Financial Services

Alternative Pathway for Individuals

Note: Skills is no longer offering this Alternative Pathway since April 2024

What is the Alternative Pathway for Individuals?

The Alternative Pathway for Individuals is an assessment process for people who wish to demonstrate that they meet the competence, knowledge, and skill requirements of the Code of Professional Conduct for Financial Services.  This process is for those who do not meet any of the other ways, specified in the Code, of demonstrating the standard.

The Alternative Pathway process evaluates a person’s experience, demonstrated by a portfolio of evidence, and alternative qualifications where applicable, against the outcomes of the New Zealand Certificate in Financial Service, Level 5, Version 2.

Successful applicants will receive a letter from Skills to confirm that by reference to their alternative qualification or experience, they have met the capabilities equivalent to the relevant Level 5 qualification outcomes – as outlined in Part 2, of the new Code of Professional Conduct for Financial Advice Services. Awarding of the qualification is not an outcome of this process.  If an applicant wishes to achieve the qualification, they should talk to one of the Training Providers.

The FMA considers that the alternative pathway assessment, provided by Skills, will allow an individual to demonstrate competence, knowledge, and skill in an objective, measurable and independently verifiable manner, in line with the expectations under the commentary in Part 2 of the Code of Professional Conduct for Financial Advice Services.


Who can apply?

People who are providing Financial Advice Services, either in New Zealand or overseas, who wish to be recognised as being compliant with the competence, knowledge, and skill requirements of the Code of Professional Conduct for Financial Advice Services.

Note : Skills is no longer offering this Alternative Pathway since April 2024

Entry Criteria

To be eligible to apply you must meet the following criteria:

Minimum of 2 years’ experience of providing direct advice to clients.


Evidenced by providing 3 complete client files, and detailed work history.

Knowledge of current New Zealand legislation pertaining to Financial Services


Holding unit standards 31855 and 31858, or proof of attending a Skills approved New Zealand training programme.

Be able to provide at least 2 professional references (employer, or client, professional colleague or other)


Evidenced by completed Professional Referee forms (available for download below)

Pre-requisite training on legislation

Before you make your application, you will need to have completed a training module for knowledge of current New Zealand legislation pertaining to Financial Services, unless you already hold unit standards 31855 and 31858.  You can complete this at one of the training providers listed below.  You will need to include with your evidence a copy of your certificate or record of achievement showing you have completed the pre-requisite training module.

Strategi Institute

Professional IQ

Open Polytechnic

Please note this is a separate cost to the cost of applying for the Alternative Pathway assessment with Skills and is payable to the training provider on enrolment.


How it works

If you wish to apply to be recognised as compliant via the alternative pathway you will need to do the following:

1. Check your eligibility

Check the entry criteria below to see if you are eligible to apply for the Financial Services Alternative Pathway for Individuals.

Note that there is a pre-requisite criterion to complete a training module in current New Zealand legislation, as it pertains to Financial Services.  You will need to have completed this before you apply.

2. Collect your evidence and apply

This is one of the most important steps in the process. 

Collect your portfolio of evidence and have this ready. 

To do this download the Application Evidence Guide, and the Evidence Checklist for the programme you wish to do.  These show the criteria you will be assessed against and the evidence you will need to provide. 

Use the Evidence Checklist to record your collection of evidence and any relevant notes.  You will need to upload this checklist as part of the online application process.

Once your application has been submitted you will receive an email notification confirming this and giving instructions on how to upload your evidence. 

3. Assessment of your portfolio of evidence

Skills will review your portfolio of evidence and contact you if more information is required.

If your portfolio is complete, Skills will allocate this to a registered Financial Services assessor who will review your evidence against the assessment criteria.

4. The competency discussion

As part of the assessment process the assessor will contact you to arrange a time to have a competency discussion.  This is where they will discuss the evidence you have provided and gain insight into your experience, knowledge, and skills.

The assessor will also contact your Professional Referees to confirm the written references they have provided.

5. The assessment outcome

Following the above steps, the assessor will make a decision and notify Skills of this.

