Introduction: A new flexible Diploma

In July 2020, a change in the way STEP delivers its Diploma qualifications will come into effect as part of a revision to the existing Qualifications and Membership Framework.

STEP is increasing its capabilities as a global education provider by harmonising its existing qualifications into a single Diploma system. Under the changes to the Framework, there will be a single flexible Diploma, encompassing globally applicable technical and practical content relevant to all STEP members. These changes have been made in direct response to employers’ requests for a wider range of content to be available to support business needs and employee learning and development.

Building your Diploma

The STEP Diploma will comprise 60 Diploma level (DL) credits from compulsory courses and 60 DL credits from elective courses.  For the compulsory courses, 30 DL credits will be from a set of Private Wealth: Administration and Governance courses and 30 from a set of Tax and Compliance courses. Using this structure, students will be able to build their own bespoke Diploma.

There are no changes to the number of credits required under the Qualifications and Membership Framework to progress through the STEP Affiliate, STEP Associate and the Full Member category of STEP.

Individual courses are usually worth 30 credits against STEP’s Qualifications and Membership Framework. 60 DL credits are required for STEP Associate membership and 120 DL credits are a prerequisite for applying for Full STEP membership.


The different elements of the new flexible Diploma

It is STEP’s view, based on consultation with employers, that in the current marketplace it is important for all its members to have a core understanding of both private wealth administration and tax/compliance, which is why, under the revised framework, all students are required to study one course from each of these areas as part of their Diploma. As a result STEP and CLTI have been developing new content, increasingly important for practitioners in the wealth industry today, such as a new Principles of International Tax, AML and Compliance course.

The courses in Set 3 are considered by STEP to be non-core but relevant and give you or your employee the flexibility to tailor the choice of courses to suit the requirements of their current role, future career aspirations or to meet the needs of your business. We believe that this will help cement the place of the STEP Diploma as the qualification of choice whilst raising the profile of STEP and the TEP status across a wider range of industries and jurisdictions.

Timescales for the introduction of the new flexible Diploma

The new Diploma will be introduced in July 2020.The combinations of Advanced Certificates comprising the current regional STEP Diplomas (e.g. the Diploma in International Trust Management and the Diploma in Trusts and Estates (England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) will still be available and these combinations remain as recommended pathways. It is anticipated that for the majority of students these will remain the most relevant combinations. 

  • From July 2020 UK-based students will be able to continue with the Advanced Certificates they had originally planned to take or select different Advanced Certificates, provided they take one Advanced Certificate from each of Sets 1 and 2.  

Students based in England or Wales who have enrolled on their first course by July 2020 with the intention of completing the Diploma by enrolling on the two-part Advanced Certificate in Vulnerable Clients, can still do this if they complete the Advanced Certificate in Vulnerable Clients course by the end of 2021 (despite there being no tax/compliance component). 

  • Provided they first enrolled prior to July 2020, International students will also be able to continue with the Advanced Certificates they had originally planned to take or select different Advanced Certificates, provided they take one Advanced Certificate from each of Sets 1 and 2. From July 2020 students must select Advanced Certificates in line with the revised framework. 

International students already enrolled or considering enrolling for the existing STEP Diploma in International Trust Management should also be aware of significant syllabus changes that will coincide with the introduction of the new Diploma. 

Students who have paused their studies 

Students who have taken a break from their studies or part-completed the Diploma will be able to continue their studies under the new arrangements. Students will need to ensure that they have completed one 30 DL credit course from Set 1, a further 30 DL credit course from Set 2, and the remaining 60 credits from any of the three sets. Provided they enrolled on any course with the examination taking place after 31st December 2014 they will have seven years from the date of the first assessment on which they enrolled in which to complete the full Diploma. 

If completing would take more than seven years, students should contact CLTI as an extension may be possible depending on whether they can evidence up to date knowledge of the subject matter of the courses that they have completed e.g. by way of CPD. Extensions may also be granted where there are extenuating circumstances such as maternity or paternity leave, or ill health.  

If students have previously completed one or more STEP Advanced Certificates that are no longer offered, students will need to contact STEP for confirmation.   


Students who are currently enrolled on an Advanced Certificate but have not yet attended any tuition or undertaken an assessment will be able to transfer to a different Advanced Certificate. If there is a difference in the course fees the difference will be due for payment. 


Exemptions can be given for one Advanced Certificate only. They will only be given against Advanced Certificates from Set 1 and Set 2. It is not possible to gain exemption from an Advanced Certificate in Set 3. Further information on exemptions is available here.



Please contact us with any queries or to talk through your own or your employee's learning and development.