Becoming a Financial Advisor in Idaho

Becoming a financial advisor in Idaho involves registering your own investment adviser (IA) firm or registering as an investment adviser representative (IAR) of an established IA with clients in Idaho. As a state level registrant, you’ll operate exclusively under the regulatory authority of the Securities Bureau of the Idaho Department of Finance. As a federal level registrant you’ll operate under the regulatory authority of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Follow this step-by-step guide to learn about state and federal registration eligibility standards and the process for becoming registered at either the state or federal level.

Investment adviser firms, owners, managing principals, supervisors, and representatives all conduct business in Idaho in accordance with the Idaho Uniform Securities Act.

Step 1. Get Your Education

A sound education will help ensure success as an investment adviser. Once you become licensed, potential clients will have the ability to access your profile on the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) national registry, which will include details about your education.

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It is also becoming increasingly common to find advisors holding highly specialized degrees:

  • PhD-Accounting or Finance
  • MBA-Accounting and Finance or simply Finance
  • MS-Accounting, Personal Financial Planning, or Finance
  • BA or BS -Accounting
  • BA-Consumer and Family Financial Services

Enroll in the right courses. No matter what degree you pursue, important courses to consider include:

  • Marketing
  • Computer information systems
  • Taxation
  • Economics
  • Behavior of organizations, persons and groups
  • Business communications
  • Finance
  • Statistics
  • Quantitative applications in business
  • Business ethics
  • Business law
  • Management
  • Accounting

To help differentiate the skills you develop as an advisor, consider one of the professional certifications specific to the financial planning profession. These certifications have eligibility requirements that include holding a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent level of industry experience. These designations are totally elective, but the Idaho Securities Bureau will waive additional exam requirements if you hold one of the following:

  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
  • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)

Step 2: Register Your Firm in Idaho

(Skip to Step 3 if you’ll be starting your career with an existing IA. This step is only applicable if you’ll be establishing your own IA firm.)

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Firms managing assets totaling more than $100 million fall under the regulation and authority of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Firms managing assets totaling less than $100 million fall under the regulation and authority of the Securities Bureau of the Idaho Department of Finance. In either case, establishing an independent IA in Idaho will require registration through the Investment Adviser Registration Depository (IARD). The following steps describe this process for both state and federal registrants.

  1. Complete the FINRA Entitlement Process by sending completed Entitlement Forms to the specified address. As part of this process, your firm will designate a Super Accountant Administrator (SAA). Upon approval of Entitlement, the SAA will then be able to access the FINRA Firm Gateway and complete the remaining steps.
  2. Fund the IARD User Account. Required filing fees for firm registration, along with state filing fees and IAR registration and exam fees will be funded through this general account. You will need to ensure that the account is adequately funded to cover the following costs:
  • Fees for federally registered firms with over $100 million in assets under management will be $225 a year
  • Annual filing fees in Idaho are $150 per firm
  • Annual filing fees in Idaho are $30 for each IAR that is employed by the firm and must include all individuals who are licensed to offer advice.
  • Prepare and submit Form U-4 Uniform Application for Securities Registration or Transfer for all representatives of the firm. If you who will be operating a firm as a sole proprietor, you will be considered as a representative of your own firm and will need to submit Form U-4 for yourself. Additional IAR testing and licensing requirements are detailed in Step 3.
  • Prepare and submit Form ADV. Select Idaho as the state in which your firm will do business.
  • Submit the following information to the Idaho Securities Bureau, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID  83720-0031:
  • A $25,000 Idaho Indemnity Bond that is required for all registered investment adviser firms in Idaho
  • A balance sheet that is dated within 90 days of the filing. The balance sheet does not need to be audited
  • Copies of contracts that will be used with clients
  • Designation of one of the firm officers as the Qualifying Officer

Step 3: Take the Required Exams

Certain professional certifications show that required competencies have been mastered. The SEC and the state of Idaho waive exam requirements if you’ve earned one of these industry-specific professional designations:

  • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
  1. Complete Form U-4, Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration or Transfer to apply for the required exams. Your firm’s Super Account Administrator will submit the form on your behalf along with the registration fee of $30.
  2. You will receive specific registration instructions related to the exams you apply for. One of the following is required:


  3. Schedule the exam through the Idaho Prometric Testing Center or Pearson Professional Center nearest you (Boise, Meridian, Pocatello).
  4. Prepare for the exam and plan to arrive at the selected testing center about an hour before your examination time.
  5. You will receive your test score immediately after completing the exam.

Step 4: Ongoing Renewal and Update Requirements in Idaho

Investment Advisor Firm:
Registration renewals for IA firms and representatives conducting business in Idaho are done completely through the Investment Adviser Registration Depository. License renewals must be completed before the 31st of December each year. Annual updates to the ADV are also required as part of the renewal process. Expect each annual renewal to involve the following fees:

  • Idaho’s renewal fees are $150 for the firm and $30 for each firm representative
  • Fees associated with annual renewals must be paid for all states in which the firm is registered
  • Additional administrative fees of $100 are paid to the Investment Adviser Registration Depository during each renewal.
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Investment Adviser Representatives:
As an IAR you’ll be required to keep the information on your Form U-4 current. If you are a sole proprietor, you will make these updates yourself. If you are an employee of a firm, you will have to work with the Super Account Administrator in your compliance department to complete any required amendments. Amendments must be completed within 30 days if any of the following information is changed:

  • Name change (marriage)
  • Additional business activities
  • Customer complaints
  • Criminal record change
  • Disciplinary action
  • Civil judgments
  • Additional education
  • Jurisdiction changes
  • Residential address change
  • Additional Certification