Interview: How Alec Orudjev Passed Four Securities Licensing Exams

What does it take to pass securities licensing exams like the SIE, Series 24, Series 63, and Series 79? Read about one student’s approach to success. Continue reading

No one said career changes are easy, and when they involve taking several difficult securities licensing exams, the challenge is real. Having an effective study system is an important part of passing securities licensing exams, and hearing about others’ strategies can help you develop a system that works for you. Solomon Exam Prep recently interviewed Alec Orudjev, General Counsel at FT Global Capital, about passing the SIE, Series 24, Series 63, and Series 79 exams (in three months!). Alec shares valuable insights into his study process and how he utilizes Solomon materials to achieve success.

“… the Solomon study materials are the best and the most comprehensive (notes, resources, simulated exam questions, etc.) in their class, in my view.

Photo of Alec Orudjev

Alec Orudjev

Solomon Exam Prep: What motivated you to pursue multiple securities licenses?

Alec Orudjev: After about two decades of being an attorney in private practice, I decided to change my career path and accepted an in-house legal counsel position earlier in the year. As a condition of such change, I needed to secure certain FINRA licenses.

Solomon Exam Prep: Why did you take your exams in the order that you did? Was this order helpful, or would you change anything if you had to do it again? 

Alec Orudjev: I have passed the SIE, Series 79, 63 and 24 tests, and am currently studying for the Series 7 exam. While some of this sequence is dictated by FINRA rules, etc., a great deal of it is a matter of personal planning. Given the overlapping nature of the substance of these tests, I thought it would be helpful to plan the sequence to benefit from common points/concepts across different tested areas. Basically, I focused on the end objective and reviewed the substance of each test to line them up so as to utilize my time most efficiently and effectively.

Solomon Exam Prep: Out of the exams you passed, which one required the most study time and why? 

Alec Orudjev: Looking back, I think the Series 24 exam commanded most of my study time and attention. I think the volume of what was to be covered and the overall fatigue of having to study and pass three FINRA exams in a 2 ½ month period both made this test preparation more difficult than it would or should have been. It is a very saturated, broad themed exam that requires a lot of focus and attention.

Solomon Exam Prep: How did you approach studying for your exams?  

Alec Orudjev: My approach included: (i) outlining, and (ii) attending Solomon live classes and utilizing exam simulators. With respect to the first element, I approached all my exam preparations the way I did my law school exams – by first preparing thorough outlines of the reading materials. I would start by reading the Solomon preparation materials, actively engaging them and highlighting key points, concepts and examples. Next, I would transfer (literally and figuratively) those notes into an outline of my own, condensing the reading materials down to their bare essence. For example, five chapters of the Series 24 prep book (about 500 pages) were condensed to a 50-page outline (10:1 ratio or so) which, then, I used in reviewing in preparation for the test. Needless to say, one’s outline is as good as one’s effort and the quality of the underlying study materials. On the latter point – the Solomon study materials are the best and the most comprehensive (notes, resources, simulated exam questions, etc.) in their class, in my view. While this outlining approach seems like a lot of work, it is. However, it has worked for me for years and I do strongly recommend this approach to all.

With respect to the second element of my approach, I made every effort to attend live classes and utilize exam simulator questions. I will then turn to Solomon’s online exam question bank and answer those questions, noting what I got right and, more importantly, what and why I got wrong. Also, a significant part of my preparations involved participation in live classes offered by Solomon (I enrolled in the SIE and 63 sessions). You tend to get lot more out of these sessions if you review the materials ahead of time. Overall, they are terrific – the instructor is sharp and very knowledgeable, with a healthy sense of humor to get you through some rather dense and tedious parts of the material. I would highly recommend taking live sessions as they force you to focus on the totality of the study materials in five days, 3-4 hours a day – a daunting, but useful exercise.

Studying for any difficult test is no pleasant experience … take breaks, change the nature of your mental engagement (read something else altogether, watch, take a walk, etc.) to refresh and resume your studying effort.”

Solomon Exam Prep: How did you take the exams – at a testing center or remotely? How was your experience, and do you have any tips to share? 

