A stockbroker invests in the stock market for individuals or corporations. Only members of the stock exchange can conduct transactions, so whenever individuals or corporations want to buy or sell stocks they must go through a brokerage house. Stockbrokers often advise and counsel their clients on appropriate investments. Brokers explain the workings of the stock exchange to their clients and gather information from them about their needs and financial ability, and then determine the best investments for them. The broker then sends the order out to the floor of the securities exchange by computer or by phone. When the transaction has been made, the broker supplies the client with the price. The buyer pays for the stock and the broker transfers the title of the stock to the client and performs clearing and settlement procedures.
The beginning stockbroker’s first priority is learning the market. One broker said, “First you have to decide whether you have an interest in the stock market. This will determine how well you’ll do. If you’re just interested in making money you won’t get very far.” Stockbrokers spend their time in a fast-paced office, usually working from nine to five, unless they are just starting out or have to meet with clients. The new broker spends many hours on the phone building up a client base. Sometimes brokers teach financial education classes to expose themselves to potential investors who may then become their clients.
A college degree is not required, but most brokers have one. Brokers have to be licensed. A license is obtained by passing the General Securities Registered Representative Examination and, in many cases, posting a bond. Individuals may take this test after they have been employed by a brokerage firm for four months. Firms use these four months as an on-the-job training period to prepare their workers for the test. Many states also require the candidate to take the Uniform Securities Agents State Law Examination. These tests are designed to ensure the candidate’s knowledge of all aspects of the stock market. After passing these tests, an individual is considered a trainee. While working full time, he takes classes and trains for up to two years. Employees are expected to take training courses throughout their careers to keep abreast of developments in the field.
Those with prior work experience have the greatest opportunities for becoming a stock broker. Few people become brokers straight out of college. Most employers seek applicants who have already succeeded in other fields, such as insurance sales. If you know your interests lie in the market, study economics, finances, computers, and business management in college. Many employers view ambition as the most important quality a candidate can possess.
The sales aspects and the need to build up a client base are similar for stock brokers and insurance and real estate agents. Financial planners create and execute financial plans for people or businesses. They ascertain their clients’ needs, resources and goals and use this information to draw up a financial plan that suits the individual or the company. Traders are the people you see in the movies yelling on the chaotic floor of the stock exchange. They perform the actual exchanges.