Alternative assessments developed by the CII to test for QCF Level 4 could cost about £550 more than its written equivalent, due to the extra costs of one-to-one learning.
Whereas many advisers can sit written exams together, spreading the cost of supervision and marking, the individual nature of alternative assessments will make them more expensive, says the CII.
Early indications suggest the CII exam will be costed at a similar level to that proposed earlier this month by the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments (CISI), which will charge at least £1,750 for its alternative route "to reflect the individual one-to-one assessment".
A Certificate in Financial Planning (CFP) holder and member of the Personal Finance Society (PFS) or CII could complete the Diploma via the traditional exam route for less than £1,200.
CII alternative assessment candidates will have to submit previous qualifications and a CPD record as well as attend a single assessment day to demonstrate their knowledge of the FSSC's recently-finalised standards.
On the day, advisers will have to pass a short knowledge test, a professional discussion, a case study, scenario discussion, role play and a technical interview with an independent assessor to establish "equivalent knowledge and skills levels".
Advisers have lobbied the CII to also recognise case files as evidence of competence, but the Institute says it has concerns this approach is not "proactive" enough. It will make a decision on this within the next couple of months.
In September the CII will launch a pilot of the exam alternative, once the new Level 4 qualification is announced.
Director of financial services markets at the CII Steve Jenkins says more "intensive" assessments will naturally mean higher costs.
"We must train more assessors to carry out a different and more intensive role involving longer duration assessments. Assessors are also likely to need to travel more to meet advisers face-to-face. Costs will go significantly north of paper exams."
The CII is hoping to encourage neighbouring advisers to pool assessments, in a bid to drive down the spiralling expense for intermediaries to meet the FSA's minimum qualification standards.
Jenkins stresses alternative assessments will not be a " soft option".
"For the consumer to retain trust in their financial adviser it is imperative that the different methods of assessment are equally credible - consumers must be assured alternative assessments are fit for purpose and not an easy option."
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