Your Complete Guide to Obtaining a Financial License: Steps and Strategies

Anna Schmidt, COUNSEL
05 February 2024

Table of Contents:

Navigating the complex landscape of the financial industry can be a daunting task. Yet, possessing a financial license can be your compass, guiding you through the intricacies of this dynamic field. Not only does it facilitate transactions and services, but it also ensures market stability, protects consumers, and fosters professional growth. Are you ready to embark on this journey to acquire a financial license? Let's dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • Financial licenses serve as gateways to the financial industry, ensuring that only qualified individuals provide financial services and contribute to market stability.

  • Acquiring a financial license requires meeting certain educational benchmarks and navigating through a structured application process which includes fulfilling regulatory bodies' standards and payment of relevant fees.

  • Holding a financial license provides a professional with a vast array of career opportunities within the financial sector and certifies the individual's or institution's adherence to industry regulations and standards.

Understanding Financial Licenses

Understanding the financial licenses
Financial licenses are not mere credentials; they're passports to the world of financial markets. They enable an individual to offer financial products and services, thereby managing financial transactions. But, their significance goes beyond that. They act as safeguards that ensure only competent professionals deliver financial services, thereby averting potential crises and upholding market stability.

From your local financial adviser to multinational banking corporations, all must obtain appropriate licenses to engage in regulated financial activities. But, what are these licenses, and what roles do they play?

The Role of Financial Licenses

Imagine a world where anyone can sell financial products and services without any qualifications or regulations. Scary, isn't it? That's where financial licenses come in. Their purpose is to certify that solely qualified individuals are allowed to provide financial products and services, which contributes to maintaining market stability and averting possible crises.

Licenses mandate compliance with certain regulatory standards, which encourages:

  • transparency

  • stability

  • trust in the financial system

  • deters fraudulent activities and misconduct

Thus, financial licenses are not just about enabling professionals; they're about protecting consumers as well.

Types of Financial Licenses

Just like a chef needs different tools for different dishes, financial professionals require different licenses for different roles. Some common licenses in the financial industry include:

  • Securities license: authorizes individuals to offer advice on investments or securities

  • Investment adviser license: enables individuals to offer investment advice or perform securities analysis for a fee

  • Licence for Electronic Money Institution: necessary for payment systems that manage transactions for clients, ensuring consumer protection and financial stability

Each license serves a unique purpose and caters to specific financial services.

Pathways to Obtaining a Financial License

Obtaining the financial license
With an understanding of the importance and types of financial licenses, the next step is to understand how to obtain them. Obtaining a financial license involves fulfilling certain educational prerequisites and going through the application process. Let's delve deeper into these aspects to get a clearer picture of the journey towards acquiring a financial license.

Educational Requirements

While a college degree might not be mandatory for some licenses, having one in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration can certainly give you an edge. Depending on the specific license, you may need to fulfill certain educational requirements that vary from a Level 4 qualification to a Level 7 Diploma.

For example, acquiring a Securities License typically necessitates a degree in finance or a related field. Therefore, your educational background has a significant impact on the process of acquiring a financial license.

Application Process

Once you've met the educational requirements, the next step is to submit a complete application for assessment. The application process involves:

  • Submitting an Application for Authorization

  • Describing your company's activities and structure of work, including the role of the company's representative

  • Indicating responsible persons

  • Confirming the intention to receive an account in the European Economic Area

  • Filling in required forms.

Remember, the state registration fee for obtaining a financial license can vary between £1500 and £5000, depending on your company's activity. Be prepared with all necessary documents and adhere to all requirements to prevent common mistakes during the application process.

Key Licenses for Financial Professionals

Key licenses for the financial services
With a clear understanding of the educational requirements and application process, it's time to delve into some key licenses for financial professionals. These licenses, which include securities and banking/payment services licenses, empower professionals to sell a range of investment products, offer financial advice, and also govern professionals in banking, lending, and payment processing roles.

Securities Licenses

Securities licenses act as gateways to a host of opportunities in the financial industry. For instance, the Series 7 Securities License grants the individual the authority to market a wide array of individual securities, encompassing:

  • Common and preferred stocks

  • Call and put options

  • Bonds

  • Other fixed income investments

On the other hand, the Series 6 and Series 63 licenses allow financial advisors to sell packaged securities, including mutual funds and variable annuities. Therefore, each securities license presents unique opportunities in the financial sector, such as investment management.

Banking and Payment Services Licenses

While the world of securities offers a plethora of opportunities, the banking and payment services sector is a whole different ball game, requiring its own set of licenses. A banking licence not only regulates banking and lending activities but also oversees payment processing activities, including money remittance, within the payment services sector.

