Series 65 Exam

Written by: Nik Ventouris

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Series 65 Exam

If you are a finance professional aiming to validate your expertise, you may be considering taking the Series 65 exam. 

In this guide, we’ve broken down what the Series 65 license is, who it’s tailored to, and what the Series 65 exam’s structure includes. We’ve also offered exam-specific study guides to ensure that you pass on your first attempt. 

Let’s get started. 

What is Series 65

The Series 65 exam, formally known as the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination, is a requirement for individuals looking to obtain a Series 65 license and become an investment advisor representative.

It empowers investment advisor representatives to be able to provide financial guidance related to stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other such investment vehicles.

Why is it important?

  • Legitimacy: Passing this exam provides credibility and showcases one’s commitment to ethical and informed financial advising.
  • Career Opportunities: Top-tier investment banks, wealth management firms, and hedge funds often mandate this license for roles such as portfolio managers and financial analysts, making it a valuable asset for upward mobility in the industry.
  • Regulatory Requirements: Depending on the scope of your work, you may be legally required to obtain the Series 65 license in order to operate legitimately

Interested in finding out more about the Series 65 designation? We recommend looking at our in-depth Series 65 article for more information.

Exam Structure

Understanding the structure of the Series 65 exam is crucial when it comes to preparing effectively.

We’ve provided a summarized breakdown below:

  • Number of Questions: 130 multiple-choice questions
  • Duration: Three hours
  • Passing Score: At least 92 correct answers (72%) but can be even higher
  • Format: The exam is divided into various sections with each focusing on different aspects of investment advising

Content Outline

  • Economic Factors and Business Information (around 15% of the exam)
  1. Basic Economic Concepts
  2. Financial Reporting
  3. Analytical Methods
  4. Types of Risk
  • Investment Vehicle Characteristics (around 25% of the exam)
  1. Types and Characteristics of Cash and Cash Equivalents
  2. Types of Fixed Income Securities
  3. Characteristics and Valuation Factors of Fixed Income Securities
  4. Types of Equity Securities
  5. Characteristics of Equity Securities
  6. Methods Used to Determine the Value of Equity Securities
  7. Equity Public Offering
  8. Types of Pooled Investments
  9. Characteristics of Pooled Investments
  10. Types of Derivative Securities
  11. Characteristics of Derivative Securities
  12. Alternative Investments
  13. Insured-Based Products
  14. Other Assets
  • Client Investment Recommendations and Strategies
  1. Type of Client
  2. Client Profile
  3. Capital Market Theory
  4. Portfolio Management Strategies, Styles, and Techniques
  5. Tax Considerations
  6. Retirement Plans
  7. ERISA Issues
  8. Special Types of Accounts
  9. Ownership and Estate Planning Techniques
  10. Trading Securities
  11. Portfolio Performance Measures
  • Laws, Regulations, and Guidelines Including Prohibition on Unethical Business Practices
  1. Regulation of Investment Advisers, Including State-Registered and Federal-Covered Advisers
  2. Regulation of Investment Adviser Representatives
  3. Regulation of Broker-Dealers
  4. Regulation of Agents of Broker-Dealer
  5. Regulation of Securities and Issuers
  6. Remedies and Administrative Provisions
  7. Communication With Clients and Prospects
  8. Ethical Practices and Fiduciary Obligations

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

Series 65 Exam Prep

Whether you pass your exam or not will inevitably come down to how well you prepare. Even though the ideal study experience will be different from reader to reader, there are a few general guidelines you should keep in mind when preparing for your exam.

Firstly, the right study materials are key. They will not only help you grasp the content more deeply but will also keep you informed about the latest financial services industry trends that relate to your exam.

Here’s an example of the types of resources you should use when preparing:

  • Regulatory Documents: These can help you familiarize yourself with the latest regulations and updates that you will need to know for your exam
  • Content Outlines: You can use the detailed content outlines provided by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to ensure you don’t miss a topic during your preparation
  • Professional Online Courses: You will also likely want to purchase a third party course, such as one provided by The Securities Institute of America or Kaplan — as this can go a long way in helping you pass on your first attempt

Think of it this way: just as selecting the right tools for a project ensures success, choosing the best study materials will set the foundation for acing the exam.

Mock Exams and Sample Questions

Incorporating mock exams into your study plan is essential.

This is because mock exams allow you to “have a feel” for the real exam, get familiarized with the types of questions you will need to know, and check that you are capable of finishing the exam in the required timeframe.

Regularly taking mock exams can also go a long way in improving your confidence during the exam, which can prevent you from making unnecessary mistakes.

Exam Day Tips

Finally, we’ve provided a few tips that you should keep in mind during your exam in order to optimize your performance, manage your time efficiently, and navigate complex questions with confidence:

  • Strategize for Ambiguous Questions: If you encounter a question that stumps you, don’t dwell on it. Bookmark or flag it and move on to questions you can answer more readily. Return to those flagged questions once you’ve gone through the rest of the exam
  • Keep Time Management in Focus: Time can slip away quickly during an exam. Practice pacing yourself so that you can attempt every question without feeling rushed. Consider wearing a simple wristwatch to keep track of the time if permitted
  • Review Key Concepts and Formulas: In the days leading up to the exam, review key concepts, rules, and formulas that are essential for the Series 65. Consider creating flashcards or a summary sheet for quick reference
  • Arrive Early and Relaxed: On exam day, plan to arrive early to allow for any unexpected delays. Bring the necessary identification and materials and take a few moments to breathe and center yourself before starting

Remember that exam taking can be a skill in itself, so it’s important that you do the best you can to get as comfortable as possible in advance.

Series 65 Exam FAQ

Is the Series 65 exam difficult?

The Series 65 exam can be challenging, especially for those without a strong background in investment advising. This is because it tests a wide range of topics, including economics, regulations, and ethics. Having said that, how hard you find the exam will ultimately depend on your academic and professional background, as well as how accustomed you are to taking exams.

What is the Series 65 exam?

The Series 65 Exam, formally titled the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination, is a crucial step if you aspire to become an investment adviser representative. It assesses a candidate’s knowledge of investment principles, securities industry essentials, and ethical obligations, and is meant to ensure competency when it comes to being able to provide financial advice and sell securities.

What does a Series 65 allow you to do?

Series 65 license allows you to work as an registered investment advisor. In this role, you will be able to provide clients with personalized investment advice, manage and oversee client portfolios, and ensure all investment strategies are carried out in a regulatory-compliant manner.

How long is a Series 65 license good for?

The Series 65 license has no expiration date. Having said that, you should keep in mind that if you decide to stop working as a certified financial planner for more than two years, your new employer may require you to pay an exam fee and retake the test.

What is the Series 65 pass rate?

The Series 65 exam tends to have a pass rate fluctuating around 65 to 70%, based on historical data. Individual success is often attributed to how you go about revising, so make sure you invest in the right study materials and take advantage of many practice exams.

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