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How Will the Proposed FINRA Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam Affect Licensing?

How Will The Proposed FINRA Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam Affect Licensing?

Posted By: Kaplan Financial Education
Updated: October 2, 2018

UPDATE 10/2/18: The SIE Exam is now live and the information in this article is no longer current. For the latest news and information check out our FAQ pages for candidates, businesses, and universities.


In October 2018, FINRA plans to roll out a new exam called the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam. It is designed to combine the common content on FINRA Series exams (Series 6, 7, 22, 57, 79, 82, 86/87, 99) to simplify the licensing process and reduce redundancy. So, what does this mean for the future of securities licensing? This infographic is designed to help you better understand the licensing process and how it will change when the SIE exam is launched.

Securities (FINRA) Exams Current Structure

In the current structure, all FINRA Series exams are given separately. Each Series exam includes questions about fundamentals, regulatory agencies and their functions, product knowledge, and acceptable and unacceptable practices (ethics). In other words, when candidates take separate Series exams, they may be studying for and testing on similar content.

In the current structure, an exam taker must be sponsored by a FINRA member firm or self-regulatory organization. To register for a FINRA Series exam, a candidate and their employer work together to fill out a Form U4, get the information validated, and file it with FINRA. Then the candidate has a 90-day window to take the exam.

Securities (FINRA) Exams Future Structure

In the future structure, candidates taking FINRA Series 6, 7, 22, 57, 79, 82, 86/87, and 99 exams will take the SIE exam only once testing common content. Then will need to take a shorter top-off exam, or a specialized knowledge exam, testing their knowledge of Series-specific information to get a Series license.

Currently, an individual needs to be sponsored by a financial institution to earn a securities license. Starting in 2017, when the SIE Exam is implemented, candidates will be able to take the SIE Exam without sponsorship from a firm. Once a candidate has passed the SIE exam, they will need to get hired and fill out a Form U4 before taking the top-off exam. FINRA has noted that most individuals who are already registered with a Series license in the old structure would be considered to have already passed the SIE exam and that would remain valid for four years upon leaving the industry.

A Candidate's Complete Guide to the New SIE Exam Free eBook - Kaplan Financial EducationA Candidate's Complete Guide to the New SIE Exam

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.

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