Becoming a Financial Planner in Iowa

Iowa Workforce Development expects an increase of 3.8 percent annually between 2008 and 2018 in the number of jobs available to personal financial advisors in the state. An increase of 2.1 percent yearly is expected for insurance sales agent positions including life/annuity agents who provide retirement planning services, as is a yearly increase of 1.8 percent for securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents.

In 2010, the US Census Bureau reported that 14.9 percent of Iowa’s population was age 65 or older. By 2030, the Bureau expects that percentage to increase dramatically to 22.4 percent of the state’s total population. This significant increase in residents reaching retirement age helps illustrate the growing demand for retirement planning, retirement income management, and estate planning services in the state.

In 2010, the US Census Bureau reported that about 25 percent of Iowa’s total population was age 18 or younger. By 2030, this is expected to increase to 22.4 percent. State universities in Iowa released reports in 2010 showing that enrollment numbers were on the rise. In fact, at Iowa’s three state schools, fall enrollment in 2010 was up 1.8 percent, an increase of 1,355 students over the previous year. This positive enrollment trend highlights an increasing need for financial planners who specialize in working with families to establish tax-deferred college savings accounts and plans that contribute enough to these accounts to keep pace with the increasing cost of a college education.

In 2009, the median household income in Iowa was $48,065, according to the US Census Bureau. The counties in Iowa with the highest median household incomes that year were Boone, at $51,678; Bremer, at $54,482; Buchanan, at $51,052; Cedar, at $52,600; Dallas, at $71,854; Grundy, at $55,901; Iowa, at $52,079; Madison, at $55,607; Marion, at $52,221; Mills, at $54,646; Plymouth, at $58,440; and Polk, at $54,948. These counties are also where many of Iowa’s financial planners have offices to serve the investment advisory, retirement, and college tuition planning needs of the state’s higher net worth families.

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How to Obtain an Investment Adviser License in Iowa

An investment adviser representative (IAR) works for an investment adviser (IA) company making recommendations and giving clients advice on which securities or financial vehicles to invest in. In order to become a licensed proprietor of an IA firm or an IAR who represents an existing firm, applicants must register with the Iowa Securities Bureau through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA’s) IARD (Investment Advisor Registration Depository) system.

Passing the Uniform Investment Advisor Law Examination (Series 65), or both the General Securities Representative Examination (Series 7) and Uniform Combined State Law Exam (Series 66) is required. The following professional designations render applicants exempt from examination requirements: Certified Financial Planner – CFP, Chartered Financial Consultant – ChFC, Personal Financial Specialist – PFS, Chartered Financial Analyst – CFA, or Chartered Investment Counselor – CIC.

Global, national, and regional IA firms that employ many of the IARs in Iowa included Bank of the West in Clive, Carroll, and Ames; Aegon in Cedar Rapids; North Star Resource Group in Iowa City; Ameriprise Financial in West Des Moines; Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, with offices in Des Moines, West Des Moines, and Davenport; and Sammons Annuity Group, which has an office in West Des Moines.

How to Obtain a Stockbroker License in Iowa

Broker-dealer agents and security agents are required to register with the Iowa Securities Bureau through the FINRA Central Registration Depository (CRD). Series 63 or 66 exams must be passed along with examinations pertaining to the specific products reps will be selling. The sponsoring broker-dealer firms make this determination based on their self regulatory organization’s (SRO’s) requirements, but the Series 7 is most common.

FINRA requires all securities sales agents to participate in continuing education (CE) throughout their careers, which is broken down into two parts. The first part, the Regulatory Element, must be taken after being a registered representative for two years. Then, every three years, registered reps must take the current version of the course to keep abreast of changes in regulations within the industry. Broker-dealer firms provide the second part of FINRA-required CE, known as the Firm Element. This yearly in-house training program is designed to keep registered reps up-to-date on any changes in product offerings and sales techniques impacted by the industry’s ever-changing regulatory environment.

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

The Iowa Insurance Division licenses life insurance producers in the state who also sell annuities, thereby offering general financial and retirement planning services. An examination specific to the life/annuity line of authority must be passed, and is taken at one of the third-party exam servicer, Pearson Vue Testing Center located throughout the state. Continuing education that must be fulfilled to maintain licensure includes 36 hours, with three of those hours specific to ethics related subjects.

If a life insurance producer in Iowa wishes to deal in variable contracts, that is, variable life and/or variable annuities, that producer must have a securities license in addition to their active life insurance producer license. This involves passing the Series 6 or 7 exam in combination with either the Series 63 or 66 exam. Prior to variable contract licensure, these producers must also complete four hours of annuity-specific training. This is an initial licensing requirement and is not required for renewal. Continuing education that must be met for variable contracts producers include the mandates of the Iowa Insurance Division as well as those of the governing SRO.