Once you’ve earned a securities license, you realize that a lot of time and effort went into the process. These exams are tough, so nearly everyone that takes them needs to put their life on hold awhile and hit the books hard. Typically, more than one exam is required to get registered, and often others are needed through the years for career advancement or compliance with new regulations.

After making the considerable effort to acquire securities licenses, you’ll want to be sure they don’t expire. Expiration of a license almost always results in having to retake the exams, unless an exception is granted by industry regulators. In reality, exceptions are rare, so more often than not, you’ll have to re-test.

To ensure you don’t become a victim of a surprise license expiration, you should know the circumstances that apply, especially since FINRA’s October 2018 exam-restructuring program resulted in changes.

SIE Exam Expiration

The new SIE Exam allows anyone over the age of 18 to take the first step toward securities licensing, without sponsorship or association with a FINRA member firm. Once you have passed the SIE, it is valid for four years. If you join a securities firm within that four-year period, you will complete your registration process by passing the appropriate top-off exam (e.g., 6, 7, 52, 79, etc.). If you don’t join a firm within four years, your SIE will expire, and you will need to retake the exam if you want to work in the securities industry.

If you joined a securities firm within four years of passing the SIE, worked awhile, and then left for a non-securities job, your SIE credential would expire after four years. To avoid expiration, you would need to join a new securities firm before the end of the four-year window. The four-year count starts on the date you left the securities firm.

If you’re wondering how FINRA keeps track of this, it’s through a required notification process that the securities firm that employs you is responsible. The firm must file a U5 Form with FINRA within 30 days of your departure. The termination date specified on the U5 will start the clock on the expiration of your license.

Co-Requisite Exam Expiration Date Chart

The exams below are representative level exams that require the SIE as a co-requisite. This means the SIE must also be passed for registration, but that the exams can be taken in either order. All of these top-off exams expire after two years, which means if you leave a securities firm for another industry , you will need to join a new securities firm before the end of the two-year period to avoid license expiration.

SIE Co-Requisite Representative ExamsExpires After
Series 6 Top-OffInvestment Company and Variable Products Representative Exam2 years
Series 7 Top-OffGeneral Securities Representative Exam2 years
Series 22 Top-OffDirect Participation Representative Exam2 years
Series 52 Top-OffMunicipal Securities Representative Exam2 years
Series 57 Top-OffSecurities Trader Representative Exam2 years
Series 79 Top-OffInvestment Banking Representative Exam2 years
Series 82 Top-OffPrivate Securities Representative Exam2 years
Series 86 and 87 Top-OffsResearch Analyst Exam2 years
Series 99 Top-OffOperations Professional2 years

The exams in the next table have no SIE requirement because they were not changed in FINRA’s exam restructuring. Note that the Series 63 and Series 65 exams are state registration exams, so individual states, not FINRA, may choose to make exceptions regarding expiration.

Securities Exams with No SIE Co-RequisiteExpires After
Series 14Compliance Officer Exam2 years
Series 16Supervisory Analysts Exam2 years
Series 27Financial and Operations Principal Exam2 years
Series 28Introducing Broker-Dealer Financial and Operations Principal Exam2 years
Series 50Municipal Advisor Representative Exam2 years
Series 63Uniform Securities Agent State Law Exam2 years
Series 65Uniform Investment Adviser Law Exam2 years

The following registration categories require the passing of the SIE and a top-off exam. These registrations are necessary for principals or supervisors, with the exception of the Series 66, which is the state-level exam that adds registration as an investment adviser representative for persons that have already passed the SIE and Series 7 top-off.

Principal ExamsExpires After
Series 4Registered Options Principal2 years
Series 9 and 10General Securities Sales Supervisor Exam2 years
Series 23General Securities Principal Exam – Sales Supervisor2 years
Series 24General Securities Principal Exam2 years
Series 26Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Principal Exam2 years
Series 27Financial and Operations Principal Exam2 years
Series 28Introducing Broker-Dealer Financial and Operations Principal Exam2 years
Series 39Direct Participation Programs Principal Exam2 years
Series 53Municipal Securities Principal Exam2 years
Series 54Municipal Fund Securities Limited Principal Exam2 years
Series 66Uniform Combined State Law Exam2 years

How to Renew an Expiring License

Before examining the expiration scenarios below, you should know that FINRA granted credit for the SIE to all persons who were registered before the October 2018 exam restructuring. These persons may be required to take the SIE for the first time if they leave the industry under the current expiration guidelines.

  • Assume you hold a Series 7 registration and leave the industry for three years. To become a Series 7 representative again, you must retake your top-off exam (expired after two years) but not the SIE.
  • Assume you hold a Series 7 registration and leave the industry for five years. To become a Series 7 representative again, you must take both the SIE (expired after four years) and the top-off exam (expired after two years).
  • Assume you hold a Series 24 registration and leave the industry for three years. To come back to the industry as a Series 24 supervisor, you must take the Series 24 only (expired after two years). No top-off or SIE is required.
  • Assume you hold a Series 24 registration and leave the industry for five years. To come back to the industry as a Series 7 representative, you must take both the Series 7 (expired after two years) and the SIE (expired after four years). To come back to the industry as a Series 24 principal, the Series 24 and the SIE will be required, unless a waiver is granted.

The Future of Securities Exam Expiration

The securities industry has encouraged FINRA to consider changing the exam expiration process so it’s more in line with other professional credentials. For example, persons that are CPAs or lawyers can leave their industry and begin practicing again if they complete ongoing continuing education requirements. FINRA announced it is exploring similar options. Changes may be on the horizon, but for now, the exam expiration threat will remain for persons that take leave of the securities industry.

Check back regularly with Knopman Marks for updates on important securities licensing and registration topics! If you have questions, contact us for more information.

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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.