What is a SPAC and should you care about it for the FINRA Series 79 exam?

SPACs have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, and the growth is only accelerating. What will this mean for regulations and the Series 79 exam? Continue reading

It sounds like a securities-industry riddle: what do you call a blank check company with no hard assets that holds a multimillion dollar IPO? But the answer is very real: SPACs (special purposes acquisition companies) are an alternative to traditional IPOs that have exploded in popularity.

What’s a “blank check company?”  A blank check company is an exchange-listed shell company that, according to the SEC, has “no specific business plan or…its business plan is to engage in a merger or acquisition.”

The purpose of a SPAC is to raise money to acquire a privately held company. Think of it as crowdfunding on a massive scale. First, the SPAC sells shares of itself in an IPO. Then it uses the IPO proceeds to fund a merger between itself and a target company. When the merger is complete, the SPAC’s shareholders become shareholders in the target company. Investors buy SPAC shares based on their confidence that the SPAC’s management will complete the merger, and the anticipated value of the shares after the merger.

SPACs have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, and the growth is only accelerating. The amount raised by SPAC IPOs in 2020 more than quadrupled the amount they raised in 2019. According to Reuters, the total value of SPAC mergers in 2021 has already exceeded the total size of SPAC mergers for all of 2020.

What does this mean for regulations?

As investor excitement around SPACs has heated up, there are indications that the SEC is beginning to take a closer look at this new kind of IPO. On March 10th, the SEC issued a warning against investing based on celebrity involvement with a SPAC. Celebrities with high-profile ties to SPACs include A-Rod, Shaquille O’Neal, Serena Williams, and former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Acting SEC Chair Allison Herren Lee recently warned of “more and more evidence on the risk side of the equation for SPACs as we see studies showing that their performance for most investors doesn’t match the hype.”

While none of this guarantees that new rules for SPACs are around the corner, it does make it more likely that FINRA’s Series 79 investment banking exam may begin to include mention of SPACs. They are a topic that investment bankers are increasingly likely to encounter in practice, and therefore are increasingly likely to be viewed as fair game for the exam.

Solomon Exam Prep is ahead of the curve with new material in our Series 79 Study Guide. Series 79 customers can find material on SPACs now included in the online edition of Solomon Study Guide.

Potentially testable points about SPACs include:
  • SPAC are formed by “sponsors,” commonly institutional investors or high net worth individuals, who are compensated with both a portion of the IPO proceeds, as well as an equity stake in the SPAC of up to 20%.
  • SPAC’s typically avoid committing to merge with a specific company, even if the SPAC was formed with the intention of targeting that company. The SPAC’s management may respond to changing market conditions by choosing a different target, subject to approval from the SPAC’s shareholders.
  • After a SPAC goes public, its shares trade freely on exchanges even before it completes a merger.
  • A SPAC must hold at least 85% of proceeds from its IPO in an escrow account.
  • The SPAC commits to return investor funds if it fails to complete a merger within a specified timeframe.
  • As a blank check company with no business operations of its own, a SPAC cannot take advantage of certain options available to more established securities issuers. For example, a SPAC is not permitted to make an electronic version of its road show presentation.

Solomon Exam Prep will continue to follow industry trends and how they affect your licensing exams.

Solomon Exam Prep has helped thousands pass their 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.

March 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 Series 14, 79, 82, and SIE exams.

Question:

A research analyst who works for an underwriter that participated in an IPO may not publicly discuss or write a research report about the company until __________________.

Answer Choices:

A. 30 days after the registration is filed 

B. 20 days after the securities are issued

C. 10 days after the date of the IPO

D. 30 days after the date of the IPO

Correct Answer: C – 10 days after the date of the IPO

Explanation: A research analyst who works for an underwriter of an IPO must not discuss or write a research report about the company for 10 days after the IPO.  This 10-day period of silence is called a ‘quiet period.’ There is no quiet period for EGCs (emerging growth companies). 


To explore free samples of Solomon Exam Prep’s industry-leading online exam simulators for the SIE, Series 14, Series 79, Series 82, and many more exams, visit the Solomon website here.

December 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 Series 6, 7, 14 and 79 exams.

