The Series 9 and Series 10 exams assess the attributes a general securities sales supervisor needs for their job. They are administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). They’re also prerequisites for becoming a brokerage branch manager. Here’s how you take them and what you can do once you pass.
Series 9/10 Explained
The two exams are often referred to together as Series 9/10. The exams measure a candidate’s abilities as a general securities sales supervisor. Required knowledge and skills include approving customer accounts, training sales and sales supervisory personnel, and maintaining records.
There are 34 licenses in the FINRA series. One of the most popular is Series 7, FINRA’s general securities representative exam.
A Series 7 license authorizes an individual to sell many sorts of securities, including stocks, bonds, options and packaged investments. As a result, Series 7 is a prerequisite for the Series 9/10 license. Meanwhile, candidates also must pass the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam.
Series 9 Exam
Formerly known as the Series 8 exam, Series 9/10 includes topics such as supervision of options and general securities sales and trading practices in primary and secondary markets. Series 9/10 is a two-part exam.
Series 9 is the shorter half. Described by FINRA as the “General Securities Sales Supervisor – Options” exam, it covers the rules and regulations of supervising sales of corporate, municipal and options securities.
Applicants have to pass the Series 7 license exam before taking the Series 9 exam. Meanwhile, they also must be employed and sponsored by a FINRA member firm.
The Series 9 test consists of 55 multiple-choice questions. Applicants get 90 minutes to complete it. They have to get 70% of the questions correct to pass.
Questions cover matters such as supervising opening and maintenance of customer options accounts and overseeing the practices of options salespeople and traders. Meanwhile, other topics include options communications and personnel management.
FINRA charges $80 to take the Series 9 exam.
Series 10 Exam
The Series 10 exam is subtitled “General Securities Sales Supervisor – General Exam.” However, it’s a bit longer than the Series 9 and goes more deeply into that exam’s subjects.
Like the Series 9 exam, to take this test applicants must first pass the Series 7 test. A FINRA member firm must employ and sponsor any Series 7 candidate.
But the Series 10 test is broader than the Series 9 test. It consists of 145 multiple-choice questions, nearly three times as many as the Series 9.
Applicants get four hours to answer the Series 10 exam questions. In the same vein as the Series 9, candidates must get 70% right to pass.
Series 10 exam questions cover some of the same topics as Series 9. However, it adds topics such as hiring, qualifications and required continuing education for securities salespeople. It also covers recordkeeping and municipal securities regulation.
FINRA charges $125 for applicants to take the Series 10 exam.
Studying for the Series 9/10 Exam
Candidates for a Series 9/10 license don’t have to take any required courses before sitting for the exams. However, FINRA provides a content outline that covers the material required to pass the tests.
Like the test, the outline also is split into two parts. The material covers the eight chief job functions of a general securities sales supervisor. They include:
Part 1: Series 10
Supervise Associated Persons and Personnel Management Activities
Oversee the Opening and Maintenance of Customer Accounts
Supervise Sales Practices and General Trading Activities
Manage Communications with the Public
Part 2: Series 9
Supervise the Opening and Maintenance of Customer Options Accounts
Oversee Sales Practices and General Options Trading Activities
Supervise Options Communications
Manage Associated Persons and Personnel Management Activities
Each section contains the information needed to correctly a certain number of exam items. For example, there are five exam questions on supervising option communications.
Five is the fewest number of exam items for any single subject. The section with the most questions, 49 questions, focuses on supervising opening and maintenance of customer accounts.
Privileges and Comparable Licenses
Anybody working as a brokerage branch manager or other securities sales supervisor for a FINRA member firm must past the Series 9/10. Consequently, the exam serves the public interest by ensuring that General Securities Sales Supervisors are competent in a broad range of areas.
However, for other securities supervision work, FINRA requires other licenses.
While Series 9/10 licenses allow individuals to oversee sales activities at broker-dealers, they can’t supervise underwriting, trading and some other activities. As a result, they need to pass the Series 24 exam.
The Series 24 license lets someone work as a general securities principal and oversee many more activities than a Series 9/10 license holder. It doesn’t, however, cover municipal securities or options.
Series 4 and Series 53
Series 4, the Registered Options Principal license, and Series 53, the Municipal Securities Principal license, are two other supervisor licenses. Together, they empower licensees to oversee a FINRA firm’s overall securities activities including trading, advertising and compliance
Securities professionals who want to work as brokerage branch managers have to take the Series 9 and Series 10 exams. Passing shows they have the knowledge to oversee securities sales personnel and activities. In other words, it lets clients know that their securities supervisor knows what they’re doing. In conclusion, if an investor wants to know their money is in good hands, the Series 9/10 can help keep a brokerage branch manager in line.
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