The Series 65 is an exam and securities license required by most U.S. states for individuals who act as investment advisors. The Series 65 exam, known formally as the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination, covers laws, regulations, ethics and topics such as retirement planning, portfolio management and fiduciary responsibilities. The exam is designed by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) and is administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
Successful completion of the Series 65 exam qualifies an investment professional to function as an Investment Adviser Representative in certain states. Other FINRA-administered qualification examinations include the Series 3 National Commodities Futures (NCFE), Series 7 General Securities Representative (GS) and Series 63 Uniform Securities Agent State Law.
NASAA has completed the update of questions on the Series 63, 65 and 66 exams in light of the recent changes to the tax code. Tax-related questions appearing on the exams starting in Jan. 2019 reflect the 2018 tax code changes. To sit for the Series 65 exam a candidate does not require sponsorship by a member firm.
Series 65 Exam Structure
The Series 65 examination contains 130 multiple choice questions. Candidates have 180 minutes to complete the exam. Candidates must get 94 of the 130 questions correct to pass (a score of 72.3%).
Test takers will be provided with a basic four-function electronic calculator. Only this calculator may be used during the exam. Dry erase boards and markers are also provided for candidates. No reference materials of any kind are permitted in the exam room, and there are severe penalties for those who are caught attempting to cheat.
An individual's firm can schedule a candidate to take the exam by filing a Form U4 and paying the $175 examination fee. If an individual is not firm registered they use the Form U10 to request and pay for the exam.
Series 65 Exam Content
NASAA provides updated information on the exam's content on its website. The exam is structured as follows:
- Economic Factors and Business Information (15%, 20 questions): Topics include monetary and fiscal policy, economic indicators, financial reporting, quantitative methods and basic risk concepts.
- Investment Vehicle Characteristics (25%, 32 questions): Topics include cash and cash equivalents, fixed income securities, methods of fixed income valuation, equities and methods used to in equity valuation, pooled investments, derivative securities and insurance-based products.
- Client Investment Recommendations and Strategies (30%, 39 questions): Topics include individuals, business entities and trusts, client profiles, capital market theory, portfolio management styles, strategies and techniques, tax considerations, retirement planning, ERISA issues, special types of accounts, trading securities, exchanges and markets, and performance measurement.
- Laws, Regulations, and Guidelines, including Prohibition on Unethical Business Practices (30%, 39 questions): Topics include state and federal securities acts, rules and regulations for investment advisers, investment adviser representative, broker-dealers, and agents, ethical practices, and fiduciary obligations, including communications with clients, compensation, client funds and conflicts of interest.