If you are deemed to meet the requirements for the Alternative Pathway for Individuals, Skills will notify you of a successful outcome.

If you are deemed to have not met the requirements for the Alternative Pathway for Individuals Skills will contact you to discuss options – this may include gap filling training options.

If you are not happy with the assessment outcome you can appeal. 

The assessment process will take up to 30 days

6. The letter confirming outcomes met

On successful completion of this process, Skills will issue a letter confirming you have met the alternative pathway requirements. 

You can use this letter to show your employer or the Financial Markets Authority as required.

What evidence do I need to supply?


1. Compulsory Evidence:

You must provide the following:

    • Detailed work history showing roles, work undertaken and dates of employment for each role (detailed CV acceptable)
    • Certificate of training for knowledge of current legislation
    • Evidence of continuing Professional development (CPD) from the last 24 months
    • At least 2 professional references (from employer, client, professional colleague or other)
    • Disclosure Statement, or equivalent
    • Financial Service Provider registration number (if you are currently practicing in New Zealand)
    • Complete client files which must include:
    1. Evidence client has received Disclosure Statement, or equivalent
    2. Evidence the client has agreed to the Scope of Engagement
2. Client files

As well as the compulsory items listed above a full client file should include documents that demonstrate your process of engagement from initial discussions through to implementation of solutions.  Below is a list of what your assessor might expect to see.  Include documents as applicable:


  • Terms of engagement
  • Service agreement/Authority to Proceed
  • Client Authorities to obtain information from Third Parties
  • Client Facts/Current Situation data
  • Risk Profile/Risk Analysis/Needs Analysis data
  • Analysis Findings/Calculations of Requirements
  • Quotes/ Comparisons/Research information
  • Statement of Advice/Risk Plan/Financial Plan
  • Amendments to original plan documentation (if appropriate)
  • Implementation document (if details not part of Statement of Advice etc)
  • Application forms to third parties (if appropriate)
  • Other client communication documents that relate to advice or implementation of advice e.g. variations to original terms/offer of terms, replacement of existing policies
  • Letters or communications to/from third parties
  • File notes
3. Other evidence

To support your application you can provide further evidence to show you meet the required competencies.  The following are examples of the type of evidence you could provide.  This is not an exhaustive list.

  • Other qualifications New Zealand or overseas – certificate and a transcript of the course/programme
  • Evidence of Professional Development and other training attended – Certificates or course outlines including dates
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance Certificate
  • Membership or association with industry bodies or associations
  • Industry contributions e.g. published articles, presenting at conferences, mentoring etc.
  • Client references
  • Disclaimer statement
  • Marketing brochures
  • Electronic needs analysis tool example
  • Workplace evidence/process checklist
  • Policy replacement advice process


  • All evidence must be in English or be accompanied by a translation giving an accurate summary in English.
  • Client files should have client name/s and identifying data removed, unless the client has agreed to its use for this purpose, as outlined in Standard 5 of the Code of Professional Conduct for Financial Advisors.
  • Any letters must be on letterhead, dated and signed by the author.
  • Qualification Certificates and transcripts must be certified copies.
    A certified copy is a photocopy of your original document that has been verified by a person authorised to make such declarations, for example, a Justice of the Peace, barrister or solicitor, notary public, court registrar or deputy registrar, or a Member of Parliament.

Choose your pathway

There are 10 programme options for Financial Services.  The Core of the Qualification is required along with at least one strand.  You must choose one of these options first.  If you wish to complete a further strand, then you can later choose one of the strand only programme options.

Choose your pathway and download the Application Evidence Guide and the relevant Evidence Checklist.  The Application Evidence Guide provides further instructions around the process and sets out the evidence you are required to supply.  The Evidence Checklist shows the criteria your assessor will assess you against.  You need to complete the checklist to show what evidence you are supplying to cover the criteria, and any other relevant notes – this needs to be uploaded with your application and confirms your eligibility and that you have completed all requirements for your application.  Do this before you go any further.

Skills is no longer offering this Alternative Pathway since April 2024