Becoming a Financial Advisor in North Dakota

If you’re interested in becoming a financial advisor in North Dakota, this step-by-step guide will walk you through registering a new investment adviser (IA) firm or registering as an investment adviser representative (IAR) of an existing firm. Included in this guide is the process for state level registration through the North Dakota Securities Department as well as federal level registration through the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).

Investment adviser firms and representatives operating in North Dakota are expected to conduct business in adherence to the North Dakota Securities Act.

Step 1. Get your Education

Pursue a degree. Most successful investment advisers have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. As an adviser, your educational background information is made available to prospective clients through the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) database. Potential clients will have the opportunity to review this as they consider who to entrust with their financial assets.

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A few of the degree programs worth considering:

  • BA or BS -Accounting
  • BA-Consumer and Family Financial Services
  • MS-Accounting, Personal Financial Planning, or Finance
  • MBA-Accounting and Finance or simply Finance
  • PhD-Accounting or Finance

Enroll in the right courses. Consider courses that would be beneficial in refining your skills as an adviser:

  • Computer information systems
  • Marketing
  • Ethics in business
  • Economics
  • Accounting
  • Quantitative applications applied to business
  • Business communications
  • Business law
  • Statistics
  • Management
  • Behavior of groups, persons, and organizations
  • Finance
  • Taxation
  • Behavior of groups, persons, and organizations

Explore certification options. There are minimum eligibility requirements that must be met before you can attempt the exams for professional certification. You should either have a four-year degree or a suitable amount of industry experience. Although these certifications are not required to become registered as an investment adviser, additional series exam requirements are waived by the SEC and the North Dakota Securities Department if you’ve earned one of these designations:

  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)

Step 2: Register Your Firm in North Dakota

(This step only applies if you plan to register a new IA firm of your own. Skip to Step 3 if you will start your career by working with an established firm.)

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If your firm plans to manage more than $100 million in assets, you will be required to register with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). State level registration for firms with less than $100 million in client assets under management is to be submitted through the North Dakota Securities Department. As proprietor of either a state or federal level IA, follow the remainder of this guide to process registration through the Investment Adviser Registration Depository.

  1. Opening an IARD User Account by submitting Entitlement Forms by postal mail or fax. In compleing these forms, you’ll authorize yourself or a selected firm member to be Super Accountant Administrator (SAA). The SSA will receive the login information for the Firm Gateway so as to be able to complete the remaining registration requirements outlined in this guide.
  2. Fund The IARD User Account. This account is used to pay all fees associated with registering your new firm:
  • Initial IARD set up fees for state registered investment advisors are currently being waived
  • $225 initial filing fee for SEC-registered advisors (firms with over $100 million in assets under management)
  • North Dakota’s $100 initial IA firm filing fee
  • Exam fees for each new IAR that will be in the firm
  • North Dakota’s $50 initial IAR filing fee applicable to each IAR in your employ
  • Complete and submit an electronic version of Form ADV through the IARD. This form outlines the new IA firm’s investment philosophy and billing practices. Form ADV is often voluntarily made available to prospective clients.
  • Complete and submit an electronic version of Form U-4 Uniform Application for Securities Registration or Transfer. As firm proprietor, you’ll submit one for yourself as well as for each IAR in your employ.
  • Complete and mail an Affidavit of Investment Advisor Activity to the Securities Department, 600 E Boulevard Ave, Dept 414, Bismarck ND 58505.You must also submit a list detailing any other jurisdictions that refused, revoked, or suspended your application, or where you voluntarily withdrew your application.

Step 3: Take the Required Exam(s)

Both the North Dakota Securities Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will waive exam requirements if you’ve demonstrated competency by completing a program leading to one of the following certifications:

  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
  1. The North Dakota Securities Department requires that both IA firm principals and IARs complete one of the following:


Register for the exam and submit either state or federal level registration with Form U-4 Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration or Transfer. This should be prepared and submitted through the IARD.

  • You will be notified that your registration was successful, at which time you’ll schedule to attempt the exam(s) through one of the Prometric Testing Centers or Pearson Professional Centers located in North Dakota (Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks, West Fargo) within 120 days of being notified.
  • Make sure you check in with the testing center at least one hour before your scheduled exam time on the appropriate day.
  • Exam scores are distributed immediately after the exam is complete.

Step 4: Ongoing Renewal and Update Requirements in North Dakota

Investment Advisor Firm:
Registration renewals for both your firm and the IAR’s you employ will be completed through the Investment Adviser Registration Depository (IARD) no later than December 31st of each year. Annual updates to the Form ADV will always be required. During each annual renewal cycle, you’ll fund the IARD sufficiently to cover the following fees

  • Administrative IARD renewal fees of $100
  • Renewal fees for every state in which your firm is registered
  • North Dakota’s renewal fees are $100 for the firm and $50 for each of the firm’s IARs
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Investment Adviser Representatives:
An updated Form U-4 is required from all firm employees. If you are operating as a sole proprietor, you will be responsible for updating your information. Firm employees will notify their firm’s compliance department in the event that that the following information is affected:

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