Department of Insurance and Financial Services protects consumers

Getting the facts gives consumers greater control of their financial choices.

One of the most important financial challenges people face is maintaining a sufficient amount of money to live reasonably comfortably in the year’s they are no longer working, or when their earned income is significantly lower. One proactive step is seeking the advice of a financial services professional, but it is critical that people check whether her or she is properly licensed and registered with the State of Michigan.

But not all licensing is created equal. What does it mean when financial services professionals hold a Series 6, Series 7 or Series 65 license? Why does it matter to a you?

If professional hold the Series 6: Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts license, they can sell mutual funds, variable annuities, variable life insurance, unit investment trusts, and municipal fund securities such as a 529 College Savings Plan.

If the license is a Series 7: General Securities Representative license, the products offered include public offerings and/or private placements of corporate stocks and bonds, mutual funds, money market funds, Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT), mortgage-backed securities, options, municipal and government securities, venture capital, Exchange-Traded Funds (ETF), or hedge funds.

A Series 65: Investment Adviser Representative (IAR) licensed professional offers only fee-based accounts such as a mutual fund “wrap” account or a portfolio of individual stocks, bonds and ETFs. You can visit the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) industry compliance website for more information.

The Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) is responsible for regulating Michigan’s financial industries, including banks, credit unions, insurance, mortgage companies, and other consumer finance lenders. To research a financial services professional or a particular financial product offering contact the Consumer Hotline at 877-999-6442.

In a press release dated March 18, 2013 it was reported that DIFS opened its doors and Director R. Kevin Clinton emphasized his commitment to protect consumers while providing effective oversight to the insurance and financial industry in Michigan.

The department was created by Executive Order 2013-1, which was signed by Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder in January. The department assumes oversight responsibilities of the previous Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation and is also dedicated to industry sustainability in recognition of the rapidly changing insurance and financial services fields.

“The insurance and financial services industries are significant components of our state economy, directly employing over 150,000 Michigan residents and generating more than $9 billion in annual payroll,” Clinton said. “Being elevated to a state department signals the governor’s dedication to fostering economic growth within these industries while always ensuring the highest standards of consumer protection.”

The full text of Executive Order 2013-1 is available at www.michigan.gov/snyder.

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