Monday, November 28, 2011
To see if you're ready, or if you might need tutoring, get a GoNoGo exam from our home page at www.passthe7.com under "Am I ready for my exam?"
Saturday, November 19, 2011
ABC pays a dividend of $2 on its common stock. The p/e ratio is currently 17. Therefore, if the dividend payout is 50%, the common stock trades for
A.A price that can not be determined by these facts alone
EXPLANATION: even though panic might set in, you do, in fact, have enough numbers to solve the problem, so A is quickly eliminated. The key here is to define and make sense of "dividend payout of 50%." The dividend is paid out of profits or earnings per share; earnings per share is/are the "e" in the "p/e" ratio. If $2 is half of the Earnings Per Share, the EPS = $4. The "p" or "price" of the stock is 17 times bigger than 4. $68.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
In early November, the required passing score for the Series 7 exam will be 72%.
The outline is also changing, but so far it appears to be just a different way of slicing and dicing the disparate topics thrown together in the hodgepodge called "the Series 7."
Stay tuned and study hard. As always
Monday, August 1, 2011
If you have questions, email me at email@example.com
Most companies have decent practice questions but the weakest explanations we've ever seen. Basically, the "explanation" will say, "the answer is B because A, C, and D are incorrect."
Okay, so what about www.passthe7.com? What's so great about our stuff? We have a large enough batch of questions, a big enough variety, and the best explanations you'll find anywhere--not too short, not too long. The only point on which bigger companies might out-do us is on the look of the interface (millions of $'s can usually buy glossy-looking stuff) and some also track your results and pretend to tell you which "areas" of the test you need more work on. Total gimmick, but it sells. In any case, click the title of this post to get our Pass the 7 ExamCram Online Test Prep and save 12% with this coupon code: webinar.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Open- and closed-end funds share none of the following characteristics except that:
A. open-end funds must be "diversified" according to the 75/5/10 rule
B. closed-end funds must be "diversified" according to GAAP accounting rules
C. closed-end funds are non-redeemable investment company securities
D. open-end funds may issue preferred shares
EXPLANATION: once again, a mildly confusing topic can become massively confusing if the question is written a certain way. Oh well. Take a deep breath, look at the question from a different angle, and proceed to kick its butt. Do open-end funds have to be diversified? Heck no--it's just that if they want to call themselves "diversified," they have to follow the SEC rule. Closed-end funds don't have to be diversified, either, and even if they did "GAAP Accounting" is nonsense . . . so you can now eliminate the first two answer choices. Boom. See anything wrong with Choice C? Me neither, but let's not make our move too soon. What about D? Isn't it the CLOSED-end fund that might issue preferred shares to use leverage? Yes. D is false. The answer must be . . .
Thursday, February 24, 2011
This is a question I receive frequently, though not as frequently as the question, "Can I get registered with FINRA if I have a felony conviction?"
Both issues are covered on the U4 and, of course, you never want to lie on your U4, especially if you might get caught. However, a "yes" answer to these sticky questions does not automatically lead to a denial of your application. It's just that a "yes" answer to any felony conviction or any misdemeanor considered "investment-related" is usually a game-over for the applicant. What if you answer "yes" to questions about your personal finances? Let's see how FINRA handles this FAQ:
A personal bankruptcy is not an automatic diqualification from FINRA registration. However, you are required to report and disclose a personal bankruptcy that occured in the previous 10 years. You are required to keep the information on your U4 current at all times and any changes to your disclosure must be made within 30 days. Your firm will help you correctly answer specific questions about bankruptcy on Form U4 and will electronically submit the Form U4 amendment on your behalf.
That's it. To illustrate the point, understand that FINRA actually has exams that people take for which no materials have been written. Seriously. FINRA doesn't think you necessarily need a test-prep company in the first place. In their mind, that's just one option available. The other options? Not FINRA's problem to come up with them.
The other day a customer asked how my book compares to the "FINRA/NASD manual" that he currently had. See what I mean? One of the big firms had convinced him that their stuff was the "official, FINRA/NASD-approved license exam manual." Nice marketing campaign that happens to be based on pure BS. My book is as "official" as any other book out there. It's just that my book is written in English. Kind of funny that Series 7 candidates reward the big companies for writing pedantic, elitist, opaque materials not only by continuing to buy them but also by interpreting that approach as a seal of approval from the regulators.
Oh well. The other license exam manuals out there are helpful, but, please, don't assume that some companies put out "official FINRA" materials and others are just winging it. We're all winging it, some more sucessfully than others.
Whoah--slam the brakes, shut the system down, this guy was not happy with that explanation. He was convinced that there WAS no right to buy stock at $55 since this guy SOLD that call. This is why rigid thinking can be so detrimental on the Series 7 exam. The little options quadrant that everyone learns is helpful in some cases, but--like the T-chart--has its limitations, too. I need you to accept this statement, everyone: a call option is the RIGHT TO BUY stock at a set price.
You can buy that right, sell that right, or just take a pass on the whole thing. Okay? Whatever the premiums are, somebody paid more for the right to buy ABC for $50 than anyone paid for the right to buy it for $55. This guy bought the more valuable call and sold the less valuable call. Debit to his account. More money went out than came in. On the other hand, if he buys an ABC Dec 40 call and sells an ABC Dec 30 call, he sells the more valuable option and, therefore, starts with a credit. Whatever the premiums are, the right to buy stock for $30 is worth more than the right to buy it for $40. He took in more money than he spent. A credit to his account; credit spread.
