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Becoming a Financial Advisor in Florida

Becoming a financial advisor in Florida involves registering your own independent investment adviser (IA) firm or acting as an associated person who represents one of the established IAs currently registered in Florida. As a state level registrant, you’ll operate under the regulatory authority of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, Division of Securities. As a federal level registrant, you’ll operate under the regulatory authority of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In this step-by-step guide you’ll learn about both state and federal registration eligibility standards, as well as the registration process for both state and federal level registrants.

Investment adviser firms, owners, principals, and associated persons who conduct business in Florida must do so in accordance with the Florida Securities and Investor Protection Act.

Step 1. Get Your Education

  1. Get a degree. Employers and the investing public place a strong emphasis on formal education, and will be able to access information on your educational credentials through the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) database.

    Highly specialized degrees are well worth considering, as they provide a fully comprehensive education relevant to providing financial advisory service:

  • BS-Accounting
  • BA-Accounting
  • BA-Consumer and Family Financial Services
  • MS-Finance
  • MBA-Finance
  • MS-Accounting
  • MBA-Accounting
  • MS-Personal Financial Planning
  • MBA-Finance
  • PhD-Finance
  • PhD-Accounting
  • Take relevant courses. If you choose a specialized degree, expect classes that cover the material you’ll need to know to be a successful financial adviser:
    • Accounting
    • Behavior of organizations, persons and groups
    • Business communications
    • Management
    • Business ethics
    • Computer information systems
    • Business law
    • Statistics
    • Quantitative applications in business
    • Finance
    • Economics
    • Taxation
    • Marketing
  • Consider elective professional certification. In addition to formal education, professional certification programs can be used to assist you in becoming a more successful financial adviser. These designations indicate demonstrated proficiency, as they require a minimum level of education, most often a bachelor’s degree. There are often provisions to waive degree requirements if you have several years of financial industry experience. If you earn any of these designations, you’ll be exempt from further exam requirements:
    • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
    • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
    • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
    • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
    • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

    Step 2: Register Your Firm in Florida

    (This step is applicable if you’re establishing an independent IA. Skip to Step 3 if your career will begin with one of the existing IAs already registered in Florida.)

    Investment adviser (IA) firms managing assets totaling more than $100 million fall under the regulatory authority of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Florida-based IA firms managing assets totaling less than $100 million fall under the regulatory authority of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, Division of Securities. Both state and federal level IAs will process registration through the Investment Adviser Registration Depository (IARD). The following steps describe the process for both state and federal registrants.

    1. Initiate the Entitlement Process to gain access to the IARD. Send completed hard copy Entitlement Forms to the address specified on the form. As part of this process, you will designate a Super Accountant Administrator (SAA). As a sole proprietor, you will designate yourself SAA. Upon approval of Entitlement, you will be sent a user name and login allowing you access to the Firm Gateway. Enter the Firm Gateway to complete the remaining steps.
    2. Fund the IARD User Account. Required filing fees for firm registration, along with state filing fees and IAR registration and exam fees will be funded through this general account. You will need to ensure that the account is funded to cover:
    • Fees

      for federally registered firms with over $100 million in assets under management will be $225 a year

    • Annual filing fees in Florida are $200 per firm
    • Annual filing fees in Florida are $50 for each IAR that is employed by the firm
  • Electronically submit Form U-4 Uniform Application for Securities Registration or Transfer for all representatives of your firm. If you will be operating your firm as a sole proprietor, you will need to submit Form U-4 for yourself.
  • Electronically submit Form ADV. By selecting Florida as the state in which your firm will do business you will be registered with the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, Division of Securities upon approval of application.
  • Requirements to Transact Business in Other States

    After registering in Florida, you are allowed to conduct a small amount financial advisory business in any other state without having to register in that state. A small amount of business is defined as fewer than 5 clients in any other single state. With the addition of a fifth client in any other single state, you will have to register in that state through the IARD system and pay all applicable state registration fees.

    Step 3: Take the Required Exams

    If you’ve already demonstrated competency through formal education and industry experience by earning any of these designations, you’ll be exempt from further exam requirements:

    • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
    • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
    • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
    • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
    • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
    1. Submit Form U-4, Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration or Transfer to apply for the required exams. If you are not the owner of your own IA firm, your firm’s Super Account Administrator will submit the form on your behalf along with the $50 registration fee.
    2. You will be emailed with specific instructions on how to schedule the exam(s) for which you’ve applied. You’ll be required to pass one of the following:
    • The Series 65, Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination by itself

    OR

  • Schedule to take the exam(s) through one of the Prometric Testing Center or Pearson Professional Center locations in Florida (Altamonte Springs, Boca Raton, Davie, Deerfield Beach, or Fort Meyers).
  • Prepare for the exam and arrive at your chosen location an hour before your scheduled exam time.
  • You will receive results immediately upon completing the exam(s).
  • Step 4: Ongoing Annual Renewal Requirements in Florida

    Investment Advisor Firm:
    As a firm proprietor or founding principal, you will process renewals for your firm and its associated persons electronically through the Investment Adviser Registration Depository (IARD) by the end of each calendar year (31st of December). At this time you’ll also perform regular annual updates to Form ADV to show any changes to your fee structure and your staff of associated persons. Expect to pay the following fees during each renewal cycle:

    • $100 IARD administrative renewal fee
    • Florida’s renewal fees of $200 for the IA and $50 for each associated person providing investment advice on the firm’s behalf
    • Renewal fees for all states in which your firm and its associated persons are registered

    Investment Adviser Representatives:
    As an associated person you are required to maintain your own Form U-4 by informing your compliance department of changes. As a sole proprietor, you’ll update you own files. The items listed below are considered amendments and will trigger updates to Form U-4:

    • Additional business activities
    • Education
    • Jurisdictional changes
    • Certification
    • Civil judgments
    • Residential address
    • Criminal record
    • Name change (marriage
    • Customer complaints
    • Disciplinary action


    Category: Advisor

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