Alec Orudjev: I took all exams (4 + 1 more to go) at the ProMetric testing center in Bethesda, MD. Given the stress of test-taking, in general, I did not want to add the stress of doing it remotely, etc. The conditions at the center were superb, the staff – very friendly and helpful. I offer no new advice on how to handle this experience other than what is commonly suggested for test takers, e.g., arrive early, read test center instructions carefully and follow them to the letter, give yourself enough time to travel, relax and focus before the test, pace yourself during the test, etc. Keep in mind, however, that FINRA tests are uniquely stringent in the way they are administered, etc. So, to reiterate – read the test taking instructions closely.  

Solomon Exam Prep: Any words of wisdom to help motivate others who are preparing for exams? 

Alec Orudjev: Focus on the reasons why you have undertaken this effort. Studying for any difficult test is no pleasant experience, and very few things can make that less so. However, take breaks, change the nature of your mental engagement (read something else altogether, watch, take a walk, etc.) to refresh and resume your studying effort. There will be many distractions and excuses – acknowledge and indulge to some extent, but do not lose your focus. Most importantly, be honest with yourself about how disciplined you are studying and preparing for your exams.

Solomon Exam Prep: How has passing the SIE, Series 24, Series 63, and Series 79 exams affected your work and your career?

Alec Orudjev: Certainly. Apart from the obvious, studying helped me to be a better legal professional and advisor. Understanding and internalizing a large, complex body of laws, rules and regulations governing the conduct of member firms is a daunting task indeed. These exams set a useful baseline for developing this understanding and building upon it. Take solace in this idea and keep at it.

Visit the Solomon Exam Prep website to explore study materials for 21 different securities licensing exams, including the SIE, Series 7, Series 24Series 63, and Series 79.

What Are QIBs and Accredited Investors? What’s the Difference?

If you’re studying for securities licensing exams, such as the SIE or the Series 7, then you should understand the terms “accredited investor” and “QIB.” Continue reading

If you’ve been studying for the Series 7, 6, 14, 22, 24, 65, 79, or 82, or the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE), then you’ve had to learn about Regulation D private placements and Rule 144A sales. Regulation D private placements are securities offerings that are exempt from the normal SEC registration process and in many cases are sold only to “accredited investors” or limit the involvement of investors who are not accredited. Rule 144A sales are sales of unregistered securities to large institutional investors known as “qualified institutional buyers” or QIBs for short. 
 
You may have wondered about the difference between accredited investors and QIBs. On the surface, these may seem similar. Each refers to a category of investor with resources and/or knowledge above and beyond the average retail investor. So why not just have one standard for buyers under both Rule 144A and Regulation D? After all, the purpose of both Regulation D and Rule 144A is the same: to allow wealthier and more sophisticated investors easier access to investments that may be too risky for the average investor.  
 
To begin to answer this question, we have to start with the fact that wealth and sophistication fall on a spectrum. Investors aren’t neatly divided between small retail investors and huge financial institutions that move millions around without blinking an eye. 

Accredited Investors

You could think of accredited investors as a middle ground between these two extremes. Accredited investors are investors whose financial status or investment knowledge may give them a greater ability to handle the risks inherent in a private placement. There are many ways to qualify as an accredited investor but they all have one thing in common, which is that the SEC believes they indicate an ability to take on risks that regulators believe are unsuitable for most retail investors.

Accredited investors are investors whose financial status or investment knowledge may give them a greater ability to handle the risks inherent in a private placement.

