The CISI’s Chartered Wealth Manager qualification – Routes to achieving success

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Introduction to the Chartered Wealth Manager Qualification

There are many financial services qualifications available these days some specialized and some more holistic in the areas they cover. The Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment’s (CISI) QCF Level 7 Chartered Wealth Manager (CWM) Qualification fits into the latter category. In my opinion, it is one of the few awards that tests the full range of topics private client wealth and investment managers need to know and understand and is therefore highly relevant to the development of people working within our industry.

It has a great deal of credibility too. It has been developed in consultation with leading stockbrokers, investment banks and industry trade bodies, including the Wealth Management Association (WMA) and is recognised by financial services recruiters as the best qualification for roles in wealth management

It also meets RDR exam standards and is FCA compliant for a wide range of regulated activities including: advising on and dealing in securities and derivatives, advising on retail investment products and friendly society tax-exempt policies and managing investments.

Is it straightforward to achieve?

Relatively speaking, yes. Subject to meeting the CISI’s minimum entry requirements of a suitable QCF Level 4 financial services qualification such as the Institute’s own Investment Advice Diploma, students can go on to take the three, three hour papers that make up the CWM qualification namely:

  • Paper 1 – Financial Markets
  • Paper 2 – Portfolio Construction Theory
  • Paper 3 – Applied Wealth Management

You should be under no illusions however, that straightforward means easy. Each of these exams has been designed to build an in-depth understanding of the industry with an expectation that students can apply their knowledge to a number of complex case scenarios. Whilst they do not have to be completed in order, it is generally sensible to do so as the syllabuses of the later papers build on the earlier ones.

The scope of each exam is very wide but particularly so with Financial Markets. It is a tricky paper to get through and the pass rate which usually hovers between 40% and 50% has historically been lower than the other two papers.

Are there any exemptions?

Few. What exemptions there are relate only to Financial Markets although as this is the paper that appears to cause the most angst, they are welcomed by many.

Candidates whom have achieved certain professional qualifications elsewhere will be exempt from the Financial Markets paper. The CISI states on its website that:

“Exemption from the Financial Markets unit will be granted to ACCA holders and CFA Charterholders.

MSc/MA degrees in relevant disciplines where there is a strong match with the content of Financial Markets unit will be considered.”

Candidates may also gain an exemption from the Financial Markets paper if they have taken certain routes with other exams provided by the CISI. Here you have to be a bit careful as in one or two instances, what appears attractive may not be so good after the candidate has gone through the time and expense of undertaking extra “gap fill” training. I will lay the standard exemptions out below including my interpretation of each:

  1. Exemption from Financial Markets will be granted to holders of the CISI’s Investment Advice Diploma (IAD) where candidates have passed UK Regulation and Professional Integrity, Investment Risk and Taxation, one of Securities or Derivatives and level 5 Private Client Advice.

This means that students who would normally complete the IAD with the first two of the above core papers plus a specialist paper from Securities or Derivatives can be exempt from Financial Markets if they then go on to complete the Level 5 Private Client Advice 3 hour written exam. In my opinion, this is one of the most attractive alternatives. The standard IAD route is common amongst entry level wealth and investment managers anyway so to then take the ostensibly less demanding Private Client Advice paper without any further requirements and gain an exemption from Financial Markets would seem a sensible alternative.

  1. Candidates who have passed the CISI Diploma Level 6 unit of Private Client Investment Advice and Management (PCIAM) and have completed the Core, Securities and Derivatives gap-fill training for RDR purposes, will be exempt from Financial Markets.

This seems an attractive route to take especially if a candidate has already passed PCIAM and there are close links between this exam and the remaining two papers of the CWM Qualification.

However, the gap fill! In terms of hours needed, a candidate would have to complete at least 5 hours for the core gap fill, one day for the Securities and two days for the Derivatives gap fill with a CISI recognized provider of gap fill training. So there is a time as well as monetary cost.

  1. Candidates who have completed the Securities pathway of the IAD (i.e. have passed UK Regulation & Professional Integrity, Investment Risk & Taxation and Securities) passed the PCIAM paper and completed Derivatives gap-fill, will be exempt from the Financial Markets unit.

Many of the points made in 2 above, apply here in terms of extra time and costs.

  1. Candidates who have completed the Derivatives pathway of the IAD (i.e. have passed UK Regulation & Professional Integrity, Investment Risk & Taxation and Derivatives) and passed the PCIAM paper will be exempt from the Financial Markets unit.

This route would appear the next most attractive to option 1 as an alternative to taking Financial Markets.

In summary, there are a number of routes to obtaining the prestigious CWM qualification. Candidates and firms should ensure that whatever alternative route they take, it is appropriate for the responsibilities and accountabilities to their role. Some firms may decide that the alternatives to the three core CWM papers are justifiable, others may decide that the main exams are there for a reason in terms of ensuring that investment advisers and managers have the necessary tools to carry out their roles in the most effective way.

