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What is the 'Series 66'

Series 66 is an exam administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Successful completion of the Series 66 exam is equivalent to successful completion of both the Series 63 and Series 65 exams. The Series 66, also known as the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) Uniform Combined State Law Examination, was created to qualify candidates as both securities agents and investment advisor representatives.

BREAKING DOWN 'Series 66'

The FINRA Series 7 exam must also be passed along with the Series 66. Either exam may be passed first, but both exams must be completed before applying to register with any particular state. The Series 66 was designed to cover topics deemed necessary to provide investment advice.

Series 66 Exam Structure

The Series 66 examination contents include 100 multiple-choice questions that are scored and 10 pretest questions that are not scored. Candidates have a maximum time of 150 minutes to complete the examination. To obtain a passing score, a candidate must correctly answer 75 of the 100 questions that are scored. The exam administrator provides electronic calculators for candidates to use, and these are the only calculators allowed in the exam room. A dry-erase marker and whiteboard are provided. No study or reference materials of any kind are permitted in the examination room, and there are harsh penalties for anyone caught cheating or attempting to cheat. An individual's employer can register a candidate for the exam by filing either a Form U4 or Form U-10 and paying the $155 examination fee.

Series 66 Exam Content

The NASAA updates information on the exam's content and posts it online. As of May 2016, the exam questions are allocated as follows:

• Economic factors and business information (5%) - This section includes questions on financial reporting (such as financial ratios, SEC filings and annual reports), quantitative methods (such as internal rate of return and net present value), and types of risk (such as market, interest rate, inflation, political, liquidity and other risks).

• Investment vehicle characteristics (15%) - Questions in this section include, but are not limited to: methods used to value fixed-income securities, types and characteristics of derivative securities, alternative investments, and insurance-based products.

• Client investment recommendations and strategies (30%) - Questions in this section include, but are not limited to: types of clients (including individuals, business, trusts and estates), client profiling (including financial goals, current financial status and risk tolerance), capital market theory, portfolio management strategies, tax considerations, retirement planning, trading accounts, and performance measurement.

• Laws, regulations and guidelines, including prohibition on unethical business practices (50%) - This section includes state and federal securities acts along with related rules and regulations, ethical practices, and fiduciary obligations.

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