The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission for permission to extend the deadline to pass the Series 54 exam two weeks to Nov. 30, 2021, from the previous date of Nov. 12.
The extension comes, as promised, shortly after the agency began offering remote examinations following news that a municipal advisor was exposed to a COVID-positive person at a testing center. The online test was developed with MSRB’s test administrator, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
“The MSRB sought to extend the Nov.12, 2021, compliance date to generally align with the number of days taken to launch the Series 54 examination online,” the agency’s filing said. “To that end, the Series 54 examination being offered online sunsets with the new compliance date of Nov.30, 2021.”
The MSRB compliance deadline has been pushed back multiple times since the Series 54 exam became available in November 2019, but with this new remote testing infrastructure in place, this deadline may be final.
“NAMA appreciates MSRB’s efforts and quick action that now allows MAs to take the Series 54 exam remotely,” Susan Gaffney, executive director of the National Association of Municipal Advisors, said. “The deadline extension is also helpful so that there is a bit of extra time for those MAs who may have been deterred from going in person to now readjust their plans and comply with the rule.”
All individuals acting in the capacity of a municipal advisor principal must complete the Series 54 exam, which consists of 100 scored questions in addition to 10 unscored pretest questions. The test must be completed within three hours and participants must pass with a 70% or higher to receive accreditation.
Every MA firm must have at least one designated and qualified principal, so for sole proprietors or very small firms the stakes are high.
Gaffney authored an alarmed letter to the MSRB in the wake of the testing center COVID exposure, and has continually advocated for remote and online testing for Series 50 and Series 54 exams, as other FINRA exams have the option for remote and online testing.
But until the recent scare at that testing site, remote testing wasn’t an option for those taking the MA exam.