Becoming a Financial Planner in Alabama

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, recent economic development in Alabama is responsible for the fact that the average per capita personal income in the state has approached national levels. The urban counties of the state show the highest average per capita personal income, with residents of Jefferson and Shelby Counties enjoying an average per capita personal income higher than the national average. According to Phoenix Marketing International, as of 2009 about 3.55 percent of Alabama’s population were millionaires. This represented about 66,314 households. Financial planners often work with higher net worth families who have the means to establish college savings plans for their children and who often seek the assistance of experts for investment advice, retirement planning, and wealth management.

The University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research predicts that by 2025, there will be 939,000 more residents in the state than there were in 2000. Beginning in 2011, the greatest population growth in the state will be with residents age 65 and over. In 2010, 13.8 of Alabama’s population were 65 or older. By 2025, it is estimated that 19.6 percent of Alabama’s population will fall into this age range. With a large portion of Alabama’s population making the shift from work to retirement, many residents will be in need of financial planners who specialize in seeing to it clients have adequate savings and income on which to live in their golden years.

Another segment of Alabama’s population that is growing is the school-aged population. By 2025, this demographic is expected to increase by 12.4 percent from its 2000 toal. More children will be approaching college enrollment age, which translates to a need for responsible financial planners to help families prepare for the ever-increasing cost of funding a college education.

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How to Obtain an Investment Adviser Representative License in Alabama

Those who wish to become investment adviser representatives (IAR) or proprietors of investment adviser (IA) firms of their own in Alabama must register at either the state level with the Alabama Securities Commission or at the federal level with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), depending on the amount of client assets the firm will have under management. In both cases, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA’s) IARD (Investment Advisor Registration Depository) system is used to complete the process. As of January 1, 2010, Alabama law requires all prospective investment advisers in the state to pass the Series 65 examination (Uniform Investment Advisor Law) with a raw score of 94; or the Series 7 examination (General Securities Representative) in combination with the Series 66 Examination (Uniform Combined State Law) with a raw score of 75.

Global, national, and local investment advisory firms have offices throughout Alabama. Included within their ranks are Edward Jones in Birmingham, Montgomery, Gadsden, Anniston, Tuscaloosa, Talladega, Huntsville, Decatur, Mobile and Daphne; Ameriprise Financial in Birmingham; The Horace Mann Companies in Huntsville and Anniston; Hancock Bank in Prattville; Wyle in Huntsville; Clark Planning & Investment Advisory in Birmingham; and Retirement Investors, Inc. in Mobile.

How to Obtain a Stockbroker License in Alabama

Broker-dealer agents, commonly known outside the industry as stockbrokers, are required to register with the state through the FINRA-managed Central Registration Depository (CRD). Broker-dealer agents must pass one of the following NASAA exams: the Series 65 exam with a raw score of 94, the Series 63 exam with a raw score of 63, or the Series 66 exam with a raw score of 75. They must also pass the FINRA Series 6 or Series 7 examination that pertains to the investment products with which they plan to work.

Continuing education that is required of registered security broker-agents under NASAA and FINRA rules begins with a Regulatory Element that consists of a computerized refresher course. This course is taken after being licensed for two years, then every three years thereafter. Firms provide the Firm Element of the required continuing education. This keeps agents up to date on changes in products, industry developments and more.

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

Becoming a life insurance producer and selling fixed annuities requires licensing through the Alabama Department of Insurance. This involves a pre-licensing course of study pertaining to life insurance that consists of 20 classroom hours followed by the life insurance producer examination, administered by the state at the University of Alabama campuses in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, Tuscaloosa, and Montgomery. Those who hold the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation are exempt from taking the state’s life insurance examination. Twenty-four hours of continuing education must be completed every two years to maintain an Alabama insurance license.

After receiving a life insurance license in Alabama, producers often opt to expand their financial planning product offerings and become variable life/variable annuity agents. This requires a securities license and registration with the Alabama Securities Commission, which means passing either the FINRA Series 6 or Series 7 exam as well as state securities law exams. Continuing education requirements of both the Alabama Department of Insurance and FINRA apply to variable annuity agents.