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Becoming a Financial Advisor in Oklahoma

State licensed investment adviser representatives (IARs) or sole proprietors of investment adviser (IA) firms are often referred to as financial advisors by the investing public. This guide will provide step-by-step instructions on how to become an investment adviser representative or sole proprietor of your own IA firm in Oklahoma. This guide covers both state level IAs registered with the Oklahoma Department of Securities as well as federal level IAs registered with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).

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Step 1. Get Your Education

  1. Pursue the right degree. Education is one of the most important tools you will need to succeed as a financial advisor.

    Potential clients will use the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) to view your background information including education. Highly recommended degree paths are:

  • 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
  • Take the right classes. Courses appropriate to this career path are:
    • Management
    • Business law
    • Taxation
    • Ethics in business
    • Finance
    • Business communications
    • Statistics
    • Behavior of groups, persons, and organizations
    • Computer information systems
    • Accounting
    • Economics
    • Marketing
    • Quantitative applications applied to business
  • Consider the pursuit of an elective professional designation. Although not required for either state or federal registration, these designations indicate industry expertise. In order to test for a professional certification, all eligibility requirements need to be met; typically a bachelor’s degree or a minimum level of industry experience. Relevant designations to consider:
    • 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 Oklahoma

    (This step only applies if you’ll be establishing your own IA firm. Skip to Step 3 If you plan to work with an established firm.)

    If your new IA firm will be managing assets greater than $100 million then it will be registered with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). If managing client assets that total less than $100 million, your IA will be registered at the state level with the Oklahoma Department of Securities. In both instances, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) administered Investment Adviser Registration Depository (IARD) is used to complete this process. The steps that follow cover both scenarios:

    1. Open an IARD User Account. This is done by completiong the Entitlement Forms for your New Investment Advisor Firm (Section 3). This is considered the first step in the FINRA Entitlement Process. Your new firm is responsible for assigning a Super Accountant Administrator (SAA) who will acquire access to the FINRA Firm Gateway and complete the registration process.
    2. Fund the IARD User Account in order to cover all required state filing fees, registration fees, IAR registration and testing fees:
    • Initial IARD set up fees for state registered investment advisors are currently being waived
    • $300 initial state firm filing fee charged by the Oklahoma Department of Securities
    • $225 initial filing fee for SEC-registered advisors (firms with over $100 million in assets under management)
    • Exam fees for each IAR employed by the firm
    • $50 initial state IAR filing fee charged by the Oklahoma Department of Securities for each IAR within the IA firm
  • An Electronic version of The Form ADV must be completed in the IARD. This form is made available to prospective clients and describes:
    • The firms investment philosophy
    • Background of investment advisors
    • Fee structure for specific services offered
  • Each investment advisor representative (IAR) must submit a Form U-4 Uniform Application for Securities Registration or Transfer. If operating the firm as a sole proprietor you’ll be required to submit the Form U-4 for yourself, as you’ll be acting as a representative of the firm.
  • Copies of contracts that will be used with clients must be mailed to Oklahoma Department of Securities, Suite 860, First National Center, 120 N. Robinson, Oklahoma City, OK 73102.
    • The written contract must include:
      • A detailed description of services you will provide,
      • The length of time the contract covers
      • How your advisory fee is determined
      • How and when any prepaid fees could be returned to the client
      • Description of the discretionary power granted to the investment adviser
      • A clause restricting assignment of the contract shall be made by the investment adviser without consent of the other party to the contract,
    • The contract is not allowed to contain any limits on liability of the investment adviser for conduct and other consumer protections
  • If your firm will have custody over client assets or if you will require fees from a client of more than $500 and more than 6 months in advance, you must also submit audited financial statements to the state. Financial statements include a balance sheet, an income statement, a statement of retained earnings, and notes on any changes in the firm’s financial position.
  • Requirements to Transact Business in Other States

    A small amount of business (four clients) can be transacted in any other state if the registration process in Oklahoma is complete. If your firm manages more than four clients in any one state, you’ll need to register both the firm and the IARs working for the firm in that state through the IARD system, as well as pay the required registration fees.

    Under Oklahoma’s De Minimis Exemption, properly registered RIAs from another state are permitted to transact a minimal amount of business in Oklahoma and are only required to register when their sixth Oklahoma resident client is added.

    Step 3: Get Your Registered Investment Adviser License in Oklahoma by Taking the Required Exam

    If your firm offers the majority of its services to clients living in Oklahoma and manages assets less than $100 million, it is subject to the operational rules of the Oklahoma Uniform Securities Act and is registered at the state level. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will govern your firm if it manages more than $100 million in assets. Both regulatory bodies will waive exam requirements for individuals who have completed at least one of these designations:

    • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
    • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
    • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
    • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
    • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
    1. To be licensed as an IAR in Oklahoma, complete one of the following exam scenarios:

    OR

    Register for the exam(s) using one of the following forms:

    OR

    • Form U-10, the Uniform Examination request for non-FINRA Members. This non-sponsored exam only application does not complete the IAR registration process. The Form U-10 should not be used to apply for the Series 7 exam, due to the fact that it requires a sponsor. When using Form U-10 to apply for the Series 65 Exam, you are still be required to formally register within two years of passing the exam using a Form U-4.

  • Schedule any required exam(s) through one of the Prometric or Pearson Professional Center testing locations in Oklahoma. You must schedule the exam(s) within 120 days of registration. Multiple exams cannot be taken on the same day, so schedule accordingly.
  • Arrive at the testing center at least one hour prior to your scheduled exam time on the scheduled day.
  • Exam scores are distributed immediately after the exam is complete.
  • Step 4: Ongoing Renewal and Update Requirements in Oklahoma

    Investment Advisor Firm:

    • IAR license and IA firm renewals will be completed through the IARD
    • You’ll be required to update the ADV at least once yearly to reflect changes
    • License renewal actions must be completed by December 31st every year
    • Renewal fees are paid for all states in which your firm’s IARs are registered
    • Oklahoma’s renewal fees are $300 for the firm and $50 for each IAR with the firm
    • Additional IARD renewal fees are $100

    Investment Adviser Representatives:
    A current Form U-4 should be maintained by all IARs within your firm. As a sole proprietor, you’ll make all necessary changes to your own file. As an IAR employed by an IA firm, you must notify your SAA of any changes to the following:

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