How to Get Your Series 99 License

By: Kaplan Financial Education
March 18, 2019
Series 99 securities license holder working at her desk

The Series 99 license, also known as the Operations Professional Exam, 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.

To earn your Series 99 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 99, after passing the SIE exam. Note that FINRA says that the SIE and Series 99 licenses are "corequisites," which does not mean they have to be taken at the same time. What it means is that you have to pass both exams to earn your license, and you can take them in any order.

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Step 2: Secure a Sponsorship

To take the Series 99 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 99 Exam

Once you secure your sponsorship, you can then take the top-off exam for the Series 99 license. Most candidates choose to take the SIE before the Series 99, but you don't have to. You can take the Series 99 exam first if you prefer.

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 99 exam the first time.

The Series 99 content outline is divided into two major job functions that are performed by an Operations Professional:

  • Function 1: Knowledge Associated with the Securities Industry and Broker-Dealer Operations, 35 questions, 70% of exam items
  • Function 2: Professional Conduct and Ethical Considerations, 15 questions, 30% of exam items.

The questions on the Series 99 examination emphasize tasks, such as opening and maintaining accounts. There are nine tasks associated with Function 1 and four tasks associated with Function 2. For more details on how the Series 99 is broken down, check out this article.

Step 4: Take and Pass the Series 99 Exam

Now that you've studied, it's time to take the top-off exam for the Series 99 license. The Series 99 examination has 50 questions, and the test time is 1 hour and 30 minutes (90 minutes). Currently, a score of 68 percent is required to pass the examination.


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