The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) offers multiple registration examinations for securities professionals. Each of these numbered Series examinations (ranging from Series 3 to Series 99) is designed to test the student's proficiency is particular securities activities. Individuals must pass the exam before they can work in that area. The Series 6 Exam is designed to test the competence of aspiring Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Representatives. There is no prerequisite exam for the Series 6 test, but candidates must be sponsored by a FINRA member firm, a self-regulatory organization, or an exchange in order to be eligible to take the test.
Series 6 Exam
The Series 6 exam consists of 100 scored questions. Students have two hours and fifteen minutes to complete the test, and they must answer 70 percent of the questions correctly in order to pass. According to FINRA, the questions are divided between four job function areas:
- Function 1 (22 questions)
- Regulatory fundamentals
- Business development F
- Function 2 (47 questions)
- Evaluating customers' financial information
- Identifying investment goals
- Providing information about investment products
- Making sound financial recommendations
- Function 3 (21 questions)
- Opening, maintaining, transferring and closing accounts
- Keeping account records
- Function 4 (10 questions)
- Obtaining customer purchase and sales instructions
- Verifying instructions
After passing the Series 6 exam, individuals are qualified to solicit, purchase or sell these securities products:
- Mutual funds
- Variable annuities
- Variable life insurance
- Mutual fund securities
There are several for-profit companies that sell training courses for individuals seeking Series 6 certification. They may be offered in the form of print study materials and/or online video lectures (live or on-demand). Many also offer practice tests. There are also some free preparation and practice materials available online.
Career Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, insurance sales agents earned a median annual salary of $48,200 as of May 2015. Employment in this field is expected to increase by 9% from 2014 to 2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
After passing the Series 6 examination, individuals who want to engage in other securities activities can take other Series tests. Like Series 6, some of these tests require sponsorship, and some also require candidates to have passed other Series tests.
To summarize, individuals must take the Series 6 Examination in order to work as Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Representatives. FINRA registers security professionals who pass.