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series 79The Series 79 exam, also known as the Investment Banking Representative Exam, is taken by many financial professionals, including investment bankers. Those who pass the exam ability can advise clients about debt and equity offerings, mergers and acquisitions, tender offers, financial restructuring and more. Learn how to best prepare for the exam, what’s required to take it, and what a Series 79 designation means.

The Basics 

Candidates take the Series 79, or Investment Banking Representative Exam, if they’re considering a future as an investment banker. A financial professional in that position facilitates financial transactions, assists with mergers and acquisitions, and acts as an investment advisor for clients.

The Series 79 is administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). That body is a non-for-profit organization that deals with the oversight of broker-dealers in the U.S.

This exam assesses a candidate’s ability to perform the essential job functions of an entry-level investment banker. Those tasks include advising clients on various securities offerings or providing guidance on mergers and acquisitions.

More specifically, the Series 79 covers several major topics including collection, analysis, and evaluation of data, and underwriting/new financing transaction. It also addresses types of offerings, registration of securities, mergers and acquisitions, tender offers, and financial restructuring transactions. The exam costs $245.

The computer-administered Series 79 exam contains 75 multiple choice questions and 10 additional unscored questions. However, these non-scored questions blend in with scored questions. You’ll be provided with a whiteboard and calculator during the exam. To pass the Series 79, test-takers must earn a score of 73% or higher.

Series 79 requirements 

series 79
As mentioned, the Series 79 has 75 questions, plus 10 additional questions that are not scored. To pass the Series 79, test-takers must earn a score of 73% or higher. Candidates must pass both the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam and the Series 79 exam before they can get their Series 79 license.

Similar to many other financial licensing exams, the Series 79 exam requires candidate sponsorship by a FINRA member firm. Another self-regulatory organization (SRO) firm can sponsor Series 79 candidates as well.

A sponsor will need to file a Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration or Transfer (U4) via the Central Registration Depository (CRD). Meanwhile, they likely will cover your exam fee. If you fail the Series 79, you must wait 30 days to take it again.

Preparing for the Series 79

Experts suggest spending at least 60-100 hours preparing for the Series 79. Preparation for the exam should include a mix of studying, practice questions, and in-classroom time.

Many firms off in-house preparation resources. But if they don’t, you should utilize a third-party exam preparation company. Exam preparation should be a mix practice questions to familiarize yourself with the format of the test. Candidates also may want to consider consulting videos, reference materials, and perhaps an instructor. Many consider the Series 79 to be one of the most difficult of FINRA’s exams, so prepare accordingly.

What a Series 79 License Means


Candidates who pass the exam can work as entry-level investment bankers. A Series 79 license gives a financial professional the ability to advise on debt and equity offerings mergers and acquisitions, and tender offers.

It also gives them knowledge of how to deal with financial restructurings, asset sales, divestitures or other corporate reorganizations, and business combination transactions

The Bottom Line

A Series 79 license allows a financial professional to work as an investment banker. The Series 79 exam, or Investment Banking Representative Exam, assesses the ability to perform the essential job functions of the job. It has 75 multiple-choice questions and candidates must receive a grade of 73% of higher to pass. The exam also contains 10 additional, ungraded questions. But candidates will not know which of the 85 questions count toward their result.

Experts suggest spending at least 60-100 hours preparing for the Series 79. Preparation should be a mix of practice questions, videos, and reference materials. Consulting an in-person instructor also may help. The Series 79 is often considered one of the more difficult FINRA exams, so candidates may want to consider dedicating as much time and effort to it as they can.

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Rachel Cautero Rachel Cautero writes on all things personal finance, from retirement savings tips to monetary policy, even how young families can best manage the financial challenges of having children. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Forbes, The Balance, LearnVest, SmartAsset, HerMoney, DailyWorth, The New York Observer, MarketWatch, Lifewire, The Local: East Village, a New York Times publication and The New York Daily News. Rachel was an Experian #CreditChat panelist and has appeared on Cheddar Life and NPR’s On Point Radio with Meghna Chakrabarti. She has a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University and a master's in journalism from New York University. Her coworkers include her one-year-old son and a very needy French bulldog.
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