Becoming a Financial Advisor in Indiana

To become a financial advisor in Indiana, start with legal registration of a new independent investment adviser (IA) firm or register as an investment adviser representative (RA) for a firm that already has a client base that includes Indiana residents. This guide covers the process by which you establish a firm or register as a firm representative at the state level through the Indiana Securities Division, as well as at the federal level with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The Indiana Uniform Securities Act details the laws under which all investment advisers (IAs) and investment adviser representatives (RAs) in Indiana operate.

Step 1. Get Your Education

The first steps towards a successful career as a financial adviser includes getting a solid education. Once you’re licensed, your potential clients will be able to easily access your profile on the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) national registry, which includes your educational background. Most individuals who deliver financial planning and advisory services have earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

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Some of the highly specialized degrees that are being seen among financial advisors include:

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

Even if you don’t get a specialized degree, your education should still provide you with the knowledge needed to offer the best possible recommendations to your clients. Some of the courses that will help you in your career:

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

The skills that you have developed as an adviser can be better distinguished by holding voluntary professional certification. These certifications are not a requirement for investment adviser registration, but they signal to clients that you’ve met eligibility requirements including formal education and/or industry experience. Some of the specialized certifications available to financial advisors are:

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

Step 2: Register Your Firm in Indiana

(This step is only needed if you are interested in establishing your own IA firm. Skip to Step 3 if you intend to start your career by working with an existing firm.)

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If your firm will be offering services mostly to clients that live in Indiana and managing assets totaling less than $100 million, you will register with the Indiana Securities Division. If you’ll be managing or holding discretionary authority over more than $100 million in client assets, you’ll register your firm federally with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Both the SEC and the state of Indiana require registration to be processed through the Investment Adviser Registration Depository (IARD).

  1. Initiate the entitlement process to gain access to the IARD. Submit Entitlement Forms by mail to FINRA Entitlement Group, 9509 Key West Ave, Rockville, Maryland 20850 or by fax to FINRA Entitlement Group at 301-216-3721. This will involve designating a Super Accountant Administrator (SAA). After approval of Entitlement, your SAA will be able to access the FINRA Firm Gateway and complete the following steps.
  2. Fund the IARD User Account. Fees will include filing fees for the registration of your firm, state filing fees, plus RA registration and exam fees. Your account will need to be funded to cover the following:
  • Initial fee of $225 for new firms with over $100 million in assets under management
  • Fees associated with registering each of the advisers in the new firm (which will also include yourself if you will be appointed as an RA in the firm, which is required if the firm is registered as a sole proprietorship). These will include exam fees for new RAs
  • Annual filing fees in Indiana are $100 per firm, paid through the IARD and distributed electronically to the Indiana Securities Division.
  • Annual filing fees in Indiana are $25 for each IAR that is employed by the firm
  • Complete and electronically submit Form U-4, Uniform Application for Securities Registration or Transfer for all investment adviser representatives (RAs) in the firm, yourself included.
  • Complete and electrically submit Form ADV, which provides detailed information about the firm’s investment philosophy, fee structure, background information on IARs working with the firm, and other important information. An electronic version of the form is available on IARD. Select Indiana as the state in which your firm will do business.
  • Submit the following information to Doreen L. Fuery, Senior Accountant, Securities Division, 302 West Washington Street, Room E-111, Indianapolis, IN  46204, or fax it to 317-233-3675. Emails with scanned copies can be sent to [email protected]:
    • Copies of all contracts that will be used with clients
    • An unaudited balance sheet, no more than 60 days old
    • If billing clients more than $500 or more than six months forward, the balance sheet must be audited by a CPA

Step 3: Take the Required Exams

Both the SEC and the state of Indiana waive exam requirements if you have demonstrated industry knowledge and experience by earning one of the following professional designations:

  • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
  1. Complete the Form U-4, Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration or Transfer, which is required to register as an RA. This will be submitted by your firm’s Super Account Administrator through the IARD along with an initial registration fee of $50.
  2. You will be provided specific registration instructions related to the required exam(s) upon approval of your application. You’ll be required to take either:


  3. Schedule the exam(s) through one of the Prometric or Pearson Professional Center testing locations in Indiana (Carmel, Evansville, or Fort Wayne) within 120 days of your Form U-4 being accepted. Plan to arrive at the testing center an hour before your scheduled examination time.
  4. Prepare for the exam and arrive at your chosen, agreed-upon location an hour before your scheduled start time.
  5. You will receive your test score upon completion.

Step 4: Ongoing Renewal and Update Requirements in Indiana

Investment Advisor Firm:

  • IA firm and RA license renewals for Indiana are done completely through the Investment Adviser Registration Depository
  • License renewals for Indiana will always need to be completed before December 31st every year
  • Indiana’s renewal fees are $50 for the firm and $25 for each RA within the firm
  • Renewal fees must be paid for any state in which the IA firm or the firm’s RAs are registered
  • An additional $100 administrative fee will be paid to the IARD
  • Annual updates to the ADV will also be required as part of the renewal process
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Investment Adviser Representatives:
As an RA, you’ll be required to maintain current information on your Form U-4. As a sole proprietor, you will need to make required updates to the Form U-4 yourself. As an employee, you’ll work through the firm’s Super Account Administrator to complete required amendments to Form U-4 within 30 days of changes to the following information:

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