How to Get Your Series 79 License

By: Kaplan Financial Education
March 18, 2019
Coin stacks overlayed on the backdrop of a city representing investment banking lifestyle of a Series 79 licensee.

The Series 79 license, also known as the Investment Banking Representative Examination (IB), allows representatives to register with FINRA to offer advice or facilitate any of the following: debt or equity offerings (public or private), mergers or acquisitions, tender offers, financial restructuring, asset sales, and divestitures or corporate reorganizations.

Prior to 2009, all Investment Banking Representatives were required to take the Series 7 exam to be a general broker. However, enough representatives were only performing investment banking activities, so the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved the Series 79 exam, which focuses on the investment banking portions of the Series 7 exam.

To earn your Series 79 license, follow these steps.

Step 1: Take and Pass the SIE Exam

The SIE exam tests common topics such as fundamentals, regulatory agencies and their functions, product knowledge, and acceptable and unacceptable practices. You can take the SIE exam before being sponsored by a firm and even while you are still in school. You have a four-year window in which to take and pass any of the representative level top-off exams, like Series 79, after passing the SIE exam. Note that FINRA calls both exams "corequisites," but that does not mean you have to take them at the same time. What FINRA means is that you have to take both the SIE and the Series 79 to earn your license, but you can take them in any order you wish.

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Step 2: Secure a Sponsorship

To take the Series 79 exam, you must be sponsored by a FINRA member firm or a self-regulatory organization (SRO). 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.

Step 3: Study for the Series 79 Exam

After securing your sponsorship, the next step is taking the top-off exam for the Series 79 license. Most candidates choose to take the SIE before the Series 79, but you can take the Series 79 first if you wish.

The licensing exam is not exactly a walk in the park. You need to study with purpose and planning. To help you out, many retail brokerage firms have an in-house training program or, in some cases, they have an agreement with an external training provider. Exam preparation and review courses go a long way toward helping you pass your Series 79 exam the first time.

The content outline for the Series 79 exam is divided into into three major job functions that are performed by an Investment Banking Representative:

  • Function 1: Collection, Analysis and Evaluation of Data, 37 questions, 47% of exam items
  • Function 2: Underwriting and New Financing Transactions, Types of Offerings and Registration of Securities, 20 questions, 27% of exam items
  • Function 3: Mergers and Acquisitions, Tender Offers and Financial Restructuring Transactions, 18 questions, 24% of exam items

The questions on the revised Series 79 examination emphasize tasks such as advising on or facilitating debt or equity offerings through a private placement or public offering, and advising or facilitating mergers and acquisitions, tender offers, financial restructurings, and asset sales.

Step 4: Take and Pass the Series 79 Exam

Once you’ve passed the SIE exam, studied, and secured your sponsorship, you can then take the top-off exam for the Series 79 license. The test time is 1 hour and 30 minutes and the passing score is 70 percent and above. Once you pass, you’ll be licensed.


Series 79 licensing exam prep can really give you the edge you need to pass. Learn more about our self-study options and how to purchase a Series 79 exam prep package on our website.

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