred Plan A, but if on the day, the questions don’t suit that route, have an alternative plan that you are comfortable with. As you practise more and more with mock or past examination papers, you will start to feel naturally more comfortable with one strategy over others but just make sure you have practised enough beforehand to be flexible.


  1. Get to know the different parts of the AWM exam really well

By that I mean, through reading past examiner reports and practising as much as possible yourself, try to get a feel for what the examiner wants from you in each section.

Section A is much more likely to be a test of your knowledge and / or analytical skills and will require you to impart a fair degree of information for the 5 marks per question on offer. You need to be succinct, clear in answering the specific question yet detailed enough with the content to pick up maximum marks. Sounds easy but it isn’t. It gets easier with practice though.

Sections B and C are similar in many ways, often asking you to use all the information in the case study provided to demonstrate your information gathering, analysis and recommendation skills. An obvious tip but necessary – Make your answers as relevant as possible. 

If fact-finding, focus on finding out the information that you DON’T know from the case study – not a list of generic questions many of which could have been answered from the scenario presented. You need also to get to grips with just what information is needed from a client in different situations. Take a look at one of your firm’s own fact finds if you can and go through the main sections to identify the elements usually deemed essential. If analysing, could you present your answers in a way that allows the examiner to easily identify relevant points. 

My favourite method when analysing different products is to write a series of headings on the answer sheet that will allow me to objectively compare the two arrangements. For instance, if not asked otherwise, what about these headings as a fairly standard template for packaged products?

  • Features
  • Benefits
  • Risks
  • Tax treatment
  • Charges

You could also use a similar methodology when building a set of recommendations and providing a justification for them. If, for instance, you recommend investments, lay them out in a clear table identifying the investment type, the amount and if required, the income it provides. 


When justifying the investments, what about using the following mnemonic to help with your explanations?

R = Risk of the investment

I = Income and capital growth provided / received

T = Tax treatment both internally and to the investor

A = Accessibility or liquidity without unnecessary costs

C = Charges of the investment to the client and again within the fund.


These are a few useful tips to help with your exam technique. As with both the other Chartered Wealth Manager papers, becoming more familiar with the syllabus, understanding it and applying it to different scenarios will help as will exam practice to refine your technique. A good learning or revision course will always help to speed up that process. We can help with that!

Don’t get caught out on the final hurdle. Make sure you go through these tips, understand them and put them into practice! Good luck.


Glascow Applied Wealth Management courses

Glascow Consulting is a CISI Approved Training Provider (UK), we offer a comprehensive revision course over eight days, which includes a mock exam with feedback. For those who wish to study alone and attend a short revision course prior to the exam, we offer a two day revision workshop.

We deliver our courses personally via Zoom to help our students fully understand the syllabus and to guide with exam technique which is often where delegates require most help. We pride ourselves in offering the highest level of support in the UK


Scheduled Courses 

Learn more about our full & revision Applied Wealth Management training courses.

Learn more about the Chartered Wealth Manager Qualification units.


Other CISI Advanced Qualification Training

Find out about our other financial service training including CPD and Consulting.

We are able to deliver an in-company course for you at any location. In addition we offer one-to-one coaching, email support and separate mock exams. 

Check our full CISI training course schedule or for specific questions, send us an email or call on 0203 292 9229.


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  • Paul Muckle

    I’ve studied with Cris at each stage of my level 6 qualification over the past few years, and on top of my own efforts, his help and direction has been instrumental to my success.

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  • Bertie GrossartTrainee Investment Manager. August 2023

    I was very fortunate to have Cris Glascow’s support through the CISI Chartered Wealth Manager qualification. Cris really is an expert in his field and has an extremely deep understanding of the subject matter. No questions were left unanswered and he wastes no time responding to queries.  The small class sizes made for an interactive and collaborative learning environment where I never felt unable to ask questions.  He was always available and tailored the sessions, particularly in the run up to exams, to areas the class felt needed more attention. Without Cris’s support the process would not have been so smooth.  Thank you.

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    Crispin was an invaluable resource to me on my final submission. Whilst I’m confident in my ability to provide financial planning to my clients, that isn’t enough to pass the case study assessment. Having Crispin’s knowledge of the assessment criteria, and his ability to think like an assessor, enabled me to fine tune my plan to pass almost all of the assessment criteria.

