In a profession full of financial sales people, how does one distinguish between them? It is important to understand that to become insurance licensed or securities registered by itself does not distinguish someone. In order to sell insurance products or securities products for that matter one must be licensed. It is the minimum requirement to be in the business.
To sell annuities and life insurance one must pass a state exam to obtain a license. There is not a uniform insurance exam administered across all states. This is because insurance is regulated on a state by state basis. In Arizona for instance, to sell fixed/indexed annuities and life insurance one only need pass a 100 question multiple choice exam. There are no educational or professional prerequisites in order to take the exam. Once you pass you can sell index annuities, fixed annuities and life insurance. There are no continuing education requirements unless you hold insurance licenses in multiple states. If an advisor only holds an insurance license their advice given to you will be limited to investing in fixed/indexed annuities and life insurance products. So it is very important that your advisor holds a security registration as well.
Just as with insurance one must be registered to sell securities. There are many different securities exams available. The General Securities Representative Exam or series 7 exam covers a broad range of investments including stocks, bonds, options, limited partnerships and investment company products. The only requirement to take a series 7 securities exam is that you are sponsored by a broker dealer. Once again, there are no educational requirements in order to take the exam. There are however continuing education requirements once one obtains the Series 7 registration. The financial Industry Regulatory Authority or FINRA administers the exam. One of the main goals of FINRA is protecting the investing public. It is for this very reason you should work with someone who is securities registered through and has oversight from FINRA.
Remember, your advisor having licenses is the bare minimum needed to conduct business. When looking for an advisor you should expect more than just the minimum. I have included in the pages of my website resources for you to utilize and discover what makes a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) working as a Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) a highly qualified choice among financial professionals.
I currently hold series 7, 24, 65, 63 securities registration. I hold life, health, and variable insurance licenses. I am licensed in many states for both securities and insurance business. I am both a Certified Financial Planner and a Certified Public Account with a specialty in personal finance as evidenced by my PFS designation through the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.