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Regulation and Compliance > Federal Regulation > FINRA

How Much Is Too Much?

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As I’m sure is true for many of you, one of my favorite pastimes is reading up on the latest FINRA changes. Recently, I was reading an article about FINRA’s new rule 1230(b)(6). As you might imagine, fascinating stuff!

In order to make this a safer planet, FINRA is regulating operations personnel at broker-dealers across the country. Some operations people are going to be required to register with FINRA and pass a qualification exam. The only problem is no one really knows who is supposed to take the exam or which exam they are supposed to take.

How hard could it be to figure this out? I hopped on FINRA’s website, confident things would be cleared up immediately. After a few clicks, there was all the information I could possibly want. FINRA, I learned, administers a number of different exams pertaining to the business of financial transactions.

For example, if you’re new to this business, the kind of work you decide to do determines which FINRA exams you need to make cheat sheets for. I should add, FINRA numbers all of their exams and calls them “Series #.” They do this so they can continue creating exams for us to take forever.

If you’re looking at a principal registration, let me direct you to a few exams you may be subjected to: Series 4, 9, 10, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 39, 51 and 53. Those are all pretty self-explanatory.

What if you want to be a financial advisor? Then you’re going to have to deal with the Series 6, 7 or the underappreciated Series 17. Naturally, you’ll want to make sure you’re legal in Canada so you have to take the Canadian modules as well, commonly known as Series 37 and 38.

If you have your sights set on other financial industry employment consider these: Series 11, 22, 42, 52, 55, 62, 72, 79, 82 or the more titillating, Series 86 and 87.

For some of you, I know, the above exams just don’t feel right. If after all of these exams you’re still thirsting for more, I’ve got just that. Dig into the Series 3, 30, 31, 32, 56, 63, 65, 66 or the always dangerous Series 14. Surely, these exams cover every possible angle humans can use to swindle money out of other humans.

By my account, there are at least 36 different multiple-choice exams out there lurking around. If you work in operations, look over your shoulder, one or more are coming your way. Whether you end up taking an existing test or a brand new one, rest assured, one more regulation should fix everything.

As I was doing my exhaustive research for this article, I couldn’t help but think about the exams I’ve taken, lost and retaken over the years. Was the world really a better place when I knew how to read a put/call options chart? I’m not sure how much of that exam info stuck in my head once it was over. I mean, c’mon do I really need to know the nuances of a short straddle to be a successful advisor (or an occasionally amusing writer)?

Are more exams the answer to a safer financial community?  I doubt it. One thing I do know is in this climate of regulation and supervision, one area alone is outgrowing all others.

Willie Nelson had it right when he sang, “Momma, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.” He should have added, “Momma, tell you babies to grow up and work for FINRA.”  Granted, it’s not as catchy but, hey, who said job security and a pension had to be catchy?


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