Becoming a Financial Planner in New York

The New York Department of Labor expects strong growth in the personal financial planning industry during the current ten-year period ending 2018. The Department projects job growth of 13.1 percent for personal financial advisors, and expects growth to remain favorable for securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents as well.

With a median personal income of $85,994, Long Island’s Nassau County ranks tenth on the list of richest counties in America. In Putnam County, including the towns of Carmel, Cold Spring, Brewster, Kent, and Patterson, the median personal income is $81,907, ranking it fourteenth on the list. Financial planners often find the greatest demand for their services exist in affluent area where higher net worth individuals and families very often turn to professionals for help with estate planning, investment advice, and wealth management services.

Financial planners often consider the age and education demographics of an area to be nearly as important as the financial demographic. This is due to the age-sensitive nature of specialty planning services related to college tuition planning, as well as retirement and estate planning. According to the New York State Office of the Aging, the state’s senior citizen population is expected to grow considerably in the coming years. In 2000, the number of New York residents that were between the ages of 60 and 85 was 3,204,331. It is projected that by 2015 this number will jump to 4,030,378, an increase of over 826,000.

More than 43 percent of New Yorkers held at least a two-year college degree in 2008, according to information provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is considerably higher than the national average of 38 percent, and highlights a trend among middle class households that is expected to create an increased demand for professionals familiar with the tax-advantaged college tuition savings plans available in New York.

How to Obtain an Investment Adviser License in New York

New Yorkers who are interested in becoming financial planners usually establish themselves as investment advisers (IAs) or investment adviser representatives (IARs) of existing firms. These licensed professionals must meet qualifications set forth by the New York Office of the Attorney General’s Investor Protection Bureau. While New York does not require IARs to register with the state, both state-registered investment adviser firm principals and IARs who represent state registered investment advisers must still meet exam qualifications: The Series 65 Exam by itself, or both the Series 66 and Series 7 exams in combination.

Exam waivers may be granted to applicants that already hold one of these designations:

  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) awarded by the American College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP) awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.
  • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC) awarded by the Investment Counsel Association of America, Inc.
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) awarded by the Association for Investment Management Research

As the financial capital of the world, New York is home to many investment adviser firms that have established themselves with a strong presence in the state. Among these well-respected firms is UBS, Deutsche Bank, and Reid & Rudiger in New York City; Towers Watson in Astoria-Long Island; T. Rowe Price Investment Services in Garden City; and Gilford Securities, which has offices in both Albany and New York City.

How to Obtain a Stockbroker License in New York

As home to the New York Stock Exchange, New York stands out among all the rest of the states in terms of the types of opportunities for licensed stockbrokers. The Investor Protection Bureau is charged with licensing and registering these financial professionals.

The New York Stock Exchange requires that would-be stockbrokers who wish to sell the full, general line of securities take the Series 7 General Securities Registered Representative exam administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Stockbrokers who plan to sell commodity futures must pass the Series 3 exam and register with the National Futures Association (NFA) as an Associated Person. Stockbrokers selling specific types of securities may take the Series 6 exam (for mutual funds), the Series 22 exam (for direct participation programs) or the Series 62 exam (to sell corporate securities). Some registered reps sit for the Series 6 or Series 62 exam to get into production faster, and then take the Series 7 later on.

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

The New York State Insurance Department regulates life insurance agents/brokers, who are also qualified to sell fixed annuities. Prospective life insurance producers must first take a 40-hour pre-licensing education course approved by the Department. A searchable database of Department approved education providers may be found here. Next, would-be life insurance agents must pass the New York licensing examination administered by PSI Exams.

Applicants already designated as Chartered Financial Consultants, Chartered Life Underwriters, or those who hold a Master of Science in Financial Services, are exempt from pre-licensing education and Part 1 of the life insurance examination, but are still required to take Part 2 of the exam.

Licensed producers are required to take 15 hours of continuing education approved by the Department every two years as a condition of license renewal.

Those interested in expanding their offerings as financial planners by selling variable annuities must complete the life line of authority licensing process outlined above, as well as take the FINRA Series 6 or Series 7 Exam along with the 63 Exam so as to qualify as securities brokers. Holding an insurance license and a securities license means continuing education requirements of both the governing self regulatory organization (SRO) and the New York State Insurance Department must be completed during each renewal period.