Becoming a Financial Planner in South Carolina

Certain areas of South Carolina may be more lucrative for financial planners, as they house higher-income residents who are more likely to retain professionals for investment advice and help with retirement planning strategies. According to Kiplinger magazine, the Hilton Head-Beaufort area of the state ranks fifth in the nation in terms of highest concentration of millionaire households. Households with a net worth in excess of a million dollars comprise 13.4 percent of South Carolina’s households, and most of these are located in this very affluent area.

Likewise, on Forbes magazine’s list of the 500 most expensive zip codes in America, Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina ranked number 88, where the median home price is $1.5 million. Georgetown ranks 175 on the list, with a median home price of $1.12 million; Sunset ranks 215th, with a median home price of $995,000; Charleston ranks 299th, with a median home price of $851,458; Isle of Palms ranks 317th, with a median home price of $836,966; and Awendaw, with a median home price of $795,000, ranks 356th. Statistics show that those who earn higher incomes and live in areas in which median home prices are higher tend to use the services of financial planners most often, making this area of the state of particular interest to those interested in becoming financial planners in South Carolina.

In 2010, the US Census Bureau reported that 13.6 percent of South Carolina’s population was age 65 or over. By 2030, that percentage is expected to grow to 22.6 percent, higher than the projected national average for that same period. The proportion of South Carolina’s population under the age of 18 is also expected to reach 22.2 percent by 2030. Both of these age demographic projections are favorable for financial planners working in the state, as many will specialize in helping residents who are approaching retirement age establish savings plans, while others will help families prepare adequately for the ever-increasing costs of a college education.

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How to Obtain an Investment Adviser Representative License in South Carolina

Under the South Carolina Uniform Securities Act of 2005, all investment adviser representatives (IAR) in the state must register with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as well as with the South Carolina Securities Division. The FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) Series 65 examination must be passed, or in lieu of this examination, a combination of the Series 66 and Series 7 exams may be taken and passed. Once requirements are met and forms and fees are submitted, it takes about one week to become registered to do business as an IAR in South Carolina.

There is a multitude of investment advisory firms across South Carolina that employ IARs. Some of them include Edward Jones in Columbia, Sumter, Anderson, Charleston, Greenville, Spartanburg, Florence, Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island; AXA Advisors in Columbia, Camden and Greenville; PenServ Plan Services, Inc. in West Columbia; Apex Investment Advisors, LLC in Columbia; Palmetto Citizens Trust & Investment Services in Columbia; and Carolina & Rappahannock Wealth Advisors, Inc. located in Myrtle Beach.

How to Obtain a Stockbroker License in South Carolina

Stockbrokers, also known as broker-dealer agents, must also be licensed by the South Carolina Securities Division and registered with the FINRA Central Registration Depository (CRD). Passing scores on a FINRA examination suitable for the types of securities the prospective broker-dealer agent plans to sell, as well as on the Series 63 Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination or the Series 66 Uniform Combined State Law Exam, are necessary before registration will be granted.

The Securities Division may approve examination waivers for candidates holding any of the following certifications: Certified Financial Planner (CFP) issued by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.; Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) awarded by the American College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; Personal Financial Specialists (PFS) administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants; Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) granted by the Association for Investment Management and Research; and Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC) granted by the Investment Counsel Association of America.

FINRA and NASAA require all registered broker-dealer agents to complete continuing education (CE) mandates. After two years in licensed practice, then every three years after that, agents must fulfill the Regulatory Element, consisting of a computer-based refresher course on changes in the regulatory environment of the securities industry. Firms must provide training to all agents in what is known as the Firm Element of CE. This consists of product knowledge updates, changes in business practices, state-specific regulatory changes, and changes in market applications.

How to Obtain a License to Sell Life Insurance and Fixed Annuities in South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Insurance (SCDOI) licenses life insurance producers, who may or may not also choose to provide financial planning services through the sale of fixed annuities. Pre-licensing requirements for producers in the state were repealed in 2008, but all producers must still pass licensing exams administered by Prometric. Continuing education must also be fulfilled through approved courses provided by Prometric at a rate of 24 credits every two years.

Those wishing to sell Variable Life and/or Variable Annuities in South Carolina may pursue a Variable Contracts license. As this involves selling securities, it also requires FINRA registration, which means passing the Series 63 examination along with either the Series 6 or Series 7 examination. Continuing education requirements of both FINRA and the SCDOI must be met to maintain a Variable Contracts license.