Series 30 is a type of securities license issued by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) indicating that a person is qualified to manage a branch office for a financial company specializing in futures trading. Securities licenses are required for a number of different jobs in the financial industry, with the goal of setting enforceable standards of training and ethics for financial professionals. This increases consumer confidence and reduces the risk of market instability by excluding unqualified people from practice.
To obtain a Series 30, people must take the Series 30 exam, a test devised and administered by FINRA. The examination includes 50 questions and takes one hour. It is offered on a regular basis at testing centers, along with other securities licensing exams, and people need a 70% score to pass. Preparation for the Series 30 exam usually requires several hours of study a day for approximately two weeks and test preparation courses and guides are available. Some employers will pay for test preparation to help their employees obtain certification.
On the Series 30 exam, people are asked a series of questions about management responsibilities, restrictions on marketing, disclosure rules, and general rules and regulations pertaining to securities training. Testing knowledge in these areas allows FINRA to confirm that people have received adequate training, and they are familiar with laws related to their area of work. People who do not pass the exam can retake it, although they may be advised to study before scheduling a retest if their scores were low.
FINRA may authorize someone to practice as a futures branch office manager without taking the Series 30 exam if that person has a sponsor who is a broker-dealer, and if proof can be provided that the person meets qualification standards set by FINRA. Likewise, if someone has already qualified for this position within the last two years, the testing requirement for the license is waived. When people are considered for promotion to positions like branch office managers, they can discuss their licensing options with their employers.
Having a Series 30 license allows someone to practice, but it is no replacement for experience. In some workplaces, people are encouraged to shadow an experienced person before taking over a position and they may work under supervision initially until they become familiar with the work. Like other financial professionals, futures branch office managers can be reported to regulatory agencies if they appear to be breaking the law, whether by accident or intentionally.