Posted By: Kaplan Financial Education
Updated: July 28, 2017
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.
The process for obtaining a Series 79 license is different today than it will be when FINRA implements the new Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam in early 2018. This article provides the process as it is now, as well as the likely process in the future with the SIE exam.
To get a Series 79 license in current state, a candidate must be sponsored by a FINRA member firm or a self-regulatory organization (SRO). Sponsoring firms apply for candidates to take the exam by filing a Uniform Application for Security Industry Registration or Transfer (Form U4). There is an exam fee that is typically covered by the sponsoring firm.
The exam consists of 175 multiple-choice questions with an additional 10 questions that do not count toward the final score. The 10 additional questions are potential future exam questions being tested to determine difficulty. These will not be identified to test-takers. Candidates will have 300 minutes to complete the exam and must achieve a score of 73% or above to pass.
The exam covers the four major job functions of an entry-level Series 79 representative:
In the new exam structure, a candidate for the Series 79 license will first need to take FINRA’s new SIE exam. The SIE exam will cover common content that is being covered across eight different FINRA Series exams in current state (Series 6, 7, 22, 57, 79, 82, 86/87, 99). The SIE exam will cover topics like fundamentals, regulatory agencies and their functions, product knowledge, and acceptable and unacceptable practices. In the future state, a candidate will not need to be sponsored by a member firm or self-regulatory organization (SRO) to take the SIE exam.
After passing the SIE exam, candidates will need to be sponsored by a member firm or self-regulatory organization (SRO). Once candidates have passed the SIE exam and are sponsored, they can then take the top-off exam for the Series 79 license. Candidates will have a four-year window in which to take and pass any of the representative level top-off exams after passing the SIE exam. The Series 79 top-off exam will likely be shorter than it is currently; FINRA has indicated they are planning to reduce the number of questions asked on the Series 79 top-off exam. The exam details are still being finalized, but we will continue to update this article as we gain more information.
After identifying nine series exams with common content (6, 7, 22, 57, 79, 82, 86/87, 99), FINRA has decided to restructure their licensing process next year. The common content will be tested in the new Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam. Download this free guide to learn more about how the new securities licensing process will work, the rationale for the change, proposed SIE exam content, and how it could change hiring and recruiting practices.