Series 6 Exam Issues

What Is the Series 6 Exam?

The so-called Series 6 exam has the full title of the “Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Representative Qualification Exam.” Insiders may call the Series 6 exam the “IR exam,” standing for “investment representative.” The Series 6 exam is the entry-level exam for a securities professional wishing to work for an investment company selling mutual funds, life insurance, and variable annuity products but not stocks and bonds.

Series 6 Versus Series 7 Exam

The difference between the Series 6 exam and the better-known Series 7 exam is that while the Series 6 credential allows the representative to sell mutual funds and annuities, the Series 7 credential allows the representative to buy and sell those limited products plus a broader range of securities including corporate stock shares, municipal bonds, stock options, and other commonly traded investment products. The Series 7 credential is generally considered to be the premier registered representative credential, while the Series 6 credential is significantly more limited. The Series 7 exam is also generally considered the most difficult securities exam and has a registration fee several times higher than the modest Series 6 exam fee.

Who Must Take the Series 6 Exam?

Professionals who wish to work for an investment company selling mutual funds, life insurance, and variable annuity products must register with the regulatory authority FINRA to do so. FINRA registration to sell those limited products requires taking and passing the Series 6 exam under FINRA Rule 1210 and Rule 1220(b)(7). You won't get to work for an investment company selling life insurance, mutual funds, and variable annuities unless you take and pass the Series 6 exam. Other clerical and administrative jobs may be available to you in the securities industry without taking and passing a FINRA exam, but the preferred jobs involving securities sales generally require passing a FINRA exam, and the Series 6 exam is generally considered to be at the very entry level for those preferred jobs.

Who Administers the Series 6 Exam?

FINRA administers the Series 6 exam. FINRA is by far the largest U.S. private regulatory organization for securities firms and professionals. FINRA's 3,000 employees regulate about 5,000 firms and 666,000 registered representatives. FINRA, formally known as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is a fairly recent outgrowth of decades of industry self-regulation. Although FINRA is technically a private non-profit industry organization, the federal government sanctions FINRA to regulate the securities industry, making FINRA a quasi-governmental entity. Securities regulation, promoting public trust in the purchase and sale of securities funding the public and private capital markets, has been critical to securities market success since the Great Depression. FINRA may look to a Series 6 credential candidate as a bureaucratic obstacle or evil, but if so, then FINRA is certainly a necessary evil. Even if they frustrate you, deal diplomatically and respectfully with FINRA exam officials. FINRA does important work. Retain national education attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento to assist you in ensuring that FINRA officials treat you fairly.

Series 6 Exam Content and Format

The Series 6 exam takes just 90 minutes. The Series 6 exam has just 55 questions, of which FINRA scores just 50 questions. The five unscored questions are tests for potential future exam inclusion, although you won't know which questions are those five questions. Five of the 50 questions evaluate the candidate's knowledge of how to document customer purchase and sale instructions and process and document related transactions. Eight of the 50 questions address how to get and evaluate customer profile information and investment objectives and how to open related accounts. Twelve questions address how to recruit customers. The remaining 25 questions, fully half the Series 6 exam, address what investments to recommend, how to recommend them, and how to execute and document related transactions.

The Related Securities Industries Essentials Exam

The Series 6 exam is not the only exam that investment representatives must pass to be able to sell their investment company's limited life insurance, variable annuity, and mutual fund products. In 2018, FINRA separated out from the Series 6 exam basic securities industry questions, moving those questions into a separate Securities Industries Essentials (SIE) exam. FINRA makes clear that the SIE exam is “corequisite to the Series 6 exam. Candidates must pass both the Series 6 exam and the SIE exam to obtain the Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products registration.”

Series 6 Exam Timeline, Process, and Issues

Qualifying for the Series 6 Exam

FINRA Rule 1210 requires professionals wishing to pass the Series 6 exam to become investment representatives to first obtain sponsorship from a FINRA member firm or self-regulatory organization. FINRA's sponsorship requirement means that the Series 6 exam candidate must generally get a job or take an internship with a member firm to enroll for the Series 6 exam. Firms don't generally just offer sponsorship to anyone who asks. Sponsorship instead generally indicates that the firm evaluated and endorses the candidate for the Series 6 credential. Candidates may work or intern for a firm but fail to obtain the desired sponsorship because of poor performance or character or simply because of misunderstandings, mistreatment, or other issues. Let national education attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento assist you in resolving disputes over obtaining a qualifying sponsorship. You won't ordinarily get to take the Series 6 exam without sponsorship.

Enrolling for the Series 6 Exam

To take and pass the Series 6 exam, you will need to enroll online using FINRA's Test Enrollment Services System (TESS). Enrollment ordinarily requires that you work with your sponsor to obtain and submit FINRA's Uniform Application for Security Industry Registration or Transfer, otherwise known as Form U4. Enrollment using Form U4 requires that you share accurate profile information, including your name, Social Security number, address, birth date, and similar identifying information. Enrollment issues can arise if you supply or someone else records inaccurate, incomplete, inconsistent, or misleading information. Those issues may prevent your Series 6 exam enrollment or scheduling or delay or prevent the release of your Series 6 exam score. National education attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento is available to represent Series 6 credential candidates facing these and other enrollment issues.

Scheduling the Series 6 Exam

Your enrollment for the Series 6 exam opens a 120-day window for you to schedule your exam appointment with a Prometric testing center near you or to arrange with Prometric a proctored remote exam online. Although Prometric is a private testing organization, its proctors and other officials work closely with FINRA officials regarding Series 6 exam issues. Anything you say or do with Prometric can become an important part of your FINRA exam record. For instance, if Prometric officials suspect that you have misrepresented your enrollment or identity or employed or attempted to employ an impostor to take your exam for you, they may investigate that suspicious activity and share their information with FINRA enforcement officials. Retain national education attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento if scheduling issues are threatening to delay or derail your Series 6 exam.

Taking the Series 6 Exam

One of the bigger risks you face in your Series 6 exam process is that issues or irregularities would arise at your Prometric testing center or with your remote online exam experience. Innocent conduct can, at times, appear suspicious, as when an examinee inadvertently brings internet-ready watches, smartp