Becoming a Financial Planner in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Administration’s Demographic Services Center expects that the state’s population will grow by 19.6 percent between 2000 and 2030. From 2010 to 2020, the population of Wisconsin is expected to grow by 6.3 percent. Between 2020 and 2030, the state’s population is likely to grow by another 5 percent. As Baby Boomers become senior citizens, the population of residents age 65 and over will comprise 21 percent of the state’s total population. This is expected to happen by 2030. Also by that year, the number of Wisconsin residents age 85 and over will rise 66 percent from 2000 totals.

Wisconsin’s Demographic Services Center also expects that by 2030 the number of residents between the ages of 0 and 17 will increase to 1,445,000. Although the state has recently seen only modest growth in its college enrollment numbers, college enrollment should increase over time as this segment of the population grows.

What do these two demographics have to do with the future of financial planners in Wisconsin? Plenty. Many financial planners collaborate with those approaching senior citizenship to ensure that they have enough money to live comfortably through their golden years. Likewise, many financial planners work with college-bound residents and their families to ensure college savings accounts grow adequately to cover the rising costs of a college education.

According to the Donors Forum of Wisconsin, the state is expected to experience an unprecedented intergenerational transfer of wealth through 2050. This describes the transfer of household estate wealth from one generation to the next. The Forum predicts that during the next 50 years, Wisconsin will see an estimated $687 billion move through intergenerational wealth transfer. This scenario presents financial planners in Wisconsin with a unique challenge, as well as a growing client base. More and more Wisconsin residents will be in need of financial planning services when planning their estate transfers to mitigate loss due to taxation and probate fees. Wisconsin’s most affluent counties are expected to be the epicenters of this wealth transfer. These include the counties of Ozaukee, Door, Villas, Waukesha, and Washington.

How to Obtain an Investment Adviser Representative License in Wisconsin

The State of Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions registers investment adviser (IA) firms and investment adviser representatives (IARs) who work with clients in the state. As of January 1, 2009, all prospective IARs in the state who work for an IA firm with a place of business in Wisconsin with five or more clients must register in the state. State and federal level registration is done through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA’s) IARD (Investment Advisor Registration Depository) system. Exam requirements for IA firm principals and firm representatives are the same: the North American Securities Administrators Association’s (NASAA’s) Series 65 (Uniform Investment Adviser Law) examination; or the Series 7 (General Securities Representative) examination along with the Series 66 (Uniform Combined State Law) examination.

Wisconsin houses many investment advisory firms, some of which are internationally known. Investment advisory firms located within Wisconsin’s borders include Bank of the West in Spooner; New England Financial in Madison and Brookfield; Robert W. Baird & Co. in Milwaukee; The Horace Mann Companies in Lake Geneva and Milwaukee; CUSO Financial Services, LP in La Crosse; and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Pewaukee, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Wauwatosa and Mequon.

How to Obtain a Stockbroker License in Wisconsin

Registered representatives of broker-dealer firms, also called stockbrokers, broker-dealer agents, or securities agents, also are required to register with the State of Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions as well as with an Self Regulatory Organization (SRO). In all cases, this is done through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Central Registration Depository (CRD). All securities agents in Wisconsin must pass the Series 63 Uniform Securities Agent State Law Exam or the Series 66 Uniform Combined State Law Exam, plus at least one other exam dependent upon the type(s) of securities products they plan to sell. Most BD firms will require reps to hold a Series 7 license, but other possible product examinations offered include:

  • Series 6 Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts Representative
  • Series 7 General Securities Representative
  • Series 22 Direct Participation Programs Representative
  • Series 52 Municipal Securities Representative
  • Series 62 Corporate Securities Limited Representative
  • Series 42 Registered Options Representative
  • Series 72 Government Securities Representative
  • Series 82 Private Placement Representative

Once registered, agents must maintain their registration by fulfilling FINRA-mandated continuing education (CE) requirements. These include a Regulatory Element, consisting of a computer refresher program taken after holding registration for two years. Every three years after that, registered reps must take the Regulatory Element again, as it is frequently updated to reflect regulatory changes in the industry. In addition, BD firms must offer the Firm Element portion of CE to employees to keep them informed of changes that may influence sales practices and product offerings.

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

Those who wish to sell life insurance and fixed annuities in Wisconsin must register through the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance. Pre-licensing education, which may be completed via approved self-study or classroom-based courses, must be achieved prior to licensure. Applicants may be exempt from pre-licensing education requirements if they can produce the following:

  • Transcript showing completion of a two-year Wisconsin vocational school degree in insurance
  • Transcript showing completion of a four-year college degree in business with an insurance emphasis
  • Holding any of the following professional designations:
    • Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU
    • Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS)
    • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
    • Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC)
    • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
    • Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF)
    • Fellow of the Life Management Institute (FLMI)

Aspiring life insurance producers must then take the state’s insurance licensing exam, administered through Sircon and Pearson Vue.

Licensed life insurance producers may pursue the variable life/variable annuity license in Wisconsin. No additional pre-licensing education or examination is necessary for this license through the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance. However, as this does involve selling securities, registration through FINRA and a securities license is mandatory, which means passing the Series 6 or Series 7 exams. Firm and Regulatory Element continuing education requirements specific to registered reps, as well as continuing education required by the Wisconsin Officer of the Commissioner of Insurance apply to variable life/variable annuity license holders.


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