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Series 86 and 87 – Research Analyst Exams

The Series 86 and 87 exams — the Research Analyst Exams — assess the competency of an entry-level registered representative to perform their job as a research analyst.

The Series 86 and 87 exams measure the degree to which each candidate possesses the knowledge needed to perform the critical functions of a research analyst, including preparation of written or electronic communications that analyze equity securities and/or companies and industry sectors.

Candidates must pass the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam and the Series 86 and 87 exams to obtain the Research Analyst registration. For more information about the SIE and Series 86 and 87 exams, refer to FINRA Rule 1210 and FINRA Rule 1220(b)(6).

COVID-19 Guidance on FINRA-Administered Exams

FINRA and Prometric take the health and well-being of our community as a top priority. In response to the recent guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) related to the growing concerns about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Prometric is closing its testing centers in the United States and Canada for a period of 30 days, starting March 18, 2020. Candidates who have an existing appointment will receive an email from Prometric with instructions on how to reschedule their appointment to a future date; rescheduling fees will not be applied. To change an existing appointment scheduled over 30 days (April 16 or later) or to schedule a new appointment, please access the Prometric website.

Additionally, FINRA is aware of the challenges that COVID-19 is presenting for our candidates who want to take exams. FINRA will extend all enrollment windows that are currently open and scheduled to expire by the end of May. Each FINRA-administered exam enrollment end date will be extended through the same end date of May 31, 2020. 

Please visit FINRA’s COVID-19 / Coronavirus page for complete updates and guidance.


Content Outline

The Series 86 and 87 Content Outline provides a comprehensive guide to the range of topics covered on the exams, as well as the depth of knowledge required. The outline is comprised of the four major job functions of a research analyst. The table below lists the allocation of exam items for each major job function.

Part 1 (Series 86)

Major Job Functions Number of Exam Items
(F1) Information and Data Collection 10
(F2) Analysis, Modeling and Valuation 90

Part 2 (Series 87)

Major Job Functions Number of Exam Items
(F1) Preparation of Research Reports 32
(F2) Dissemination of Information 18


Candidates must be associated with and sponsored by a FINRA member firm or other applicable self-regulatory organization (SRO) member firm to be eligible to take FINRA representative-level qualifications exams. For more information on registration requirements, refer to FINRA Rule 1210.

The SIE exam is a corequisite for the Series 86 and 87 exams. Candidates must pass both the Series 86 and 87 exams and the SIE exam to obtain the Research Analyst registration.

A candidate who meets one of the following requirements is permitted to request an exemption from the Series 86 exam (Part I).

  • Passed both Level I and Level II of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Exam
  • Passed both Level I and Level II of the Chartered Market Technician (CMT) Certification Exam

For additional information on the Series 86 exemption, see FINRA 1220(b)(6)(B) Qualifications.

For more information on the registration process, see Register a New Candidate.

Permitted Activities

Covered research analyst activities include preparation of written or electronic communications that analyze equity securities and/or companies and industry sectors.

Key Questions

1. What registration and qualification requirements must supervisors of registered research analysts possess?

All registered FINRA research analysts must be supervised by a research principal who will be required, in addition to passing the General Securities Principal exam (Series 24), to also pass either 1) the SIE exam and the Research Analyst exams (Series 86 and Series 87), or 2) the Supervisory Analyst exam (Series 16).

2. Are "sell-side" equity analysts required to register as research analysts and pass the Series 86 and 87?

Yes. The registration and qualification requirements of Rule 1220(b)(6) do not distinguish between "sell-side" and "buy-side" analysts. Any person who prepares written or electronic communications that include an analysis of equity securities and sufficient information upon which to base an investment decision is required to register as a research analyst.

3. Does FINRA Rule 1220(b)(6) apply to everyone who works in equity research or just those who write a research report that will be seen by the public?

Rule 1220(b)(6) applies to associated persons who prepare publicly disseminated research reports. Associated persons who prepare reports for use only by a member's sales force, money managers or other employees of the firm, and who do not have reason to believe that the reports will be redistributed publicly, are not subject to this rule.

4. Is a research analyst who is employed by a foreign broker-dealer affiliate of a FINRA member required to register pursuant to Rule 1220(b)(6) if the member uses that analyst's research reports or distributes in the United States in accordance with SEC Rule 15a-6?

A "research analyst" employed by a non-member affiliate of a FINRA member is not required to register as a research analyst pursuant to Rule 1220(b)(6) unless the research analyst is an "associated person" of the FINRA member as that term is defined in the FINRA By-Laws.