Becoming a Financial Planner in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Employment Security, Economic Information & Analysis Division projects a monumental increase of 29.41 percent in the number of jobs available to personal financial advisors in Illinois during the current ten-year period ending 2018. This represents an annual compound growth rate of 2.61 percent. Projections for other financial planning positions in Illinois are also optimistic. Insurance sales agents, some of whom sell fixed annuities under life producer licenses, are expected to see opportunities increase by 13.81 percent during this period. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents will see a 10.26 percent increase in the number of jobs in Illinois during this same ten-year period.

Faculty at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois in Chicago predict that the counties of Will and McHenry will experience the fastest population growth through 2020, with expected increases of 107 percent and 86 percent respectively. Counties near St. Louis, including Monroe, St. Clair, Clinton, Madison and Menard, are also expected to experience great growth during this time. The US Census Bureau notes that in 2010, the portion of Illinois’ population age 65 and over comprised 12.4 percent of the state’s total population. By 2030, the Bureau projects that 18 percent of Illinois population will fall within this age range. This rapid aging of Illinois’ population is positive news for the state’s financial planners who work with aging residents to help them achieve financial security as they prepare for their retirement years.

The Illinois State Board of Education reports that since 2000, SAT scores of college-bound seniors in the state have steadily increased and often outpaced the national average. As of 2008, the National Center for Higher Education Management System found that 57.4 percent of Illinois high school graduates were immediately enrolling in college. These are extremely strong indicators that suggest demand will increase for financial planners who assist Illinois families as they look for investment strategies and savings plans to fund their children’s college education.

How to Obtain an Investment Adviser License in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Securities requires that all prospective investment adviser (IA) firm owners and investment adviser representatives (IAR) in the state adhere to a specific licensing and registration process. When registering with the state, those who wish to establish IAs must register through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)-managed Investment Adviser Registration Depository (IARD). Those who intend to become IARs for established firms must be registered through the CRD (Central Registration Depository) system. The FINRA Uniform Investment Adviser Examination (Series 65 examination) must be passed, or as an alternative, both the General Securities Examination (Series 7 examination) and the Uniform Combined State Law Examination (Series 66 examination) will be accepted.

Investment advisory firms of global, national and regional fame are located across the state of Illinois. They include Savant Capital Management, Guggenheim Partners, and Towers Watson, all with offices in Chicago; as well as JPMorgan Chase in Batavia; US Bank in Glen Ellyn; First American Bank in Elk Grove Village; Mutual of Omaha in Rosemont; and Inland Investment Advisors, Inc. in Oak Brook.

How to Obtain a Stockbroker License in Illinois

Securities salespersons must also be registered with the Illinois Department of Securities through the FINRA-managed Central Registration Depository (CRD). Any prospective stockbroker in Illinois must be at least 18 years old and pass the Series 63 or Series 66 exams and the Series 7 exam or another securities exam specific to the type of products they’ll be selling.

Continuing education (CE) required by FINRA consists of a Regulatory Element and a Firm Element. The Firm Element must be provided by one’s securities firm and consists of training for employees on industry developments and product offerings that influence sales protocols. Participation in the Regulatory Element is required by all securities representatives after two years of service and every three years after that.

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

The Illinois Department of Insurance regulates life insurance producers in the state, who also often provide financial planning services by dealing in fixed annuities. Prospective life insurance producers must complete 20 hours of pre-licensing education, of which 7.5 hours must be completed in a classroom setting. Insurance licensing exams for Illinois residents are administered by third-party exam provider, Pearson Vue. To maintain a producer’s license, every two years life insurance agents must complete 24 hours of continuing education (three of these hours must be in ethics courses).

Prospective producers who also want to sell variable contracts may apply for a variable contracts license simultaneously with applying for a life insurance producer license. A variable contracts license requires a securities license, which, for associates of FINRA-member firms usually means passing the Series 6 or Series 7 exam, in addition to the Series 63 exam. There is no additional pre-licensing education required for a variable contracts license in Illinois; however, variable contracts producers must meet the continuing education requirements of the Illinois Department of Insurance as well as those necessary to retain their securities license.