This guide is intended to provide you with the information on:

  • LLAA application – how to complete & submission deadlines
  • LLAA assessment – what to expect & how to prepare
  • Review procedures and result outcomes

For information on booking or changing an assessment date see Booking an Assessment page or email the Accreditation Manager


LLAA Application 

General tips 

Free text entries: These are reviewed by the panel so ensure they are clear and accurate and concisely demonstrate your knowledge and understanding.

Candidates from the same firm: If there are a number of candidates from the same firm you may be provided with pre-approved standard wording for certain sections.  If you are not using standard wording, please be aware that the panel expect ALL answers to be written in your own words and any plagiarism may result in a candidate being failed (see plagiarism policy below).

Identifying infomation: As applications are anonymous to the panel, do not include your firm name or names of any colleagues/supervisors other than where requested (contact details) or in suitability letters (which are not viewed by the panel)

Regional variations: As case studies are region specific (England & Wales/Scotland/Northern Ireland) please ensure that the address you enter in your contact details reflects the region that you advise in.

Attachments: You can upload attachments as most file types, including Word, Excel, PDF, jpg, png, zip file etc.

Queries: If at any time you have questions, would like to discuss responses, or would like a preliminary review, please contact the Accreditation Manager

Submission / assessment / results dates

For guidance on booking an assessment date see the Booking an Assessment page.

When you book your assessment, you will also see the submission deadline for that assessment date. The table below gives you an idea of submission, assessment and results dates for an assessment round.

  Round One Round Two Round Three Round Four
Submission Date Early January  Mid April  Early July Mid Sept
Assessment Dates End of Feb -           Mid March  Early June                   Mid Aug -          early Sept Late Oct -        Mid Nov
Results Date End of April  Early August Mid Oct  End Dec

View assessment dates

Specific application requirements 

Adviser and Firm information - spread of business 

You will be asked to submit a simple summary of business areas for yourself and your firm, by entering the approximate percentage of work against a series of business categories. Its purpose is to assist the auditor in selecting an appropriate case study for your assessment, and it also gives your application some context to assist the accreditation panel when considering the outcome of your assessment.

Standard One – Technical Knowledge

Qualifications

In order to achieve the accreditation, you must hold the following:

  • a Level 4 financial planning qualification
  • a Long Term Care qualification
  • an appropriate equity release qualification
  • signed off as competent under your employers T&C scheme
  • a current Statement of Professional Standing

We recommend that you achieve the necessary qualifications before undertaking the accreditation. Your accreditation result will be pending if any of the above are outstanding.

Tip: When attaching your qualification certificates do not upload PFS certificates as evidence of your financial planning qualification. The PFS is a membership organisation and we require evidence from your qualifying body eg. CII,LiBF,CISI. If you are unable to locate your certificates please upload your learning statement along with confirmation from your qualifying body of the dates you achieved each of the qualifications.

Equity release qualification

We do not require you to be qualified to give regulated equity release advice however a good knowledge and a broad understanding of equity release, and its impact on other areas of older client financial planning, must be demonstrated (advisers are not required to be regulated to give equity release advice). This knowledge is evidenced by passing an exam that covers the examination standards ApEx 20.

Examples would be:

  • CII ER1
  • CII CF7 and HR1
  • CII CF7 and SOLLA Home Reversion Gap Fill¹
  • LiBF units 1 & 2 of CeRER (Certificate in Regulated Equity Release)

Advisers, as part of the assessment, are questioned about the impact of equity release on planning in later life. If you are not regulated to give equity release advice you will be asked to explain in your application form the referral process you have in place.

¹ Please note that this is a requirement of SOLLA and does not in any way authorise the adviser to give regulated Home Reversion advice

Competence Status

In regard to the competence status evidence, you should supply the following:

If you an adviser within a firm:

  • A copy of the assessment that that firm carried out to confirm your competence (if this is available)
  • A letter or statement from whoever manages your compliance to state that you are signed off as 100% competent in your role

If you are a sole adviser firm:

  • Evidence from the network (if the firm belongs to one)
  • Evidence from your compliance support company (if the firm employs one)
  • Details of your registration with the FCA

Standard Two - Supportive Environment

A supportive environment is where there is provision of, or access to, technical and practical information allowing the adviser to acquire, maintain and improve their relevant knowledge and advice skills in the area of older client advice. This standard is designed to demonstrate the environment in which you work and how this supports you and assists you in providing advice in the later life sector.

