October 1, 2018, marks the day that FINRA will begin to administer the newly revised qualification process where candidates will need to pass a Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam before taking a condensed version of the Series 6 or Series 7, known as Top-Off, or Specialized Knowledge Exams (SKE).
Currently, only candidates who are sponsored by a FINRA member broker/dealer are able to open an exam window to take any of the qualification exams (e.g., Series 6 or 7). Starting on October 1, the general public will be able to register to take the SIE exam without a sponsor.
However, the SIE alone will not be enough to qualify as a securities professional. The candidate who passes the SIE without a sponsor has four years (yep, 4 years!) to be hired by a FINRA member firm (a sponsor), and take the SKE that is appropriate for their job function. For instance, if the SIE candidate wants to become a general securities representative, they will need to be sponsored to take the revised Series 7 SKE.
If you are currently sponsored by your employing BD and studying to take either the Series 6 or Series 7, here are some considerations to keep in mind during the transitional period:
For sponsored candidates currently studying for the S6 or S7:
If I am able to pass my Series 6 or 7 exam before October 1, 2018 — if you are able to pass the Series 6 or 7 before October 1, there is no need to take any other exam. Your registration will be activated.
If I am planning on taking my Series 6 or 7 exam after October 1, 2018 — if you are currently studying for your Series 6 or 7 exam, but will not sit for the exam until after October 1, you can still take the current version of the Series 6 or 7 as long as your test window is opened before October 1. You will have a period of 120 days from the window open date. The current versions of all the qualification exams are available 120 days past October 1 and can be taken as long as your exam window is opened before October 1.
If I fail the current version of my exam before September 1, 2018 — if you fail the current S7 before September 1, you will be able to re-open your exam window in 30 days, which will be before October 1, and still be able to take the current S7 test. You will have 120 days from your window open date to take and pass your exam. (Open your window before October 1 to take the current version of the S7.)
If I fail the current version of my exam after September 1, 2018 — if you fail the current S7 after September 1, you will not be able to re-open your exam window until October 1; therefore, you will need to start studying for the SIE and the SKE. However, because the SIE and revised S6 and S7 are considered different exams from the current versions, there is no 30-day waiting period to register for these exams. For example, if you fail the current version of the Series 7 on September 25, you can open a window for the SIE or the SKE on October 1. If the testing center has an opening, you will be able to sit for either of the new exams on October 2 (to take the SKE, though, you must be sponsored by your employing broker/dealer).
FIRE Solutions will have focused transitional study material available for candidates who start studying with the current version and find they need to switch to the SIE/SKE study material.
If I am taking my qualification exams after October 1, 2018 — all new candidates will need to take the SIE plus one of the SKE exams before registration as a securities professional is complete. The SIE and the SKE can be taken in any order. However, remember that to take the SKE, you must be employed by a sponsoring broker/dealer.
FIRE Solutions will have the new course material available for the SIE, the Series 6, and Series 7 Specialized Knowledge Exams later this year.
Plan on using FIRE Solutions for a successful transition on your career development path. For more information, click to go to our SIE webpage.