Friday, September 28, 2012

Suitability and the Series 7 Exam

Hmmmmmmmm. . . . 
Registered representatives primarily make suitable recommendations to clients based on all kinds of factors: age, objectives, risk-tolerance, time horizon, personal values, tax situation, existence of retirement accounts, etc. So, rather than hitting you with a massive number of municipal securities and options questions, your exam is now expected to focus much more on suitability of customer recommendations. If your client has a son who is so far a so-so student, what if she wants to fund his education with a tax-deferred account, making sure he only gets the money if he actually goes to a 4-year college--which vehicle should she use: mutual fund, Coverdell Education Savings Account, 529 Plan, or UTMA? That is the kind of question (529 Plan, btw) you will likely see on the exam now. Has nothing to do with securities or economic factors at all--just asks you what are the features of these vehicles/accounts. You will also be expected to recommend various mutual fund options within a 529 Plan. When the child is very young, most people will invest in equity funds.When the child is 10 or so, probably time for a balanced fund. At age 16, with college a few years off, maybe 40% balanced fund, 40% short-term bonds, and 20% money market. Once college commences, maybe it's 50% short-term bonds and 50% money market.Notice how none of this is scientific, nor could it be verified by any particular document. If there were industry standards for suitability, we would find that all Target Retirement Funds have the same allocations and re-balance them at the same time. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What are you supposed to do, then? I recommend doing the quiz in Pass the 7 ExamCram called "Suitability of Customer Recommendations." Also, bone up on these topics from whatever textbook or questions you have: taxation, annuities, retirement plans, investment companies, economic factors. Get Pass the 7 ExamCram Online Test Prep

Monday, September 24, 2012

CRD, U4, U5 Reporting

If you click the following link, you will see how important all this U4, U5, BrokerCheck/CRD stuff actually is:

We're not picking on this member firm. We're just using the headline from the FINRA website to illustrate how important it is for registered reps to promptly update their U4 information, especially when the information is embarrassing (see other post "felonies and finra registration").

Full disclosure is the foundation for our securities markets. The public needs to know about the individuals in the industry who have disciplinary problems, or have paid out arbitration awards/settlements based on their bad behavior. If a member firm and its associated persons deprive the regulators and the public of this information, investors are clearly harmed. And FINRA clearly will respond. Series7 - Need Help?