Series 63 vs 65

Written by: Nik Ventouris

Last updated:

Navigating the financial licensing landscape?

Choosing to pursue a Series 63 vs 65 license can be a game-changer for your career. Whether you aim to become a registered investment advisor or work in securities, knowing the differences between these two credentials is crucial.

This article covers the specifics, benefits, and hurdles of obtaining each license. By simplifying complex information, this guide will help you make an informed choice with ease.

What’s the Difference?

Before diving into the specifics of each license, you first need to know that the Series 63 and Series 65 licenses aren’t interchangeable. Designed for different roles within the financial industry, they each have distinct areas of focus.

What is the Series 63 License

The Series 63 license is an important credential for those aiming to work as broker-dealer representatives who specialize in the sale of securities, such as stocks and bonds.

Unlike the Series 65 license, which has an advisory role focus, the Series 63 license focuses on the legal aspects of securities transactions. Keep in mind that candidates generally take the Series 63 exam in conjunction with other exams, such as the Series 7 exam, in order to gain a more comprehensive foundation for most broker-dealer roles.

  • Purpose: The Series 63 license suits individuals eager to make a career in the fast-paced world of securities trading. It equips you with the legal know-how and procedural guidelines to facilitate securities transactions
  • Audience: Those aiming to work directly in trading and securities — particularly within broker-dealer firms — should consider taking the Series 63 exam. It’s tailored for individuals who are more transaction-oriented in their approach to finance
  • Coverage: Rather than providing a broad financial overview, the Series 63 license focuses specifically on state laws and regulations. This ensures you’re well-versed in the legal landscape of securities trading

By acquiring a Series 63 license you’ll be qualified for roles that primarily deal with selling securities to consumers.

Recommended Course

Over 81% of our readers use Kaplan’s online courses — which come with a 93% pass rate — when preparing for their Series 63 exam. For comprehensive study packages, StateRequirement recommends:

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Education Company

Alternatively, check out our Series 63 article for more information.

What is the Series 65 License

The Series 65 license qualifies you to become an investment adviser representative — a role that enables you to offer specialized financial planning services. Unlike the Series 63 license, this certification focuses on giving you the knowledge and skills necessary to advise clients on broader financial decisions.

  • Purpose: This qualification prepares you for a career in which you’ll offer personalized financial advice, covering areas like portfolio management, retirement planning, and estate planning
  • Audience: The Series 65 license supports individuals who aspire to go beyond transactional roles in securities and take up advisory positions. It’s particularly well-suited for those interested in a career that involves comprehensive financial planning
  • Coverage: The Series 65 exam covers a wide array of topics, including, but not limited to, ethics, legal guidelines, and various investment vehicles. It prepares you to guide clients in long-term financial decision-making

Earning this qualification will equip you to provide comprehensive investment advice, helping clients with financial planning and portfolio management.

Recommended Course

Over 81% of our readers use Kaplan’s online courses — which come with a 93% pass rate — when preparing for their Series 65 exam. For comprehensive study packages, StateRequirement recommends:

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Education Company

For more information, check out our in-depth article on the Series 65 license.

Certification Requirements

Below, you’ll find the certification requirements you’ll need to satisfy in order to obtain each license.

Series 63

The Series 63 license focuses specifically on state securities laws and regulations. Unlike other financial licenses (e.g., the Series 7 license), it doesn’t require you to have any educational or professional prerequisites.

Generally, candidates take the Series 63 exam either after or alongside the Series 7 exam, which does require sponsorship from a firm associated with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The Series 63 exam has 60 multiple-choice questions designed to assess your understanding of state securities laws.

You’ll need to manage your time well during this exam because you’ll have just 75 minutes to complete the test. While the Series 63 exam often complements the Series 7 exam, it stands alone in terms of its focus and requirements.

  • Cost: The Series 63 exam has a $147 fee
  • Retake Policy: If you fail this exam, FINRA rules mandate a 30-day waiting period before the first and second retakes as well as a 180-day waiting period before any subsequent attempts
  • Study Materials: Various providers offer preparation materials, and Kaplan and the Securities Training Corporation (STC) represent two popular choices. These materials usually include comprehensive guides, mock exams, and topical summaries

Remember, one key benefit of the Series 63 exam is that it doesn’t require sponsorship from a FINRA member firm in order to register. Therefore, it offers greater flexibility for candidates navigating their way into the financial industry.

