Becoming a Financial Planner in the District of Columbia

Personal financial advising has been listed among DC’s Top 50 Jobs in a 2011 report published by the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services. This means that the occupation is one of the fastest growing and highest paying in the district. The number of jobs in this profession is expected to grow by 27.4 percent in the current ten-year period ending 2018. Job opportunities for insurance sales agents, many of whom sell annuities under a life insurance line of authority and market themselves as financial planners, are expected to increase by 12 percent during the same ten year period. By 2018, the number of jobs available to stockbrokers in Washington is expected to increase by 5.5 percent. This is good news for those looking to become financial planners in any capacity in The District

Washington is a very favorable market for financial planners who provide retirement planning, wealth management, and college savings plan services. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2007 that DC had 69,741 residents age 65 and over and that the average per capita personal income in 2010 was a very respectable $70,044. At just 19 percent, children comprise a smaller percentage of the total population in Washington than most other major American cities. Although fewer in number, these children are more likely to be from affluent families that will establish college savings plans in the coming years.

A 2010 Brookings Institution report found that Americans with college degrees are more apt to settle in cities and urban areas. In fact, at 47.3 percent, the greater DC area, which includes The District plus Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, had the highest percentage of adults in the entire country holding college degrees.

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How to Obtain an Investment Adviser Representative License in the District of Columbia

The District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking is responsible for the registration and licensing of investment advisers (IA) and investment adviser representatives (IAR) in The District. To become a licensed IAR in DC, candidates need passing scores on either the Series 65 Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination by itself, or on the Series 7 General Securities Representative exam in combination with the Series 66 Uniform Combined State Law exam. Exam exemptions are granted to those that hold any of the following professional certifications: CFP (Certified Financial Planner), ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant), PFS (Personal Financial Specialist), CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) or CIC (Certified Insurance Counselor).

There are many international and regional investment firms that serve the residents of Washington and the surrounding areas. They include such names as Northern Trust Corporation in Washington, DC; T. Rowe Price Investment Services in McLean, VA and Washington, DC; BB&T in Alexandria, VA; International Finance Corporation in Washington; United Bank in Fairfax, VA and Arlington; and E Trade Financial, Inc. in Washington. Entrepreneurs who wish to open their own IA firm must seek registration and licensure through the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking.

How to Obtain a Stockbroker License in the District of Columbia

The Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking in DC also regulates broker-dealer agents, more often referred to as stockbrokers or registered representatives. Prospective broker-dealer agents usually pass a securities examination suited to the specific products they’ll be selling. This would be the Series 6 or 7 in combination with the Series 63 Uniform Securities Agent State Law Exam or the Series 66 Uniform Combined State Law Exam.

Licenses must be renewed at the end of each year. Renewal is dependent on the completion of certain continuing education (CE) modules. The financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) requires continuing education programs for registered representatives of FINRA member broker-dealer firms. The Regulatory Element involves computer-based training modules that are completed after two years of professional service, and then every three years after that. The frequently updated modules reflect changes and updates in compliance standards, sales practices, and new regulations that registered reps are expected to adhere to. Additionally, firms offer annual training to agents to keep them apprised of changes in product offerings and regulations, as well as to keep their sales skills sharp.

How to Obtain a License to Sell Life Insurance and Fixed Annuities in the District of Columbia

Life insurance producers who often provide financial planning services by selling fixed annuities, are also regulated in DC under the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking. This department issues licenses to qualified candidates who have passed the District of Columbia Insurance Examination, which covers the DC Insurance Code and the DC Municipal Regulations (DCMR). These examinations are administered through PearsonVUE, a third party agency. Twenty-four hours of continuing education, including three hours of ethics training, must be taken before the end of each license renewal period.