WhatIsTheSIE

Do I Need to Take the SIE?

The financial industry offers immense career opportunity. Individuals of all ages and backgrounds are attracted to this field because of its potential for higher-than-average income and for dynamic, fulfilling work. It’s a highly competitive industry, so taking steps to improve your chances can be well worth the effort.

Do you want to become a top candidate for a job in finance or financial services?  Are you wondering how to set yourself apart from the crowd?

As of October 1, 2018, if you’re 18 or older you can boost your qualifications by passing the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam.

Whether your dream job is investment banking on Wall Street; building a financial planning practice; or servicing securities business in a bank, insurance company, or broker-dealer, registration with financial regulators is necessary before you can do business. To get registered, you need to prove your mastery of industry rules, products, and practices by passing examinations that are sponsored by industry regulatory bodies like FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority). The SIE is the first exam in this process, and it is quickly becoming a ticket for admission, i.e., a requirement by many financial firms before hire.

Who Should Take the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam?

If you fit any of these descriptions, you may want to add the SIE Exam to your to-do list.

College Students

  • An undergrad exploring finance. The SIE is a broad introduction to the securities industry. You’ll learn practical finance concepts that will be of benefit for the rest of your life, even if you choose a non-finance direction. Many concepts will transfer to other business courses you take.
  • A sophomore or junior seeking a financial internship. Potential employers will be impressed with your initiative, and you’ll have a better understanding of the language and rules of the industry. You’ll hit the ground running and improve your chances of landing the job you’ve dreamed of.
  • A business major without solid job plans. There’s no better way to learn about the securities industry and give yourself an edge in competing for a great position in a field that offers many potential directions than taking the SIE. Knowing the language and foundation of the industry will make you a more credible candidate.
  • A business student who has extra time to invest over the summer or break. The SIE is a great investment for professional and personal reasons if you have the time. You’ll never regret what you learn in the process and the credential that goes with it.

Career Changers

  • An experienced employee from another profession applying for a financial position. The SIE will give you points for initiative and will prove to an employer that you’re serious about making a career change. It also shows your potential for success in passing exams, which is required for many financial careers.
  • An experienced employee from another profession who wants to know more about opportunities in the securities industry. Preparing for the SIE teaches you the industry’s nuts and bolts. You’ll confirm whether the industry holds appeal and, at the same time, improve your chances for hire if you do choose this career direction.

Currently Employed Financial Professionals

  • An administrative, operational, or support employee in a financial firm seeking a customer-facing role. Customer support, financial advisory, and compliance positions are among many areas that require licensing. These customer-facing positions often involve payment through commissions or fees that require licensing. These growth areas in financial firms usually offer strong compensation potential, too.
  • A person currently working in a financial firm who wants meaningful professional development. Most employers want your input in planning for your personal growth. Using this as an opportunity to prepare for the SIE improves your industry knowledge and creates new opportunities in areas that require licensing.

Motivated Personal Finance Consumers

  • An individual looking for a better understanding of how securities products, rules, and processes affect them. This exam is available to anyone in the public. And who couldn’t benefit from understanding more about the life-skill that is personal finance?

Who Is Exempt from the SIE Exam?

If you have previously been licensed in the securities industry, you may be exempt from this exam. Persons who held securities registrations within the past four years are “grandfathered” and will take a shorter, topic-specific exam after they are associated with a financial firm. FINRA will give these grandfathered individuals credit for having passed the SIE, which will be reflected in their record in BrokerCheck, found on the FINRA Website.

Increase Your Chances with the SIE

Whether you are a new entrant to the work force, like a college student, or a seasoned professional looking for a career change, the SIE can open many doors. It’s a first step in learning about the financial industry for those without a background in it. It’s an inexpensive way to earn a qualification that proves your initiative and improves your chances for hire. And if you don’t pursue a financial career that requires the exam, you’ll learn financial principals and planning concepts that will benefit you personally for life.

The SIE qualification is good for four years. So even if you’re only a college sophomore, or maybe a teacher on summer break that is considering a career change down the road, you can pass the exam and use it later. Give this opportunity serious consideration and don’t hesitate to seek expert training. It’s an investment in yourself that can deliver a strong return.

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Written by Marcia Larson
Marcia Larson is Vice President, Faculty, at Knopman Marks Financial Training, New York, NY. She has extensive experience in financial licensing and regulatory training, having authored, developed and presented courseware for numerous securities and insurance exam preparation and continuing education and compliance programs. Before joining Knopman Marks, Marcia was Director of Annuity Products and Business Development at CUNA Mutual Group, where she developed and marketed industry-leading annuity products and retirement solutions and implemented distribution relationships. She was previously VP, Securities Products for Kaplan Financial, managing securities training products and subsequently, international training and businesses development. Marcia has trained thousands of financial industry exam candidates throughout their careers, and also college students as an adjunct professor. Marcia was a summa cum laude graduate of Wartburg College with degrees in Business Administration and Piano Performance. Marcia also holds the designations of Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®), Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS), and Fellow Life Management Institute™ (FLMI®). She currently teaches the SIE, Series 6, 7, 24, 50, 52, 63, 65, and 66 exams.