Series 65

Designed for individuals who aim to become investment adviser representatives, the Series 65 license also lacks educational or sponsorship prerequisites.

The Series 65 exam is more comprehensive than the Series 63 exam, however, with 130 multiple-choice questions that delve into ethics, law, different investment types, and advisory strategies. Candidates have 180 minutes to complete this test.

  • Cost: The Series 65 exam has a $187 fee — a bit more than the Series 63 exam’s $147 fee
  • Retake Policy: The retake rules are identical to those for the Series 63 exam, requiring a 30-day waiting period for the first and second retakes and then 180 days for any subsequent retakes
  • Study Materials: The broad nature of the Series 65 exam means you’ll find a variety of study guides and resources available, focusing on in-depth investment topics

You don’t need sponsorship from a FINRA member firm in order to register for the Series 65 exam. This gives you more flexibility in terms of timing your entry into the field.

The Series 65 and Series 63 exams differ in their scopes and purposes so understanding their specific requirements can help you decide which is the right fit for your career goals.

Which Qualification is Better for You?

Whether you opt to pursue a Series 63 or Series 65 license will, ultimately, depend on the three key factors outlined below.

Securities

If facilitating securities transactions (e.g., buying and selling stocks and bonds) aligns with your career ambitions, then the Series 63 license will suit you well.

This qualification is a prerequisite for those seeking roles as broker-dealer representatives in the majority of US states. Moreover, with an exam fee of $147 and a primary focus on commission-based earnings, the Series 63 license could serve as a conduit to more specialized roles in securities or even supervisory positions.

Advisory

Alternatively, you may prefer the Series 65 license if you want to assist clients through complex financial planning and investment decision-making. This certification suits those aspiring to work as investment adviser representatives.

Although not universally required by all states, the Series 65 license, with its more comprehensive curriculum and higher exam fee of $187, offers eligibility for jobs with a stable salary and the potential for income derived from client fees.

Versatility

Keep in mind that you also have the option to pursue both the Series 63 and Series 65 qualifications. Dual certification not only can expand the scope of your career opportunities, but also provide increased flexibility in the selection of financial roles. This approach enables finance professionals to engage in both the transactional and advisory aspects of the financial industry.

Remember to consider each of these critical factors before you decide to pursue one — or both — of these credentials. Take into account the specific state requirements, the overall flexibility and exam costs, the required study time, your potential earnings as a licensee, and your desired career path. Your decision will then lay the groundwork for your professional journey within the finance industry.

If you’re interested in learning more about both qualifications, check out Kaplan Financial’s Wealth Management page.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Education Company

Series 63 vs 65 FAQ

What is a Series 63 license and a Series 65 license?

The Series 63 license is for individuals who aim to work in broker-dealer roles, focusing on selling securities like stocks and bonds. The Series 65 license, on the other hand, is for those aiming to provide investment advice and work as investment adviser representatives.

What does a Series 65 license allow you to do?

With a Series 65 license, you can legally offer investment advice. This certification allows you to work as an investment adviser representative, advising clients on portfolio management, financial planning, and strategies to achieve their other financial goals.

Do I need a Series 65 license if I have a Series 63 license?

Having a Series 63 license alone will enable you to work in a role focused on selling securities. If your career goals include providing investment advice and financial planning, however, you’ll need a Series 65 license. Some professionals opt to earn both to expand the range of services they can offer. Interested in learning more? Check out our Series 63 vs 65 article.

How hard is it to pass the Series 65 exam?

Passing the Series 65 exam requires thorough preparation. The test includes 130 multiple-choice questions, covering laws, ethics, and various investment options. You’ll have 180 minutes to complete this exam. A well-structured study plan can help you pass on your first attempt.

How long does it take to study for the Series 63 exam?

The study time needed for the Series 63 exam can vary by individual, but generally ranges from three to six weeks. It’s less extensive than the Series 65 exam, and it focuses mainly on state laws and regulations related to securities. For more information, check out our Series 63 article.

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