Much of this section is free text and is your opportunity to articulate, in a clear and concise manner, your working methods, activities and commitment to the later life sector.

More specific information about the Supportive Environment requirements, and how this standard is assessed can be found in the Supportive Environment Guidance Notes.

Tip:  You can pull on resources provided by your immediate firm or a network or umbrella entity.  If you are self employed, consider yourself as the adviser and your firm as the entity supporting you (even if they are effectively one and the same).

Standard Three – Maintenance of Competence (CPD)

You need to upload your CPD log for the last 12 months.  Please ensure that this is as up to date as possible when submitted your application.

The log should contain at least the following information for each entry:

  • When it took place
  • How long the event lasted
  • Which organisation delivered it
  • What topics were covered

You need to highlight or annotate on your CPD log those entries which relate to later life advice. Bear in mind that this can relate to all areas of the syllabus and is geared at advice to over 55s.

The accreditation does not set a mandatory number of CPD hours or subject matter but expects a reasonable amount of later life CPD to demonstrate ongoing learning and development.  You will need to enter on your application an approximate % of your CPD for the last 12 months which relates to later life advice.

From your CPD log you are then required to identify:

  • An item of structed later life CPD to discuss at your assessment. This should not be the LLAA Introductory workshop, an exam or the item you select for legislative change
  • An item of CPD relating to legislative change relating to the later life market (you will not be asked to discuss this at your assessment). Examples could be enacted legislation, policy discussion, Finance Acts or Budget etc.

The auditor will select a second piece of CPD to discuss at your assessment, you will be notified of this in the assessment confirmation email 14 days prior to your assessment.

For the two selected items you should ensure that you can provide the following:

  • When it took place
  • How long the event lasted
  • Which organisation delivered it
  • What topics were covered
  • What did you learn
  • How the learning was checked (tests, quizzes etc.)
  • How the learning has been applied
  • Any further CPD needs identified as a result

Standard Four – Application of Knowledge and Soft Skills

You will need to upload two case reports or suitability letters as part of your application. Once you have uploaded them, you can tick the relevant areas in the syllabus list that these case reports cover.  Your suitability letters can cover any area of the LLAA syllabus.

Please note that in order to successfully pass, it is necessary to demonstrate adequate knowledge across all elements of the syllabus and therefore selecting cases which are similar may not be helpful. Knowledge areas not covered by the submitted cases will need to be tested through the client scenario as part of the face-to-face assessment, and therefore the selection of your client scenario will seek to fill any gaps from your submitted case reports.

For data protection purposes all client details must be deleted.  Please do not mask client details as they can, upon editing, still be viewed.


LLAA assessment

The VIVA assessment

The assessment is evidencing your understanding of the LLAA Syllabus along with your soft skills.  It is important to review the syllabus well in advance of your assessment date to identify knowledge gaps and allow time to undertake research where required.

Fourteen days before your assessment you will receive an email with the following:

  • confirmation of date, time and venue for the assessment (if you are undertaking a Zoom assessment the Zoom link will follow in a separate email)
  • information on the process, auditor name and contact number
  • details of the two CPD items that you will be discussing
  • a link to the client scenario that will be used in your assessment

There is a set of questions specific to each case study which will be used in the VIVA to assess your technical and soft skills.  

Please ensure that you read the client scenario carefully, prepare a list of the issues arising and undertake research as necessary to familiarise yourself with these issues. You should prepare for the client scenario as you would prepare for a client meeting.  Preparing a family tree of all the parties involved can be helpful.

Having identified the obvious areas presented by the client scenario, we recommend that you consider other areas of potential questioning that might arise i.e., future developments, wider family concerns, changes in circumstances etc.

You can be asked questions around all parts of the syllabus even if they are not referred to explicitly within your case study.

Assessment

If your assessment is face to face, arrrive in good time at the assessment venue. If your assessment in online, you can log into zoom in advance of the start, and you will be put into a waiting room until the assessor is ready to start. 

Take with you everything that you would normally take to a client appointment for reference e.g., benefit and tax tables. Calculators are not needed, and you will not be required to provide formal solutions or recommendations to the client scenario.

