Stockbrokers connect buyers and sellers in the securities and exchange market. Most brokers work directly with individual clients, completing their transactions and advising them on their financial future. The Internet makes it easier than ever for people to invest without a broker. However, most people still prefer to do things the old fashioned way, as brokers offer indispensable financial counsel. Perhaps this is why the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the job market for stockbrokers will grow by 15 percent between 2010 and 2020. The world of a stockbroker is a stressful one, but the rewards are great -- the BLS estimates that brokers average over $70,000 per year. Not bad for handling other people's money!
There's a lot more to being a successful broker than just knowing markets, facts and figures. It might be surprising, but networking is a huge part of a stockbroker's job. As stockbrokers work on commission, they get a small piece of every transaction that crosses their desk. The more transactions a broker process, the more money she makes. Brokers are always on the hunt for new clients. Long-term clients will return due to the broker's relative success or failure helping plan for financial future. This requires strong social networking skills.
Aspiring brokers should prepare themselves for a lot of reading. Stockbrokers have to know what's going on in the markets. This requires immense amounts of research, as the markets are always in a constant state of flux. Further, even if a stockbroker specializes in one area of finance, she must still research other areas, due to the interconnected nature of the world economy. A stockbroker must consume large amounts of information, discern which is credible and then formulate a course of action for her clients based on this information.
Grace Under Pressure
While stockbrokers earn a lot of money, there's a reason few choose it as a career path, however: Not only does it require a lot of advanced math, it's incredibly stressful. Stockbrokers handle large amounts of other people's money for a living. They hold their clients' financial future in their hands. Even small mistakes can cost their clients tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and completely ruin their reputation. That's no fun for anyone.
It's important for stockbrokers to be able to communicate their research and findings to their clients. While many clients will defer to their broker, others might need some convincing that a deal is right or wrong for them based on a broker's word. Further, while strong networking skills will bring a broker into contact with potential clients, communication skills will get them into the broker's office for services. Brokers must also be good listeners -- few things will kill a broker's career faster than getting a client's wishes wrong.
Becoming a broker requires a bachelor's degree at the very least, though an MBA is preferred. This is doubly true of women looking to move up the ladder and break the glass ceiling. After graduation, a broker's education has just begun. She has to learn the specific investment opportunities offered by the company she works for. