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Becoming a Financial Advisor in New Jersey

Financial advisor is the marketing term commonly used to describe investment adviser representatives (IARs) or sole proprietors of investment adviser (IA firms). This guide is structured to help you become an IAR or establish a new investment adviser (IA) firm in the state of New Jersey. State registration of IAs and their representatives is done through the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, and at the federal level through the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). The following steps outline the process for both state and federal registered IAs and IARs.

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Step 1. Get Your Education

  1. Get an appropriate degree. The Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) stores educational background information on IARs and sole proprietors of registered investment adviser firms. Clients have the option to review this information and use it to compare your education and experience to other advisors.

    Investment adviser firms prefer to hire professionals with a four-year degree. Degrees that are useful in highlighting your skills are:

  • BA or BS -Accounting
  • BA-Consumer and Family Financial Services
  • MBA-Accounting and Finance or simply Finance
  • MS-Accounting, Personal Financial Planning, or Finance
  • PhD-Accounting or Finance
  • Take relevant courses. Specific courses are available to prepare you with the knowledge necessary to become a successful financial advisor. Courses that might be of interest are:
    • Statistics
    • Management
    • Finance
    • Marketing
    • Behavior of groups, persons, and organizations
    • Ethics in business
    • Accounting
    • Computer information systems
    • Quantitative applications applied to business
    • Business communications
    • Business law
    • Economics
    • Taxation
    • Behavior of groups, persons, and organizations
  • Highlighting your skills as an advisor is beneficial to your career and professional certifications can be great way to do this. Although state and federal registration does not require these elective certifications, they do denote to clients a unique level of expertise. Eligibility requirements that must be met often include a four-year degree or a minimum level of industry experience that can also be used in lieu of formal education. Some designations relevant to financial planning:
    • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
    • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
    • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
    • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
    • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)

    Step 2: Register Your Firm in New Jersey

    (This step is only applicable if you will be establishing your own IA firm. If you’ll begin your career by working with an established firm, skip to Step 3.)

    The investment advisor (IA) firm registration process is done through the FINRA administered Investment Adviser Registration Depository (IARD) for both state and federal registrants. State level registration is done through the New Jersey Bureau of Securities for IAs managing assets less than $100 million. If managing assets in excess of $100, you will also need to register with the federal SEC. The following describes both scenarios.

    1. Initiate the Entitlement Process. To begin the FINRA Entitlement Process, open an IARD User Account so as to gain access to FINRA’s Web-based systems . This is accomplished by submitting Entitlement Forms specific to your new investment adviser firm (Section 3). The IA is required to designate a Super Accountant Administrator (SAA) who is then given access to the Firm Gateway. Access to this system is necessary to finalize all of the registration requirements listed in the remainder of this guide.
    2. Fund the IARD User Account. It is the responsibility of the firm to fund The IARD User Account with monies sufficient to pay all required state filing fees, registration fees, IAR registration fees, and exam fees:
    • Initial IARD set up fees for state registered investment advisors are currently being waived
    • $225 initial filing fee for SEC-registered advisors, which include firms with over $100 million in assets under management
    • $200 initial state firm filing fee that is charged by New Jersey
    • Exam fees for each IAR that will be in the firm
    • $50 initial state IAR filing fee that is charged by New Jersey for each IAR that will be employed by the firm
  • Complete an electronic version of Form ADV in the IARD. This form outlines the new IA firm’s pertinent information, with emphasis on their investment philosophy, background of investment advisors, and fee structure.
  • Submit a completed Form U-4 Uniform Application for Securities Registration or Transfer for each investment advisor representative (IAR) in the firm. Submit a Form U4 for yourself if establishing a sole proprietorship or LLC in which you will act as IAR.
  • Send the following documents to the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, PO Box 47029, Newark NJ 07101:
    • Sample copies of any investment advisory agreements to be used with clients
    • Copies of all advertising material that will be used, including business cards and letterhead
    • A surety bond of at least $25,000 if you will not have minimum firm capital of at least $25,000

    Requirements to Transact Business in Other States

    By law, any firm that has completed all of the necessary state registration steps can transact a minimal amount of business in another state. Keep in mind that your firm must register in that state using the IARD system if you manage assets for more than four clients. This also means that you will be responsible for the additional registration fees.

    Under the De Minimis Exemption, properly registered RIAs from another state are permitted to do business with a minimal number of clients in New Jersey and are only required to register when their sixth New Jersey client is added.

    Step 3: Get Your Registered Investment Adviser License in New Jersey by Taking the Required Exam(s)

    A new IA firm that manages less than $100 million in assets and provides service to local clients in the state of New Jersey operate in accordance with New Jersey Uniform Securities Law and register at the state level with the New Jersey Bureau of Securities. If the firm reaches a point where it manages more than $100 million in assets, is will register at the federal level with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The state of New Jersey and the SEC both have the ability to waive exam requirements for IARs that hold one of these designaitons:

    • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
    • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
    • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
    • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
    • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
    1. Take the right exams. New Jersey’s requirement is that all IAR candidates register for and complete one of the following:

    OR

    IAR’s should register using one of the forms listed:

    OR

    • Form U-10, the Uniform Examination request for non-FINRA Members, wich is an exam-only application for non-sponsored exams and will not complete your IAR registration process. This form cannot be used to apply for the Series 7 exam, which requires a sponsor. Please note that when using Form U-10 to apply for the Series 65 Exam, you are still required to formally register within two years of passing the exam using Form U-4 in order to be licensed.

  • Schedule the exam(s) through one of the Prometric or Pearson Professional Center testing locations in New Jersey.
    • You must schedule the exam(s) within 120 days of registration
    • You will not be allowed to schedule more than one exam to be taken on the same day
    • Arrive at the testing center at least one hour prior to your scheduled exam time on the scheduled date.
  • Arrive at your chosen testing location ready to test. Make sure you check in with the testing center at least one hour before your scheduled exam time on the appropriate day.
  • You will be notified of your score immediately after the exam is complete.
  • Step 4: Ongoing Renewal and Update Requirements in New Jersey

    Investment Advisor Firm:

    • License renewals must be completed by December 31st every year
    • IARD renewal fees are $100
    • New Jersey’s renewal fees are $200 for the firm and $50 for each of the firm’s representatives
    • Annual updates to the ADV will always be required
    • Renewal fees are paid for all states where the IAR is registered
    • IAR license and IA firm renewals will be completed through the IARD

    Investment Adviser Representatives:
    At this time, there are no continuing education requirements once an IAR has completed the Series 65 exam.

    IARs are required to maintain their own Form U-4. A Sole proprietor should update their own files and employees of a firm will notify their SAA within 30 days of any changes to any of the items listed below:

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