Becoming a Mortgage Adviser – An Introduction to CeMAP

 

If you want to become a mortgage adviser, one of the first things you’ll have to do is to get qualified.

 

To give mortgage advice in the UK, you must hold an accredited Level 3 mortgage qualification recognised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Under the FCA’s Senior Managers and Certification Regime, advising on mortgages is classed as a certification function, and holding a relevant qualification is necessary to get certified under the regime.

 

Studying for a new qualification can feel a little daunting – especially if it’s been a few years since you last sat an exam. But don’t let that put you off – thousands of people, from all walks of life, have successfully obtained the qualification needed to embark on a new and rewarding career as a mortgage adviser.

 

Let’s take a look at what getting qualified involves.

 

What qualification do you need to be a mortgage adviser?

 

There are several qualifications that are recognised by the FCA, from different accredited organisations, but the most popular ones are the Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (CeMAP), which is awarded by the London Institute of Banking and Finance (LIBF) and the Certificate in Mortgage Advice, awarded by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII).

 

Both qualifications are suitable for anyone wanting to become a mortgage adviser – the subjects covered are broadly the same, and they are both assessed through multiple choice examinations. Both qualifications are held in equal regard by the FCA and the financial services industry.

 

CeMAP, however, is the most popular choice for mortgage brokers and networks (it’s said that roughly 80% of current mortgage brokers in the UK hold CeMAP).

 

It’s also the qualification that we use, here at the Dragon Network. So, for the purposes of this blog, I’ll be focusing on CeMAP.

 

What is CeMAP?

 

CeMAP is an industry-recognised mortgage qualification, made up of 3 modules, containing 7 compulsory units in total. Each module is assessed through an online, 2 hour multiple choice examination.

 

What does CeMAP cover?

 

CeMAP covers topics such as the UK’s financial services industry, regulation, the house buying process, different types of mortgages, and how suitability and affordability are assessed.

 

The subjects are split across the different modules and units as follows:

  • Module 1 – UK Financial Regulation. This module covers all the necessary information on regulation and how it relates to the financial services industry.
    • Unit 1 – Introduction to Financial Services Environment and Products.
    • Unit 2 – UK Financial Services and Regulation.
  • Module 2 – Mortgages. This module provides a solid overview of the mortgage market, the different products, and the application process and customer journey.
    • Unit 3 – Mortgage Law, Policy, Practice and Markets.
    • Unit 4 – Mortgage Applications.
    • Unit 5 – Mortgage Related Protection Products.
    • Unit 6 – Mortgage Payments Methods and Post-Completion Issues.
  • Module 3 – Assessment of Mortgage Advice Knowledge. This unit consolidates the knowledge you have gained during Modules 1 and 2 and teaches you how to apply the knowledge in different situations.
    • Unit 7 – Assessment of Mortgage Advice Knowledge.

As mentioned earlier, each module is assessed with a 2 hour multiple choice examination. The exams differ slightly – Modules 1 and 2 consist of 100 multiple choice questions on the respective topics, while Module 3 is made up of six case studies, each with 10 linked multiple choice questions.

 

You’ll need to get a minimum score of 70% to pass the exams.

 

How is CeMAP training delivered?

 

Most people study for CeMAP in one of two ways – they either self-study directly with the LIBF, or they attend a face-to-face training course with an LIBF-accredited provider.

 

If you sign up directly with the LIBF, you’ll have access to a range of study materials, such as study texts covering the topics in Modules 1 and 2, an information booklet and summary paper for Module 3, and access to online learning portals, knowledge banks and videos. The self-study route can be beneficial, as you can go at your own pace and fit your study around any home or work commitments you might have (although when you register to take CeMAP, the LIBF allow you 12 months to sit the exam).

If you choose to take a classroom training course, you’ll also get some study material – sometimes, this has been produced by the training provider, taken directly from the LIBF study texts.

 

Several training providers offer intensive courses, usually lasting between 5 – 10 days. If you’re already employed by a bank, building society or advice firm that is supporting your ambition to become an adviser, they might arrange for you to take one of these courses, allowing you to take time off during the working week to attend.

 

The main benefit of attending classroom training is the face-to-face nature of the course – you’ll be taught by experienced trainers, many of whom know the qualification inside out and can give you all the best tips for passing the exams. You’ll also be learning in the company of others – you’ll be surprised how much more you can pick up by having other students around you.

 

How much does CeMAP cost?

 

As of October 2022, the complete CeMAP course with the LIBF costs £606 (£202 per module). The price includes all materials and exams entry fees. Additional revision material costs extra – depending on what extra support you buy, the total price of the qualification could amount to around £1000.

