Becoming a Financial Planner in North Dakota

Job Service North Dakota predicts a bright future for those who wish to become financial planners in the state. In the current ten-year period ending 2018, job openings for personal financial advisors are expected to increase by a remarkable 34.30 percent. Jobs for securities sales agents should increase by 15.48 percent, while opportunities for agents who sell life insurance and annuities should grow by 17.29 percent during this period.

The North Dakota State Data Center has published a report showing that the elderly population of the state is expected to grow rapidly through 2020. North Dakota also has the highest proportion of residents age 85 and over of any state in the nation. Researchers surmise that this trend has come about due to seniors returning to the state to be near family and friends in their elder years. If these trends continue, the number of state residents age 65 and older will grow by 58 percent through 2020, at which time they will represent 23 percent of North Dakota’s total population. This helps illustrate the growing need for financial planners who specialize in retirement planning and retirement savings management services intended to help North Dakota’s retirees enjoy a good quality of life in their golden years.

Forty-Five point two percent of adults in North Dakota had at least a two-year college degree in 2009, and another 24 percent of adults in the state had some college education but no degree (data provided by college education advocacy group, Lumina Foundation). This rather high proportion of college graduates and attendees suggests college enrollment in the state will continue to rise. This is despite the fact that the state is projected to lose many young adults and young families, whose numbers have decreased in recent years in what has been termed “out-migration.” Despite the out-migration of younger residents, North Dakota’s middle class will continue to pursue higher learning, and middle class families will continue to seek the expert advice of financial planners who specialize in building and maintaining college savings plans.

The American Community Survey reported that North Dakota was the only state that experienced an increase in median household income between 2008 and 2009. The survey revealed this increase was substantial, at five percent. In 2010, the median household income in North Dakota was higher than the national average, at $48,670. At $42,764, North Dakota’s average per capita personal income was the eleventh highest in the nation in 2010. All of these economic indicators project a ready market for the services of financial planners in North Dakota, as individuals and households with higher incomes are more apt to take advantage of wealth management services.

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How to Obtain an Investment Adviser License in North Dakota

The North Dakota Securities Department is accountable for the registration and licensure of investment adviser (IA) firms and representatives (IAR) who have clients in the state. The state requires all investment advisers and investment adviser representatives to register through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA’s) IARD (Investment Advisor Registration Depository) system. They must pass the North American Securities Administrators Association’s (NASAA’s) Series 65 examination (Uniform Investment Adviser Law), or the Series 7 examination (General Securities Representative) in combination with the Series 66 examination (Uniform Combined State Law).

Offices of some of the best-known national and regional investment adviser firms can be found in North Dakota. These include First Command Financial Services in Minot and Eide Bailey Advisors, LLC in Fargo. The state is also home to many local RIAs including Johnson Wealth Management, LLC in Grand Forks.

How to Obtain a Stockbroker License in North Dakota

Stockbrokers in North Dakota must register with the state’s Securities Department through FINRA’s Central Registration Depository (CRD). All broker-dealer agents in North Dakota must pass either the Series 63, 65, or 66 exams in combination with the Series 6 or Series 7 exam, based on the specific investment vehicles in which they plan to deal.

Continuing education (CE) is required under NASAA and FINRA regulations for all registered securities representatives in order to maintain licensure and registration. The first part of this CE, the Regulatory Element, must be taken as a training refresher course after two years in practice, and every three years after that. The Firm Element, the second component of required CE, makes firms accountable for providing training to securities sales reps in their employ. This is designed to keep them up to date on regulatory changes in the industry and how they impact sales practices and product offerings.

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

North Dakota residents who hope to become life insurance producers and who to deal in fixed annuities need to obtain a license through the North Dakota Insurance Department. Applicants must be residents of North Dakota and at least 18 years old. They must pass an exam for the life insurance line of authority, but pre-licensing education is not required in North Dakota. Pearson VUE administers the insurance examinations, each of which has two parts: one specific to North Dakota law and the other on general product knowledge. Tests are given in Fargo and Bismarck.

Twenty-four hours of continuing education, with three hours in ethics, must be completed every two years in order to maintain one’s insurance license. The “Rule of 85 exemption” applies to producers who by January 1, 2010 are at least 62 years old and have a combined total of 85 years of licensure and experience gained prior to licensure. Under this rule, these producers need not participate in continuing education.

Licensed life insurance producers in North Dakota who wish to sell variable annuities must first seek securities licensure. This involves taking either the Series 6 or Series 7 exam. Producers who sell variable life and variable annuities must meet continuing education requirements of both the North Dakota Insurance Department and their governing SRO.