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How To Earn A Securities License

How To Earn A Securities License

This page offers an overview of how to get your FINRA securities license. It includes a brief description of each license type, plus tips on how to study for ? and pass ? your Securities Industry Essentials examination (aka SIE exam) and/or your specific FINRA license type. Essentially, you want to:
  • Determine your desired license type. In other words, do I just want to sell mutual funds and annuities (covered by a Series 6 license) or do I want to sell stocks and bonds as well (covered by the Series 7 license)?
  • Select a pre-licensing course format - seminar, webinar, online, or self-study - that best fits your needs. While a self-study course is cheaper and can be taken in your spare time from the comfort of your home or office, an instructor led seminar gives you the ability to listen to - and ask questions of ? an experienced instructor
  • Study the materials prior to taking your securities pre-licensing course exam
  • Since practice exams are included with our securities pre-licensing courses, take as many practice tests as you can
  • Study, then sit, for your exam

Determine Which Securities License You'll Need

Start by determining which license type you'll need. For instance, if you are an Insurance Agent or a CPA, you might need to sell only mutual funds or annuities. If you want to be a stockbroker, you'll need to get a Series 7 license, as you can't sell securities at a brokerage firm without being Series 7 licensed.

Here's a rundown of the most common securities licenses - and who generally uses them:
  • Series 6: If you want to sell mutual funds, variable annuities, and other investment packages, you'll need this license. Administered by FINRA and known as the limited-investment securities license, the Series 6 license enables you to sell what are known as packaged investment products. If you're an insurance agent who wants to sell variable products, you'll also need this license.
  • Series 7: If you'd like to be a stockbroker, this is the license for you. Administered by FINRA and known as the general securities representative license, the Series 7 license authorizes you to sell virtually any type of individual security, such as stocks, bonds, options, and other individual fixed income investments - plus all forms of packaged products. Basically, this license enables you to sell everything except commodities futures, real estate, and life insurance.
  • Series 3: If you want to sell commodity futures contracts, you need the Series 3 license, also administered by FINRA.
  • Series 63: If you have a Series 6 license or a Series 7 license, and you want to do business as a stockbroker or sell mutual funds in any state, you need this license. Administered by NASAA, Series 63 is known as the Uniform Securities Agent license.
  • Series 65: If you want to be a financial planner or advisor who works for an hourly fee rather than a commission, or you want to be a stockbroker or other financial representative who deals with managed-money accounts, you'll need this license. It's also administered by NASAA.
  • Series 66: If you have a Series 7 license, you have already studied and learned a good portion of the Series 66 exam, so instead of earning Series 63 and Series 65 separately, you can choose to earn this license instead.
  • Series 79: If you want to offer advice or facilitate debt or equity offerings (public or private), mergers or acquisitions, tender offers, final restructuring, asset sales, and divestitures or corporate reorganizations, you'll need this license.
  • Series 99: If you plan to be a senior manager or a supervisor in operations or will have the authority to materially commit capital in various back office functions, you need this license.
Please note that in order to earn your Series 6, 7, 22, 57, 79, 82, or 99 license, you'll need to pass the Securities Industry Essentials examination (aka the "SIE exam") and take a FINRA "Top-Off exam for these license types. Essentially, the SIE covers industry basics, whereas each Top-Off is specific to the types of products sold under each license type.

Further, to earn some of these licenses, like the Series 6 and Series 7, you will need to be sponsored by a broker-dealer. Make sure to check with your employer or FINRA to determine if you need ? and can get ? a sponsorship.

Select A Securities Pre-Licensing Course Format That Best Fits Your Learning Style

FINRA pre-licensing exam courses are available in several formats, including seminar, webinar, online, or self-study, all designed to help with your test prep. The plusses and minuses of each are listed below.
  • Seminar
    The Seminar format generally means that you attend a classroom training at a specific date, time, and location.

