A financial advisor is a specially trained expert who provides advice on financial planning and investments. In many countries, someone who wants to offer services as a financial advisor must be licensed by the appropriate authorities; this assures the advisor's clients that he has the expert knowledge required for certain aspects of the job, such as providing advice on securities investments. In the United States, a financial advisor license can be obtained by passing exams for the Series 7 and 66 licenses.
The tests for these licenses together are called the Uniform Combined State Law Examination, and are administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). This test is given to make sure investment professionals know the rules of public investing. Test takers must receive a score of 70 or higher to pass the Series 7 and a 75 or greater to pass the Series 66. The candidate must pass both examples to receive a financial advisor license.
In order to take the Series 7 test, you must have a sponsor. Since you should already be working in the financial services industry before taking the exam, your employer is usually your sponsor, and pays the course fees. The Series 66 exam does not require a sponsor, but these two tests are usually taken around the same time, with the employer paying for all fees.
After you have a sponsor, you must complete form U10 for the Series 7 test and form U4 for the Series 66 test. Then the forms and the exam fees should be sent to FINRA. You should now begin to study for the tests, which can be intimidating and overwhelming for some people. There are many resources online and in print to help study, including practice tests.
Next, you will receive a Notice of Enrollment in the mail. This form confirms your registration and provides an expiration date. Both exams must be passed prior to this date, which is usually 120 days from registration. The Notice of Enrollment will also provide other test taking information, including exam locations. Find the local exam location and call to make an appointment, making sure there is ample study time prior to taking the tests.
On test day, bring extra pencils and blank paper to do calculations on, though most likely the test will be administered by computer. Make sure to get plenty of rest the night before and eat a good breakfast the day of the test. The tests will take a few hours to complete, and although they are usually taken close together, they are not taken on the same day. If you do not pass, the exams may be taken again as long as it is before the original 120 day expiration date.
A financial advisor license is often not required to do some of the typical financial jobs, but a license is required to sell real estate, insurance, bonds, mutual funds, or stocks. Without a financial advisor license, an advisor can not suggest these types of financial products to a customer. He or she can only talk about all available products in an unbiased way, providing the customer with enough information to make their own decision.