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FINRA Qualifications Exam Restructuring: What Representatives Need to Know

FINRA test taking

Announced October 11th, 2017, FINRA is restructuring its representative level qualification exam program. It will be creating the Securities Industry Essentials ("SIE") exam, while also revising the representative-level qualification exams (i.e. Series 6 & 7).

The goal of restructuring is to reduce redundant testing of general knowledge when taking exams to register in multiple categories. Additionally, the program is being restructured to make it easier for individuals to enter the securities industry. You do not need to be employed to take the SIE.

The new exam (SIE), will be designed to test general and fundamental securities-related knowledge.

SIE topics will include:

· Knowledge of basic products

· Structure & function of the securities industry

· What the regulatory agencies are as well as their functions

· Regulated & prohibited practices

The more advanced, representative-level exams will be revised to test knowledge relevant to day-to-day activities, responsibilities, and job functions as representatives.

Concerned about when you'll need to learn and study for the updated tests?

To make the cut-off date for taking the old exams, register for the exam prior to September 30, 2018. By doing so, you will be taking the current Series 6, 7, or other exam appropriate to that particular registration category. This means you'll avoid the revised version, for now, and you won't have to take the SIE. Beginning October 1, 2018, a new or returning representative will be required to take the SIE and the revised series exam.

Comparing Current and Future Representative-Level Qualification Exam Requirements

One of the big shifts in the exams is the length of each. Currently, most exams have at least 100 questions. Additionally, you must finish each section before moving on to the next section.

The new exam restructuring addresses the duplicative testing for individuals applying for registration in multiple categories. Instead, it will have the new 75+ question Securities Industry Essentials exam as the test of fundamental knowledge. From there, applicants can sit for tests related to specific categories, which are shorter than previous exams.

Understanding When You Need to Retake Exams and Which Exams to Take:

With the updated exam changes, there's some confusion as to which exams existing registration holders will need to take.

What happens if you last registered in 2016, but joined a firm in late 2018?

Do you have to retake all exams?

Which current registrations qualify you as having passed the equivalent of the SIE, so you don't have to retake the exam over again to register in a different category?

If you take the SIE after October 1, 2018, it is valid for 4 years. If you don't get a job and get registered within that period, you must take the SIE again before taking a job specific exam.

If you already have your license(s), and you are still working, then your licenses remain in good standing. If, however, you have been out of the business, or unregistered for over two years, then starting October 1, 2018 you will have to take the SIE AND the job specific exam in order to be re-registered.


Fortunately, FINRA has provided documentation and tables to help with this. You can view the page they have dedicated to providing resources related to the exam restructuring by clicking here.

Already Registered, but Have Questions or Need Help?

It's important to know what the latest changes are in FINRA exams, but they are unlikely to be an urgent concern for at least a few more months.

A more pressing worry may be that you're looking for FINRA regulatory counsel - you need a FINRA arbitration, or you're trying to modify or expunge information on your Form U5. When it comes to FINRA, you want to get professional help, and you want it fast.

At Jacko Law Group, PC, we have an experienced FINRA specialist to help with those needs. David M. Sobel, Esq. is our FINRA specialist, working closely with counsel for FINRA regulatory examinations and investigations. Mr. Sobel has been featured in Wolters-Kluwer, and wrote one of our latest Legal Tips, What To Do If You Receive a FINRA 8210 Letter.

To schedule time to speak with one of our team members, simply click here.

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