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How to Become an Investment Adviser Representative

Frequently Asked Questions About the Series 65 Examination

The following are frequently asked questions about the Series 65 examination.

The answers to these questions are general in nature and do not include or account for all of the exceptions by or variances among state securities regulators. RIA Compliance Consultants recommends that a Series 65 examination candidate review the specific investment adviser representative requirements of the securities regulator of his or her home state since the answers to certain questions below may depend upon the securities laws and regulations of the particular state.

Who needs to take the Series 65 examination?

In order for an individual to register and serve as an investment advisor representative (also known as an “IAR”) of a registered investment advisor firm (also known as an “RIA”), most state securities regulators require the individual to successfully complete the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination (also and more commonly referred to as the “Series 65 examination”). As discussed below, state securities regulators have certain exceptions or alternatives to the general requirement that a prospective investment advisor representative has successfully completed the Series 65 examination prior to submitting his or her registration application (the “Form U4”). Some state securities regulators also accept other professional designations in addition to those listed above as an alternative to the Series 65.

Are there any prerequisites for taking the Series 65 examination?

No, there are no prerequisites for an individual to take the Series 65 examination.

Do I have to be sponsored by a registered investment advisor firm in order to take the Series 65 examination?

No. Unlike an individual seeking to take the Series 7 examination, a sponsoring registered investment advisor firm is not required for an individual to open a Series 65 examination window or actually take the Series 65 examination. When completing the Form U10, a Series 65 test candidate should mark the line requesting a sponsoring firm as “not applicable”. However, if a registered representative of a broker-dealer wants to open a Series 65 exam window, it is the understanding of RIA Compliance Consultants that the registered representative must go through his or her broker-dealer’s Web CRD account by using Form U4.

Will my professional designation serve as an alternative to taking the Series 65 examination?

In the event that an individual seeking to register as an investment adviser representative currently holds and maintains in good standing the Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Personal Financial Specialist (PFS), Charter Financial Consultant (ChFC) or Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC), most state securities regulators will waive the requirement that the individual successfully complete the Series 65 examination in order to register as an investment advisor representative. However, if the individual relying upon such a professional designation is no longer in good standing with the certifying organization, most state securities regulators will require the individual to successfully complete the Series 65 examination before continuing any further activities as an investment advisor representative. Even if an individual has one of the approved professional designations listed above and is currently in good standing, the individual will still need to apply for registration as an investment advisor representative by filing the Form U4 and paying the associated registration fees to the applicable state securities regulators.

When would an investment adviser representative take or rely upon the Series 66 examination instead of the Series 65 examination?

If an individual seeking to register as an investment adviser representative already maintains a Series 7 and is registered with a securities broker-dealer as a registered representative, the individual would then be able to take or rely upon the Series 66 examination as an alternative to the Series 65. If an individual is not registered currently with a securities broker-dealer, he/she would need to take the Series 65 examination for purposes of registering as an investment adviser representative of investment advisor firm.

If I have the Series 7 and Series 66, do I need to take the Series 65 examination?

If an individual has successfully completed and currently maintains both the Series 66 and the Series 7 licenses with a registered securities broker-dealer, most state securities regulators will not require such an individual to take the Series 65 examination. However, if the individual does not maintain a broker-dealer affiliation as a registered representative and securities agent in the future, some state securities regulators will require the individual to successfully complete the Series 65 examination before continuing any further activities as an investment advisor representative.

Do I have to re-take the Series 65 examination if I previously passed the Series 65 but have not been affiliated with an investment advisor for over two years?

Yes. Most state securities regulators will require an individual to take the Series 65 examination again if it has been two years since the individual has been registered as an investment advisor representative in any jurisdiction.

Are any individuals “grandfathered” from the requirement that an investment advisor representative must successfully complete Series 65 examination?

Yes. Most state securities regulators have waived the Series 65 examination requirement for an individual who was previously registered as an investment advisor representative prior to the state securities regulator’s adoption of its current rule requiring the Series 65, as long as the individual has maintained his or her registration as an investment advisor representative with the jurisdiction since the adoption of the new rule. In the event that an individual has let his or her registration as an investment advisor representative lapse with the jurisdiction since the date that the applicable state securities regulator adopted the rule, most state securities regulators will require such individual to re-take and successfully complete the Series 65 examination.

Is there any other basis for an investment advisor representative candidate to obtain a waiver of the Series 65 examination requirement?

Yes, under limited circumstances, some state securities regulators will allow exceptions to its requirement of a current Series 65 (registered with a state securities regulator in the last 2 years) when the investment advisor representative candidate who never passed the Series 65 or has an expired Series 65 but has continued to work within the securities industry in a capacity that previously didn’t require registration. The state securities regulator will require a written request for a Series 65 qualification waiver. Such a waiver request is handled on a case-by-case basis by the state securities regulator and may require between 15 to 20 years of prior and continuous work experience.

