FINRA's Series 6 License: What it is and How to get it

By Julie Mendel, SILA-A, CDEI
Sep 20, 2022

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The Series 6 License

FINRA's Series 6 license marks the beginning of a career in the securities industry as an investment company and variable contracts products representative. From working as a financial advisor to an insurance agent or investment banker, there are many challenging and rewarding career paths that require a Series 6 license.

Hopefuls must pass two co-requisite exams prior to earning a Series 6 license: the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam and the Series 6 exam.  Read on to learn more about the Series 6 license, including what’s on the Series 6 exam and tips for passing the first time.

What is the Series 6 License?

The Series 6 license for Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Representatives is a certification issued by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to financial professionals who wish to sell certain investment products, such as:

  • Mutual Funds (closed-end funds on the initial public offering only)
  • Variable Annuities
  • Variable Life Insurance
  • Unit Investment Trusts (UITs)
  • Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)
  • Government Securities
  • Bank Products (such as certificates of deposit (CDs) and money market accounts)

Financial professionals who need a Series 6 license include those working for banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies, and other financial institutions. This includes financial professionals working as financial advisors, registered representatives, and investment bankers, among others.

Earning a Series 6 license means passing the Series 6 exam. The Series 6 exam is designed to test a person's knowledge of the rules, regulations, and ethical standards all financial professionals are expected to follow and uphold to protect the integrity of the securities industry.

How to Get a Series 6 License

Pass FINRA's Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam

FINRA’s Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam is a co-requisite exam alongside the Series 6 exam. This means the SIE exam and the Series 6 exam must both be passed to obtain a Series 6 license. The SIE serves as a general introductory exam for the entire securities industry, while the Series 6 exam is more narrowly focused on specific job functions; this is true for all Series exams, only the job functions vary. Another major difference between the SIE and Series 6 exams is test takers do not need to be sponsored by a FINRA member firm to take the SIE exam.

Attain Sponsorship from a FINRA Member Firm

Sponsorship from a FINRA member firm means FINRA requires each Series 6 exam taker to be employed by a financial institution registered with FINRA, such as a bank or brokerage firm. Because sponsorship is required, this also means a Series 6 license is only valid if the licensee is actively employed in the securities industry. If you quit or otherwise lose your job, your Series 6 license is forfeited.

Pass the Series 6 Exam

FINRA’s Series 6 exam is designed to assess the quality of a candidate’s foundational knowledge of key concepts and job functions of an investment company and variable contracts products representative. It reviews four primary job functions, detailed in the following Section. In this way it is a narrower, more focused test than the general introductory SIE exam that is also required for a Series 6 license. The primary requirement to taking the Series 6 exam is the candidate must be sponsored by a FINRA member firm.

What is on the Series 6 Exam?

The Series 6 licensing exam is made up of 50 questions covering the four job functions of an investment company and variable contracts product representative. These four major job functions include:

Job Function Weight Number of Questions
1. Seeks Business for the Broker-Dealer from Customers and Potential Customers24%12
2. Opens Accounts After Obtaining and Evaluating Customers’ Financial Profile and Investment Objectives16%8
3. Provides Customers with Information About Investments, Makes Recommendations, Transfers Assets and Maintains Appropriate Records50%25
4. Obtains and Verifies Customers’ Purchase and Sales Instructions; Processes, Completes, and Confirms Transactions10%5
TOTAL: 100%50

FINRA's Series 6 exam content outline details the breakdown of what to expect in each section.

Passing the Series 6 exam requires a grade of 70% or better—that is, 35 correct responses out of 50. The Series 6 exam has a time limit of 90 minutes, or 1 hour 30 minutes. Test results are displayed as passing or failing upon completion of the exam.

Failing the SIE exam triggers a waiting period of 30 calendar days until another Series 6 exam can be scheduled. Failing three times within a two-year period extends the waiting time to 180 calendar days, or six months.

Online Series 6 Exam Prep Tips for Passing the First Time

Series 6 exam prep is not required but is always recommended to increase the odds of passing the first time. After all, if a person fails the exam, they must wait a full thirty days before scheduling another Series 6 exam. That means pushing your career goals back at least a month!

To maximize your chances of passing the Series 6 exam the first time, the best way to prepare is with an online securities exam prep program. These programs, like WebCE’s Series 6 Complete Exam Prep Package, offer essential exam prep tools and features, including:

  1. Exam Tutor exam simulator for unlimited online Series 6 practice exams—even build custom Series 6 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

Knowing what will be on the Series 6 exam and testing topics you have yet to master are just a few reasons why Series 6 exam prep is so important—and why exam prep is the best way to increase your chances of passing the Series 6 exam the first time.

WebCE offers an entire catalog of Securities Exam Prep courses, which also includes a combination SIE + Series 6 Exam Prep Package to help you prepare for both of your co-requisite exams at the same time. The securities industry is competitive and rewarding. Whether you find yourself on Wall Street or managing portfolios, your career begins here, with WebCE’s securities exam prep.