The Series 63, also known as the Uniform Securities Agent State Law Exam, is the state law test for broker-dealer representatives. Passing the Series 63 is required by most U.S. states if you want to register in a state as a registered representative. However, to be fully registered, you may also need to pass the FINRA Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam and the Series 6, 7, 22, 52, 79, 82, or 99. For example, if you plan to sell securities for a broker-dealer, you must pass the Series 6 or 7 (plus the co-requisite SIE) in addition to the Series 63.
The Series 63, Series 65, and Series 66 exams were all created by NASAA, which represents state securities regulators in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The goal of NASAA is to protect and educate investors to promote the integrity of financial markets. In terms of content, there is a fair amount of overlap between the exams, but each one qualifies individuals a bit differently.
What’s the difference between the Series 63, Series 65, and Series 66 exams?
Of the three exams, the Series 63 is the shortest, at 65 questions. The Series 63 exam covers the registration of persons and securities under the Uniform Securities Act and ethics in the securities industry. As mentioned above, passing the Series 63 permits you to sell securities in a particular state, but you must also pass a FINRA exam (often the Series 6 or 7) in order to become fully registered. For instance, if you pass the Series 6 and Series 63, you are qualified to become a financial adviser or insurance agent who also sells mutual funds and works at a brokerage, investment firm, bank, or insurance company. On the other hand, with the Series 7 and Series 63, you can work as a stockbroker at a brokerage, investment firm, or bank.
If you want to register as an investment adviser representative (IAR), you will need to pass the Series 65 or 66, depending on the state. Some states allow registered brokerage representatives to act as IARs. In these states, if you’ve passed the Series 7, then the 66 will qualify you to become a licensed IAR. If you have NOT passed the Series 7 and want to become an IAR, then you’ll need to take the Series 65 exam. The Series 65 exam contains much of the same information as the Series 7, and it also tests your knowledge of the state laws governing investment advisers. The Series 66 does not cover much of the information from the Series 7, but it does test your knowledge of state laws governing investment advisers. As result, the Series 66 is shorter than the Series 65 (100 questions compared to 130).
If you’re not sure whether you need to pass the Series 63, 65, or 66 for a particular state, check with the state regulator for specific requirements. This page on the NASAA website lists contact information for all state regulators.