All of the following are considered accredited investors:
  • Banks, broker-dealers, investment advisers, insurance companies, and investment companies
  • Corporations, trusts, partnerships, and LLCs with more than $5 million in assets
  • Most employee benefit plans with more than $5 million in assets
  • The issuer’s directors, executive officers, and general partners
  • If the issuer is a privately owned fund, (such as a hedge fund), a knowledgeable employee of the fund, which means an employee with at least 12 months’ experience working on the fund’s investment activities
  • Individuals with income of $200,000 in each of the last two years, or $300,000 in combination with a spouse or spousal equivalent such as a domestic partner
  • Individuals with a net worth more than $1 million, alone or with a spouse or spousal equivalent, not including primary residence
  • Individuals who hold any of these three designations in good standing:
    • Licensed General Securities Representative (Series 7)
    • Licensed Investment Adviser Representative (Series 65)
    • Licensed Private Securities Offerings Representative (Series 82)
  • Any firm where all owners are accredited investors (e.g., venture capital firms)
  • Any other entity with more than $5 million in investments that was not formed specifically to qualify as an accredited investor; the purpose of this category is to include entities that don’t neatly fit into any of the above categories, such as:
    • Native American tribes
    • Labor unions
    • Government bodies, including those of foreign governments
    • Investment funds created by government bodies
    • New types of business entities that may be introduced by new laws

An accredited investor that is not an individual—such as a business, governmental, or nonprofit entity—is sometimes called an institutional accredited investor (IAI).

Qualified Institutional Buyers

QIBs are a narrower group of large institutional investors. A QIB is a large institutional investor that owns at least $100 million worth of securities, not counting securities issued by its affiliates. For registered broker-dealers, the threshold is lower, just $10 million. A bank must also have a net worth of at least $25 million in order to be considered a QIB. 
 
If a firm has discretionary authority to invest securities owned by a QIB, those securities count toward whether the firm itself is considered a QIB. So if a broker-dealer has $9 million worth of securities in its own accounts, and holds $1 million worth of securities in a discretionary account belonging to a QIB, then the broker-dealer is itself a QIB.  

Common examples of QIBs include broker-dealers, insurance companies, investment companies, pension plans, and banks. However, any corporation, partnership, or LLC could qualify as a QIB. So can an IAI that owns at least $100 million in securities. Individuals can never be QIBs, regardless of their assets or financial sophistication.

Individuals can never be QIBs, regardless of their assets or financial sophistication.

Rule 144A allows QIBs to buy unregistered securities at any time, and freely trade these shares to other QIBs. In effect, QIBs can trade unregistered shares among themselves with almost the same ease as trading registered shares. Selling unregistered securities to anyone other than a QIB commonly requires a the seller to hold the securities for a period of up to 12 months. 

A QIB will virtually always meet the criteria to be an accredited investor, whereas an accredited investor may fall well short of QIB status.

Over time, other securities laws and regulations have made use of these two well-known categories. For example, in 2019 the SEC gave issuers more flexibility to test the waters with potential investors before deciding whether to go through with a public offering. When deciding which investors were sophisticated enough to receive test-the-waters communications, the SEC limited these communications to QIBs and institutional accredited investors. Additionally, references to institutional accredited investors have become more common, such as when the SEC revamped its rules around integration of offerings in March 2021.  
 
Know your QIBs from your accredited investors and be ready to pass your securities exam with Solomon Exam Prep.


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Curious about the Solomon Learning System? Watch the video overview!

Watch the latest Solomon Exam Prep video for a complete look at the Solomon learning system and what it offers students and firms. Continue reading

Solomon Exam Prep has helped thousands of financial professionals pass their FINRA, NASAA, MSRB, and NFA licensing exams. Watch the video for a complete look at the Solomon learning system and what it offers students and firms.

To explore Solomon Exam Prep study materials for 21 different securities licensing exams, including the SIE and the Series 3, 6, 7, 14, 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 63, 65, 66, 79, 82, and 99, visit the Solomon website.

January Study Question of the Month

This month’s study question from the Solomon Online Exam Simulator question database is now available. Continue reading

This month’s study question from the Solomon Online Exam Simulator question database is now available.

***Comment below or submit your answer to info@solomonexamprep.com to be entered to win a $20 Starbucks gift card.***

This question is relevant to the SIE, Series 6, 7, 22, 24, and 82 exams.

Question:

Which of the following people would be considered a specified adult?

Answer Choices:

A. A 16 year old with autism

B. A 30 year old

C. A 60 year old with a heart condition

D. An 18 year old in a coma

Correct Answer: D

Explanation: A specified adult is a natural person age 65 and older or a natural person age 18 and older who the member firm reasonably believes has a mental or physical impairment that renders the individual unable to protect his or her own interests.

