As a financial professional, you need to obtain various licenses to ensure you’re qualified and authorized to perform specific duties. Among these licenses is the Series 99 License, also known as the Operations Professional Qualification Examination.
If you’re looking to work in the operations and back-office functions of the securities industry, then this license is for you. This article aims to introduce the Series 99 License, its purpose, and the steps you’ll need to take in order to apply for and maintain your license.
What is the Series 99 License?
The Series 99 License – also referred to as the Operations Professional Qualification Examination – is a regulatory certification administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). FINRA is an applicable self-regulatory organization (SRO) overseeing securities firms to ensure compliance with industry regulations and standards.
The exam is designed to evaluate the competence of individuals who supervise and manage the back-office operations and sales activities of mutual funds within financial institutions.
By getting this license, you demonstrate your knowledge of industry rules, ethical considerations, and best practices, ensuring the highest level of professional conduct standards and compliance.
All in all, getting a Series 99 license can be a good idea if:
- You’re currently working in the securities industry and want to advance your career to a supervisory or managerial role. A Series 99 license allows you to oversee operations and compliance within a broker-dealer
- You’re interested in handling regulatory compliance within a brokerage firm. A Series 99 license enables you to manage and ensure that the firm adheres to industry regulations, promoting ethical and legal practices
- You aim to deepen your understanding of the securities industry and gain expertise in various aspects of broker-dealer operations, including trading, account transfers, and recordkeeping
- You’re considering starting your own brokerage firm. A Series 99 license can provide you with the knowledge and qualifications to establish and manage your own brokerage business
Before pursuing a Series 99 license, we recommend that you research and assess your specific career goals to determine if this license aligns with your aspirations and responsibilities.
Over 81% of our readers use Kaplan’s online courses — which come with a 93% pass rate — when preparing for their Series 99 exam. For comprehensive study packages, StateRequirement recommends:
How to Get Your Series 99 License
Before starting the Series 99 examination, you will need to meet the following criteria:
- Be associated with and sponsored by a FINRA-member firm or a self-regulatory organization (SRO) that is eligible to register individuals for the Series 99 exam
- Be registered or seek registration with the firm in a capacity that involves the management of the firm’s back-office functions, including operations, filing financial regulatory reports, and recordkeeping
- Pass the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam
- Have your sponsoring firm file a Form U4 (Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration or Transfer) for you with FINRA to register you for the Series 99 exam
- Pay the required exam fee, which may vary and should be confirmed with FINRA or your sponsoring firm
You can verify with FINRA or your sponsoring firm to know the requirements of the registration process, as they may change or have additional criteria that need to be met.
Note: For more information on passing your SIE exam and getting started with Securities, we recommend having a look at our Securities Licensing page.
Exam Preparation & Procedure
Preparing for the Series 99 exam (or Operations Professional exam) requires a structured approach to ensure success. The exam is a requirement for Operations Professional registration, confirming competence in financial industry operational responsibilities.
Follow these steps to effectively prepare for and navigate through the exam:
- Select study materials: Obtain reputable study materials, such as official FINRA content, study guides, and practice exams. These resources will help you understand the exam’s content and format
- Create a study plan: Develop a study schedule that fits your learning style and commitments. Allocate sufficient time for each topic, ensuring comprehensive coverage of the exam syllabus
- Understand exam content: Familiarize yourself with the topics covered in the Series 99 exam, focusing on mutual fund operations, regulations, and compliance standards
- Practice regularly: Consistently take practice exams to assess your knowledge and identify weak areas. Periodically review the material you have studied to reinforce your understanding and retention of critical concepts
- Stay updated: Keep abreast of any changes to exam content or regulations before your exam date
- Use online study tools: You can try using an online platform to prepare for your exam. These platforms provide helpful features like question and answer sessions, video lessons, and many study materials. They can really help you understand the Series 99 topics better
It’s a good idea to use an online service for your Series 99 exam preparation. These services often have question and answer sessions, video lessons from experienced professionals, and lots of study materials and resources. They can make your preparation process easier and more effective.
Recommended: Interested in getting started? We recommend using Kaplan’s online study packages, which come with a 93% pass rate.
Maintaining Your License
To thrive in this role and maintain your Series 99 license, you must stay proactive and continuously enhance your knowledge and skills.
We list down a some valuable suggestions to help you stay ahead of the curve:
- Complete Continuous Education Courses: Engage in continuous education by pursuing online courses and webinars that offer insights into compliance, operations, and regulatory changes
- Networking and Collaborative Learning: Participate in discussions and seek mentorship programs that can provide you with diverse perspectives and help you adapt to different scenarios while navigating challenges that may arise in your role
- Embrace Technology Integration: Stay updated on technological advancements such as automated compliance tools and blockchain applications. Adapting to innovative solutions enhances efficiency in recordkeeping and regulatory compliance
Maintaining your Series 99 license requires ongoing dedication and a commitment to excellence. Your commitment to staying ahead will not only help you retain your Series 99 license but also boost your career in this dynamic financial sector.
Series 99 FAQ
What is the FINRA Series 99 top off exam?
The Series 99 is also called the “FINRA Series 99 top-off exam”. It’s a regulatory qualification test administered by FINRA designed for those who already hold a qualifying securities license but wish to have an Series 99 Operations Professional Qualification. Learn more about the Series 99 License to get started.
How hard is the Series 99?
The difficulty level of the Series 99 exam can vary from person to person. It is considered challenging, as it requires a solid understanding of financial control, fund and account transfers where it involves secure movement of assets for seamless client transitions. Proper preparation, study, and practice exams can increase your chances of success.
Who is required to take the Series 99 exam?
Operations professionals responsible for processing fund transactions and sales professionals engaged in the receipt and delivery of funds are required to take the Series 99 exam. It is a regulatory qualification exam administered by FINRA. Individuals who pass the Series 99 exam demonstrate expertise in fund distributions and approving business security requirements, crucial for maintaining financial compliance.
What happens if I fail the Series 99 exam?
If you fail the Series 99 exam, you can retake it after 30 days. You are allowed to take the exam three times within a 180-day period. After three failed attempts, you must wait 180 days from the most recent attempt before retaking it again. Gain further insight into the Securities Licensing exams.
Does obtaining a Series 99 license lead to higher earning potential in the financial industry?
Obtaining a Series 99 license can potentially lead to higher earning potential. The license demonstrates a professional’s expertise in fund operations, distributions, and sales, making you more valuable to employers and may open doors to better job opportunities with competitive salaries. Check out our article on the Series 99 Salary to know more.