Broker-Dealer Guide

​​​​​​​​​General Information

This reference guide is intended to provide broker-dealers with answers to questions on application filings and day-to-day activities relating to recordkeeping, compliance issues and regulatory oversight. Please consult this guide first when you have general questions. If you do not find the answer, please call (608) 266-2139 to reach an examiner in the Department of Financial Institutions Division of Securities.

This guide includes links that will allow you to jump to specific statute or rule citations as well as to application forms and other areas of reference in the guide.

The Wisconsin Uniform Securities Law (Wis. Stat. Chapter 551) as amended effective January 1, 2009 and the accompanying rules (Wis. Admin. Code s. DFI-Sec 1-9​) are also available for viewing in their entirety.

Updates to the guide will be made periodically, such as after adoption of new rules or statutes.


A broker-dealer is a firm or individual who offers and sells securities to the public. Investment advice given by broker-dealers is usually incidental to the completion of purchase and sale transactions in securities. Compensation is normally in the form of commission but some firms now charge one fee for all services, based on the value of the assets in the account. All broker-dealers, regardless of their location, must be registered to conduct business in Wisconsin unless they qualify for an exemption from registration. A list of transactions which qualify for an exemption from registration can be found in Wis. Stat. s. 551.401(2) and Wis. Admin. Code s. DFI-Sec 4.10. There is no de minimis exemption for broker-dealers in Wisconsin. The rule permitting unsolicited sales of certain unregistered securities does not apply to the broker-dealer registration requirement. Any order, unsolicited or solicited, requires the firm to be registered as a broker-dealer unless the broker-dealer is exempt under one of the foregoing provisions.

Securities Agent / Registered Representative

A securities agent or registered representative is a person who represents a broker-dealer or issuer in offering or selling securities to the public or soliciting someone to become a customer of a broker-dealer. All securities agents, regardless of their location, must be registered to conduct business with Wisconsin investors unless they qualify for an exemption from registration. There is no de minimis exemption for securities agents. Also, there is no such thing as an "unsolicited rule" that allows an agent to accept unsolicited orders from Wisconsin customers without being registered. For more details on securities agent requirements, go to the Broker-Dealer Agent or Agent of the Issuer section.

The Guide is divided into topical sections. Please use the topic links under Resources to learn more about your topic of interest.

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Phone: (608) 266-2139