Those who are interested in a career as a securities trader must take and pass the series 6 and 63 license exam. The series 6 license is the minimum requirement for brokers to sell annuities and mutual funds. The larger Wall Street banks require that all of their brokers a series 6 license at a minimum. However, the larger firms also require their brokers to hold the series 7 license in combination with the series 6. This license allows brokers to sell individual stocks along with mutual funds and variable annuities.
The series 63 exam tests an individual’s knowledge with relation to securities regulations, compliance issues, ethical business practices and how a brokerage operation is required to operate based on the rules set forth by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Most states in U.S. require bank employees to hold this license if they are selling any type of security. The license is used to demonstrate the employee’s competence when it comes to best business practices.
It is important to understand who is required to hold a license and who does not need a license. Individuals who wish to purchase securities through a brokerage house or online stock trading company are not required to hold any license. They may purchase equities however they see fit. The actual trader who executes the transaction is the person who is required to hold the license based on the type of transaction. If a customer is looking to purchase a large block of mutual fund shares, the trader who works for the brokerage house must hold a series 6 license. The same holds true for customers wishing to purchase individual stock, the trader who executes the transaction must hold a series 7 license. It is often times very confusing for individual investors who believe they need a license in order to execute a purchase. The fact is, individuals who are not employed by a broker/dealer do not need a license to execute trades.
One final note of very high importance, any individual wishing to obtain any type of license must be employed and sponsored by the brokerage house. Individuals cannot take the exams unless the company that they work for gives them a sponsorship. Therefore, individuals who are looking to obtain a license, but do not work for a registered broker are unable to take the exam. The National Association of Securities Dealers provides valuable information on the guidelines behind the series 6 and 63 license exam.