SEC Announces Major Revisions to Registration Exemptions Aimed at “Harmonizing” Regulation A Offerings, Regulation D Private Placements, and Crowdfunding

On November 2, the SEC announced a collection of rule changes meant to, in the announcement’s words, “harmonize, simplify, and improve” its “overly complex exempt offering framework.” Continue reading

On November 2, the SEC announced a collection of rule changes meant to, in the announcement’s words, “harmonize, simplify, and improve” its “overly complex exempt offering framework.” The changes affect Regulation A, which governs small public offerings; Regulation D, which governs private placements; and Regulation CF, which governs crowdfunding. This system of exemptions allows various small offerings to avoid the normal registration process required by the Securities Act.  
 
The rule changes should provide a clearer choice as to which exemption is most appropriate to an issuer, based on how much the issuer needs to raise and other factors.
 
The changes also seek to clarify how issuers can avoid “integration” of exempt offerings. Integration is the risk that exempt offerings will be considered a single offering by the SEC, because the offerings are too similar.
 
Highlights of the changes include:
 
  • If two exempt offerings are conducted more than 30 days apart, they are almost always protected from integration.
  • An issuer can “test the waters” with potential investors before deciding which exemption it will use for an offering. Test-the-waters communications solicit interest in a potential offering before the issuer has filed anything with the SEC. Previously, an issuer could only test the waters after deciding that its potential offering would take place under Regulation A.
  • Caps on the amount that may be raised through these exemptions have been increased:
    • Crowdfunding: from $1.07 million to $5 million
    • Regulation A, Tier 2: from $50 million to $75 million 
    • Regulation D, Rule 504: from $5 million to $10 million
  • Make “bad actor” exclusions more consistent across different exemptions.
The rule changes will take effect early next year. Until the changes take effect, securities exam questions will continue to be based on the old rules. FINRA Exams affected by these rule changes include the SIE, Series 6, Series 7, Series 14, Series 22, Series 24, Series 65, Series 66, Series 79, and Series 82.

November Study Question of the Month

This month’s study question from the Solomon Online Exam Simulator question database is now available. Continue reading

This month’s study question from the Solomon Online Exam Simulator question database is now available.

***Comment below or submit your answer to info@solomonexamprep.com to be entered to win a $20 Starbucks gift card.***

This question is relevant for the SIE and Series 7, 14, 24, 26, 27, 28, 51, 53, 65, 66, and 99 exams.

Question:

Which situation would a CTR need to be filed?

Answer Choices:

A. When a customer regularly, but on different days, deposits $9,900 into their account in cash.

B. When a person deposits checks for $11,000 every week.

C. A customer withdraws $10,500 from their account in cash.

D. A customer makes a $20,000 Venmo transaction.

Correct Answer: C

Explanation: A currency transaction report (CTR) is filed with FinCEN on cash transactions that exceed $10,000 in a single day, whether conducted in one transaction or several smaller ones. The transactions can be either deposits or withdrawals and they must be in cold, hard cash.

If You’re a Principal or Operations Professional, Your FINRA Exam Deadline May Be Extended

If you’re a newly promoted principal at your firm, FINRA may have just delivered you some good news. Continue reading

If you’re a newly promoted principal at your firm, FINRA may have just delivered you some good news.

In response to current events, FINRA has adopted a temporary rule change giving many new principals until December 31st to complete their FINRA exams.

To qualify for the extension, the principal must have been promoted from representative by her firm before September 3rd.

Among the principals included in the extension are General Securities Principals (Series 24), Financial and Operations Principals (Series 27 or 28), Investment Company/Variable Contract Limited Principals (Series 26), and Compliance Officers (Series 14).

The extension also applies to one rep-level license. Operations Professionals (Series 99) hired before September 3rd also have until December 31st to pass their exams.

The Solomon Exam Prep team is always on the lookout for how current developments affect the securities industry. For more updates from our Industry News blog, use the subscribe form on this page.

