Becoming a Financial Planner in Michigan

Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget expects huge increases in the number of jobs available to professionals in the state offering financial planning servies in the coming years. Job openings for personal financial advisors are predicted to grow by a whopping 29.9 percent in the current ten year period ending 2018. Insurance agents, including those who market themselves as financial planners by selling life insurance and annuities, will see an increase of about 12 percent; while jobs for stockbrokers are estimated to increase by 8.9 percent. Insurance sales and personal financial advising are also counted among Michigan’s Hot 50 Jobs, as listed by Michigan’s Department of Labor, Energy and Economic Growth. This means that these professions are among the top fifty jobs expected to show the greatest level of growth and opportunity within the state in the coming years.

Over 23 percent of Michigan’s residents are 18 and under, while 13.4 percent are age 65 and older. This means a total of 37 percent of the state’s population is likely preparing to enter either college or retirement. As college tuitions rise and more families are intent on seeing to it their children pursue post secondary education, the need has increased for financial planners who help establish college savings plans. Those considering retirement call on the the expertise of financial planners to help establish retirement plans. The richest areas of Michigan, according to FDIC deposits, are situated in the South Bend, IN/Mishawak, MI area; the Lansing and East Lansing areas; and the Ann Arbor area. Financial planners working in these parts of the state can expect to be quite busy working with the higher net worth families that very often require their services.

Currently, 25.2 percent of Michigan residents age 25 and over hold a college degree. Those holding advanced degrees make 42 percent more than a Michigan resident with an undergraduate degree. Michigan currently has three state-sponsored college savings plans: Michigan Education Trust (MET), Michigan Education Savings Program (MESP), and MI 529 Advisor Plan. Personal financial advisors are very involved in helping residents select the right plan for their situation, particularly in the MI 529 Advisor Plan, which is the only advisor-sold 529 plan in the state to offer residents an income tax deduction.

The Federal Financial Services Reform Act of 1999 made Michigan the first state to coordinate regulation of financial institutions, securities, and insurance industries. According to the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation, as of 2011 there are about 120,000 licensed insurance professionals; 7,200 broker-dealers; 121,000 securities agents; and 1,600 investment advisors licensed, certified or registered in Michigan.

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How to Obtain an Investment Adviser Representative License in Michigan

Michigan’s Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation licenses investment adviser representatives (IARs) who may choose to establish their own firms or work for existing national or regional IA firms located in the state. Investment adviser representatives in Michigan must take the North American Securities Administrators Association’s (NASAA’s) Series 65 examination (also known as the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination). Exceptions may be made if one has already passed the Series 66 and Series 7 exams within two years of applying for a Michigan IAR license; if one was registered as an IAR in another state that required passing the Series 65 exam; or if one holds any of these professional designations: Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Financial Consultant, Personal Financial Specialist, Chartered Financial Analyst, or Chartered Investment Counselor.

Investment advisory firms can be found all across Michigan. International and national agencies with local Michigan offices include Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Bloomfield Hills, Troy, Farmington, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw; Edward Jones in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing, and Flint; and Merrill Lynch in Farmington Hills. Regional and local IA firms in Michigan include Avery Wealth, Inc. in Jackson; Titan Advisory Firm, LLC in Martin; Wierenga Asset Management in Byron Center; and Straightline in Troy.

How to Obtain a Stockbroker License in Michigan

Securities broker-dealers and the stockbrokers that work for them are also licensed through the Mighigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation. NASAA exams that must be passed prior to state licensure include the Series 63 Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination or the Series 66 Uniform Combined State Law Examination. Either the Series 6 or Series 7 exam must also be passed based upon what type of investment products a registered rep’s employer will have them working with.  Annuities and mutual funds require the Series 6, while more products such as stocks and options, which require a greater degree of personal management, require the Series 7.

FINRA (the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc) requires all that all stockbrokers complete continuing education courses to keep their licenses up to date. This involves participation in a computer-based training course that is to be completed after holding a securities license for between 21 and 27 months, and then every 36 months after that. This is referred to as the Regulatory Element of continuing education. In what is known as the Firm Element, stockbrokers will be required by their employer to participate in a once yearly training related to job duties, sales practices, and product knowledge.

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

The Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation also licenses life insurance producers. These producers are permitted to sell fixed annuities as well. A pre-licensing course must be completed followed by the Series 16-65 Life Producer Exam, which is taken within a year of completing the course. The exam is scheduled through and proctored by who is contracted by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Detail exam information for Michigan’s applicants is available here. Twenty-four credits of continuing education, with at least three credits in ethics, must be completed every two years in order to maintain a producer license in Michigan.

Life insurance producers sometimes sell variable annuities, which require additional licensure and examinations. They must register with FINRA and pass the Series 6 exam (Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts Limited Representative) or Series 7 exam (General Securities Representative). In addition, the Michigan variable annuities exam must be passed. Pre-licensing education is not required, but the continuing education conditions for both insurance producers and securities dealers apply to those who sell variable annuities products.