If you work in the financial industry, you will pretty quickly run into the Series exams.
FINRA has a number of tests that are required to gain a license to trade securities, manage assets, or represent clients’ financial interests. These questions tend to be around 4 hours long with over a hundred multiple-choice questions on regulatory issues as well as financial basics, such as what are call options, how is yield-to-maturity calculated, and so on.
As of October 1, 2018, FINRA is retiring what used to be known as the Series 62 exam, which for the most part is being replaced by the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam, a basic test on general financial knowledge. The test is supposed to assess a person’s knowledge of capital markets, the risks in different types of investments, and how trading regulations broadly work.
This test alone won’t be enough for someone to actually qualify to trade securities; to do that, you will also need a Series 7 exam, which allows individuals to purchase and sell funds, stocks, and some bonds. This test lasts 3 hours and 45 minutes, with over 200 questions on regulatory issues and assets.
It’s an easy exam compared to the CFA’s three levels, but it involves a lot of rote memorization of minute details of securities law. As a result, it’s one of the more boring and uninteresting parts of working in the industry.
Also, not anyone can get a Series 7; you have to be working for a company in the financial industry, and the company needs to sponsor you to take the exam.
Fortunately, however, the new SIE exam is open to everyone. Since individuals can take the exam before getting a job, and since the exam is a necessary part of working in the industry (while also being a bit of a slog to get through), students can get a substantial leg up in the job application process by getting the SIE before they get a job.
This is a clear advantage to people interested in entering the financial industry, because passing the SIE sends a very clear signal to potential employers that you are serious about working in the financial industry and, as the name of the exam implies, you have the securities industry essentials.
The test is also relatively affordable, at just $60.
Test preparation guides are few and far between for the new exam, although FINRA has some useful details on its website.
If you’re serious about entering the financial industry, reading up on the new SIE and possibly taking it would be a step in the right direction.