The assessment is a one-to-one interview with an independent auditor. It will take approximately 90 minutes, and will be split into two parts:

  • Section 1 - Audit of Evidence: The first part is the verification of submitted evidence, such as your qualifications and CPD. You will need to bring original documents or certified copies of your qualifications, so that these can be verified.
  • Section 2 - Work Based Assessment: The second part will consist of a VIVA, conversation, and questions around your older client scenario. This aims to evidence how you apply your older client advice skills, knowledge, and experience. You will need to explain things as though you are speaking to the client and often other family members, using a tone and language as appropriate. This part of the assessment is recorded.

Take your time when answering the questions presented and do not guess. If necessary, consult your reference notes or even suggest you will need to check the answer and get back to the client.

Soft Skills

Part of the assessment will involve the auditor asking you to explain a technical subject which has been raised by the client scenario as though you were speaking to the older client directly. This is designed to test your soft skills and to determine your ability to convey potentially complex concepts into a clear and simple explanation. You should bring along anything you would usually take to a client meeting including any prepared notes (but not printed technical reference material or manuals).

The auditor will be looking at your skills in the following:

  • How you apply your older client advice skills, knowledge, and experience.
  • Your use of soft skills in communicating clearly as if speaking to the client and your application of older client care procedures in regard to the meeting environment.
  • Your use of language that can be easily understood by the client and/or their family and that you are able to check their understanding - clearly explaining any terms they may not understand.
  • That you demonstrate a clear understanding of different clients and their real and perceived needs.
  • That you understand any limitations the client may have both physical and cognitive.

The accreditation is not looking for any complex calculations or technical solutions.  It is simply evidencing that an adviser has a good broad-based knowledge of older client matters and that they can communicate with their clients and/or their families about the wider financial options open to them which may include financial products.

Advisers should know when a client may need to be referred to a specialist or another professional.

As the assessment covers a wide range of advice issues, advisers should ensure they are up to date with relevant older client knowledge across all advice areas and that they are comfortable with the knowledge requirements covered in the syllabus.


Review & Results

For an idea of the process timescale View accreditation timescale example

Application review

If you would like a preliminary review before you submit your application please contact our Accreditation Manager.

We will undertake a routine admin review once submitted and will contact you if anything is outstanding. Your application will then be reviewed by our external auditors who will email you directly if required.

Panel review

Following your assessment your application along with the auditor’s assessment report will be forwarded to our panel of experts for their review.

Your result will be emailed to you within seven working days of the panel meeting.

Results

  • Pass
  • Pass with CPD: additional CPD will need to be evidenced in a set time frame
  • Deferred result: result is pending submission of additional work. Successful resubmissions will result in a Pass, should the resubmission not meet the required standard then it will result in an overall fail of the LLAA
  • Fail: This would be due to either a) one or more mandatory questions not answered correctly, or b) cumulative lack of knowledge

On average 50% of results are Pass or Pass with CPD, the remaining 50% are Deferred or Fail results.

In the event of a fail result you may re-sit the accreditation at a reduced rate of £525.  The re-sit will require you to undertake a re-sit assessment and submit an up to date CPD log and current SPS. 

Appeal Policy

In the event of a fail, other than when the candidate has been deemed to have failed a mandatory aspect of the standard, or where there is evidence of plagiarism, candidates have a right of appeal which will be considered by someone who is independent of the assessment process and accreditation panel.

A fee of £150 is payable when an appeal for the LLAA assessment is lodged, which will be refunded if the appeal is upheld.

There is no charge for an appeal regarding plagiarism

Plagiarism Policy

Where candidates submit information in their application or need to complete further work to achieve the LLAA Standard, where plagiarism is suspected in their submissions it will be investigated.

Investigations into possible plagiarism may include, but are not limited to:

  • A report generated by the text matching web searches
  • By candidate interview
  • Evidence from SOLLA panel member specialists
  • Cases are considered on an individual basis taking into account all the evidence, including any feedback from the candidate or other persons concerned, before making a judgement Measures that can be implemented include:
  • An outright Fail
  • Requirement the candidate re submits their work
  • A lifetime ban

Monitoring

Outcomes of plagiarism and appeals cases are monitored and reviewed by the Society annually to ensure that procedures are both fair and effectual.