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    Cris was instrumental in guiding me through the CISI Level 7 Financial Plan Case Study. Particularly given that I had completed my Level 4 Diploma through the CII, I was still getting accustomed to how the CISI approaches its qualifications. Generally the CII are very modular in approach whereas the Case Study takes a holistic look at the entire syllabus and requires a candidate to show application of technical knowledge through the 6 steps of the financial planning process. I found it difficult to combine the theoretical and practical financial planning knowledge but with the constant challenge by Cris this became possible over time. He also encouraged me to develop a framework/structure before starting to draft my financial plan, without this I wouldn’t have been successful. Cris also constantly reminded me to stress test my plan and this was something I didn’t initially do – this was another benefit of getting guidance from Cris.

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    Crispin Glascow is in my opinion the best Financial Services Qualifications trainer out there by far . I started my qualifications journey with Cris back in 2015 . And I have successfully passed all my exams and courses under his tutorage. Most recently my level 7 CISI CFP exam and case study which I passed in 2021. Cris is the perfect trainer and without him I doubt I would have achieved the qualifications I have today.

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    Cris supported me through the CISI Level 7 Diploma in Advanced Financial Planning and the CISI Level 7 Diploma in Wealth Management. His knowledge of the syllabus and the financial services industry is fantastic and the way in which he taught the course material was always extremely engaging and practical. He was quick to respond to all my questions and clarify anything I didn’t quite understand, whilst providing extensive learning material to work through. My level of confidence approaching the exams after working with Cris was far superior to when I had approached exams preparing either alone or with other training providers. I would without doubt recommend to anyone wanting to pursue exams with the CISI to get in touch with Glascow consulting and start working with Cris

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    Our firm has worked with Glascow Training for several years now, during which time we have called on Cris’s considerable expertise numerous times. Cris has coached CISI exam candidates at all levels and the results have been excellent. The feedback from colleagues who have sought assistance has always reflected his excellent knowledge of both the technical topics and of exam craft. As a training manager I particularly value Glascow Consulting’s responsiveness and flexibility in providing us solutions that fit our needs and Cris’s insight and advice is highly recommended.

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    Cris thanks for your help during and after the CISI Pension Transfers and Planning Advice course, I found the course and your support invaluable.  My understanding and approach to answering the questions was much improved giving me more confidence in approaching the exam.  It was good to be able to have a wider debate and discussion around the aspects of the syllabus for which I needed more clarification particularly when I don’t work in the industry.

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    I had the pleasure of learning from Cris as I was studying towards my CISI Level 7 Diploma in Wealth Management. Whilst studying with Cris I was continually impressed by his depth of knowledge, his wealth of experience as well as his ability to teach and encourage everyone on his courses. He adapts his tuition and material to the groups strengths and weaknesses which I feel is crucial when undertaking such qualifications that require a depth of understanding beyond that which most candidates would possess when begging the qualification.

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  • Victoria YungPerformance Measurement

    Cris Glascow was my tutor when studying for the CISI Level 7, Chartered Wealth Manager qualification, which I achieved in 2014. Cris was a brilliant tutor, not only did he cover relevant topics but he explained them in a very clear and concise manner. One of the most valuable parts of the support were the mock exams provided. They were set at the appropriate level, they were marked quickly and relevant feedback was provided. To have a well prepared, approachable and knowledgeable tutor is so important when studying for the CISI exams especially at higher levels and as such I would strongly recommend Cris as a tutor to anyone studying for CISI qualifications. He is an excellent tutor.

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    I am very grateful to Cris for helping me with my studies for the Applied Wealth Management CISI exam. Cris is an expert in all areas of course material and I have no doubt in recommending him to anyone looking to pursue financial qualifications.

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    Cris tutored me through the CISI Wealth Management program and under his guidance I passed all three modules on first attempt. His advice and tutoring were invaluable, and he made himself available to answer questions and help out at all times of day. His customised questions and detailed answers were particularly useful. Thanks Cris, I'm sure I couldn't have done it without you

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    I was fortunate enough to have Cris deliver training to me for a number of CFP modules to me at a big 4 consultancy. Cris was fantastic from start to finish - most notably he knows his subject matter inside-out, delivers this knowledge and responds to questions in a logical and methodical manner - breaking complex concepts down into manageable chunks - and with a sense of humour. I highly recommend Cris to anyone considering training within his fields of expertise.

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    I had the pleasure of being taught by Cris for my Chartered Wealth Manager Qualification. Cris is enthusiastic, incredibly knowledgeable on his subject matters and teaches in a way that is easily understood. He is incredibly supportive, not only whilst in the training session but also by responding to questions on the material in personal study time. I felt well prepared for each of the exams I sat having been taught by Cris. Cris’ achievement record speaks for itself and I would be happy to recommend him to anyone who is looking for an excellent trainer for financial services exams

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