Becoming a Financial Planner in Vermont

Information provided by the Vermont Department of Labor Center shows an anticipated growth rate of 2.7 percent annually till the end of 2018 in the number of personal financial advisors employed in the state. Insurance sales agents, many of whom offer retirement planning services through the sale of life insurance and annuities, will see a more modest increase of 0.9 percent annually, as will stockbrokers, who should see an annual increase of around 0.7 percent. These numbers are not all encompassing, as they do not consider self-employed financial planners.

According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, the growth in personal income for Vermont residents was higher than in any other New England region state. According to the IRS, income tax revenues in Vermont are expected to be 10 percent higher than they were in 2010.

Almost half (43.6 percent) of Vermont’s residents have at least a two-year college degree according to a recent report from the Lumina Foundation. Residents with college degrees are most commonly found in Chittenden County (including the city of Burlington), Washington County (including the capital city of Montpelier), and Windham Counties (including the town of Newfane). Financial planners who specialize in helping families save for their children’s college education do well in these counties, as children of college-educated parents usually follow suit and enroll in college themselves when they come of age. Vermont’s Higher Education Investment Plan (VHEIP) is just one of the state’s college savings plans in which residents may participate. Families who participate in these types of plans often seek the professional assistance of financial planners to help them manage investments as they work to grow their financial assets while putting away enough to fund their children’s college education.

As of the US Census Bureau’s 2009 report, about 14.5 percent of Vermont’s residents were over the age of 65. This figure is higher than the national average of 12.9 percent, and indicates a growing need for financial planners who apply the unique level of prudence and risk minimization necessary to effectively help generate a reliable stream of income for clients during their retirement years.

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How to Obtain an Investment Adviser License in Vermont

Investment adviser (IA) firms and the investment adviser representatives (IARs) employed by these firms who solicit clients in Vermont must apply for licensure through the Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration. Investment adviser representative licensure in Vermont is granted after acceptance of registration through the Central Registration Depository (CRD) and after obtaining passing scores on the Series 65 examination or both the Series 7 and Series 66 examinations. Exemptions may be granted to applicants who hold and maintain one of the following designations:

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

Some of the world’s biggest investment adviser firms are also some of Vermont’s biggest employers of investment adviser representatives. Among these is Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, both with offices in Burlington. Sokolowski Investment Advisors also has their offices in Burlington; while Battenkill Capital Management is located in Manchester Center; Pinnacle Advisors is in Stowe; and KDP Asset Management, Inc. has an office in Montpelier.

How to Obtain a Stockbroker License in Vermont

The Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration regulates stockbrokers/broker-dealer agents licensed to engage clients in the state. They must pass the Series 63 Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination or the Series 66 Uniform Combined State Law Examination, along with the Series 6 or 7 Exams, depending on the type of financial products the aspiring broker-dealer agent intends to sell.

Continuing education is required of all registered representatives. After being licensed for two years, reps must complete their first Regulatory Element training. This program must be taken again every three years as it is updated to reflect regulatory changes in the industry. Firms are also responsible for establishing formal training programs, referred to as the Firm Element of continuing education, designed to keep agents current on industry developments that have sway over their sales practices and the financial instruments they work with.

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

The Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration licenses prospective life insurance producers who are also licensed to sell annuities. The third-party exam provider, Prometric, handles testing of prospective life insurance producers in Vermont. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age to apply to become a producer in Vermont. Applications are accepted online through Sircon Licensing and the National Insurance Producer Registry (NIPR) and can also be submitted as hard copy forms, printable at the NIPR website. Twenty-four credit hours of continuing education must be fulfilled every two years to maintain a producer license, with three credit hours of this being in ethics. Approved CE providers in Vermont may be found here.

In order to be eligible to sell variable annuities, agents must be licensed accordingly, which requires passing the Series 6 Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts Limited Representative Exam, or the Series 7 General Securities Representative Exam. Continuing education requirements of FINRA, or any other applicable governing self regulatory organization (SRO), as well as the Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration are in effect for producers who deal in variable contracts.