Posted By: Kaplan Financial Education
Updated: July 28, 2017
The Series 99 license, also known as the Operations Professional license, is required of senior managers or supervisors in operations, and those who have the authority to materially commit capital in various back office functions.
Given the variety of job functions included in the operations professional registration category, the Series 99 exam covers knowledge at a basic level of understanding and application across the industry.
The process for obtaining a Series 99 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 99 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 100 multiple-choice questions with an additional 10 unscored questions. The 10 additional questions are potential future exam questions being tested to determine difficulty. These will not be identified to test-takers. Candidates have 150 minutes to complete the exam and must achieve a score of 68% or above to pass.
The exam covers the three major job functions of an operations professional:
In the new exam structure, a candidate for the Series 99 license will need to take FINRA’s new SIE exam first. 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), likely in 75 questions. The SIE exam will cover topics such as 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 SRO to take top-off exams. Once candidates have passed the SIE exam and are sponsored, they can then take the top-off exam for the Series 99 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 99 top-off exam will be shorter than it is currently; FINRA has indicated they will likely reduce the number of questions asked on the Series 99 top-off exam by half. 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.