Becoming a Financial Planner in Montana

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry Research & Analysis Bureau predicts an 18.8 percent rise in personal financial advisor job opportunities in Montana during the current ten year period ending 2018. Jobs for insurance producers, including those who market themselves as financial planners by selling life insurance, and fixed and variable annuities, are expected to increase by 17.5 percent during this period. Stockbrokers and securities/commodities sales agents will also see a jump in job growth, anticipated to be about 9.3 percent. This level of growth is thought to be conservative, as it doesn’t account for self-employed financial planners.

According to the 2004 American Community Survey, 27.5 percent of Montana’s residents had a bachelor degree or higher. As a boon to financial planners who specialize in college savings plans, some of Montana’s colleges and universities have seen record enrollment numbers in recent years, especially schools offering technology majors. Increased enrollment means more families are likely to be seeking the services of financial planners who help establish college savings plans.

According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, the median age of Montana’s residents rose to 39.8 years of age in 2010. Montana’s population is getting older, creating a larger market for financial planners who have expertise in helping people plan for retirement. Prairie County had the highest median age, at 53.6 years. This was followed by Granite County, where the median age of residents was 52.1 years, and Treasure County, with a median age of 51.1 years. These areas are likely to be where the greatest demand for financial planners specializing in retirement planning is likely to exist.

The 49 rural counties in Montana only account for about a third of the state’s total income. Income growth in Montana is, predictably, concentrated in the seven urban areas of the state, including the cities of Missoula, Billings, Kalispell, Great Falls, Helena, Butte and Bozeman. Financial planners working with high net worth individuals and families are most likely to find their services in demand in these areas.

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How to Obtain an Investment Adviser Representative License in Montana

Responsibility for licensure of investment adviser representatives (IAR) in Montana falls upon the Montana Commissioner of Securities & Insurance. FINRA’s (the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc) Central Registration Depository is used by the Securities Department to register FINRA member investment advisory (IA) firms in Montana. IARs in the state must pass the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination, Series 65; or the Series 66, Uniform Combined State Law Examination.

Throughout Montana there are many IA firms, some nationally recognized, some locally or regionally based. These include First Command Financial Services in Bozeman and Great Falls; Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Bozeman and Billings; Edward Jones in Missoula, Great Falls and Billings; and Investia Service Financiers, Inc. in Vaughn. Individuals may register their own IA firm through the Securities Department at the Montana State Auditor’s Office, Securities Department, 840 Helena Avenue, Helena, MT 59601; or by telephone at (406) 444-2040.

How to Obtain a Stockbroker License in Montana

The Montana State Auditor’s Office’s Commissioner of Securities and Insurance also licenses stockbrokers and securities broker-dealer agents in Montana. Prospective securities broker-dealer agents have to take NASAA’s Series 63 Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination or the Series 66 Uniform Combined State Law Examination; as well as the Series 6 or 7 Exams, based upon which financial products one intends to deal in.

Once licensed, stockbrokers in Montana must fulfill FINRA’s continuing education requirements to maintain their licenses. This includes taking a training course after two years of licensed practice and every three years subsequently. In addition, investment advisory firms must sponsor in-firm training programs for employees to keep them current on the latest financial products and sales techniques.

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

The Montana State Auditor’s Office Securities and Insurance Department distributes licenses to life insurance producers who also sell fixed annuities, and as such, offer retirement planning services. Licensing examinations are given by PearsonVUE Testing Centers in Billings, Helena and Missoula after completion of the required pre-licensing courses through a Montana approved provider.

Life insurance producers who wish to deal in variable annuities in Montana, must obtain broker-dealer firm sponsorship to take either the Series 6 or 7 exam, which results in a securities license.

Twenty-four credit hours of continuing education (CE) in one’s specialty must be taken every two years in order to renew one’s insurance producer license. One hour of CE must be in legislative changes in Montana insurance statutes.