To become a stockbroker in South Carolina, you’ll need to be registered as a broker-dealer agent with the South Carolina Office of the Attorney General, Securities Division. This will require you to become sponsored by a state-registered broker-dealer firm so as to be eligible to apply for the required exams.
Follow this guide for a detailed description of this process.
Step 1. Get Your Education
Broker-dealer firms will typically only consider applications for sponsorship from candidates that have either a bachelor’s degree or a considerable amount of industry experience. Additionally, if you choose to pursue professional designations during your career, a bachelor’s degree is usually required.
The following are among the most respected degrees in the financial services industry:
- BA-Consumer and Family Financial Services
- BS-Business Administration- Finance
The courses you take as part of one of these degree programs will be highly relevant to the work you’ll perform as an investment expert and securities sales agent:
- Business communications
- Business ethics
- Business law
- Behavior of organizations, persons and groups
- Quantitative applications in business
- Accounting, in particular courses in financial accounting and managerial accounting
Step 2: Take the Required Exams
- A broker-dealer registered in South Carolina must agree to act as your sponsor before you are allowed to apply for the required securities exams. To become sponsored, apply for open broker-dealer agent positions through firms that support an investment philosophy that agrees with your own. You can consider small local and regional firms serving residents of South Carolina and the surrounding states exclusively, as well as large national firms with clients throughout the country.
- Fill out and submit the forms required to apply for the securities exams and state registration.The requisite federal background check will require you to provide a copy of your fingerprints. If your broker-dealer cannot assist you with fingerprinting, you can be fingerprinted for a small fee at a local law enforcement office.If your sponsor is a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), you will complete Form U-4, Uniform Application for Securities Registration or Transfer as both the exam and state-registration application. Your broker-dealer’s compliance department will submit it to FINRA through the Central Registration Depository (CRD). Required fees will be debited from the firms CRD account:
- Exam fees – $245 for the Series 7, $147 for the Series 63, and $177 for the Series 66.
- $30.25 to process your background check
- South Carolina registration fee of $110
- FINRA’s $85 administrative fee
If your sponsor is NOT a FINRA member, you’ll enroll for your FINRA exam on the FINRA website here. To enroll for FINRA exams, you must be sponsored by a state regulator or regulatory authority approved to sponsor candidates for FINRA qualifying exams. Upon receipt of your eligibility information from a sponsoring organization, FINRA will email enrollment instructions to you.
- When your exam application is approved, you will be notified. You can then register for the required exams through the South Carolina test location that is closest to you. The exams you’ll be required to schedule are:The Series 7, General Securities Representative Examination, or another securities exam as directed by your sponsoring firm AND EITHER the Series 63, Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination, OR the Series 66, Uniform Combined State Law Examination.
- Your broker-dealer is likely to provide you with resources to help you prepare for the exams. Arrive an hour before the test is scheduled to begin. Upon scheduling, you will be informed by the exam facilitator to bring identification.
- You will receive your exam score immediately after completing each test. Once you have passed all required exams, you will be officially licensed as a broker-dealer agent in South Carolina.
Step 3: Get Your On-The-Job Training
Your employer will provide you with on-the-job training to promote best practices with regard to building a client base, assessing client objectives and providing clients with the most suitable securities. Product knowledge training will expand on the securities covered in the Series 7 Exam:
- Variable contracts
- Mutual funds
- Options on stocks
- Government securities
- Corporate equity and debt securities
- Corporate, municipal and treasury bonds
- Open-end and closed-end investment company shares
- Direct participation programs like non-publicly traded real estate investment trusts or oil and gas leases
Step 4: Ongoing Requirements for License Renewal and Continuing Education
Annual License Renewal and Fees
Your South Carolina securities license will be renewed automatically each year. The $110 renewal fee owed to the South Carolina Securities Division will be debited from your employer’s Web-CRD (Central Registration Depository) account at that time.
Continuing Education Requirements
You are required to complete the Securities Industry Continuing Education Program so that you stay current on industry trends. The continuing education program is made up of two elements.
- The Regulatory Element
The Regulatory Element training program must be completed every three years. The first Regulatory Element is due at the very beginning of your third year, within 120 days from your second annual registration.As a broker-dealer agent with the Series 7 license, you must complete the S101 General Program. The S101 is made up of four modules that cover compliance, ethical sales-practices, and regulatory standards within the following categories:
- Client/Product Suitability
- Communicating with the Public
- Handling Customer Accounts/Trade and Settlement Practices
- New and Secondary Offering & Corporate Finance
- The Firm Element
The annual Firm Element of continuing education is created anew each year based on the year’s most relevant financial industry topics, as determined by FINRA. The Firm Element is delivered by your employer in-house, and generally addresses the following topics:
- Sales practices and suitability standards
- Investment features and associated risk factors
- Regulatory requirements related to products, services, and strategies
Updating your Form U-4
You must inform your employer’s compliance department of any changes that occur affecting your Form U-4 registration. Your firm will update your registration information within 30 days of the following:
- Changes to name or marital status
- Address updates
- Customer complaints
- Criminal disclosure
- Pending or completed disciplinary actions
- Financial judgments against you
- Civil judgments against you
The public can access your securities registration by visiting FINRA’s BrokerCheck, so you’re expected to review it frequently to ensure its accuracy.