New Agents Share Their Perspective On Preparing For The Securities Exams
As the life insurance product landscape has evolved, it has almost become a requirement for new agents to earn a securities license upon entering the business.
“When youre brand new in the business, your expectations are high, and youre really busy,” says Roger Seigler, agency manager of Jefferson-Pilots Piedmont Agency in Greensboro, N.C. “Meanwhile, youre trying to study for your securities licenses, so its quite a challenge.”
Seigler requires his new agents to have their life and health license prior to being contracted as a full-time agent. Then, as these new agents start making calls, setting appointments and meeting with prospects, they are required to study for and pass their Series 6 and 63 securities exams. All this is required within the first two to three months of joining his organization.
The Series 6 limited securities license is required for representatives to market variable annuities, variable life insurance and mutual fund products. The Series 63 is an additional license required by most states.
Since Seiglers agency doesnt do a lot of individual securities, he doesnt encourage his new agents to pursue the Series 7 general securities license. His objective is to get his agents licensed to sell variable insurance products as soon as possible.
“Most of these guys are actually working full-time in the insurance and financial services business prior to getting their securities license,” adds Seigler.
But at Prudential Financial Inc., in Newark, N.J., all new agents are required to take the Series 7 exam.
Within their first six weeks on the job, these agents study and sit for the Series 7, 66, and the life and health licensing exam. The Series 7 general securities license allows agents to market variable-based insurance products and mutual funds, in addition to stocks, bonds, options and other investment vehicles. The Series 66 license combines the Series 63 state license requirement with the Series 65, which is required in most states for individuals practicing as an investment advisor.
“Its extremely intensive,” says Terri Kinsella, vice president recruiting and development for Prudential.
According to Kinsella, Prudential has a very structured format for getting these new recruits licensed. Studying and passing the exams are the agents primary tasks during this initial “pre-production period,” she adds. Chapters are broken out for study, along with practice exams and online study.
Agents who have recently passed the Series 6 or Series 7 agree that working with a variety of study media helps. “Just reading and studying out of a book can be a little tiring,” says Bruce Giguere, an agent from Prudentials South Windsor, Conn., office.
Using media formats, such as video and audio recordings helped Giguere, and others, break up their study program
For Monti Allison, a representative with Jefferson-Pilots Piedmont Agency, the online exams helped give him a feel for what to expect on his actual Series 6 exam. “The exam is in a computer-oriented format, so youve got to get familiar with how the questions are posed and how to use the multiple choice questions to narrow down your answers,” he says.
But the biggest challenge agents face when studying for any exam is finding the time to do it. At the Piedmont Agency, agents are busy trying to get their business started during the day and spend time studying at night. “That was the hardest part, especially working the way we do,” says Jason Vinson, a newly licensed representative with the agency.
“Youve got to manage your family life, your business life and other things,” adds Allison. “Youve got to commit the time to spend on it every night,” he says.
“Managing the time is one of the key aspects to this career and to the study process as well,” adds Giguere.
While Allison and Vinson only used self-study materials to prepare for the Series 6, Giguere was enrolled in a Series 7 “Blitz” class that all new Prudential agents are required to go through.
The “Blitz” class is an intensive five-day review program that preps each candidate for the exam, says Kinsella.
After sitting through a long day of classroom instruction, Giguere would come home to his wife and three children, have dinner, put the kids to bed, and then go on to continue studying, he recalls.
“Id get very tired and then Id be faced with the decision of study more or sleep,” he says.
Giguere felt that being well rested for the next days class was more important than studying all night, so he followed a rule he had set for himself. “I forced myself to get at least seven hours of sleep,” he says.
Typically candidates will schedule their exams sometime the week following the review class, notes Kinsella.
Giguere was scheduled to take the exam a week and a half after the review class, but just before the review session began, he was given an opportunity to move his exam appointment ahead to the day after the class ended.
“I was planning on it being a little later,” he said. “But, I felt that having it fresh in my mind would benefit me.”
While Giguere had heard about how difficult the Series 7 exam was, he was confident he knew the material and was ready to take the test. What he wasnt prepared for was the actual length of time it takes to go through the entire exam. Giguere used five of the given six hours.
“Between the emotion and the concentration its tiring; its a test of endurance–that was the difficult part for me,” he says.
Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, March 17, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved. Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.