What is the difference between the Series 63, 65, and 66?
If you are new to the securities industry, you are most likely confused about the various licensing examination requirements. The securities industry is regulated at the federal level, but there are also state securities requirements that must be met. The Series 63, Series 65, and Series 66 licenses are required by securities administrators in most states. To obtain each of these licenses, an applicant must pass an exam and apply for state registration. I will try to clear up some of the confusion by explaining who is required to pass these various state securities exams and why.
Who needs a Series 63 license?
Securities industry professionals seeking to transact securities business (make an offer or sell securities) with residents in most states as a broker-dealer agent are required to pass the Uniform Securities Agent State Law Exam, more commonly known as the Series 63 exam.
The FINRA SIE and either a Series 6 or Series 7 exam are corequisites that must be successfully completed in addition to the Series 63 exam before a candidate can apply to register with a state as a broker-dealer agent.
Who needs a Series 65 license?
Securities industry professionals seeking to charge a fee to provide investment advice as an investment adviser representative (IAR) are required by most state securities administrators to pass the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Exam, more commonly known as the Series 65 exam. There are no other securities license requirements for individuals acting solely in an investment adviser capacity.
Who needs a Series 66 license?
Securities industry professionals seeking to transact securities business as a broker-dealer agent and provide investment advice for a fee as an investment adviser representative with residents must register with the state securities administrator (in most states) and are required to pass the Uniform Combined State Law Exam, more commonly known as the Series 66 exam.
The Series 66 is a combination exam that may be taken as an alternative to both the Series 63 and Series 65. The FINRA SIE and Series 7 exams are corequisites that must be successfully completed in addition to the Series 66 exam before a candidate can apply to register with a state as both a broker-dealer agent and investment adviser representative.
Are these Federal or State Exams?
These exams are developed by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA). The NASAA is a representative body made up of securities regulators from the fifty states and the territories of the United States. This association is responsible for creating, updating, and maintaining the Series 63, 65, and 66 state licensing exams.
Unlike the state insurance licensing exams, the Series 63, 65, and 66 exams do not test on “state-specific” content. These are national exams that test on various uniform securities registration standards and laws based on the Uniform Securities Act (USA). The same exam is given throughout the country and is administered by the Financial Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
What is the USA?
The Uniform Securities Act is a set of securities laws used to establish uniform securities registration standards and laws at the state level. It serves as model law that provides State Administrators with a template or guide to create regulations for securities registrations and transactions in their own state. In other words, each state can interpret the Act as it impacts that state. Most states have adopted or conformed to the Act.
The Series 63 is required if you want to sell securities to residents in most states AND you must also have a FINRA registration (SIE and Series 6 or Series 7). A Series 63 by itself does not mean anything.
The Series 65 is required if you want to charge a fee to give securities advice to residents in most states. You do not need any other licenses to act as an investment adviser representative. You cannot sell securities with only a Series 65 license.
If you want to sell securities that require a Series 7 license AND charge a fee to give securities advice, you can skip taking both the Series 63 and Series 65 and instead take the combination Series 66 exam. It is a shorter (and rumored to be easier) exam. The Series 66 license is only an option if you have, or are obtaining, the Series 7 license.
Do I have to take the Series 63/65/66 exams in the state I am becoming licensed in?
Nope – the exam is the same no matter where you take it and is administered by FINRA so you can register and take the exam at any Prometric test center throughout the country.
Is the SIE a corequisite for the Series 65?
No, the SIE is only required for FINRA licensing. There are no corequisites for the Series 65.