Question: 
 
Which of the following is not typically part of an underwriting agreement?
 
Answer Choices:
 
A. Description of the per-share underwriting spread
 
B. Description of a Greenshoe option
 
C. Terms between syndicate members and selling group dealers
 
D. Terms under which the underwriter can terminate the contract
 
 

Correct Answer: C

Explanation: The underwriting agreement, which is typically signed the evening before or the morning of the effective date of a securities issue typically includes the per-share underwriting spread, an over-allotment (Greenshoe) option if granted, and the underwriter’s termination rights. It also is the document that contains the public offering price or a formula to derive it.

 

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.

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.

October Study Question of the Month

Submit your answer to info@solomonexamprep.com to be entered to win a $10 Starbucks gift card. Continue reading

Submit your answer to info@solomonexamprep.com to be entered to win a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Question

Relevant to the Series 7Series 62, Series 65Series 79, Series 82, and Series 99.

 

 

 

 

 

What is the holding period for restricted securities issued by a company that files reports with the SEC?
 
A. Six months
B. Nine months
C. Twelve months

D. Securities issued by a company that files with the SEC are never restricted

Answer: A. Rule 144 requires purchasers of restricted securities to hold them for a certain amount of time before they sell them. If the issuer is a company that files reports with the SEC, the holding period is six months. If the issuer is a non-reporting company, the holding period is 12 months.

September Study Question of the Month

Submit your answer to info@solomonexamprep.com to be entered to win a $10 Starbucks gift card. Continue reading

Submit your answer to info@solomonexamprep.com to be entered to win a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Question

Relevant to the Series 62, Series 79, and Series 82.

 

 

 

 

 

Which of the following is an advantage of a 506(b) offering?
 
A. Sold shares are not restricted
B. It may be advertised to the public because it is considered a public offering
C. Instead of a prospectus, it may use a briefer document called an offering circular

D. It has no dollar limit

Answer: D. A private placement offering under Regulation D, Rule 506(b) has no dollar limit. The other three responses are advantages of Regulation A offerings.

August Study Question of the Month

Submit your answer to info@solomonexamprep.com to be entered to win a $10 Starbucks gift card. Continue reading

Submit your answer to info@solomonexamprep.com to be entered to win a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Question

Relevant to the Series 6Series 7, Series 24, Series 26Series 62, Series 79Series 82, and Series 99.

 

 

 

 

 

Which of these records about your customer Doug is your firm required to retain for five years?
 
A. Doug’s customer ledger
B. A SAR you filed on Doug
C. A complaint Doug filed about you

D. A confirmation of one of Doug’s trades

Answer: B. The general tier of recordkeeping is three years, six years, and lifetime, although there are some records with retention periods of four or five years. Additionally, the firm must keep most records easily accessible for the first two years.

Customer ledgers fall in the six-year tier, Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) fall in the five-year tier, customer complaints fall in the four-year tier, and trade confirmations fall in the three-year tier.

November Study Question of the Month

Submit your answer to info@solomonexamprep.com to be entered to win a $10 Starbucks gift card. Continue reading

Submit your answer to info@solomonexamprep.com to be entered to win a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Congratulations to Elizabeth S., this month’s Study Question of the Month winner!

Question

Relevant to the SIESeries 7, Series 24, Series 79, and Series 82.

 

 

 

 

 

Which of the following would not necessarily be restricted shares when you purchase them?:

A. Shares sold by the CEO of the issuing company

B. Shares sold by the CEO’s wife of the issuing company

C. Shares sold by the assistant to the CEO of the issuing company

D. Shares sold by a major shareholder (more than 10% ownership) of the issuing company

Answer: C.

Securities that are held by control persons are called control securities. A control person, or affiliated person, is an individual in a position to exert direct influence on the actions of an issuer. For example, officers, directors, policy-making executives, major shareholders (generally own 10% or more of outstanding shares), and other people who are in a position to directly or indirectly control the management of the company are considered control persons. This includes spouses, family members who live with them, and other entities such as trusts or corporations affiliated with control persons, as defined in Rule 144. When control securities are sold, they become restricted securities even if they were not restricted securities previously.