A Complete Overview of The Series 65 License

By Julie Mendel, SILA-A, CDEI
Sep 13, 2022


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A Complete Overivew of the Series 65 License

FINRA's Series 65 license qualifies candidates to work as Investment Adviser Representatives (IARs). This can mean helping others achieve their financial goals as a financial planner. Becoming a portfolio manager, overseeing the investment portfolio of clients or entire organizations. Or offering expert advice as an investment adviser helping clients meet their investment goals. These are just some of the many careers that may require a series 65 license.

If you like helping others and have an interest in finance, a career as an investment adviser can be extremely rewarding. Read on to find out all about the Series 65 license, including the Series 65 exam, also known as the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination.

What is the Series 65 License?

The Series 65 license is one of the requirements to become an Investment Adviser Representative (IAR). The North American Securities Administration Association (NASAA) requires candidates obtain either a Series 65 or Series 66 license. The Series 65 license offers candidates qualifications to work as an IAR. The Series 66 license is essentially a combination of the Series 65 and Series 63 licenses, meaning license holders can offer investment advice and sell securities. (Click here to learn more about the Series 66 license.)

The Series 65 is the only exam that can be waived by NASAA if the candidate holds any of following five certifications or designations:

  1. Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Certification
  2. Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Designation
  3. Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) Designation
  4. Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) Designation
  5. Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC) Designation

Note: While NASAA may waive the Series 65, a candidate must still be licensed with their state. Check with your state’s Securities Regulator to confirm the licensing process when waiving the Series 65 exam. NASAA’s Series 65 exam waiver, however, does not waive the continuing education requirement to maintain a Series 65 license.

How to Get a Series 65 License

Schedule the Series 65 Exam

The Series 65 exam, also known as NASAA’s Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination, is administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), who administers all NASAA’s exams. Prior to scheduling your exam, you will need to enroll for the Series 65 exam with FINRA. Once enrolled, FINRA grants the candidate a 120-day window to schedule their Series 65 exam. As of April 2022, Series 63 exams are no longer available online. Instead, candidates must schedule a Series 65 exam with FINRA at one of their Prometric testing sites to take the exam in person. This same restriction also applies to the Series 63 and 66 exams.

Pass the Series 65 Exam

The Series 65 exam is a three hour, 130-question multiple-choice test that covers foundational knowledge all IARs must know. Passing requires 92 out of 130 correct answers. Unofficial results are displayed upon completing the exam.

Complete Other Series 65 Licensing Requirements

Your local government may have more requirements to fulfill before you become licensed—in addition to the Series 65 exam. Requirements are unique to each state or municipality, so it is important to check with your local securities regulator. Review NASAA’s securities regulator resource map for local regulators’ contact information and other helpful resources.

Maintain Your Series 65 License

The Series 65 license lasts for two or three years, a duration set individually by each state. This timeframe determines how long a licensee has to become licensed or registered with the state without their Series 65 license expiring. Once registered, the Series 65 license does not expire so long the Series 65 license holder remains employed in the industry. Once a Series 65 licensee is terminated from their position or otherwise becomes inactive, the expiration countdown for their Series 65 license begins again.

What is on the Series 65 Exam?

The Uniform Investment Adviser Law License (or Series 65) Examination is a three-hour timed test with 130 multiple-choice questions, each with four answer choices. The exam content is broken up into four categories of foundational knowledge all Investment Adviser Representatives must know, which are:

Topic Weight Number of Questions
1. Economic Factors and Business Information15%20
2. Investment Vehicle Characteristics25%32
3. Client Investment Recommendations and Strategies30%39
4. Laws, Regulations, and Guidelines, Including Prohibition on Unethical Business Practices30%39
TOTAL: 100%130

NASAA’s complete Series 65 exam content outline provides a comprehensive breakdown of what to expect in each section.

Candidates must answer 92 out of 130 questions correct to earn a passing grade on the Series 65 exam. Test takers have 180 minutes (three hours) to complete the exam. Test results are displayed immediately after completing the exam. Those who fail the Series 65 exam must wait 30 calendar days for another attempt. Failing three times within a two-year timeframe lengthens the waiting period between retakes to 180 calendar days.

Online Series 65 Exam Prep Tips to Pass the First time

While Series 65 exam prep is not required, it is always recommended. The Series 65 can unlock new career paths, but failing can push back those career goals back an entire month. Series 65 exam prep is the best way to gain the familiarity and confidence needed to pass the Series 65 exam the first time.

For the highest chance of passing the Series 65 exam the first time, prepare with an online securities exam prep program. Exam prep programs, like WebCE’s Series 65 Complete Exam Prep Package, offer essential exam prep tools and features, including:

  1. Exam Tutor exam simulator for unlimited online Series 65 practice exams—even build custom Series 65 practice exams to test and improve specific knowledge areas
  2. Read-It-To-Me text-to-speech audio for all course content
  3. Flash Tutor online flashcards, a mobile-friendly approach to staying fresh on key terms and concepts on the go
  4. Study Guide Workbook course companion to make notes and complete exercises
  5. My Study Planner to customize a learning plan that fits your daily schedule

Mastering and familiarizing yourself with the Series 65 exam content and testing topics are vital to confident test taking practices that can drastically increase your chances of passing the Series 65 exam the first time. Since the Series 65 also often requires other licenses, WebCE offers an entire catalog of Securities Exam Prep courses, which also includes the Series 66 Complete Exam Prep Package and Series 63 Complete Exam Prep Package. No matter the direction you wish to take your career, WebCE can help you get there.