Series 14

Series 14

Investopedia / Daniel Fishel

What Is the Series 14 Exam?

The Series 14 is a financial examination for professionals wishing to become compliance officers. In the United States, those who are primarily responsible for ensuring compliance at their firms must complete the Series 14 exam. Similarly, the exam is also mandatory for those who oversee 10 or more team members with compliance responsibilities.

Key Takeaways

  • Series 14 is a financial exam relating to compliance officers.
  • The exam has no prerequisites and consists of 110 multiple-choice questions.
  • Typically, about 25% of the exam’s questions are related to professional ethics.

How the Series 14 Exam Works

Although the exam is commonly referred to simply as the Series 14, its full name is the Compliance Official Qualification Examination. It is overseen by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and is designed to ensure that compliance professionals possess the knowledge to carry out their responsibilities effectively. 

Originally, the Series 14 was created by the initiative of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), which wished to create a clear set of standards for compliance officers at its member institutions. These professionals play an important role in the overall financial services sector, because they help ensure that firms, traders, and other financial professionals adhere to the various rules and regulations set out by financial regulators. Ultimately, this compliance framework is important to ensure that investors, companies, and the public at large have confidence in the capital markets.

Achieving the Series 14 is a difficult process. Like the better-known Series 7 exam, the Series 14 is a comprehensive and difficult exam, made up of 110 multiple-choice questions. Candidates are given three hours to complete the exam, with a score of 70% or greater needed to pass. Unlike other exams such as the Series 51, the Series 14 does not have prerequisite courses.

Real World Example of the Series 14 Exam

The content of the Series 14 exam is made up of nine sections, spanning a wide range of compliance-related subjects. These include general topics such as the overall makeup of the financial regulatory regime, as well as more technical topics such as the operations of broker-dealer firms and the methods for ensuring credit covenants and other capital requirements are maintained.

The Series 14 exam also includes questions designed to simulate real-world interactions with customers, employees, and other typical stakeholders. These questions, which make up about one-quarter of the exam, are designed to help candidates learn how to manage conflicts of interest and navigate other professional ethics issues.

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  1. FINRA. "Series 14 – Compliance Officer Exam." Accessed Feb. 16, 2021.