I know it's hard to see this without the premiums provided, but you have to learn how to do that for your exam. What really helped me see this concept was pulling up real-world quotes on options. You'll see calls on the left, puts on the right. And, you'll see that as strike prices drop, call premiums rise and put premiums fall. Until you can see that and understand it fully, options questions will likely seem like a major challenge when, in fact, they should be among the easiest questions you encounter at the test center.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Seriously, the terms are usually pretty much what they sound like. For example, what would a "debt service coverage ratio" be? If you know that debt service is the interest and the part of the principal to be paid this year on the revenue bonds, you're half-way home. What would an "agreement among underwriters" be? If you know what underwriters are (syndicate members) and understand what they would care about--and not care about--you can figure out the answer. They don't care about the bond counsel, right? They care about the terms of syndicate operation, the participation of the members, the order priority, the spread, and the deadline for taking orders, etc. If you know that "primary" market = new issues and "secondary" market = trading, you can get a lot of questions right just from that.
Use the bold-letter terms in your textbook and the glossary--if it has one. But to really take it up a notch, use the MSRB's excellent glossary at www.msrb.org.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Q: if a registered person is arrested but not charged with a crime, is the arrest required to be reported?
A: No. An arrest without a charge is not required to be reported.
Q: if a registered person is convicted of a crime and later pardoned, must the conviction continue to be reported? What if the conviction is set aside?
A: A person convicted of a crime and subsequently pardoned must continue to report the conviction. A pardon releases an individual from the punishment of the crime, but does not remove the conviction.
So, that comes close--but not quite--to answering the questions I keep getting from guys (it's always guys) who want to know if a conviction that is 'expunged' must be reported. Above FINRA uses the word "pardoned," which I don't think is the same thing as "expungement." But whether a conviction were pardoned or expunged, it appears that the CHARGE still has to be reported. FINRA gives me that clue with this statement, "Even if the conviction is not reportable, the charge may still be reportable." Don't you love the shades of gray they use? They then write, "Registered persons have an obligation to determine whether a criminal event is required to be reported through one or more questions under Item 14A or 14B."
Hmm . . . so I plan to talk to some more attorneys, but it appears my assumption so far is correct: even if you get a felony conviction expunged from your record, your truthful answer to the question of whether you were ever CHARGED with a felony is . . . YES.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
If you are on a budget, I recommend getting the Pass the 7 textbook and the Pass the 7 ExamCram Online at www.passthe7.com/exams.htm (hit continue shopping, etc.).
If you're not on quite as tight a budget, get the full package at www.passthe7.com/fullpackage.htm. This includes the audio lectures on CD and the DVD set that you can watch on your TV, with the ability to pause, review, fast-forward, etc.
Either way, make sure you learn as many vocabulary terms as possible, and focus on understanding concepts/how things work. You don't get to memorize a bunch of bullet points and merely spit them back at the testing center--the exam forces you to prove you can apply the information you've learned in some pretty creative ways.
So, study hard, everybody. The Series 7 doesn't play.
Which, again, is bad.
Here's a link to an SEC notice that will remind us that while churning is bad, churning and ripping off a convent of nuns is probably even worse. Notice how he not only (allegedly) traded too frequently, but also gouged the sisters (allegedly) with high markups/markdowns.
Wow. As a non-Catholic I can't even guess how many hail mary's this guy will need to say each day for the rest of his life . . . ?
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
While some public companies are massive--WalMart, Microsoft, Apple, American Express--that does not mean that all public companies are either large or even profitable. It also does not mean that private companies are necessarily small. While reading Crain's Chicago Business yesterday, I read a list of the largest private companies in the area. Check out some of the familiar names on this list:
- CDW Corp.
- Ace Hardware Corp.
- True Value Co.
- Follett Corp (college textbooks)
- Solo Cup Co.
- Crate & Barrel
- Culligan International
- Nuveen Investments (closed-end funds, e.g.)
- Mesirow Financial Holdings
How much revenue do these companies make? Mesirow has the lowest among that group, which is still about $467 million a year! Another way to look at is that my office is about 100 yards from a privately held company called Ferrara Pan Candy Co. They make Lemonheads and other famous candies. They also did $322 million in revenue last year, making them only the 89th largest in the Chicago area . . . bigger than the Chicago Bears Football Club Inc. or Safeway Insurance.
Will these companies ever go public? Maybe. Or, maybe they don't need to and/or don't find it worth the hassle of filing registration and listing statements, quarterly and annual reports, etc. In any case, when we talk about "public companies," we simply mean those companies that have accessed the public markets by selling securities to finance their expansion. To make things a littler trickier, many public companies later get taken private again. For example, the Tribune Co. used to be a public company but is now the 10th largest private company in the area after Sam Zell, real estate mogul, put together a complex leveraged buyout. A "buyout" occurs when a group of private investors figures out a way to purchase the shares of a public company, often at a premium to their market price. For example, Zell's Equity Office Properties was a publicly traded REIT of which I owned a few shares . . . but was then taken private in a leveraged buyout.
Oh, I could go on, but this is probably enough excitement for one blog post.