The Series 65, officially known as The Uniform Investment Adviser Law Exam, is designed to test an individual's knowledge and ability to advise clients in the area of investing and discuss general financial concepts. If you have a basic understanding of finance, economics and investing you will have a huge head start, but various laws and regulations are also covered, making studying much harder. (If you are thinking about switching careers, check out 6 Steps To Successfully Switching Financial Careers.)
TUTORIAL: Brokers and Online Trading

Who Needs the Series 65?
Many financial firms require registered representatives to provide investment advice to current and potential clients. The series 65 tests the candidate's comprehension of financial concepts and qualifies them to give investing advice and charge a fee. Most state securities regulators have set the Series 65 as the minimum requirement to become an investment advisor representative (IAR).

Registered investment advisor firms (RIAs) require these representatives to interact with current and potential clients. So if you are currently looking for a career in a financial advisory position, the Series 65 could be an asset on your resume. If you do not have it yet it could be a requirement that you get it once you get hired on. It is also a less difficult test than the more comprehensive designations and certificates such as the certified financial planner (CFP) or chartered investment counselor (CIC). (To learn more about financial designations, read Financial Designations Aren't All Created Equal.)

Who Doesn't Need the Series 65?
Depending on the scope of your job in the financial field, a series 65 might not be necessary, or it may be insufficient. The series 65 gives the holder the ability to charge a fee for providing and discussing investment advice. If you are not charging a fee and you do not regularly provide advice on securities, then you most likely do not need to get your Series 65 license. But this is rarely the case.

Other certificates and licenses can be deemed sufficient training in place of the Series 65 and exempt the holders from having to take this exam. For example most states will exempt you from the Series 65 if you have the certified financial planner (CFP) certification, chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation, charter financial consultant (ChFC), personal financial specialist (PFS), or chartered investment counselor (CIC).

Also if you hold a Series 7 and a Series 66 most states will accept this as adequate training and not require a Series 65 exam. In rare occasions, a representative can apply for exemption from the Series 65 exam and still become an investment advisor representative, but 15 to 20 years of experience in the field might be necessary. It is important to note that you must be in good standing with the regulatory body and it is always necessary to check with the state regulations to ensure you are eligible for exemption. (For more one which designation is best for your career, read CFP, CLU Or ChFC - Which Is Best?)

You do not need to be employed by or sponsored by a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm in order to register and take the series 65 exam. It will affect what form you need to fill out for registering. If you are sponsored by such a firm a Form U4 needs to be filled out and submitted. But if you are not employed by a member firm, you need to fill out a Form U10 to register. This exam is one of the more basic exams and does not require any other prerequisites to be eligible to write the exam.

Once registered you have 120 days to write the exam before you need to register again, this is called your exam window. If you fail, you can retake the exam after waiting 30 days. But if you fail three times you need to wait 180 days, after which you can register again. There is no limit to the amount of exams a candidate can take.

The Series 65 Exam Content
The exam is closed book and covers topics such as:

  • Economics and Business Information (14%): Economic cycles, financial reporting and types of risk
  • Investment Vehicle Characteristics (24%): Types of investments including fixed income, equity and other securities, and valuing these
  • Client Investment Recommendations and Strategies (31%): Types of clients, tax considerations, developing a client profile and applying your understanding of risk, and portfolio theory
  • Laws, Regulations, and Guidelines (31%): Federal Securities Acts, regulations, ethical behavior

Requirements and Passing
Again, the Series 65 exam is one of the few exams which does not require sponsorship by a FINRA member in order to take it. This is especially helpful when attempting to start your career in finance and investing or for building your resume.

Before the exam can be taken the individual candidate can file the Form U10 in order to register with the administering body (FINRA). Alternatively a candidate's firm can file a Form U4. Both can be done electronically on FINRA's website:

The candidate answers 130 questions plus 10 pretest questions and has 180 min as a time limit. It is done electronically and the score is presented right after the exam, with a break down of the scoring in each section. To be considered a pass the candidate needs 72% correct which is 94 correct answers out of 130.

Bottom Line
The Series 65 Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination is one of the exams required by many states in order to charge a fee for investment advice and services. It is meant to qualify the candidate to become an investment adviser representative. Other more advanced designations could be considered adequate, but this exam prepares you for working one on one with clients, and for getting into the financial industry. (To help you provide you with more direction, on your financial career path, check out Find Your Niche In The Financial Industry.)

Related Articles
  1. Bonds & Fixed Income

    High Yield Bond Investing 101

    Taking on high-yield bond investments requires a thorough investigation. Here are looking the fundamentals.
  2. Retirement

    How Robo-Advisors Can Help You and Your Portfolio

    Robo-advisors can add a layer of affordable help and insight to most people's portfolio management efforts, especially as the market continues to mature.
  3. Professionals

    Career Advice: Financial Planner Vs. Wealth Manager

    Understand the differences between a career in financial planning and wealth management, and identify which is better for you based on your goals and talents.
  4. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 3 Muni California Mutual Funds

    Discover analyses of the top three California municipal bond mutual funds, and learn about their characteristics, historical performance and suitability.
  5. Professionals

    Career Advice: Accountant Vs. Financial Planner

    Identify the key differences between a career in accounting and financial planning, and learn how your personality dictates which is the better choice for you.
  6. Professionals

    10 Must Watch Documentaries For Finance Professionals

    Find out about some of the best documentaries that finance professionals can watch to gain a better understanding of their industry.
  7. Professionals

    How to Sell Mutual Funds to Your Clients

    Learn about the various talking points you should cover when discussing mutual funds with clients and how explaining their benefits can help you close the sale.
  8. Professionals

    Fund and ETF Strategies for Volatile Markets

    Looking for short-term fixes in reaction to market volatility? Here are a few strategies — and their downsides.
  9. Professionals

    Career Advice: Investment Banking Vs. Corporate Finance

    Read an in-depth review and comparison of a career in investment banking and a career in corporate finance, with advice about which one to choose.
  10. Professionals

    Career Advice: Stockbroker Vs. Insurance Agent

    Compare and contrast careers as a stockbroker and insurance agent. Understand the skills and attributes required for success in each career.
  1. What licenses does a hedge fund manager need to have?

    A hedge fund manager does not necessarily need any specific license to operate a fund, but depending on the type of investments ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Can mutual funds invest in hedge funds?

    Mutual funds are legally allowed to invest in hedge funds. However, hedge funds and mutual funds have striking differences ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. When are mutual funds considered a bad investment?

    Mutual funds are considered a bad investment when investors consider certain negative factors to be important, such as high ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Do financial advisors have to find their own clients?

    Nearly all financial advisors, particularly when new to the field, have to find their own clients. An employer may provide ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Do financial advisors get drug tested?

    Financial advisors are not drug tested by any federal or state regulatory body. This means you may receive your Series 6, ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Is a financial advisor required to have a degree?

    Financial advisors are not required to have university degrees. However, they are required to pass certain exams administered ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  2. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  3. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  4. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
  5. Normal Profit

    An economic condition occurring when the difference between a firm’s total revenue and total cost is equal to zero.
  6. Operating Cost

    Expenses associated with the maintenance and administration of a business on a day-to-day basis.
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!