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Becoming a Financial Planner in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Center for Workforce Information and Analysis counts personal financial advisors among their High Priority Occupations (HPO) within the business and financial services industry.  Pennsylvania’s Workforce Information and Analysis Division defines HPOs as being in demand, requiring higher skills, and being likely to provide wages that can sustain a family. This HPO listing means that the state is actively working to align workforce training and education investments with this occupation in an effort to meet the expected demand. This occupation saw an 18.82 percent increase in the availability of jobs between the years 2006 and 2008. Securities sales agents also are listed among these HPOs, with an increase of 4.55 percent.

As compared to the rest of the U.S., Pennsylvania has a higher than average percentage of residents over age 65, according to the Census Bureau. In 2009, 15.4 percent of all residents were over age 65, compared to the national average of 12.9 percent. This makes Pennsylvania a potentially hot market for financial planners who specialize in providing retirement planning services.

In 2006, Forbes.com noted that seven of the world’s richest billionaires resided in Pennsylvania. According to data provided by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, per capita personal income adjusted for inflation has steadily risen in Pennsylvania from 1930 to present, even during periods of recession. Additionally, market research experts, Phoenix Affluent Marketing Service, found that the percentage of millionaires in Pennsylvania rose steadily between the years 2005 and 2007 with 252,326 of the state’s residents having a personal net worth of one million dollars or more.  According to 2008 U.S. Census Bureau information, Chester County ranked among the 25 wealthiest counties in the country, with a median household income of $84,844. Financial advisors working in this area who establish a good client base in the cities west of Philadelphia, such as Chadds Ford and West Chester, can expect a lucrative business.

According to the Lumina Foundation for Education, in 2008 37.9 percent of Pennsylvanians held a college degree. About 1.2 million Pennsylvanians have taken some college courses but have yet to complete a degree. The fact that a relatively high percentage of Pennsylvania’s residents pursue post secondary education bodes very well for financial planners who assist families establish savings plans to fund their children’s college education.

How to Obtain an Investment Adviser Representative License in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Securities Commission handles the licensing and registration of investment advisor representatives (IAR) as well as investment advisory (IA) firms in the state. Under the Pennsylvania Code, investment adviser representatives must pass one of the following examinations/examination combinations: (1) the Series 65 Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination; (2) the Series 7 General Securities Representative Examination in combination with the Series 66 Uniform Combined State Law Examination. Exemptions apply if one holds any of the following certifications or graduate degrees: Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) or Master of Science and Financial Services (MSFS) awarded by the American College, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Personal Financial Specialist (PFS), Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC), or if one is a licensed attorney in the state.

There are countless IA firms, including national, international and regional, across Pennsylvania. Some of the largest and best-known investment advisers in the state include Merrill Lynch in Yardley and Allentown; Wells Fargo in Reading and Philadelphia; Sovereign Bank in Reading and Elkins Park; Lincoln Investment Planning, Inc. in Wyncote; North Star Resource Group in Philadelphia; Vanguard in Valley Forge; VIST Financial in Blue Bell; and Univest in Souderton.

Investment adviser representatives who prefer to work for themselves by establishing a sole proprietorship or LLC, may also license their own IA firm through the Pennsylvania Securities Commission.

How to Obtain a Stockbroker License in Pennsylvania

Stockbrokers in Pennsylvania are also regulated by the Pennsylvania Securities Commission. They must pass the NASAA Series 7 Examination as well as the Series 66 Examination that covers state laws. Once licensed, Pennsylvania’s broker-dealer agents must adhere to the continuing education requirements of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc (FINRA). This includes completion of a computerized refresher training program after having been licensed for two years, and then every three years after that. These training programs are updated often so as to present relevant info in the ever-changing financial services regulatory environment. Additionally, all firms must provide continuing education through training programs conducted in-house or sponsored by firms off-site. These are designed to keep agents abreast of any changes in regulations as they pertain to sales tactics and financial vehicles.

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

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department handles the responsibility of licensing life insurance producers, who may also sell fixed annuities so as to market themselves as financial planners in the state. Pre-licensing education requirements of 24 credit hours through a Pennsylvania Insurance Department-approved provider must be fulfilled prior to a license being granted. Potential insurance producers must then pass the state’s insurance examination, which is administered by the third party testing center, Prometric, which has locations in Harrisburg, Clarks Summit, Lancaster and York.

Twenty-four hours of continuing education must be completed biannually to maintain one’s insurance producer license.
The sale of variable annuities requires additional licensure through the Pennsylvania Securities Commission. In addition to meeting the requirements of insurance producers above, variable annuities sales persons must obtain broker-dealer sponsorship and pass Series 6 Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts Limited Representative Exam or the Series 7 General Securities Representative Exam.