Becoming a Financial Advisor in South Dakota

The path to becoming a financial advisor in South Dakota involves the creation of an independent investment adviser (IA) firm or employment as an investment adviser representative (IAR) for an existing IA firm with a place of business in South Dakota. State level registration of firms and firm representatives through the South Dakota Division of Securities and federal level registration through the Securities and Exchange Commission is covered in this step-by-step guide.

Investment advisers and investment adviser firm representatives with clients in South Dakota must adhere to the South Dakota Uniform Securities Act.

Step 1. Get Your Education

Pursue a relevant degree. Since potential clients have a right to research the credentials of all registered advisers, your educational background will be available to view in the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) database. Above all else, it’s important to have the knowledge base to provide your clients with the best possible service.

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Some of the degrees that can assist you in achieving this:

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

It’s always a good idea to engage in a well-rounded course of study that blends elements of finance and sales. A few that you may want to consider:

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

Professional certifications are optional, but are among the best ways to highlight your mastery of the financial advising industry. A significant amount of education, generally a four-year degree, is required prior to testing for one of these certifications. If you do not meet the educational requirements, you may also substitute a minimum level of industry experience.  The South Dakota Division of Securities also waives exam requirements for individuals that hold the following designations:

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

Step 2: Register Your Firm in South Dakota

(This step is only required if you’re establishing a new IA firm. If you plan to pursue a career with an existing firm, you can skip to Step 3.)

If establishing a firm as a sole proprietor, all forms mentioned below must be submitted as hard copies to the South Dakota Division of Securities and mailed to Division of Securities, 445 East Capitol Avenue, Pierre, SD 57501-3185. State registration fees are waived for sole proprietors.

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All corporate entities file electronically through the IARD.

Investment adviser (IA) firms with a place of business in South Dakota are to be registered at the state level with the South Dakota Division of Securities when managing less than $100 million in total client assets. State registered firms will be required to maintain a minimum net worth of $10,000 at all times, or obtain a surety bond in that amount. IAs that manage in excess of $100 million will register federally with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Investment Adviser Registration Depository (IARD) is set up to accept both types of registrants. The following describes the process for both state and federal registration.

  1. As part of the FINRA Entitlement Process that will allow your firm to access web based systems including the IARD you are required to complete Entitlement Forms. Login information will be emailed to your firm’s designated Super Accountant Administrator (SAA) who will then have access to the Firm Gateway, which will allow the following steps to be completed.
  2. An IARD User Account will be set up to fund your state specific filing fees, IAR registration fees, as well as exam fees for all IARs in your firm’s employ:
  • Initial IARD set up fees for state registered investment advisors are currently being waived
  • An initial $225 IARD filing fee for SEC-registered advisors
  • $50 initial South Dakota filing fee for each IAR you employ
  • South Dakota charges a $100 initial filing fee for state-registered advisers and $200 for federal-covered advisers
  • Exam fees for each IAR in your firm
  • Provide detailed information about your new IA firm through Form ADV. This form is filed electronically through the IARD. The overall objective of this form is to provide basic information on the new firms fee structure, investment philosophy, and relevant background data on current employees.
  • Complete and electronically submit the Form U-4 Uniform Application for Securities Registration or Transfer for each IAR in your firm. As a sole proprietor or corporation owner you are required to register yourself as an IAR. South Dakota law requires that at least one investment adviser representative within the firm maintains current registration at all times.

Step 3: Take the Required Exam(s)

The South Dakota Division of Securities will waive exam requirements for the following designees:

  • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
  1. Prepare to take the required exams:


Register for the exam(s) using the specified form:

Step 4: Ongoing Renewal and Update Requirements in South Dakota

Investment Advisor Firm:

  • The Investment Adviser Registration Depository (IARD) will be used to complete IAR and IA firm registration renewals each year by the December 31st deadline
  • The IARD requires a $100 yearly administrative fee to be paid at the time of renewal
  • South Dakota’s renewal fees are $100 for state-registered firms, $200 for federal-covered firms, and $50 for each IAR within the firm
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Investment Adviser Representatives:
Form U-4 updates must be done as changes to relevant information occur. Sole proprietors are responsible for updating their own Form U-4. Firms will have a Super Account Administrator (SAA) in the compliance department who will be in charge of keeping all employee Form U-4’s current. Form U-4 amendments are made when changes occur to any of the following:

  • Disciplinary action
  • Name changes (as with marriage, for example)
  • Additional business activities that are related or unrelated to investment advising
  • Criminal charges or convictions
  • Residential address changes
  • Professional certifications, licenses, or designations
  • Client complaints
  • Any civil judgments
  • Additional educational or degrees earned