Most candidates seek to obtain a series 99 license because they are being required to do so by their firm. You can think of the series 99 as your license to become an operations professional. The series 99 license qualifies an induvial to perform a variety of covered functions at their employing broker dealer. Most people obtain the series 99 license when entering the operations department for the first time and are just starting out in a new career. Others, are perhaps changing positions within their operations department and will now be performing duties that requires them to become 99 licensed. A series 99 license is one way for a person to meet FINRA’s operations licensing requirement. Individuals will be notified by the firm’s compliance department, home office or HR directly or through their manager as to the time frame for taking the exam
FINRA sets the licensing requirements for member firms and its associated persons. FINRA has determined that persons who function in a covered capacity or who supervise persons who perform covered functions must become licensed as a series 99 operations professional . Obtaining a series 99 license will allow you to perform critical functions in a broker dealer’s operations department. Some of these covered functions include client on-boarding. In this role you will be the person who is collecting and inputting customer account data and may be responsible for the preparation of the account records and maintenance. A series 99 licensed person may also perform crucial settlement functions such as fail control, buy ins and sell outs and asset segregation duties. Margin, stock loan and prime brokerage are also key functions that can be performed at broker dealer by a series 99 licensed professional.
The series 99 exam tests a number of complicated concepts that go far beyond general securities knowledge. Being able to work through the application of advanced operational and regulatory responsibilities will be key to a candidate’s success. Most individuals find that the exam is challenging in the way these questions are presented. You must be able to read the question and identify what the question is asking. This is absolutely key and it is not as easy as it sounds. If you are new to the industry or new to the operations department, you may find it hard to master the advanced concepts right away. In order to pass the exam and become series 99 licensed you must demonstrate that you have mastered these areas. Stick with it and stay focused on the concept until you have it down. Every person who sits for the series 99 exam has a different background. What one person finds easy to master, another may find very hard. Most people find the content relating to buy ins, sellouts, margin and settlement to be among the most difficult. You should prepare for the exam by reading a textbook completely with a highlighter. Take notes and work through the more difficult topics. Some of the question on the series 99 exam are hard but with careful preparation you will be successful. We cannot stress enough that you must read the book, there are no shortcuts and students need to understand this. You must clear your schedule, shut off your phone and focus. In addition to obtaining the knowledge required by the exam, you must master the application of the information by taking as many practice questions as you can. We recommend at least 60 – 70 hours of preparation to ensure you pass your series 99 exam and become licensed as an operations professional.
The answer is, that while it feels like your series 99 license is indeed transferable, in actuality it is not. If you want to change firms, your series 99 registration / license along with all of your other registrations must be terminated by your employer. With a series 99 license you are working as an operations professional at a FINRA member firm. Since you are registered at a FINRA member firm, Your former employer / the firm that you are leaving will fill out and submit a Form U5 to FINRA. This will terminate your employment and your registration with that firm. When you arrive at your new firm you must fill out and submit a new Form U4. This will begin your registration with your new firm and your series 99 license, along with your other registrations, will become active at your new firm upon receiving notice from FINRA.
Obtaining a series 99 license is an investment in professional development. You will be required to invest your time and some candidates will be required to pay for the costs. Your series 99 license will qualify you to function as an operations professional of a FINRA member broker dealer. It does not qualify you as an agent. Many people who obtain a series 99 license enjoy long and successful careers as operations professionals. The good news is, for those who absorb the costs, they are relatively low when compared to other types of training, certification and college expenses. Some employers pick up or reimburse the costs of training and the testing and registration fees. Even for these people many obtain additional resources such as additional test questions, books or videos to ensure they pass their exam and become licensed. For those who have to pay all of the expenses out of pocket, it usually only costs a few hundred dollars for the testing fees and quality training materials. . You will find that obtaining a series 99 license opens many doors for you throughout your career. Man very senior people at large financial firms come from the operations side of the business.
Once you have obtained your series 99 license you will be required to meet certain continuing educational requirements. Every year your firm will have you attend a seminar, webinar or take an online course to satisfy the firm element continuing education requirement. You will also be required to complete the regulatory continuing education requirement which is administered by FINRA. You will be required to complete this continuing education requirement by successfully completing the S901 course based on your date of association with a FINRA member. Your date of association for most people will be the date you passed your exam. You will be required to complete the S901 on the second anniversary of passing your exam and every three years thereafter. The S901 course may be completed at an approved facility or on FINRA’s continuing education portal.
Your series 99 license allows you to register as an operations professional of a broker dealer. The series 99 by itself will not allow you to act as an agent or as a financial and operations principal. If you are going to act in roles other than that of an operation professional you may be required to pass additional licensing exams. Any additional licensing requirement will be based on the depth of the new duties you wish to take on. If you have expanded duties that require additional licensing your firm’s compliance department will notify you of your exam requirements. We hope that this answers many of your frequently asked questions about the series 99 license. If you have any additional questions please call or email us.
Good luck on your exam.
The Securities Institute of America, Inc.