    • Plusses:
      • Provides a structured learning environment
      • Requires attendance at a specific date and time
      • An instructor led seminar gives you the ability to listen to - and ask questions of ? an experienced instructor
      • You get to hear ? and learn from ? the questions of other attendees
    • Minuses:
      • You move at the class's pace
      • Less flexibility in schedule - you must attend at a specific date and time
      • Costs slightly more than other training formats
  • Live Webinar / OnDemand
    The Webinar / OnDemand format generally means that you attend the training at a specific date and time, but do so from your home or office computer and not at a specific location like a hotel.

    • Plusses:
      • No travel costs to attend class
      • Classes are recorded so you can re-watch at your convenience
      • You still get live interaction with your instructor
      • You can log into your class from any computer
    • Minuses:
      • Requires use of webcam or speakers/microphone to participate in live interaction
      • You must attend at a specific date and time
      • Costs are the same as a live classroom course
  • Online
    The Online format generally means that you do your self-study training at your computer and at your own pace.

    • Plusses:
      • Very affordable training format
      • You can take the training anytime that's convenient for your schedule
      • You have access for five months to complete your training
      • Can be accessed from anywhere at any time
    • Minuses:
      • You lose the benefit of learning from an experience instructor
      • Requires you to set and stick to your own study schedule
  • Self-Study
    The Seminar format generally means that you attend a classroom training at a specific date, time, and location.

    • Plusses:
      • Least expensive training format
      • Good for self-starters
      • Doesn't require internet connection to study
    • Minuses:
      • You lose the benefit of learning from a live experienced instructor
      • Not the best format if you typically need nudging to accomplish goals

How To Study For Your FINRA Exam

Studying for your FINRA securities licensing examination is easy with one of our pre-licensing training courses, because each, in addition to the great subject matter training, also includes numerous sample exams to assist with your test prep.

Here is the recommended way to study for your FINRA Securities Licensing Exam:
  • Select your preferred training format
  • Read the subject matter content prior to attending or starting the training
  • While doing so, make notes of any areas where you are unsure or need assistance
  • Take the training. If via an Instructor-led format, be sure to get your Instructor to help you with any are of which you are unsure or need assistance (yes, options and mutual funds are difficult to understand, so don't feel shy about asking for help!)
  • Schedule your licensing exam for about four weeks after you complete your pre-licensing class. To schedule your exam, simply contact your state's FINRA office
  • Use the four weeks to review the materials, but most of all take as many of the practice exams as you can to get a feel for both the type and amount of questions you'll see
Please note that the length of time to study for and take the various FINRA securities licensing courses and exams varies. Go to www.ABTrainingCenter.com/How_Long_To_Study_For_Your_FINRA_License.asp to view recommendations for how long it takes to complete your securities pre-licensing training courses and study for your FINRA license.

Tips For Taking Your Securities Industry Essentials Or Your FINRA Exam

How Long Does Each Test Take?

Each license type covers a variety of materials and therefore each exam has varying lengths and numbers of questions. Below is an overview of the Series 6, 7, and 65 questions types, including whether study guides or exam prep materials are included.

For The Series 6 License Exam:

What Is The Number Of Questions On My Series 6 Exam: 50
What Is The Series 6 Exam Format: Computer-based exam taken at a specified Testing Center
What Is The Allowed Time to Complete My Series 6 Exam: 90 minutes
What Is The Series 6 Exam Content:
  • Seeks business for the broker-dealer from customers and potential customers (24%)
  • Opens accounts after obtaining and evaluating customers' financial profile and investment objectives (16%)
  • Provides customers with information about investments, makes suitable recommendations, transfers assets, and maintains appropriate records (50%)
  • Obtains and verifies customers' purchase and sales instructions; processes, completes, and confirms transactions (10%)
What Are The Series 6 Exam Requirements: You must be sponsored to take a Series 6 exam. Passing score of 70 is required.
What Are The Best Series 6 Study Tips: The best way study for your Series 6 test is to make sure your review the Series 6 sample questions that come with your Series 6 exam prep study materials.

