Hundreds of licensing and registration professionals attended the recent Securities and Insurance Licensing Association (SILA) National Education Conference on September 15 – 17 in San Diego. Members of FINRA’s Qualifications department enlightened attendees with updates ranging from recent SIE Exam and top-off exam results, upcoming changes to principal exams and CE and qualification requirements, and outreach efforts to universities and colleges in support of SIE programs.

SIE and Top-Off Exam Statistics

With eleven months of statistics now available, FINRA’s qualification team released results of the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) and top-off exams.

August 31, 2019 Results

(After 11 months)

March 31, 2019 Results

(After 6 months)

Total SIE Enrollment:

90,516

44,626

Enrolled through U4:

50%

56%

Enrolled through TESS:

50%

44%

SIE Exams Taken:

67,445

(58,264 first-time candidates)

29,181

SIE Exam Pass Rate:

74% first attempt

82% overall

74% first attempt

 

Top-Off Exam

Administrations through August 31, 2019

Administrations through March 31, 2019

Series 6:

10,604

4,615

Series 7:

24,675

10,542

Series 79:

5,556

966

*Pass-through rates calculate the number of candidates who pass the SIE and subsequently pass their top-off exam on the first attempt.
Presenters noted recent trends, including:

  • The number of test enrollments and administrations, along with pass rates, reflect a cyclical boost from recent summer analyst and associate programs.
  • TESS enrollments are up, as firms are recognizing that the use of vouchers with this enrollment process saves upfront costs. The U4 process then begins after a top-off exam is requested.
  • Pass rates continue to be in line with FINRA’s expectations.

Continuing Education and Qualification Maintenance Updates

FINRA is targeting a 2022 implementation date for its restructured Regulatory Element and continuing education program.

  • Regulatory Element will be required annually, with a year-end deadline for completion. Changing the deadline from the current 120-day completion window based on anniversary date will allow firms to combine Regulatory Element with in-house Firm Element program deadlines and support a more efficient administration and follow-up process.
  • Regulatory Element content will map more closely to the registration category of the individual.
  • FINRA’s FINPRO system will be enhanced to host and track CE completions, and potentially offer individualized learning plans.

In response to requests for improved and timely Firm Element content and convenience of access, FINRA has plans to build a Firm Element content library that will consolidate content from vendors and FINRA.

As part of the CE initiative, FINRA is considering proposals that will allow individuals who leave the industry to maintain their qualifications status. The proposed program will allow these individuals to opt into completion of an annual continuing education requirement. FINRA will track these completions and communicate directly with program candidates.

Individuals that are eligible for participation in this program must have been associated with a firm for at least one year before leaving and cannot be out of the industry for more than 10 years.

This program will replace the previously announced Financial Services Affiliate Waiver Program (FSAWP), which established parameters for maintenance of qualifications for registered persons that move to non-registered roles in domestic or foreign financial services affiliates.

According to FINRA, a regulatory notice will be released by the end of October 2019 with the new continuing education rule proposal. FINRA concluded this update by stating its intention to cooperate with NASAA as it considers the implementation of continuing education requirements for persons who hold NASAA qualifications (Series 65 and Series 66).

Principal Exam Restructuring News

The momentum from the SIE and top-off exams initiative will be directed to the restructuring of principal exams. These exams will ultimately benefit from the same streamlining and removal of redundant information that was applied in the development of the top-off exam outlines. The intended implementation date for new principal exams is expected after the roll-out of the new CE program, to allow firms time to adjust systems and procedures.

A new operations principal exam is a likely priority. This exam will remove the net capital and aggregate indebtedness calculations that are included in the current Series 27 for persons who function as operations principals. The Series 24 Exam was also mentioned as a candidate for streamlining. Its currently broad scope will be narrowed into exams that focus more precisely on a specific aspect of supervision.

SIE Academic Outreach and Partnerships

FINRA is escalating its outreach to colleges and universities in support of SIE program awareness and development. It is focusing on contacting career development centers in its messaging and has developed a tool kit for their use in sharing information about the SIE with students. FINRA intends to host teleconferences that will include member firms, as well as conference attendees, to further drive this initiative. FINRA has also designed a 12-week curriculum outline to assist colleges and universities in implementing SIE courses.

Keep in Touch for Future SIE Exam Updates

Check back with Knopman Marks regularly for news and changes regarding FINRA registration and qualification exams. As always, we thank you for your partnership and encourage you to contact us at any time with questions.

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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.