What Is the Series 30?

The Series 30 exam, also known as the NFA Branch Managers Examination, is a financial examination for professionals wishing to become branch managers for commodities futures trading firms. It is created by the National Futures Association (NFA) and is administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Key Takeaways

  • The Series 30 is a financial examination overseen by the NFA and FINRA.
  • It is designed to train branch office managers in the commodity futures trading industry.
  • Although the Series 30 covers many subject areas, it places special emphasis on compliance responsibilities and professional ethics.

How the Series 30 Works

Branch officers are responsible for the overall operations of a branch office. In the financial services industry, branch office managers have a wide range of responsibilities, including general oversight of employees, dealing with customer complaints and escalations, and ensuring compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

The Series 30 exam is intended to prepare candidates for assuming the role of branch manager of a commodity futures trading firm that is registered with the NFA. In addition to the general skills required of all branch managers, those working in the commodity futures trading industry must have additional knowledge and experience of the unique products, risks, and challenges of that sector.

To prepare candidates for this role, the Series 30 covers a variety of major topic areas including customer accounts, exchange rules and regulations, commodity pool operator (CPO) and commodity trading advisor (CTA) rules and regulations, discretionary rules, advertising, and management responsibilities. The exam consists of 50 multiple choice questions, with successful candidates typically taking about two weeks to prepare.


According to the NFA, an individual who is a branch office manager and an associated person must pass the Series 30 within the two years preceding their application. In some cases, however, exceptions can be granted, such as when their employer can prove that they are qualified to act as a branch office manager according to FINRA regulations.

Real World Example of the Series 30

Candidates are given one hour to complete the Series 30 exam, with a score of 70% or greater needed to pass. The exam covers various topics relating to commodity futures products, the futures trading industry structure, applicable laws and regulations, and professional ethics.

The Series 30 exam places significant emphasis on the office manager’s compliance responsibilities. To that end, its exam includes several questions on compliance-related subjects such as proper recordkeeping procedures, document disclosure requirements, the protocols for accepting and handling client funds, the guidelines for advertising futures trading services, and methods for detecting and combating money laundering and other types of fraud.