Now Available: Series 24 Audiobook, 4th edition

Solomon Exam Prep is excited to release the 4th edition of Solomon’s Series 24 Exam Audiobook. The Solomon Audiobook is a word-for-word reading of the 4th edition of Solomon’s Series 24 Study Guide.  Continue reading

Solomon Exam Prep is excited to release the 4th edition of the Solomon Series 24 Exam Audiobook.  The Solomon Audiobook is a word-for-word reading of the 4th edition of Solomon Exam Prep’s Series 24 General Securities Principal Exam Study Guide. 
 
Although the core content of the Solomon Series 24 Exam Study Guide is the same as the previous edition, Solomon Exam Prep has made the following changes in the 4th edition for this important FINRA principal exam:
 
  • Updated information related to new and changed FINRA rules
  • Added information on SEC Regulation Best Interest
  • Updated tax information for 2020
  • Updates to retirement plan information, most of which is related to the recently enacted SECURE Act which took effect on January 1, 2020 
  • Additional examples and questions to help reinforce important concepts
For those of studying for the FINRA Series 24 exam, Solomon’s Audiobook offers another great way to learn the Series 24 material. Because it’s available as both streaming audio and instant MP3 download, you can conveniently listen on the go with or without Internet access. Solomon Study Guides are written in easy-to-understand language, and Solomon Audiobooks are read by real people who are content experts. Audiobooks can be used in tandem with the Solomon Study Guide, Exam Simulator, and/or Video Lecture to create a well-rounded study experience benefitting a variety of learners. Curious about the many benefits of Solomon Audiobooks?  Visit our blog post to read more: https://solomonexamprep.com/news/study-tips/solomon-study-tip-listen-to-a-solomon-audiobook/
 
If you have a current digital subscription to the Solomon Series 24 Exam Audiobook, then you have been automatically updated to the 4th edition on your online Solomon account, at no additional charge. However, if you’d like to be reverted back to the 3rd edition, or if you have any questions about this update, please call us at 503-601-0212 or email info@solomonexamprep.com and we’ll be happy to help.
 
And if you’re planning to study for the Series 24 exam, you can explore Solomon Exam Prep’s Series 24 exam study materials here.  The Solomon Series 24 Audiobook is available as an individual item, and it is included in the discounted Audio Premium Package and Total Packages.

If you have ADHD and you are studying for the SIE exam or the Series 7 or the Series 65 … Solomon Exam Prep can help

It’s no small feat to study for and pass a securities licensing exam, especially if you have ADHD. With that in mind, Solomon has compiled a list of skill-based strategies to support ADHD learners through the process of studying for their securities licensing exams. Continue reading

Studying for a knowledge test, like a securities licensing exam, requires significant effort over time. Solomon offers some helpful tips for studying and passing your securities licensing exam(s).

Study Strategies for People with ADHD

It’s no small feat to study for and pass a securities licensing exam, especially if you have ADHD. Two areas that can be especially challenging for people with ADHD are time management skills and study skills. Time management can be difficult because it requires a person to prioritize tasks, organize their day, and plan for short- and long-term goals, all of which are potential stumbling blocks for those with ADHD. And when it comes to studying, people with ADHD often have trouble concentrating and haven’t acquired effective study habits.

However, studies suggest that people can learn specific behaviors and strategies that help them work around ADHD symptoms and succeed in their studies. With that in mind, Solomon has compiled a list of skill-based strategies to support ADHD learners through the process of studying for their securities licensing exams.

Time Management

If you’re planning to study for a securities licensing exam, such as the Securities Industry Essentials exam or the Series 7 or the Series 65, managing your time effectively is crucial. Depending on the exam, Solomon Exam Prep recommends studying for between 30 to 100 hours over the course of ten days to several weeks. It’s a daunting prospect for anyone. How can someone with ADHD get better at managing his or her time?