For The Series 7 License Exam:

What Is The Number Of Questions On My Series 7 Exam: 125
What Is The Series 7 Exam Format: Computer-based exam taken at a specified Testing Center
What Is The Allowed Time to Complete My Series 7 Exam: 225 minutes
What Is The Series 7 Exam Content:
  • Seeks business for the broker-dealer from customers and potential customers (7%)
  • Opens accounts after obtaining and evaluating customers' financial profile and investment objectives (9%)
  • Provides customers with information about investments, makes suitable recommendations, transfers assets, and maintains appropriate records (73%)
  • Obtains and verifies customers' purchase and sales instructions; processes, completes, and confirms transactions (11%)
What Are The Series 7 Exam Requirements: You must be sponsored to take a Series 7 exam. Passing score of 72 is required.
What Are The Best Series 7 Study Tips: The best way study for your Series 7 test is to take a Series 7 class and make sure your review the Series 7 sample questions.

For The Series 65 License Exam:

What Is The Number Of Questions On My Series 65 Exam: 130
What Is The Series 65 Exam Format: Computer-based exam taken at a specified Testing Center
What Is The Allowed Time to Complete My Series 65 Exam: 180 minutes
What Is The Series 65 Exam Content:
  • Economic Factors and Business Information (15%)
  • Investment Vehicle Characteristics (25%)
  • Client Investment Recommendations and Strategies (30%)
  • Laws, Regulations, and Guidelines Including Prohibition on Unethical Business Practices (30%)
What Are The Series 65 Exam Requirements: Passing score of 72
What Are The Best Series 65 Study Tips: The best way study for your Series 65 test is to make sure your review the Series 65 sample questions that come with your Series 65 package.

To view similar information for other license types, go to FINRA.org

How Do I Schedule My Exam?

To schedule your test, you'll have to contact FINRA to enroll for the correct exam type and fill out any forms they require. After you are enrolled to take an exam, FINRA will post a 120-day window in which you can schedule an appointment with a Prometric Testing Center.

Be sure to schedule your exam session as far in advance as possible to secure your desired exam date and to ensure you have enough time to both re-study and review as many sample exam questions as possible.

The licenses are not state-specific so you can take your securities training programs and FINRA exams anywhere in the United States.

Do I Need A Sponsor?

Not all Securities licenses require a sponsorship to take the exam. For example, you don't need a sponsor to take the Series 63, 65, or 66 exams with FINRA. There is also no sponsorship requirement to take any exam-prep program we offer.

However, if you want to get your Series 6, 7, or 99 you must be sponsored by a FINRA member firm or a self-regulatory organization (SRO) before you can take the FINRA licensing exam. Firms apply for candidates to take the exam by filing a Uniform Application for Security Industry Registration or Transfer (Form U4). There is also an exam fee that is commonly covered by the sponsoring firm.

Where Do I Find FINRA Study Guides And Test Prep Materials?

ABTrainingCenter.com offers a number of pre-licensing courses, study guides, and exam prep materials. Go to www.ABTrainingCenter.com/securities_licensing.asp to see specifics for each license type.

There you will see that all of our FINRA pre-licensing courses come with study packages that include lots of test prep materials and sample exam questions to help you pass your FINRA exams.

Each package will include your study guide, unlimited sample test questions, and videos to help you prepare for your test.

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Although you should have no trouble passing your exam with our help, our PassProtection program allows you to take another review course up to three times within one year of your purchase date for any classroom course!

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About Your Licensing Requirements

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the organization in charge of securities licensing and requirements, and it also administers most of the exams you'll need to pass to get your license. FINRA also keeps all securities licensing records, writes and enforces rules governing the activities of broker-dealers, audits firms for compliance with those rules, fosters market transparency, and educates investors.

North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) is the association of state securities administrators who are charged with the responsibility of protecting consumers who purchase securities or investment advice. Its members participate in enforcement actions and share information, and it also coordinates training and education for state, district, provincial, and territorial securities agency staff. NASAA oversees the licensing requirements for the Series 63, 65, and 66.

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