What is the 'Series 14'

The Series 14 is an exam and certification for professionals seeking to become licensed compliance officers for member firms. Anyone who seeks employment as a head compliance officer or who will be managing more than 10 compliance officers in the United States must complete the exam. The Series 14 is more formally known as the Compliance Official Qualification Examination (CO).

Breaking Down 'Series 14'

The Series 14, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which administers the test, "assesses the competency of an entry-level compliance official candidate to perform his or her job as a compliance officer. The exam measures the degree to which each candidate, who will supervise 10 or more people engaged in compliance activities or are responsible for the overall day-to-day compliance activities of the firm, possesses the knowledge needed to perform the job responsibilities." The Series 14 was created by NYSE Regulation. Its purpose is to "codify, clarify and give specificity to compliance obligations."

Series 14 Topics and Responsibilities

Series 14 Exam topics include the various industry regulatory agencies, the supervision of sales and customer accounts, the operation of both primary and secondary trading markets, and financial responsibilities for FINRA and NYSE-member firms.

The Series 14 is a comprehensive and difficult exam along the lines of the Series 7 for general securities brokers. Compliance officers are responsible for making sure that firms are obeying the regulations that keep customer accounts safe, employees in good standing with regulatory authorities, and otherwise following the rules that keep the doors to the business open.

Series 14 Exam Structure

The exam consists of 110 scored questions divided into nine categories. Three hours is provided for its completion. A score of 70% or better is required for passing. The Series 14 has no prerequisite exam and costs $350. For more, see FINRA's Series 14 - Compliance Official Exam (CO) informational page.

  • Section 1: Regulatory Agencies (3 questions)
  • Section 2: Markets and Operations (20 questions)
  • Section 3: Broker-Dealer Operations (10 questions)
  • Section 4: Credit Regulation/Capital Requirements (7 questions)
  • Section 5: General Supervision (20 questions)
  • Section 6: Investment Banking (15 questions)
  • Section 7: Registration (9 questions)
  • Section 8: Sales Practice-Customer/Employee Accounts (16 questions)
  • Section 9: Sales Practice-Solicitations (10 questions)

For more, see FINRA's Series 14/Compliance Official Qualification Examination content outline, which elaborates on the test sections and provides sample questions.

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