We are more than happy to discuss all options to students and their firms alike to arrive at the most effective solution for you. Our new open course dates and brochures can be found at:









What Clients Say About Us

  • Jacob LytheInvestment Management Assistant

    The guidance and assistance I received throughout the exam process was perfect for me. The small classes and the support I received every step of the way, was a crucial factor in helping me get over the line. Cris and Kathryn helped me whenever I had any struggles, whether that be a question query or an issue with an exam sitting. I would highly recommend Glascow Consulting to colleagues and others within the Financial Services industry.

  • Chenji MengWealth Manager

    I was in a CISI level 6 training Advanced Financial planning workshop hosted by Cris and over the two days of the intensive course feel much more confident ahead of my exam. He explained material very clearly in every section of the syllabus. I have moved qualifications from CII to CISI and Cris was able to explain exam techniques relevant to CISI that was of great help. Would highly recommend Cris.

  • Ben BolgerSenior Financial Planner

    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

  • Dan RoddyTraining & Development Manager, Rowan Dartington

    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.

  • Richard BeardRelationship Director

    The Pension Transfers revision course was highly informative and well structured including time to practice past questions. The mock exam provided was also very useful and very detailed answers. What has also impressed me is the speed and quality of response from Cris to technical questions which I have asked following my attendance on the course. I believe that Cris’s help was instrumental towards me achieving a pass particularly as I had no practical experience in the subject.

  • John RadcliffeRelationship Director

    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.

  • Mark RobinsonDirector & Chartered Financial Planner

    I attended a 2 day workshop in London with Cris in preparation for the first sitting of the new CISI Level 6 Certificate in Advanced Financial Planning exam (March 2020). Having come from doing CII exams Cris was able to clearly explain how the CISI exams differ and guide me through the key parts of the syllabus. His style of teaching had the right balance of intensity and detail without overloading or confusing me and I left feeling in a much more confident and focused position. As a result I passed the exam with Merit and would have no hesitation in recommending Cris to anyone looking to improve their chances of passing.

  • Charlotte MetcalfeAssistant Investment Manager

    I was lucky enough to have Cris Glascow as my tutor for the Chartered Wealth Masters. I cannot recommend him enough, I really believe there is no other tutor like him.  His approachable and relaxed nature made the whole learning experience really enjoyable. The depth and breadth of his knowledge is truly incredible and unique. I believe this gave us the real X factor to pass. No question was too much trouble for Cris. His clear teaching style with multiple methods, wealth of experience and speed and efficiency in responding to queries really makes him stand out from the industry. Cris played a momentous part in helping me qualify and I am forever grateful to him.

  • Jonathan DilleyAssociate Investment Manager

    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.

    I would give Cris and Glascow consulting my highest recommendation, I not only completed my qualification in a timely manner but also learned gleaned valuable skills from Cris that without his tutelage I certainly wouldn’t possess today.

  • Kevin Bray, FPFSFinancial Planning Director

    Having recruited two trainee advisers for the company I wanted to be sure they were given the best possible training for their level 4  qualification. The decision was taken to find the budget to bring in someone who could help them get through this first time. I had concerns that a centrally organised workshop may not be the answer from previous experience as larger groups are not always effective for every individuals learning style it also meant I could not dovetail the training with their work commitments. I needed something bespoke and I needed the right trainer with the right attitude. 

    I ascertained that Cris Glascow came with CISI approval so that satisfied my due diligence. I made contact with him and found him to have a flexible attitude and a professional approach. We agreed that he deliver bespoke training events for my trainees as part of their exam preparations. 

    I never had any doubt in the fact they would pass all elements required first time with the expert help of Cris. They are now level 4 qualified with an embedded knowledge of financial services which they could not have gained from just reading the workbook.

    I was sufficiently impressed with Cris that I subsequently asked him to train myself and a newly hired Senior Adviser colleague in the new CISI Pension Transfer & Planning Advice exam. This presented a fresh challenge as it was a new exam and he had to teach us in a subject neither of us had experience in ( DB Pension Transfers) With his help we both passed this exam at the first time of asking which just goes to show " you can teach old dogs new tricks!

    Cris Glascow is an excellent financial services trainer. He has had a 100% success rate with our team and I cannot recommend him highly enough.

  • 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.

  • Robert ClarkeInvestment Advisor

    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.

    Cris was also very approachable outside of teaching hours which showed his genuine passion for teaching.

  • Samuel TaylorAssistant Investment Manager

    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

  • Matt DickinsonInvestment Manager

    Cris stands out as someone that genuinely understands both the content of his training material and the individual needs of those taking the course. His training sessions are well paced and flow naturally between topics, with sufficient time reserved for open conversations and individual questions. Cris succeeds in creating an engaging learning environment which is supported by an impressive pass rate. I would happily recommend him to anyone and will certainly be working with him again.

  • Neil WinkworthSenior Manager 

    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.

  • Katherine TaskerInvestment Manager

    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

  • Sebastian TaylorInvestment Adviser

    I was fortunate enough to be taught by Cris for the revision course for Portfolio Construction Theory and the Applied Management course. His level of knowledge was second to none and I found his teaching methods to be very clear and easy to understand. Any questions I had out of class were answered very thoroughly and timely, even late at night and also on the weekends. I have no doubt that my pass success was attributable to Cris. I would definitely recommend him to anyone looking to study towards a financial exam.

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