Series 7 vs. Series 66: What's the Difference?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published August 4, 2021

Financial advisers often need special licenses to practice. Series 7 and Series 66 are two popular types of financial securities licenses. If you're a financial adviser and you want to get a financial securities license, it's helpful to understand the differences between Series 7 and Series 66 licenses so that you can make the best decision for your career. In this article, we discuss Series 7 and Series 66 licenses and the key differences between them.

What are financial licenses?

Financial licenses are licenses that financial advisers must obtain in order to practice. The license that a financial adviser chooses to acquire typically depends on the services they provide, the types of securities they sell and their compensation. Securities are different types of financial assets, like stocks and bonds.

There are many licenses that financial advisers can pursue, and two common financial securities licenses are the Series 7 and Series 66 licenses, which enable financial professionals to buy and sell securities and perform other job tasks. Many finance employers require their employees to get licensed after they're hired. Financial advisers can also research additional certifications to advance their careers.

Related: Licenses for Financial Advisers

What is Series 7?

Series 7 is a popular type of financial securities license, which is also called the General Securities (GS) license. To get this license, financial professionals have to pass a licensing examination. The Series 7 license typically has the widest range of applications, and financial professionals who get this license are permitted to sell nearly every type of financial security. They can pursue careers in financial advising, financial planning, trading and more. This makes the Series 7 license a valuable career asset for people who work in finance.

Related: Complete Guide for How To Become a Financial Adviser

What is Series 66?

Series 66 is another popular type of financial securities license. This license enables financial advisers to become securities agents or investment advisers. To get this license, you have to already have a Series 7 license. You must also pass a Series 66 licensing examination.

The Series 66 license combines the Series 63 and Series 65 licenses, which are two other types of financial licenses. The Series 63 license focuses on financial laws and regulations, while the Series 65 license focuses on investment advising. This combination equips Series 66 license holders to provide investment advising, wealth management and more.

Series 7 vs. Series 66

Series 7 and Series 66 are two popular types of financial securities licenses. Although every Series 66 license holder also has a Series 7 license, there are important differences between the two types of licenses. Some of the key differences between Series 7 and Series 66 licenses include:

Qualifications

One important difference between Series 7 and Series 66 licenses is the qualifications required to obtain each license. To get a Series 7 license, candidates must first take and pass the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam. This exam contains questions that gauge a candidate's financial knowledge. Then, a Series 7 candidate must get sponsored by a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) firm. After taking the SIE exam and getting a sponsor, a candidate must pass the Series 7 licensing examination.

However, to qualify for a Series 66 license, candidates must already have the Series 7 license and pass a Series 66 licensing examination. You can also take both exams at the same time to get both of your licenses quickly, but you have to take an SIE exam if you choose to do this.

Related: Your Guide to Careers in Finance

Licensing exams

The licensing exams for Series 7 and Series 66 licenses are also different. The Series 7 exam, which is 225 minutes long, is known for its length and difficulty. The exam contains questions on taxation, retirement plans, investment risks and more. To pass the Series 7 licensing exam, you must score at least 72%.

The Series 66 exam, which is 150 minutes long, combines elements from the Series 63 and Series 65 licensing exams. The exam includes questions on business, economics, investment strategies and laws and regulations. To pass the Series 66 licensing exam, you must score at least 73%.

Training

Another difference between the two types of licenses is the amount of training that they require. Generally, it takes people longer to train to take the Series 7 licensing exam, as the exam has more questions. Many people find the Series 66 exam easier, as they've already taken the Series 7 exam by the time they take the Series 66 exam. You can prepare for both exams by using online resources and study materials.

Related: 7 Steps To Start a Career in Finance (With Tips)

Types of permissions

Financial professionals who obtain Series 7 and Series 66 licenses can also become qualified for different tasks. Series 7 licenses qualify financial advisers to buy and sell securities like:

  • Corporate securities

  • Mutual funds

  • Real estate investment trusts

  • Stocks and bonds

Financial professionals with Series 66 licenses become qualified to sell all of the same securities as the Series 7 license, but they also become qualified to provide investment advising services.

Related: 6 Types of Finance Jobs

Career paths

The two types of licenses can also lead to different career paths. The Series 7 license enables financial professionals to sell securities and get jobs like financial adviser, financial planner or financial sales representative. However, the Series 66 license enables financial professionals to become investment advisers or wealth or asset managers. Series 66 license holders are also eligible for any of the same careers as Series 7 holders, as people with Series 66 licenses already have Series 7 licenses.

Related: 12 of the Highest-Paying Finance Jobs

Income potential

Series 7 and Series 66 licenses can also have different income potentials. Because Series 66 is a more advanced license than Series 7, financial professionals with a Series 66 license can have the potential to earn higher incomes than professionals that only have a Series 7 license. Exact salary information can vary by company, job, years of experience and many other factors.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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