Is an individual acting as a solicitor required to pass the Series 65 examination?

Whether a solicitor (an individual that merely refers prospective clients to a registered investment advisor in exchange for a portion of the investment advisory fee) must take the Series 65 examination is determined by the applicable state securities regulator’s definition of an investment advisor representative. This still holds true even if the solicitor is referring clients to an investment advisor firm registered with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (also known as the “SEC”). Although the Uniform Securities Act (which is the model legislation used as a general reference by state legislatures when amending their state laws) includes solicitor activities within its definition of investment advisor representative and thus requiring the Series 65, many states have a different definition of an investment advisor representative which does not include solicitor activities. A solicitor should contact the applicable state securities regulators for a definitive answer as to whether the Series 65 is required.

Who administers the Series 65 examination?

The North American Securities Administrators Association (also known as “NASAA”) sponsors the Series 65 test (also known as the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination) on behalf of the state securities regulators, and FINRA administers the Series 65 test on behalf of NASAA by currently utilizing the professional testing centers across the country of Pearson Professional Center and Sylvan Prometric Testing Centers.

How do I sign up for the Series 65 examination?

In order to sign up for the Series 65 examination, you can do so by setting up an account and filling out an interactive Form U10 online. The Form U10 is only available online for submission. For new users filing the Form U10 online, you will need to start by signing up for an account on the FINRA website. Once you have established an account with FINRA, you will need to fill out a Form U10. While completing Form U10, you should indicate that you will be taking the Series 65 examination. Once your Form U10 has been accepted by FINRA, your Series 65 exam window will be open and you have 120 days to schedule and sit for the Series 65 test.

If you are currently a registered representative of a broker-dealer and want to sign up for the Series 65 examination, you must go through your firm's Web CRD account by using Form U4.

How much does it cost to take the Series 65 exam?

The testing fee for taking the Series 65 examination is one hundred twenty dollars ($135) at the time of this writing. When you complete the Form U10 online, you will be required to pay this examination fee with a credit card or electronic (ACH) payment online. The Series 65 testing fee does not include the costs of study materials or the fee that the state securities regulator will charge when the individual applies to become an investment advisor representative in a particular state.

How long do I have to take the Series 65 exam after opening up my window?

You have 120 days to take your Series 65 exam. After 120 days from its opening, your Series 65 exam window will expire.

What happens if my window for taking the Series 65 expires before I schedule/take the exam?

If your Series 65 exam window expires, you will need to open a new window and pay another exam fee.

Are there refunds for canceling your Series 65 examination?

If you just change your mind, then you will not receive a refund of your Series 65 exam fees. If you are “grandfathered” into a state and the IARD automatically charges you for a Series 65 examination when you filed your Form U4 to register as an investment advisor representative, then you may contact your state securities regulator, who will make a determination as to whether or not they will refund the charge.

What days of the week can I take the Series 65 exam?

You may take the Series 65 exam from Monday through Saturday.

Where is the Series 65 exam held?

The Series 65 can be taken at various locations. Find the closest Series 65 test center in your area on the FINRA website. Once you locate your testing center, you should be able to pull up a schedule of available test dates and times at that center. The system will walk you through scheduling that test date and time.

What topics does the Series 65 examination cover?

The Series 65 test covers a wide variety of topics, including federal and state securities regulations, ethical guidelines, types of security products, methods for evaluating securities, securities trading strategies, and the principals of economics.

What types of questions are included on the Series 65 examination?

Questions on the Series 65 test are in a multiple choice format, and your study materials should also provide a wide variety of sample questions on all of the topics. The NASAA website lists the following sample Series 65 questions. The correct answer is marked in bold.

  1. Using multiple asset classes in an investment portfolio reduces which of the following?
    1. Liquidity risk
    2. Credit risk
    3. Interest rate risk
    4. Market risk
  2. Under the Securities Act of 1933, which of the following is NOT a security?
    1. Futures contracts
    2. Corporate bonds
    3. Investment contracts
    4. Stock options
  3. Under the Uniform Securities Act, "sales" include which of the following?
    I. Giving a security as a bonus for a securities purchase
    II. Making a bona fide loan of stock
    III. Entering into a contract to sell a security for value
    1. III only
    2. I and II only
    3. I and III only
    4. I, II, and III
  4. Which of the following statements is true about required minimum distributions for traditional IRAs?
    1. They must begin when the individual retires.
    2. They must be completed over a five-year period.
    3. They are mandatory as of April 1 following the calendar year in which the owner reaches age 59 1/2.
    4. They are mandatory as of April 1 following the calendar year in which the owner reaches age 70 1/2.
  5. A husband and wife are 55 and 57 years old, respectively. The husband plans to retire at 62 and the wife at 65 and both are healthy. What is the most appropriate estimate of the time horizon for their retirement portfolio?
    1. 5 years
    2. 7 years
    3. 8 years
    4. 20+ years

How long is the Series 65 examination?