The opportunities with these licenses are vast, whether functioning as a Payment Service Provider (PSP) or an agent offering payment services.

Regulatory Bodies and Exams

Regulatory Body
After discussing the various types of financial licenses and the process of acquiring them, it's crucial to comprehend the role regulatory bodies play in the licensing procedure. These bodies, such as FINRA and NASAA, not only oversee the licensing procedures but also administer exams to ensure that only competent individuals are granted licenses.

FINRA's Role in Licensing

FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, plays a pivotal role in the financial licensing process. It oversees all securities licensing procedures and requirements in the United States, develops and enforces rules for registered broker-dealers and brokerage firms to promote market transparency, and requires membership for financial advisors.

Therefore, FINRA's role is to ensure fair and honest operation of the securities market, promoting market integrity and trust among investors.

NASAA and State-Level Regulations

While FINRA oversees the licensing procedures at the national level, the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) manages state-level licensing and regulations for securities professionals. NASAA ensures that securities professionals adhere to state laws and standards, thereby safeguarding consumers seeking investment or securities advice.

Effectively, NASAA acts as a local custodian, safeguarding the safety and security of your financial journey.

Career Opportunities With a Financial License

Career with the financial servies company
Acquiring a financial license can open doors to a multitude of career paths within the financial sector, including:

  • Financial advisors

  • Investment bankers

  • Wealth managers

  • Financial analysts

  • Risk managers

  • Compliance officers

It's not just about compliance—it's about opportunities.

We'll delve deeper into these opportunities.

Jobs Enabled by Licensing

With a financial license in your arsenal, you can explore diverse career paths. Some examples include:

  • Financial advisers

  • Wealth management adviser

  • Investment advisor

  • Financial analyst

  • Payment Service Provider (PSP)

  • Agent Providing Payment Services

With a financial license, a vast array of opportunities in the financial world, including the financial market, become accessible.

Advantages of Being Licensed

Being licensed comes with its share of advantages. It not only increases your credibility and reliability but also certifies your compliance with regulations. It strengthens your market leadership, opens up opportunities for pay increases and career advancement, and provides long-term benefits.

Therefore, a financial license represents more than just documentation—it's a key to achieving success in the financial sector.

Preparing for Your Financial License Exam

After understanding the importance of financial licenses and how to get them, it's time to prepare for the financial license exams. Although these exams may prove challenging, the right resources and study techniques can guide you towards successful completion.

Study Resources and Techniques

How do you prepare for a financial license exam? The key lies in using the right study materials and practicing effectively. From reputable textbooks to online courses, there's a plethora of resources that can help you prepare for your exams. But remember, it's not just about studying—it's about studying smart.

Therefore, it's advisable to create a structured study plan, practice with sample questions, and review your notes regularly to ensure thorough preparation for the exam.

Exam Day Tips

When the day of the exam finally arrives, it's natural to feel a mix of excitement and anxiety. But with the right preparation and mindset, you can conquer your exam successfully. Arrive approximately 30 minutes early, bring necessary identification, and employ effective test-taking strategies to maximize your success.

Keep in mind, success in the exam relies not only on understanding the material but also on mastering test-taking strategies.

Navigating the Licensing Process for Businesses

Financial licenses are not only imperative for individual professionals but hold equal importance for businesses in the financial sector. Financial institutions must navigate their own licensing processes, ensuring their employees hold appropriate licenses and maintaining compliance with regulatory bodies.

Licensing for Financial Institutions

Just like professionals, financial institutions need licenses to operate in the financial industry. From identifying the regulated activities to submitting the application and receiving the official approval, the process involves multiple steps. However, non-compliance with licensing requirements can lead to severe repercussions, including significant financial penalties and even closure of the institution.

Therefore, it's vital for financial institutions, including credit unions, to maintain appropriate licensing as a responsible financial institution.

Maintaining Compliance

The process of licensing doesn't end with obtaining the license; maintaining compliance is equally essential. Financial institutions must regularly review and update their compliance procedures to stay current with industry regulations and avoid penalties. From formulating compliance processes to integrating them into their operations and adhering to all pertinent laws, the journey to compliance is ongoing.


Navigating the world of financial licenses may seem complex, but with the right knowledge and guidance, it becomes a rewarding journey. From understanding the importance and types of financial licenses to exploring the pathways to obtaining them, and from delving into the key licenses for financial professionals to preparing for the exams, we've covered every aspect of obtaining a financial license. With a financial license, not only can you offer financial products and services, but you also open doors to a multitude of career opportunities. So, gear up and embark on your journey to acquiring a financial license!

Frequently Asked Questions

The main difference between FCA and PRA is that the FCA works with firms to ensure fair outcomes for consumers, while the PRA has a general objective to promote the financial soundness of the firms it regulates.