Retail Distribution Review: who is affected?

The requirements described in the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) apply to retail investment advisers. Retail investment advisers are defined by the FCA as employees who carry on activities, 2, 3, 4, 6, 12 and 13 in Appendix 1.1.1R to the Training and Competence Handbook.

These activities relate to designated investment business carried on for a retail client. The designated investment business includes advising and/or advising and dealing in securities, derivatives and packaged products.

A retail client is defined by the FCA (in COBS 3.4.1) as a client who is not a professional client or an eligible counterparty.

Information about the scope of the Training and Competence requirements can be found here.

This information is designed to act as a general guide to the RDR’s coverage and geographic scope. The information should not be relied upon for compliance purposes. Users should ensure that they seek additional advice on their compliance requirements relating to the RDR.

Retail Distribution Review: who is affected?



The new requirements described in the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) apply to retail investment advisers. Retail investment advisers are defined by the FSA as employees who carry on activities, 2, 3, 4, 6, 12 and 13 in Appendix 1.1.1R to the Training and Competence Handbook.



These activities relate to designated investment business carried on for a retail client. The designated investment business includes advising and/or advising and dealing in securities, derivatives and packaged products.



A retail client is defined by the FSA (in COBS 3.4.1) as a client who is not a professional client or an eligible counterparty.



Information about the scope of the Training and Competence requirements can be found here.



This information was posted in January 2011. The information is designed to act as a general guide to the RDR’s coverage and geographic scope. The information should not be relied upon for compliance purposes. Users should ensure that they seek additional advice on their compliance requirements relating to the RDR.
The solutions described below are relevant for those advising and dealing in securities and derivatives.

Individuals wishing to advise in packaged products (not Collective Investment Schemes) will need to find an alternative qualification route.

RDR compliance with the CFA and IMC

The FCA (formerly FSA) has approved the CFA plus IMC Unit 1: The investment environment, as RDR compliant for those advising and dealing in securities and derivatives.

The combination of these two qualifications is listed by the FCA (on the Appropriate Qualifications table) as fully meeting requirements of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR). Note that this works in combination; IMC Unit 1 or the CFA alone are not RDR compliant.



RDR compliance is also achieved by combining IMC with other RDR specialist examinations.


The IMC became a level 4 qualification on 1 September 2010; all exams taken from this date test the version 8 syllabus. The level 4 IMC exam is available to book now. Find out more about study materials here.

Retail practitioners who have taken both the CFA and the 'old' (level 3) IMC will need to undertake a continuing professional development gapfill session in order to ‘fill the gaps’ and be RDR compliant. View these events.

RDR compliance with IMC and CFA


Holders of the CFA can gain RDR compliance in the following ways:

  • CFA + IMC Unit 1: the investment environment (level 4)
  • CFA + Full IMC (level 3) + CPD gapfill

RDR compliance with CFA Level I and IMC

The FCA (formerly FSA) has approved Level I of the CFA Program®, plus the full IMC qualification at level 4, as RDR compliant for those advising and dealing in securities and derivatives.

The combination of these two qualifications is listed by the FCA (on the Appropriate Qualifications table) as fully meeting requirements of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR). Note that this works in combination; IMC (level 4) or CFA Level I alone are not RDR compliant.



RDR compliance is also achieved by combining IMC with other RDR specialist examinations.


The IMC became a level 4 qualification on 1 September 2010; all exams taken from this date test the version 8 syllabus. The level 4 IMC exam is available to book now. Find out more about study materials here.

Retail practitioners who have taken both CFA Level I and the 'old' (level 3) IMC will need to undertake a continuing professional development gapfill session in order to ‘fill the gaps’ and be RDR compliant. View these events.

RDR compliance with IMC and CFA


Holders of CFA Level I can gain RDR compliance in the following ways:

  • CFA Level I + Full IMC (level 4)
  • CFA Level I + Full IMC (level 3) + CPD gapfill

RDR compliance with IMC

The FCA (formerly FSA) has approved the full IMC qualification at level 4 in combination with Level I of the CFA Program® as RDR compliant for those advising and dealing in securities and derivatives.

The combination of these two qualifications is listed by the FCA (on the Appropriate Qualifications table) as fully meeting requirements of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR). Note that this works in combination; IMC (level 4) or CFA Level I alone are not RDR compliant.



RDR compliance is also achieved by combining IMC with other RDR specialist examinations.

Retail practitioners who have taken both CFA Level I and the 'old' (level 3) IMC will need to undertake a continuing professional development gapfill session in order to ‘fill the gaps’ and be RDR compliant. View these events.

RDR compliance with IMC and CFA

Holders of IMC can gain RDR compliance in the following ways:
  • IMC (level 4) + CFA (IMC Unit 2 is exempted for holders of the CFA)
  • IMC (level 3) + CFA Level I + CPD gapfill
IIMR Associate Examinations

Just as investors now recognise the CFA designation as the definitive standard for measuring competence and integrity in the fields of portfolio management and investment analysis, so the ASIP designation was recognised in the UK market between its introduction in 1979 and its withdrawal in 2002.

Broadly equivalent to the CFA qualification in content and in rigour, the associate examination was phased out following the 2000 merger of IIMR and LSIP by which the present society was formed. The society continues to support the ASIP designation as a clear mark of professional excellence.

Associates of the Society who passed the IIMR Associate Examinations (ASIP by examination) benefit from the fact that the FSA has included this achievement in the list of Appropriate Qualifications leading to RDR qualified status. The Associate Examinations meet RDR requirements in terms of level (i.e. higher than the level 4 minimum requirement) and size of qualification. However there remain some areas of RDR content that was not covered in the Associate Examinations or needs updating before the full RDR requirements are met. This content must be covered by structured Continuing Professional Development (CPD) gap-fill amounting to 2-3 days of structured training and some additional reading tasks all to be complete before the 2013 deadline.


Detailed information on which gaps need to be filled and guidance on how to fill them is contained in a downloadable pdf document.

Individuals wishing to complete the additional reading tasks should contact CFA UK at info@cfauk.org


'Associates undertook the most rigorous qualification path available to investment professionals at the time and hold some of the most senior positions in the industry today. It is entirely correct that the Associate qualification has been included for RDR purposes on the list of Appropriate qualifications alongside the CF, and we look forward to supporting those that earned the qualification, and are working in investment advisory roles, to meet the additional gapfill requirements.'
Will Goodhart, chief executive, CFA UK


For additional clarification on your qualification status with regards to the RDR, please email CFA UK, including the dates of your examinations if possible. Please note that archived records will be required, and your request may take several weeks to process.