A Series 52 certification lets professionals trade municipal securities. Also known as the Municipal Securities Representative Qualification Examination, it’s one of the first steps toward a career as a licensed municipal securities representative. Here’s what Series 52 covers and what its exam entails.
The Series 52 License
Professionals across the financial industry make broad use of this certification. With the Series 52 License, financial professionals can perform underwriting analysis for municipal securities. Meanwhile, they can sell municipal securities such as municipal bonds.
Individuals who pass the Series 52 exam and obtain their Municipal Securities Representative Certification can underwrite or transact municipal securities for a sponsoring organization. Also, Municipal securities representatives can provide professional financial advice or consultation about municipal issuance. As a result, they generally provide information to public investors on municipal securities.
The Series 52 exam was developed by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB). Consequently, the MSRB still conducts the exam today. The MSRB sets standards for the municipal securities industry. As a result, it manages the professional qualifications for municipal securities representatives, principals, advisor representatives, and advisor principals.
There has been a recent change in the Series 52 registration process. The MSRB decided to align with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) securities exam restructuring program, which was implemented in October 2018. Therefore, candidates must take FINRA’s Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) in order to get the Series 52 license. Also, the SIE exam is a co-requisite exam that can be taken before or after the new Series 52 top-off exam.
The Series 52 Exam
The exam consists of 75 scored multiple choice questions and last two and a half hours. Meanwhile, in order to pass, you must receive a score of 70% or better. It costs $260 to take the exam. However, taking the Series 52 exam requires employment and sponsorship from a municipal firm. The recommended study time is 60 hours. You can find the content outline on the MSRB website and use it to help guide your study.
There are three parts to this exam:
Part One – Municipal Securities
This part of the exam covers issuing and trading municipal securities, types of municipal securities and their characteristics, and other relevant information like analysis and disclosure requirements.
Part Two – Economic Activity, Government Policy and the Behavior of Interest Rates
This section of the exam will test your knowledge of factors that affect interest rates, United States monetary policy, and U.S. fiscal policy. For example, the United States monetary policy includes economic indices, commodity prices, and international economic activity. Meanwhile, U.S. fiscal policy includes U.S. Treasury debt management practices, and federal budgetary practices and their impact.
Part Three – Securities, Laws, and Regulations
For the third part of the exam, you’ll need to know the MSRB rules and be well-versed in regulations that apply to Municipal Market Professionals. As a result, that includes the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Series 52 Exam vs the Security Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam
Becoming a Municipal Securities Representative now requires passing the new Series 52 “top-off” exam as well as the new SIE exam.
The introductory-level SIE exam targets prospective securities industry professionals. Therefore, it tests knowledge of basic securities industry information and concepts fundamental to working in the industry. The test covers a variety of topics including the structure of the securities industry markets, regulatory agencies and their functions, types of products and their risks, and prohibited practices.
It is a 75 multiple-choice question exam. The passing score, like the Series 52 passing score, is 70%. It costs $60 to take and lasts one hour and 45 minutes. You can study using the FINRA content outline, available on their website.
The SIE exam also consists of four sections:
- Knowledge of Capital Markets.
- Understanding Products and Their Risks.
- Understanding Trading, Customer Accounts and Prohibited Activities.
- Overview of Regulatory Framework.
Anyone over 18 can take this exam. Unlike the Series 52 exam, prospective candidates can take the SIE exam without joining a firm. As a result, it gives people the option to take the exam before or after associating with a firm. SIE results are valid for four years.
The Bottom Line
Potential municipal securities representatives still looking for work can still take the SIE exam. They’ll still need employment and sponsorship from a municipal firm before they can take the Series 52 “top-off” exam. However, you can take the first step towards that qualification on your own. Showing that you have the initiative to take the SIE exam and the skills to pass it may help you in your career and your job search.
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