Stock brokers are professionals who are tasked with generating financial returns for their clients by buying and selling financial instruments. These could include stocks, shares, bonds and complex financial products, such as CFDs.
Stock brokers generally offer three main types of services. Some are “execution only” which means that all they do is enable you to buy and sell financial assets without giving you any direct advice. Many modern trading apps fall into this category.
Others are “advisory.” Advisory brokers provide clients with a menu of investments options, but it is the client themselves who has the final say for where their money goes.
Finally, some stock brokers are “discretionary.” This means that they make decisions on behalf of their clients, investing in instruments for them, and then sending them performance summaries quarterly or annually.
As such, being a stockbroker requires taking on substantial responsibility. People in these roles, therefore, need both training and the right approach to work.
Required Stock Broker Qualifications
You don’t need any official qualifications to become a stockbroker. That’s because brokerage firms are responsible for the legal compliance of their activities, not the individual stock brokers themselves.
However, many brokerages look for people who have certain qualifications that indicate their suitability for the job. Ideally candidates for work in the sector should have:
- A degree in a finance-related field, such as economics, finance, or accounting
- 2:1 or higher
That’s not to say that you absolutely must meet these criteria. But these are generally what most brokerages will look for when considering if they should take somebody on.
Please note that you can increase your chances of landing your dream stockbroker job by providing brokerages with evidence that you have specific training in the area. E-learning providers, for instance, now offer accredited financial trading courses that show you how to manage a range of assets, including new asset classes such as crypto. Having a qualification like this under your belt can set you apart from the rest of the crowd and communicate to employers that you’re serious about your stockbroking career.
What Skills Do Stockbrokers Need?
As a stockbroker, you’ll also need a range of other skills to perform well on the job. First, you’ll need the right temperament. It is critical to be an honest and trustworthy person. If you are not, then you may be tempted to use other people’s money in dangerous or illegal ways. This could, in turn, come back to haunt you and lead to prosecutions or dismissal.
Second, you’ll need to have the right attitude. The markets are highly volatile and nobody can consistently predict all their ups and downs. Stockbrokers need to prepare themselves psychologically for this reality. Things won’t always go your way. Sometimes, they will go dreadfully wrong and you’ll have to watch your investments getting wiped out. However, over the long-term, you learn to trust the market. Eventually it goes up and to the right.
There are a range of other skills you’ll need too:
- IT skills - most stockbrokers rely on computers to do their work
- Interpersonal skills - convincing clients that you’ve chosen the right strategy for them can be challenging
- Teamwork - you’ll often have to consult with other brokers and experts on asset allocations and fund management
- Communication skills - stockbrokers need to make complex financial instruments easy to understand
- Attention to detail - little tidbits of information can make all the difference when trading
Where Do Stockbrokers Work?
Stockbrokers can work in a variety of financial institutions. Many work in financial investment and fund management firms, however there are also opportunities in international banks and even hedge funds.
What Do Stockbrokers Do?
Stockbrokers have a range of roles. Their main responsibility is researching investing strategies for their clients. This usually involves considering the level of risk that their clients are willing to accept and pairing that with financial products that meet their goals.
Clients also expect stockbrokers to keep up to date with the latest happenings in the financial markets. They should have a picture in their minds of the overall condition of the markets and how they are likely to perform in the future.
Stockbrokers will also sometimes meet with other analysts to learn about new markets. This way, they can expand their portfolio of knowledge and seek out opportunities that other investors might not have found yet.
Ultimately, most employers will expect you to have a degree to become a stockbroker. However, there are other avenues that you can take, including taking online courses that increase the likelihood of landing a role.