Use schedules and planners to stay on track. Whether you use a paper or digital planner, the following tips will help you use it to your advantage:

  • Refer to the Solomon Exam Prep study schedules located in the resources folder of your online Solomon account to help create an effective study plan.
  • Fill in your planner with study targets for each week and smaller goals for each day. People with ADHD often get overwhelmed when confronted with a large task, so breaking the task up into smaller pieces will make it more approachable.
  • Be realistic about how long things take for you and build in some breathing room for when things takes longer than expected. Also build in time for frequent short study breaks.
  • Begin the day by checking your planner to see which activities you need to do. Try to complete each day’s to-do list, but don’t panic if you don’t finish everything – you built in extra time, remember?

Build structure into your day with consistent routines and rituals.

  • Figure out your best time for study. Are you more alert in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Try to study at your optimal time as much as possible.
  • Use alarm clocks, timers, and alerts to help you structure your time, build routine, and remind yourself of important tasks. This article has some great tips on how to use your smartphone to stay organized.
  • Give yourself small rewards as you study and complete tasks. This article recommends people with ADHD improve their focus by routinely rewarding themselves for achieving small goals. A reward can be as simple as taking a 10–15 minute break to have a snack or take a walk around the block, which also helps prevent fatigue and loss of concentration.
Study Skills

Studying for a securities licensing exam can make you feel like you’ve landed back in high school or college, when you were forced to study and retain large amounts of information with the end goal of passing a test. If you were a successful student, the strategies that worked for you then will probably work for you now. But individuals without prior academic success, and those with ADHD, can increase the effectiveness of their study time by applying the strategies that follow.

Make note-taking a core aspect of your studying. Studies suggest that becoming a better note-taker can increase concentration and help learners make better use of their time by learning actively rather than passively. Here are some specific ways to boost your studying with note-taking:

  • If you have a hardcopy of your Solomon Exam Prep Study Guide, then highlight, underline, and write notes and questions in the margins as you read. If you are reading your Study Guide online or listening to your Audiobook, take notes on paper using a note-taking system that works for you, such as the Cornell, outlining, or mapping method, all described here.
  • Use color-coding to organize your notes. Invest in colored pens, highlighters, and sticky notes and use them strategically.
  • Return to your notes frequently: review them several times; rewrite them; read them aloud; create possible test questions from them.

Do A LOT of self-testing. Studies have found that incorporating more self-testing, or retrieval practice, into a study routine can significantly improve retention of material, especially for people with ADHD. The Solomon Exam Prep study system has two features specifically designed for self-testing:

  • Solomon Exam Prep Online Exam Simulator: with a large question bank and tools that help you identify areas that require more study, the Solomon Exam Simulator is the perfect way to incorporate self-testing into your study time.
  • Solomon Exam Prep Digital Flashcards: interactive true/false and definitions flashcards that can be organized by chapter and customized to target the terms and concepts you need to study more.

Teach the content to someone else. To be well-prepared for a securities licensing exam, candidates must truly understand the content. What better way to check your understanding than to teach the content to another person? Becoming the teacher to a friend or family member is a highly effective learning technique. This list of study tips for learners with ADHD includes talking about the concepts aloud to yourself or others. Even if you don’t have a study buddy or captive family member to lecture to, imagine that you’re teaching a course on the material and write up a lesson plan. Deliver your lesson to an empty room if need be, but the act of trying to explain the material out loud is a great way to confirm which areas you have a strong command of and which you need to study further.

Pandemic Study Tip: Practice With a Mask

Since Prometric test centers now require test-takers to wear a mask when taking a securities exam Continue reading

Since Prometric test centers now require test-takers to wear a mask when taking a securities exam, Solomon Exam Prep recommends that individuals studying for a securities licensing exam — such as the SIE, the Series 7 or the Series 65 — take at least one practice exam at home wearing a mask. Solomon Exam Prep’s Exam Simulator offers quizzes and timed and untimed practice exams. Wearing a mask while using the Solomon Exam Simulator will better simulate the pandemic test center experience and help you prepare for your exam.

Solomon Exam Prep, a leader in FINRA, MSRB, NASAA and NFA securities licensing exams, has helped thousands pass the SIE and the Series 3, 6, 7, 14, 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 63, 65, 66, 79, 82 and 99.