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You need someone (a member firm) to carry your Series 7. If you are not working for a member firm you can't use it, because no one is carrying it. You can not, to the best of my knowledge, even take the exam without a sponsoring company.

Keep in mind, you will usually need more than just your 7. Most states require you to be "blue skyed," which is to have your 63. In addition, as the business moves from transaction based to asset fee based you will want your Series 65. You will also probably want your insurance lisence so you can deal with annuities.

Many of the companies I have run across want two types of new brokers, ones transfering from another B/D and bringing a large book of business, or a raw newbie that they can train themselves and make into the type of broker they want.

My advice is to stay in college. When you are a broker, your meetings with clients will not just deal with their portfolios. You will need to make a personal connection with people, and an education rarely hurts in that department. As a general rule of thumb, people with money usually have a college background and expect professionals they deal with to have the same. In addition, many firms now want only college grads. Also, should you decide to leave the business,and many do, it will make finding new employment easier.

It also will not hurt to have a few more years under your belt. Again, speaking in broad terms, it is not 20 year olds who have money, but those 50 and above. Many of them would look at you as just some young punk who is still wet behind the ears. Many times you will lose the prospect as soon as s/he comes through the door and sees you. Your youth will be an advantage with younger clients, who will provide a base for long term relationships, but the bigger accounts are generally older.

My advice, for what it is worth, is get your degree. It doesn't have to be in finance or economics, although that might make getting through the door of a B/D a little easier. Try to associate with a local brokerage to get some connections. Also, try at the local bank. You may be able to get a job as a part time teller while in school and get hired as a Reg Rep that way. Banks generally pay a little less in return for a "safer" environment, with leads provided, etc. but are viewed by many as being easier, and are usually easier to get into. Once you have a job, start looking at getting some designations such as the CFP as soon as you are comfortable enough in the job to devote time to studying. I would also advise you to try and take a more experienced broker to lunch a few times a month and pick his brains over the meal. Most brokers are happy to share some of their experience with a newbie, especially over a free meal. You will learn soon enough which ones to ask.
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