Series 7 — Beating the Catch-22

Modified on by Kaitlin Goodrich

stock exchange, series 7

Everyone who wants to be a stockbroker has to take the Series 7 Exam before starting a career, but before taking the exam, you need to be sponsored by an employer. How do you beat this catch-22 and get prepared to take the Series 7 exam?

If you are trying to get a job as a stockbroker, you have surely heard of the Series 7 exam. Also known as the General Securities Representative exam, this test is required of anyone who makes trades on all types of corporate securities, excluding commodities and futures. Anyone who wants to work with financial instruments such as stocks, call and put options, or bonds needs to pass this exam administered through FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. While passing this exam is indispensable for anyone aiming to be a stockbroker, it is also required for other positions like insurance agents or financial planners and advisers.

Getting Started on Your Career with Series 7

Unfortunately, when you are just starting out in your career, this requirement can feel like a catch-22. In order to qualify to take the Series 7 exam, you need to be sponsored by a member firm, a self-regulatory organization (SRO), or an exchange associated with FINRA. This means that until you are employed in a position that would require the Series 7 exam for daily tasks, you cannot even sit for the Series 7 test. Often, this is incredibly frustrating for job seekers. Many seemingly low-level positions require the exam upfront. After the financial crisis, many companies are less willing to take on sponsorship of potential employees when already licensed professionals are searching for work. It can seem at times that there is no way to get your foot in the door.

Finding a Series 7 Sponsor

However, there are some steps you can take to get access to the Series 7 exam and start your securities career.

1. Browse company descriptions on job boards.

Often companies that are willing to sponsor you to sit for the Series 7 exam will mention this directly in the company bio. Positions in these companies that require the Series 7 as a base requirement may actually be more flexible with sponsorship if you can prove that you have done your research.

2. Look for mid-size firms that are hiring assistants.

Often smaller companies do not have the resources to sponsor you, and the largest firms are the most competitive. Many mid-size firms, on the other hand, are often willing to hire someone with the qualifications for the job but who has yet to sit for the exam. In particular, assistant positions are often less likely to require the Series 7 upfront. You can do research on FINRA member firms here or on the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) website.

3. Be persistent, patient, and wait out the market.

Any job search requires a lot of determination and dedicated browsing. As this industry is very dependent upon current market conditions, the availability of entry-level jobs ebbs and flows with its changes. Take note of any upturns in the market, as well as which firms are experiencing particular growth. They will be most likely to look for new professionals.

4. Be prepared to take the Series 7 at any moment.

Even if you may have no particular sponsorship prospects now, that could change at any minute, and you need to be prepared. You should already be studying for the exam every day. Read up on the exam in detail at the FINRA website. Take practice exams often to maximize your score. Learn about the individual sections and determine what areas you need to work on more. Not only will you be able to take the exam as soon as you find a potential sponsor, but you will also be more knowledgeable during interviews with them.

5. Invest in Series 7 test prep.

Not only do test preparation materials make you more likely to pass the exam when the time comes, but when you are able to tell employers that you have been preparing using this strategy, it shows that you are taking your career seriously. You can find private tutors who can coach you through the process or invest in testing software from big companies like Kaplan or Barron’s. If you do not have hundreds of dollars to spend on Series 7 preparation, you can still get quality test prep through smaller companies like Brainscape for lower prices. The important thing is to show you have made a real effort already, so that employers will be willing to invest in you too.

6. Network, network, network

You are most likely to hear about good leads from other professionals in the industry. Go to any events you can with finance professionals or stockbrokers. The connections you form will be the key to building a career.

Your career as a stockbroker depends on passing the Series 7 exam. If you follow these tips, though, you are much more likely to successfully find the sponsorship you need to prepare for a long, successful finance career. Let us know which tips helped you get your career started in the comments!

Still studying for the Series 7? Brainscape’s scientifically proven method of confidence-based repetition can be the key to your success on such a detail-oriented and technical exam such as the Series 7. We are sure you have what it takes to pass and be an excellent broker with the right study habits. Let Brainscape’s Series 7 comprehensive flashcard review deck be the place you start.

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1 comment

Bruce Liebman 3 months ago

what is the penalty for firms that sponsor people to take the test if they don't need the series 7 tasks on a daily basis? Say for the sake of it the sponsored person is a clerk or receptionist and not in line to be a broker or banker?

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