Series 65 vs 66

Written by: Nik Ventouris

Last updated:

If you’re considering a career as an investment adviser representative, or simply looking to develop your credentials in the finance industry, you’ll likely be faced with the choice between the Series 65 vs 66 licenses.

While these licenses can carve out a promising trajectory in the industry, it can sometimes be confusing to understand which one better aligns with your professional objectives.

In this analysis, we aim to simplify this choice for you by breaking down the essential characteristics of each license and guiding you toward steering your career in the direction that resonates most with your aspirations and skills.

What’s the Difference?

Many financial professionals struggle to choose between the Series 65 and Series 66 licenses. Below, we delve into the unique characteristics of each one in order to help you select the right pathway in the financial sector.

What is the Series 65

The Series 65 license, or Uniform Investment Law Examination, is a qualification administered by the North American Securities Administrators (NASAA) that enables professionals to provide investment advice and comprehensive financial planning services to their clients.

It’s primarily tailored for advisors charging fees for their investment guidance since it does not grant the ability to earn commissions through trades. As such, it’s the ideal choice for those who want to focus exclusively on providing investment advice and financial planning services to clients, without delving into the securities trading sector.

The Series 65 license is a gateway to a range of rewarding career opportunities in the financial sector. Principally, license holders are equipped to serve as advisor representatives — either at a firm specializing in offering investment advice or as an independent consultant.

If you find this career path interesting, the Series 65 license could be the right choice for you. However, in order to put yourself in the best position of obtaining this license, preparation is key. Aligning yourself with the right study materials can not only bolster your confidence but also provide you with the essential knowledge and insights to excel in the examination.

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

Alternatively, you can have a look at our in-depth article on the Series 65 License.

What is the Series 66

The Series 66 license serves as a dual qualification for individuals aspiring to operate both as securities agents and investment advisor representatives. In particular, it’s designed for those who are looking to have a more extensive reach in the financial sector by offering a broader array of services combining elements of the Series 63 and Series 65 licenses.

As a result, the Series 66 license is often attractive to individuals aspiring to offer their clients a one-stop-shop service — which can be an advantage in terms of attracting clients seeking these financial services.

Series 66 license holders are well-positioned to explore a variety of rewarding career avenues in the financial sector. They often work as financial advisors or private bankers — where they can offer a dual service of investment advising and securities trading.

However, they are also sought after for positions like wealth managers and roles within brokerage firms, where they can work closely with clients to develop diversified investment portfolios and oversee securities transactions at the same time.

If your ambition is to cultivate a career that not only focuses on investment advisory but also includes securities trading, opting for the Series 66 license could be the right choice for you. It offers a seamless route to becoming a well-rounded investment professional with the ability to cater to a wider range of client needs, enhancing both service delivery and potential earnings.

Recommended Course

Over 81% of our readers use Kaplan’s online courses — which come with a 93% pass rate — when preparing for their Series 66 exam. For comprehensive study packages, StateRequirement recommends:

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Education Company

For more information, check out our article on the Series 66 License.

Certification Requirements

Both of these licenses will require an investment of time, effort, and money. Understanding these requirements can help you prepare more effectively.

Series 65

The main requirement for this license is to pass the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination, commonly referred to as the Series 65 exam. This test, crafted by NASAA, is designed to assess your knowledge and competence in offering sound investment advice to clients.

Below, we’ve summarized some of the most important details about this comprehensive exam:

  • Exam Format: The examination consists of 130 scored questions along with 10 pretest questions that you’ll have 180 minutes to complete. You’ll need to obtain a passing score of 92 in order to qualify.
  • Content: You’ll be tested on topics deemed necessary for professionals who aim to provide investment advice. A full breakdown of the areas covered can be found in NASAA’s study guidelines.
  • Cost: The fee to sit this examination is $187.
  • Exam Window: After registering to take the exam, you’ll have a window of 120 days to schedule and sit it.

Note: Unlike many licenses, there are no formal prerequisites you’ll need to satisfy in order to be eligible to take the Series 65 exam.

Series 66

In order to obtain the Series 66 license, you’ll need to pass the Uniform Combined State Law Examination. Below, we’ve broken down the most essential certification requirements you need to know about this exam:

  • Prerequisites: In order to sit the Series 66 exam, you must already hold a Series 7 license, which is also known as the General Securities Representative Exam.
  • Exam Format: This exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions that you’ll have 150 minutes to complete. To pass, you[‘ll need to correctly answer a minimum of 73 of these questions.
  • Content: You’ll be tested on vital industry topics, such as investment methods, vehicles, and strategies as well as legal securities regulations and ethical regulations. See NASAA’s study guidelines for a complete overview of these topics.
  • Cost: The fee to sit the examination is $177. 
  • Sponsorship: All candidates must obtain sponsorship from a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm or a self-regulatory organization (SRO) in order to sit this exam.

It’s important to understand that the Series 66 license is a more specialized and focused qualification. While not necessarily more difficult, it is intended to serve as a complementary license to the Series 7 by extending your capabilities to include investment advisory services.

Which Qualification Is Better For You?

When deciding which license is better for your unique situation, your decision will hinge largely on the specifics of your desired career path. Below, we delve into the key differences and distinctive features of each license to help you make an informed decision:

  • Series 65: In essence, the Series 65 license is better suited to individuals focusing on a career exclusively in investment advising, offering detailed knowledge in this domain. This is especially relevant if you intend to work as an Investment Adviser Representative without the need for other prerequisites.
  • Series 66: Conversely, the Series 66 license, coupled with the Series 7, would be the ideal choice for individuals looking for a comprehensive career pathway because it allows them to provide a one-stop-shop service to clients that encompasses both investment advice and securities transactions. 

Many financial professionals begin with one license and later acquire additional certifications as they evolve in their careers. Evaluate your alternatives cautiously and make the decision that best matches your long-term plans as well as your current capabilities.

If you are interested in having a look at both qualifications, we recommend checking out Kaplan Financial’s Wealth Management page.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Financial

Series 65 vs 66 FAQ

What is the difference between Series 65 and 66?

The Series 65 is a standalone exam for those aspiring to be Investment Adviser Representatives whilst the Series 66 is designed for those who hold or plan to obtain a Series 7 license, enabling dual registration as a securities agent and investment adviser.

Is the Series 65 or 66 exam harder?

Determining the difficulty between Series 65 vs 66 is difficult, however, Series 65 is considered broader in scope, covering investment advice, economic factors, and financial planning. Meanwhile, the Series 66 is often viewed as less demanding, especially if you’ve already mastered the Series 7 exam which is a prerequisite.

Do I need to take the Series 66 if I have a Series 65?

No, you don’t need to take the Series 66 if you have a Series 65, unless you also intend to acquire the Series 7 license for broader trading in the securities industry. The Series 66 already combines elements of both the Series 63 and 65 licenses.

What does a Series 65 enable you to do?

Securing a Series 65 license paves the way for a fulfilling career as an Investment Adviser Representative, where you can offer well-rounded financial planning services and insightful investment advice to clients. It’s a crucial certification, especially for individuals who are looking to manage investment portfolios or provide expert investment advice, generally working on a fee-based compensation structure.

What percentage of people pass the Series 65 first try?

A considerable number of individuals, approximately 65-70%, successfully pass the Series 65 exam on their initial attempt. Passing this actual exam predominantly hinges on effective preparation and a solid grasp of diverse subject areas, including the financial industry’s laws, unethical business practices, investment vehicle characteristics, and the regulations under the Uniform Securities Act.

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