Effective October 1, 2018, FINRA is changing the examination process by which securities professionals qualify to register in order to reduce redundancy among the exams. New registrants will be required to pass the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE or Essentials) exam and subsequently a representative-level qualification exam.
The FINRA SIE exam is an introductory-level exam covering a range of basic securities industry concepts that are fundamental to working in the industry. Two big changes are that individuals are not required to be sponsored to take the SIE exam, and that anyone aged 18 or older may sit for the exam. This opens the door to anyone looking to enter the securities industry, as passing the exam will demonstrate sincerity and basic industry knowledge.
Passing the Essentials exam alone, however, will not allow a candidate to register with FINRA or perform any securities business. Each candidate must subsequently pass an additional rep-level qualification exam specific to the candidate’s career path. These various exams are referred to as specialized knowledge or “top-off” exams. They focus on specific job functions required by a career path and require the individual to be sponsored by a FINRA member firm. Passing the Essentials exam and one of the top-off exams will be the equivalent of passing one of the current series exams (i.e. Series 6, Series 7, and so forth).