 

The price of face-to-face classroom training varies depending on the provider, but most are around £1100 – £1300. The price may or may not include the cost of exam registration with the LIBF.

 

How long does it take to get a CeMAP qualification?

 

According to the LIBF, the total qualification time for CeMAP is 230 hours. That’s nearly 29 days, if you break that time down into a typical 8 hour work day.

 

But the truth is something a little more complex – people learn at different rates, so it might take you more than 230 hours, or less, depending on several factors, such as:

  • How you learn.
  • How familiar you are with the subject and any previous experience you might have.
  • How quickly you absorb new information.
  • Your own personal circumstances, such as your work and family commitments.

Whatever your situation, and whichever way you decide to take the course, you’ll have to commit to some serious study and plenty of revision.

 

Revision tips for CeMAP

 

Revision might be something you haven’t done since high school or university (and depending on your age, that might have been some time ago!) The idea of sticking your head into a study text might not fill you with joy, but I have a few tips to help you along:

  • Plan ahead. Work backwards from the date of your exam and block out your revision time. The early you start revising, the better.
  • Break down your revision sessions into manageable chunks. It’s often better to do 30 minutes of focused work, rather than a three hour study marathon. Take breaks in between each session, to stop you from burning out.
  • Make notes that suit you and your way of learning. The purpose of notetaking isn’t to mindlessly copy out the text – it’s to embed the information into your memory, so find a way that works for you. Some people like to rewrite sections of the study text in their own words, some people like to use highlighters to mark relevant passages, other people prefer to make flash cards with key points and questions and answers, others find that drawing infographics helps them to learn key concepts and facts.
  • Practise the exam. Past papers are available from LIBF, and classroom courses will often provide sample papers. Going through these will familiarise you with the types of questions you will face and will mean that the format of the exam isn’t a surprise on the day. The more past papers you can get hold of, the better – you can do the first ones as “open book” tests, referring to your study texts as you go, and as your knowledge grows, you can sit later sample papers as “closed book” tests, under exam conditions.

 

CeMAP exam tips

 

When it comes to the day of the exam, if you’ve studied hard and spent enough time on your revision, you’ll walk into the examination centre prepared for success.

 

Get a good night’s sleep before the exam. If you can, have a good breakfast, so your brain and body are suitably fuelled. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the exam centre, so you’re not rushing or feeling under pressure before you begin.

 

When it comes to sitting the exam, make sure you follow these tips:

  • Read the question and make sure you understand what is being asked. This might sound like obvious advice, but under the pressure of an exam, it can be easy to misread a question – which can lead you to select the wrong answer.
  • The CeMAP exam is multiple choice. So, as well as reading the questions, read all of the answers so you can consider all of the available choices before making a decision.
  • Use your time wisely. If you get stuck on a question, don’t waste too much time pondering your answer – it’s better to move on and answer the other questions and complete the exam. You can bookmark and come back to the questions you missed at the end. You might even find that by answering other questions, the answer to the earlier question you were stuck on becomes clear.
  • Answer all of the questions, even if you have to take a guess. You don’t get marked down for answering a question incorrectly, so if you are still stuck after returning to a difficult question, you’ve got nothing to lose by taking a guess.
  • Check through your answers. Only change an answer if you are absolutely convinced that the answer you gave was incorrect.

 

You’ve passed – congratulations!

 

Once you’ve passed your exams, give yourself a big pat on the back! You’ve put in the study time and worked hard to take your first steps into your new career and that’s something to be celebrated.

 

Getting your CeMAP qualification is just the start of your journey as a mortgage adviser. The course and the examinations will have given you a solid foundation of knowledge and allow you to start seeing clients as you work towards achieving Competent Adviser Status (CAS).

 

And achieving CAS is just the beginning of a new phase of your learning – as you deal with different clients, solve different problems, and provide different solutions, you’ll get more experience and grow as an adviser. You might even go on to specialise in different products, such as equity release mortgages.

 

CeMAP will give you the basic knowledge, but as with most professions, the real learning begins on the job. And as a mortgage adviser, there’s always something new to learn.

 

Over to you

 

I hope you’ve found this blog useful and that it’s set your mind at ease if you found the thought of sitting CeMAP exams off-putting. And if you were in two minds about getting qualified, I hope it’s encouraged to go ahead.

 

I also hope you’ll take a look at what the Dragon Network has to offer (links to New Starter Support page). We’re one of the few networks that take on new advisers and take them all the way through to Competent Adviser Status and beyond.

 

If you like what you see, then I’d love to hear from you. Complete this form and let’s talk about joining the Dragon family.

 

 

(Signature)

Dominic McDonnell