By: Doug Vincens
Published: February 1, 2018
The introduction of FINRA’s new Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam will dramatically change the securities licensing process, beginning in October 2018. We’ve assembled and answered this list of the most common questions we’ve been fielding from partner firms in recent months, as they prepare for this change.
There are many potential benefits of FINRA restructuring the securities exams, particularly for firms looking to be more efficient in their recruiting and onboarding processes. Firms will now have options when onboarding new reps, including making the SIE exam a condition of employment, having new hires pass the SIE exam prior to taking a specialized knowledge exam, or asking new hires to take both exams together.
Candidates will now have to pass multiple exams before registering with FINRA, which may extend the onboarding process to account for exam scheduling, testing, and waiting periods for retakes.
Based on FINRA Regulatory Notice 17-30, the following individuals will be considered to have passed the SIE exam: (1) individuals whose registration as a representative was terminated between October 1, 2014, and September 30, 2018, provided they re-register as a representative within four years from the date of their last registration; and (2) individuals who registered as representatives prior to October 1, 2018, and who continue to maintain those registrations on or after October 1, 2018. All other individuals seeking representative-level registration must pass the SIE exam, unless they obtain a waiver.
Thinking strategically, the SIE exam will allow firms to create pipelines of qualified candidates, reduce onboarding and recruiting costs, increase speed to production, and build more agile and effective workforces.
Yes. During 2018, a number of training providers are expected to offer exam preparation courses and programs designed to assist students with passing the new SIE exam and top-off exams. Kaplan currently offers classroom, online, and blended exam prep programs to more than 90,000 successful candidates annually. These same proven approaches will be used to implement SIE-related programs within more than 1,500 universities, many of which Kaplan is currently partnering with to offer CFP® certification education and CFA®-based curricula, as well as more than 1,000 corporate relationships. Our integrated strategy is to connect these universities with potential employers to provide sources of highly qualified candidates, while also preparing individuals to pass the SIE and top-off exams and supporting their future careers in the securities industry.
While candidates passing of the SIE exam can prove mastery of basic industry knowledge and demonstrate proficiency in handling a high-stakes exam experience, it is too early to determine any correlation on how they will perform on their respective top-off exams.
Firms will have different options to onboard new hires: 1) Hire applicants who have already successfully passed the SIE exam; 2) Onboard individuals and require them to take the SIE exam prior to top-off exam; 3) Request new hires to take both the SIE and top-off exams together. Additionally, many of the firms Kaplan partners with on corporate training programs have expressed an interest in utilizing the SIE exam for their non-registered administrative employees. Having a better understanding of the industry helps create more agile and effective workforces, which is key to growth and competitive positioning.
By creating pipelines of candidates who have demonstrated mastery of fundamental securities-related knowledge, firms are able to reduce costs associated with recruiting and licensing. Most importantly, firms can mitigate the drain on productivity when bringing on new hires. Firms that currently have, or plan to develop, relationships with local universities will also have an advantage in leveraging the benefits of this new exam. As stated above, many of the firms we have talked to are interested in having their administrative staff prepare and sit for the SIE exam as well.
Many firms are concerned that individuals who have passed the SIE exam will misrepresent their qualifications with investors. In response, FINRA plans to implement SIE Rules of Conduct that require individuals to attest that they are not qualified to conduct securities business with the public until they meet the additional requirements of being associated with a firm and passing a specialized knowledge exam.
Additionally, candidates will now have to pass multiple exams before registering with FINRA, which may extend the onboarding process to account for exam scheduling, testing, and waiting periods for retakes.
Finally, for those firms looking to hire individuals without the SIE credential, FINRA recently announced that the total exam fees will likely stay the same. For example, the exam fee for the current Series 7 exam is $305. FINRA has proposed that the SIE exam fee will be $60, and the exam fee for the new Series 7 top-off exam will be the balance ($245) of the current fee.
Hopefully this article has helped clear up confusion and answer any questions you have about the SIE Exam, and how it will affect your firm. If you're looking for more information, you can access our SIE Information Center. We've also created FAQs for candidates and universities to answer SIE-specific questions.
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.