A:

In most cases, you obtain sponsorship for the Series 7 exam through employment at a FINRA member firm or a self-regulatory organization (SRO). This is because completion of a professional exam such as the Series 7 is often necessary in order for an individual to legally perform certain tasks as an employee.

If you are having difficulty obtaining employment at a firm because the job in question requires the Series 7--a catch-22, since you need to be employed in order to obtain it--relax. There are a couple of ways to obtain employment at a member firm without your Series 7.

  1. Starting in 2018, you can take the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam which would serve as a pre-requisite to the Series 7 exam. The SIE exam does not require sponsorship or employment by a FINRA member firm. Although you will still need to pass the Series 7 in order to be registered member, successfully taking the SIE is an indication to prospective employers that you are worth sponsoring and they'll be willing to hire you without the Series 7.
  2. Job Boards are a great place to start. Take time to browse through all the investment related jobs, as many firms who do sponsor will say so right in their job description. If the job does not specify that the Series 7 is required, and does not mention a sponsorship program, try visiting the career section of their company website. Alternately, you could give them an anonymous call or e-mail to inquire. The time spent will be well worth it! Here's a hint: firms seeking applications for "assistant" job titles are more likely to offer Series 7 sponsorship. For higher-end jobs that require several years of experience, companies tend to assume that you've already obtained your Series 7. These are jobs to aim for once you have obtained work experience in an entry-level position.
  3. Alternately, you can visit the career section of websites of various member firms located in your area (or an area you would like to work) to inquire if they provide sponsorship. A list of FINRA member firms can be found here, and a list of self-regulatory organizations can be found on the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) website here.
  4. Finally, use your networking abilities. If you're interested in a career in finance, there's a good chance that you have had a professor who has obtained his Series 7, or you know a finance professional who either has a Series 7, knows how to obtain sponsorship, or knows registered representatives who can give you some advice.

To read more about the Series 7, read The Series 7 Exam.

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