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How to Become a Stock Broker

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 26 Jan 2017 | comments*Discuss
Stock Broker Career Change Investment

Woody Allen once defined a stock broker as "someone who takes all your money and invests it until it's gone". Although this clearly conveys a negative outlook, it's has an element of truth. A stock broker is an investment manager who basically works on behalf of large companies, institutions or individual clients. Their goal is to buy and sell stocks and other financial instruments in order to get the best possible return for their clients.

What Does a Stock Broker Actually Do?

Generally speaking, stock brokers work with their clients in three different ways. Some operate in a discretionary manner, managing all investments and making decisions on their clients' behalf. Other brokers serve in an advisory capacity, providing investment advice to their clients. Finally, some brokers operate on a "execution only" basis, where they act only on the explicit instructions from their clients. Of course, it's possible that a broker may work in all of these ways, depending on their client base.

As a stock broker, your daily tasks will include reviewing your clients' investment portfolios, tracking and researching various financial markets, communicating with your clients, instructing traders and marketing your services to potential clients. If you are employed by a large firm, you may specialise in certain services, industries or regional markets.

What Skills Will I Need?

To become a stock broker, you should be able to communicate well and work easily with numbers. There are no set academic requirements, but most potential employers will be looking for a degree. Your degree can be in virtually any field, but economics, business, finance or accountancy will give you an edge over other candidates.

In addition to an understanding of how financial markets work, most positions require a knowledge of economics and politics. World events have an effect on financial markets, and you will need to develop the ability to anticipate these effects. As competition heats up in this potentially lucrative career, some firms are beginning to look for postgraduate qualifications like an MSc or MBA. Almost all stock brokers begin work as a trainee and are promoted to higher levels as they learn and begin to perform successfully.

Registration with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) is required in order to become a fully fledged stock broker. FSA authorisation is only granted after you pass an appropriate FSA-approved exam, and your employer (while you are in training) will help to prepare you for this requirement by taking care of the details of registration. Training will likely continue throughout your career and you will be able to achieve higher levels of qualification.

Career Development

Career advancement and Promotion is almost always keyed to your performance. At the beginning, you'll be allowed to manage a portfolio. Then after a period of around five years on the job, you may have the opportunity for promotion, which usually includes managing a team of brokers. After you've established a track record of success and gained more years of experience, fund management and consultancy options open up.

Becoming a stock broker is theoretically open to anyone, but only those with a degree are likely to receive job offers. Working hours are usually long. Your advancement is based directly on your performance, but not every factor is under your control. This leads to a fairly constant State Of Stress and pressure to perform.

However, the rewards can also be very high, as your compensation is also based on performance. If you are a good communicator, are skilled with numbers, and seem to have an intuitive feel for how events can affect the markets, you may want to investigate becoming a stock broker as a viable career change option.

Other Financial Roles

To find out about other potential careers in the financial sector, read our articles in the Finance & Management Category of this site.

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Good afternoon. I'm 20 and am currently working full time as a dealer at an execution only Stock brokerage. I chose full time employment over university as the role offered the chance to study and earn qualifications from the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI). Of course, the end goal is to work as a stock broker in the city. As opposed to the university/degree course, how do my chances fare with the experience I have/will gain? Many Thanks, Mitchell
Mingamells - 26-Jan-17 @ 2:24 PM
Hello, I currently work as a management accountant for an oil services company based in aberdeen. Are there are any opportunities for a trainee stock broker's position. Due to unfavourable market condition within the oil and gas sector, I was thinking of diversifying my skills into other areas useful. I obtain my bachelors in business and accounting in 2002, then went to work in the financial environment within the public and private sector, then after a few years, I proceeded to post graduate degree in financial management which I obtained in 2005. Please advice on relevant contacts or course of action. Cheers.,
Alfonso - 16-Jan-16 @ 12:18 AM
I am 51 and want to work from home trading. Although Having never had any experience This is my choice of career change. Which part time course would be suitable for me? Thanks Edwina
Ed51 - 27-Aug-14 @ 3:33 PM
These days you're not going to get anywhere as a stock broker without a degree, probably economics or business, and unlikely to advance without an MBA. The days of the barrow boys making millions on the markets are long gone as the companies have become more respectable. You'll need to be willing to work very long hours, although the possible rewards if you stay the course will be more than worthwhile - retirement at 40 for those who are very good is quite common.
martin - 3-Jul-12 @ 6:25 AM
Hi, i am 15 years old, and wish to persue a career in business - preferably stockbroking. I am aware that most employers are interested in degrees or other further education qualifications, but i am unsure of where i can go once i have achieved these. Can I simply apply for a job in stockbroking and receive an immediate training course, or do i have to complete an external training course before even thinking about applying for the job.Cheers.
MS - 4-Dec-11 @ 3:45 PM
To bmw,acca is looked at as a higher qualification than a degree and rightfully so as you have to work harder for it and do more, therefore I would say you should take that option.I'm an aca myself and can tell you that it commands a lot of respect to have a professional qualification like that. If you think about it, you want to give yourself the best opportunity you can and by attaining a a qualification that much fewer people have, you separate yourself from the rest. People attain degrees so commonly now, even awarded to famous people for being famous, but acca and aca must be earned and be warned that it isn't a walk in the park!
gpetz - 28-Sep-11 @ 2:49 AM
I have a business degree and a Masters. I think that a stock brokers job is a challenge, requiring detailed knowledge and absorbing specific environments to observe influencing comments by government members etc. Would love the opportunity to explore the Broker challenge. If you wish to provide work experience be in touch lol.
Buy & Sell - 21-Jun-11 @ 3:02 AM
Hi I am a first year biomedical sciences student (aged 19) but have always had a passion to work as a stock broker. I was hoping you could advise me what todo after completing my bio med degree (e.g Msc /MBA) to further help my career. Thank you
Habib992 - 4-Apr-11 @ 6:19 PM
I'm doing ACCA at the moment, I am 19, is there any chance for me to join as a trainee stockbroker? After 9 papers i get an Applied Accounting Bsc, and once I've further completed the 5 professional papers along with 3 years experience I'll be a Certified Chartered Accountant. Which route would be easier for me? Applying after 9 papers and getting the degree or completing the whole ACCA qualifications (14 papers).
BMW M Sport - 29-Mar-11 @ 11:08 PM
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