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Becoming a Financial Planner in Arizona

The Arizona Department of Labor expects that in the current ten-year period ending 2016, there will be an astonishing 36.2 percent increase in job opportunities for personal financial advisors in the state. Insurance sales agents, who may also deal in fixed annuities, and as such, offer financial planning services, will see an increase of about 15.4 percent in the number of jobs available during this time. Stockbrokers can expect to see job growth of about 6.8 percent in Arizona between the years 2006 and 2016.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2009 figures indicate that Arizona has a slightly higher than average percentage of residents age 65 and older, 13.1 percent as compared to the national average of 12.9 percent. Arizona continues to experience a need for financial planners who help the state’s residents prepare for retirement, as well as those who help retirees with the responsible and cautious management of investment portfolios during retirement. In fact, according to the American Community Survey, 18.7 percent of Arizona households currently have some retirement income.

Arizona also has a slightly larger segment of the population under age 18 and under age five than the national average. About 26.3 percent of Arizona’s population is under 18, while 7.9 percent is under five. Both of these statistics suggest a growing segment of Arizona’s population that will be saving to pay for their children’s college education. This is supported by the fact that, according to The College Board, about 45 percent of graduating seniors in Arizona immediately enroll in college and 34.4 percent of all adults in the state currently hold a college degree.

According to the American Community Survey, in 2009, the median household income in Arizona was $50,296 (in inflation-adjusted dollars). Forbes magazine reported that the wealthiest Arizonans live in the greater Phoenix area. This is also where the services of financial planners are in highest demand, as higher net worth individuals and families tend to use the services of financial planners more often as they look to professionals for assistance with wealth management and estate planning, as well as investment advice.

How to Obtain an Investment Adviser Representative License in Arizona

The Arizona Corporation Commission’s Securities Division is charged with the responsibility of registering and licensing investment adviser (IA) firms and investment adviser representatives (IAR) who work with clients in the state. Applications required to establish an IA or become an IAR must be filed through the Securities Division with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA’s) IARD (Investment Advisor Registration Depository). Passing of the NASAA (North American Securities Administrators Association) Series 65 examination, or the Series 7 examination in combination with the Series 66 Examination, is a perquisite to licensure in Arizona.

Global and national investment advisory firms, as well as regional firms with a local and regional presence, may be found throughout Arizona. These include Edward Jones, which has offices in Phoenix, Prescott, San Luis, Tucson, Yuma, Sierra Vista, and Lake Havasu City; Charles Schwab, Genworth Financial, and Northern Trust Corporation, with offices in Phoenix; and WealthTrust Arizona and Vanguard, both with offices in Scottsdale.

How to Obtain a Stockbroker License in Arizona

Stockbrokers must also register with both the Arizona Securities Commission through FINRA’s Central Registration Depository (CRD). Passing of NASAA’s Series 63 or Series 66 state exams in combination with a FINRA exam focusing on the product they’ll be selling (usually Series 6 or Series 7 exams) is required.

NASAA and FINRA expect all registered securities agents to fulfill continuing education requirements. This consists of two parts: a Regulatory Element, which is an individual computerized refresher course that is taken after two years of registration, then every three years thereafter; and a Firm Element, provided by firms for registered agents to keep them abreast of changes in the regulatory environment that may affect investment product offerings and sales protocols.

How to Obtain a License to Sell Life Insurance and Fixed Annuities in Arizona

The Arizona Department of Insurance licenses life insurance producers, who often sell fixed annuities so as to offer retirement planning services. Life insurance producers must be at least 18 years of age and must pass the Arizona life insurance producer exam administered by Prometric. Test centers may be found in Tempe, Phoenix, Goodyear, Flagstaff, Casa Grande, and Tucson. Forty hours of continuing education must be completed every two years to maintain this license.

Those interested in expanding their offerings to include variable contracts, which include a stock market component, require an additional securities license. This means the Series 6 or Series 7 exam must be taken. Holding a securities license and a life insurance producer license means upholding self regulatory organization (SRO) continuing education requirements, as well as the continuing education requirements required by the Arizona Department of Insurance.