Becoming a Financial Planner in Mississippi

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security projects that more personal financial advisors will soon be needed in the state. The profession is expected to experience exceptional job growth of 27.7 percent in the current ten-year period ending 2018. Insurance sales agents who provide financial planning services through the sale of annuities, as well as securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents will also see strong growth. The Mississippi Department of Employment Security expects an 8.9 percent increase in jobs for insurance producers and a 7.9 percent increase for securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents.

The U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis reported in 2010 that total personal income in Mississippi, including earnings from dividends, interest, and rent; was $92,206,548. Even when adjusted for inflation, this is substantial growth over the 2000 total of $61,396,499. According to the June 2011 Mississippi Economic Review and Outlook, Mississippi residents can expect to see a 5.3 percent increase in personal income in 2011 due to reduced payroll taxes and higher nonfarm proprietor income, as well as income related to the use of personal property. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute, from the late 1990s to the mid 2000s, the average income of the richest fifth of Mississippi’s families grew from $95,209 to $117,454. This all bodes very well for residents of the state interested in becoming financial planners whose job it will be to help Mississippi’s higher net worth families with their retirement, college, and estate planning needs.

Age demographics are a very important consideration for financial planners who often focus on establishing college savings plans, as well as on retirement and estate planning. According to the American Community Survey of 2005-2007, 492,730 of Mississippi’s 2,906,118 residents were age 60 and over. Additionally, U.S. Census Bureau statistics indicate that in 2009, 26 percent of Mississippi’s population was 18 years of age or younger, considerably higher than the nation’s average within this demographic.

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How to Obtain an Investment Adviser Representative License in Mississippi

The Mississippi Secretary of State’s Business Regulation & Enforcement Division is responsible for regulating investment advisers and stockbrokers who wish to do business in the state. Investment adviser representatives (IARs) in the state must register with the Mississippi Secretary of State Securities Division. The Mississippi Securities Act Rule 629 requires that all prospective IARs in the state get a passing score on NASAA’s (the North American Securities Administrators Association’s) Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination (Series 65); or the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ‘s (FINRA’s) General Securities Examination (Series 7) in combination with the NASAA Uniform Combined State Law Examination (Series 66). The only broker-dealer agents exempt from registration with the state are those who perform financial advisory services supplementary to their regular business and without charging for the service.

Investment advisory firms exist all over Mississippi, and may be national regional, or local in terms of the clients they serve. The best-known firms include Edward Jones in Jackson, Tupelo, Hattiesburg, Pascagoula, and Gulfport; Horne LLP in Ridgeland; Hancock Bank in Gulfport; First Command Financial Services in Biloxi; and AXA Advisors in Jackson.

The state’s most enterprising investment advisers establish IA firms of their own, and become registered with the Mississippi Secretary of State Securities Division.

How to Obtain a Stockbroker License in Mississippi

The Mississippi Secretary of State Securities Division also registers stockbrokers, more often referred to in the industry as registered representatives. Prospective registered reps must be sponsored by a broker-dealer firm and pass either NASAA’s Series 63 Uniform Securities Agent State Law Exam or Series 66 Uniform Combined State Law Exam, as well as either the Series 6 or 7 exams, depending on the specific financial products they’ll be selling.

FINRA requires registered representatives to participate in continuing education (CE) programs for securities industry specialists. After being licensed for two years, and every three years going forward, registered representatives must take a Regulatory Element computer-based training course to stay abreast of the frequent regulatory changes in the financial services industry. Firms must also organize formal CE training programs for the registered reps in their employ in what is know as the Firm Element. This is based on the internally assessed needs of the firm and often involves ethics, sales, and product knowledge training.

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

The Mississippi Insurance Department licenses producers of life insurance, which qualifies them to act as financial planners dealing in fixed annuities. Prospective life insurance producers must take a 20-hour pre-licensing course through an approved provider and receive a passing grade on the Mississippi Insurance License Examination (life) administered by Testing Services, Inc. Exams can be taken at any one of the Testing Services, Inc locations in the state: Senatobia, Gulfport, Ridgeland and Oxford.

Dealing in variable annuities requires a Variable Life/Variable Annuity license. While there is no additional pre-licensing education requirement beyond the 20-hours required of all insurance producers, candidates must also receive Series 6 or 7 certification through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and register with Mississippi’s Securities Division.