Registration and licensure through the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office Securities Commission is necessary to become a stockbroker in West Virginia. Stockbrokers are more frequently referred to within the industry as broker-dealer agents, securities sales reps, or just registered reps. “Registered” in this case, refers to being registered with the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office Securities Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and at least one self-regulatory organization, the largest of which is the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Follow this guide for a detailed explanation of this process.
Step 1. Get Your Education
- Brokerage firms in West Virginia tend to hire candidates who have a bachelor’s degree over those who do not.
These are among the more common degrees held by broker-dealer agents in West Virginia:
- BS or BA-Accounting
- BS -Economics
- BS-Industrial Relations
- BS- Business Administration
- Business finance
- Business communications
- Legal environment of business
- Business ethics
- Economic statistics
- Financial statement analysis
- Quantitative business methods/operations
- Management of individuals and teams
- Accounting (managerial and financial concentrations)
Step 2: Take the Required Exams
- All prospective broker-dealer agents in West Virginia must attain sponsorship from a registered brokerage firm in the state prior to taking securities examinations. Search for available broker-dealer positions with West Virginia firms, network with instructors and friends, and visit West Virginia brokerage firms directly to find a qualifying position.
- After obtaining broker-dealer firm sponsorship, you must complete Form U-4, Uniform Application for Securities Registration or Transfer.
Your brokerage firm’s compliance department will assist you in completing Form U-4, which they will submit through the Central Registration Depository (CRD).
The West Virginia Securities Commission requires all broker-dealer agents to pass the Series 63 or the Series 66 state securities exam. Your employer will require you to pass a securities product exam, usually the Series 6 or 7.
- The fee of $85 to file the Form U-4 and thereby register with FINRA should be paid by your brokerage firm.
- Fingerprinting is a requirement of FINRA when submitting Form U-4. Your brokerage firm should be able to help you in this process. Otherwise, contact the state or local police for assistance. FINRA processing of your fingerprint card will cost your brokerage firm $30.25.
- Testing fees are paid by your brokerage firm, and are as follows: $85 for Series 6, $265 for the Series 7, $96 for the Series 63, and $128 for the Series 66.
- West Virginia’s agent registration fee of $80 is paid by your brokerage firm through FINRA’s CRD system upon submittal of your Form U-4.
When your application is approved, you will be able to schedule the required exams:
The Series 6 (Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts Limited Representative Qualification Examination) OR the Series 7 (General Securities Representative Qualification Examination). (Other more limited exams are available, but these are the most common)
The Series 63 (Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination) OR the Series 66 (Uniform Combined State Law Examination), based upon your broker-dealer firm’s preference.
- Information to help you study for the exams should be provided by your brokerage firm.
- On exam day, show up at the testing center at least an hour before the start of the exam.
Step 3: Get Your On-The-Job Training
On-the-job training is vital to learning your new position as a stockbroker in West Virginia. Brokerage firms typically require all new registered agents to follow another registered agent as he or she performs the duties of the job. This will give you an idea of your firm’s daily operations, policies and procedures as well as the financial vehicles with which you will be dealing:
- Options trading
- Exchange rules
- Variable contracts
- Mutual funds
- Municipal fund securities
- Corporate securities
- Equity funds
- Government securities
- Money market funds
- Direct participation programs
Step 4: Ongoing Requirements for License Renewal and Continuing Education
- Annual License Renewal and Renewal Fees
Each year, your West Virginia securities license will expire unless your brokerage firm pays the $65 annual renewal fee through the Web-CRD (Central Registration Depository).
- Continuing Education Requirements
To maintain a securities license, you must fulfill the requirements of the Securities Industry Continuing Education Program. This is broken down into two components:
- The Regulatory Element
Once you have been registered as a broker-dealer agent for two years, you must complete the Regulatory Element. It must be taken every three years subsequently.
If you are Series 7 registered, you must complete the S101 General Program. It covers four modules on regulations, compliance, sales practices, and ethics. Training under this program includes:
- Public communications (oral and written)
- New and Secondary Offerings and Corporate Finance
- Handling Customer Accounts, Trade and Settlement Practices
- The Firm Element
Topics that are pertinent to the financial industry change yearly, FINRA will evaluate these topics annually and advise your brokerage firm of which ones should be emphasized in its Firm Element training program. Each registered agent completes this annually. Topics may include:
- Investment products and services offered by your firm
- Customer complaints
- Alternative investments
- Anti money-laundering
If events in your life cause your Form U-4 information to change, it is imperative that you notify your brokerage firm’s compliance department. They will submit these changes through the CRD to update your Form U-4 registration. Such information may include:
- Change of address
- Change of name/marital status
- Allegations of sales practice violations
- Employment terminations
- Customer complaint disclosures
- Financial judgments against you
- Criminal disclosures
Your securities registration information is always available to the public through FINRA’s BrokerCheck program.