DEFINITION of 'Series 53'

An exam offered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and overseen by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB). The Series 53 qualifies a financial professional to become a licensed municipal securities principal, which allows the supervision and management of sales of municipal securities, agency securities, and U.S. Treasury obligations by licensed broker/dealers.

The exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions taken over three hours; a score of 70% or better is required for passing. Question topics cover not only the basics of how municipal securities are created and traded, but settlement practices, record-keeping and sales supervision.

BREAKING DOWN 'Series 53'

The Series 53 is also required for those who wish to sell Section 529 plans for college funding, even though many 529 plans are invested into equity-based securities and funds. The sales of 529 plans are under the supervision of the MSRB. People who pass the Series 53 exam do not need to take and pass the Series 51 test, which is more limited in scope.

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