You have 180 minutes to answer 130 questions, plus 10 pretest questions randomly set up among all the questions, on the Series 65 test.

Is the Series 65 examination open book?

No, the Series 65 exam is not an open book test.

How many hours of study does it take to prepare for the Series 65 examination?

This depends on your personal experience and knowledge of the securities industry and investment adviser laws, and also on your ability to study quickly and efficiently. Plan to spend between 45 and 60 hours and at least four weeks of studying for the Series 65 examination.

What is an effective way to study for the Series 65 examination?

Find thorough, well-rated study materials for the Series 65 test. There are many types of Series 65 study materials available, including books, practice tests, and audio recordings. You may also hire a tutor to coach you one-on-one or to teach a class of investment advisor representatives. Some states even offer a test preparation course through certain companies that offer study materials. You will need to check the availability through the company that provides those study materials.

While reading the Series 65 study materials, take thorough notes of each section. Upon completing a section of the Series 65 study materials, complete all the quizzes regarding the section. Based on the quiz results, make sure that you fully grasp all the concepts of the section. Review your notes of the previous sections, each time you sit down to read a new section of the Series 65 study material.

After completing your review of all the Series 65 study materials, and when you are passing timed comprehensive practice tests with an 85% score or higher, you should take the Series 65 as soon as possible, while the information is still fresh in your mind.

How high of a score do I need on practice tests before taking the actual Series 65 examination?

You will be better prepared for the Series 65 exam when you are consistently scoring at 85 percent or higher. However, this is not a guarantee that you will have the same results during the actual Series 65 test.

On the day of the Series 65 examination, what do I take to the testing site?

You will need to bring one form of government-issued identification, which must have your signature and photograph, to the Series 65 testing site. Do not bring calculators, notes, or any other reference materials to your Series 65 testing site. The materials you will need for use during the Series 65 test, will be provided by the testing center.

Is the Series 65 examination on paper or computer?

The Series 65 test is administered on a touch screen computer. Although you are not allowed to go backwards within the exam, you may check a box to review the question before you complete the test. When you review a question, you are able to change your answer.

What are common mistakes when taking the Series 65 examination?

Statistically, your first instinct for a multiple choice answer is generally the correct one. By reviewing every answer at the end of the Series 65 test, you have a greater chance of changing a correct answer to an incorrect answer. We advise that you only review the answers to the questions that you truly do not know.

Another common mistake is not being well enough prepared by having a thorough understanding of the material required to pass the Series 65.

What is a passing score of the Series 65 examination?

The passing score of the Series 65 test is 72 percent, which is 94 correct responses for the 130 test questions comprising the exam. The 10 pretest questions do not count towards your final score. The Series 65 examination must be finished within 180 minutes.

When will I learn of my results after taking the Series 65 examination?

Your results are displayed on your computer screen immediately after you finish the Series 65 test. The applicable state securities regulator and your registered investment advisor will be able to access your Series 65 test score through WebCRD.

If I pass the Series 65 examination, can I start acting as an investment advisor?

No. The Series 65 is a prerequisite for an individual that desires to register as an investment advisor representative. After you successfully pass the Series 65 test, you will then register as an investment advisor representative with the applicable state securities regulators. You will need to contact your registered investment advisor firm and ask the firm to submit your completed Form U4 through the WebCRD system. Please note there will be an additional fee charged by the state securities regulator and must be paid prior to filing the Form U4, and certain states will require your fingerprints (if you haven’t previously submitted to CRD system).

What happens if I fail the Series 65 examination?

The Series 65 examination may be retaken after a minimum of 30 days after the first test date. If the Series 65 examination is failed again, the individual must wait another 30 days before taking the Series 65 test. After failing the Series 65 exam a third time, an individual must wait up to 180 days before scheduling the Series 65 examination again.

Diagnostic information will be provided to you after you complete the Series 65 examination, which will be useful as a future guide of what material to study further if you failed the Series 65.

How many times can I take the Series 65 examination?

The Series 65 test may be taken as many times as needed to pass.

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* RIA Compliance Consultants, Inc. ("RCC") is not a law firm and does not provide legal services. A compliance consulting relationship with RCC is not provided those legal and professional protections that normally exist under an attorney-client relationship. For more information, please visit our Disclosures webpage.

The determination to use a third-party compliance services provider is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise. A description or indication of limitation of our compliance services does not mean that an agency or board has certified RCC as a specialist or expert in investment advisor compliance. All potential clients are urged to make their own independent investigation and evaluation of RCC.

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