Becoming a stockbroker in Virginia will involve registration with the Virginia State Corporation Commission: Division of Securities and Retail Franchising as a broker-dealer agent, as well as registration with a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)-recognized self-regulatory organization (SRO).
In this easy to follow guide, you will find the registration process for both broker-dealer agents associated with firms governed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), as well as those associated with non-FINRA member firms.
Step 1. Get Your Education
A degree is not a prerequisite for registration with the Virginia SCC: Division of Securities and Retail Franchising, however, many of Virginia’s broker-dealer firms will look to applicants who possess a bachelor’s degree or several years of industry experience.
As a prospective broker-dealer agent, it is well worth considering one of the following degrees:
- BS-Business with concentration in Financial Planning
- BS-Financial Technology/Financial Engineering
- BS-Business Administration and Management
These degree programs will cover a tremendous breadth of coursework in subjects that may include:
- Economics/Managerial Economics
- Writing and Rhetoric
- Finance/Financial management
- Business information systems
- Production/operations management
- Business ethics and law
- Statistics/business statistics
- Mathematical applications for business
- Organizational behavior
- Accounting/Accounting Law
Step 2: Take the Required Exams
- Search for sponsorship opportunities within a Virginia-based broker-dealer firm. Sponsorship by one of these firms is imperative prior to applying for the Series 7, or another more limited securities exam.Broker-dealer agents who registered before January 1, 1989 and have remained registered are exempt from securities examinations.
- Complete the correct forms to apply for the necessary exams, and to apply for registration through the Virginia State Corporation Commission: Division of Securities and Retail Franchising.If you are associated with a FINRA member firm:
Your employer will help you complete the Uniform Application for Securities Registration or Transfer, also known as Form U-4, which serves as an application for the securities examinations and an application for registration with the Virginia Securities Division. Your application will be submitted for approval through the Central Registration Depository (CRD) and will include:
- The $85 registration fee submitted to FINRA
- Your Fingerprints used for a federal background check along with a processing fee of $30.25
- Applicable Exam fees
- Virginia’s statutory fee of $30
If you are associated with a Non-FINRA member firm:
Enroll for your FINRA exam on the FINRA website. 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 application is accepted, your firm will be notified and you may register for and schedule the Series 7, General Securities Representative Examination and the Series 63, Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination OR the Series 66, Uniform Combined State Law Examination.You have 120 days to schedule the exams through one of the Prometric Testing Centers and Pearson Professional Centers in Virginia. You can search for the center nearest you.
- Prometric Centers are located in Alexandria, Bristol and Falls Church
- Pearson Centers are located in Alexandria and Chesapeake
- Only one exam may be scheduled for a given day
- An abundance of study information and practice tests are available, and your sponsoring broker-dealer firm will have a vested interest in seeing to it you are well prepared. On exam day, arrive at least an hour before the exam is scheduled to begin.
- The system will calculate your score and display your grade immediately upon finishing the exam. All mandatory examinations must be passed before you are legally licensed as a registered broker-dealer agent in Virginia.
Step 3: Get Your On-The-Job Training
Brokerage firms will engage all new agents in comprehensive on-the-job sales and investment strategy training. An exploration of your firm’s policies, investment philosophy and standard sales procedures will be provided during this training.
Your brokerage firm will tailor your product knowledge training to the securities you will be offering clients. Some of these include:
- Registered options
- Municipal, corporate and options securities
- Variable contracts
- Mutual funds
- Corporate equity and debt securities
- Government securities
- Investment company products
- Direct participation programs (such as non-publicly offered S corporation offerings, oil and gas leases, and real estate programs)
Step 4: Ongoing Requirements for License Renewal and Continuing Education
Annual License Renewal and Fees
Broker-dealer firms must pay the annual renewal fee of $30 to renew your Virginia securities license. This should be paid to the Treasurer of Virginia through the Web-CRD (Central Registration Depository) system.
Continuing Education Requirements
All Virginia licensed broker-dealer agents must fulfill the requirements of the Securities Industry Continuing Education Program. Two aspects of training are included:
- The Regulatory Element
The Regulatory Element computerized training program is due after you have been licensed for two years, and every three years thereafter. Your broker-dealer firm should notify you when this portion of your continuing education training is due.Series 7 licensed agents must complete the General Program (S101). It focuses on compliance, sales-practice, and the regulatory and ethical standards of the industry. Categories included within this training are:
- Communicating with the Public
- Suitability (Client to Product)
- Handling Customer Accounts, Trade and Settlement Practices
- New and Secondary Offering & Corporate Finance
- The Firm Element
FINRA will instruct every broker-dealer on the important topics in the financial industry annually and direct them to teach these topics to registered agents through the Firm Element portion of Continuing Education. All agents must complete this annually. Topics will likely include:
- Updates in regulations in the financial industry
- Sales protocol modifications
- Changes in investment products
Updating your Form U-4
If any life events alter your personal information, you must notify the compliance department of your brokerage firm. They will, in turn, update your Form U-4 with this new information:
- Address changes
- Marital status changes
- Regulatory action disclosures
- Changes in professional designations
- Customer complaints/arbitration disclosures
- Financial disclosures
- Criminal proceedings against you
FINRA’s BrokerCheck provides public access to your securities registration information.