Posted by: William James
Updated: August 23, 2017
In May 2017, FINRA’s Joseph McDonald, Senior Director, and John Kalohn, Vice President of Testing and Continuing Education, confirmed that the qualification exam restructuring initiative is very much underway. They further confirmed that the number of Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam questions will be 75; that no sponsorship will be required to sit for the SIE; and that a passing score will remain valid for four years. Sponsorship, however, will be required for any specialized knowledge top-off exam.
The revised Series 7 General Securities Representative exam will be 150 questions. The total number of questions for the combined SIE and revised Series 7 will be 225 questions, down from the 250 questions currently seen on the Series 7 exam. The revised Series 6 exam will be 50 questions for a total of 125 questions. There will be no requirement to pass one before the other. Candidates may choose to sit for the SIE or a top-off exam first, with the other to follow.
No licensing qualification exam, however, will be complete until both exams are passed. Registrants who return within two years will regain registration without having to sit for the SIE or a specialized knowledge top-off exam. Registrants who return between two and four years will not need to take the SIE, only the specialized knowledge exam for the position. Registrants who return after four years out of a registered position will need to take SIE and the appropriate specialized knowledge top-off exam.
Initially, FINRA testing and qualifications officials hoped that the new testing regimen would begin this year, but due to industry concern regarding the scale of implementation within large member firms, it was deemed prudent to move back from the originally planned dates. On June 26, FINRA notified the SEC that in light of comments from large member firms and SIFMA, it intends to move the implementation date to the fourth quarter of 2018. FINRA will provide, by Regulatory Notice, the exact implementation date and its final rules, fee structures, and the final SIE and top-off exam content outlines.
Apart from Commission approvals, content outlines are mostly complete. FINRA further intends to use this time to reach out to not just the securities industry, but to educational institutions, training companies, and the general public to make them aware of the restructuring and its benefits.
Within the remaining time between now and exam restructure implementation, FINRA is looking to prepare its Central Registration Depository (CRD) and other systems to accommodate the new exam structure, including creating a system for those persons not currently associated with a member firm to enroll and pay for the SIE exam.
Senior management at FINRA hopes that this wholly new testing and qualification restructuring will work in some measure to promote and stimulate career interest in the securities industry. The need for competent registered representatives has never been greater, and the restructuring will provide member firms an opportunity to bring into play a new recruitment model to onboard the most qualified candidates. Member firms require substantial lead time to identify associated persons with the necessary skill sets. The restructuring looks to better gauge industry knowledge of potential employees and interns and to appeal to a broader, more diverse group of people.
In anticipation of the restructuring initiative, our team of content providers have prepared strong study solutions for the SIE and revised Series 7 and Series 6 specialized knowledge exams. Simply put, we are ready. Kaplan will continue to keep you updated with new information from FINRA regarding their progress and the release of Kaplan study materials for these new exams.
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.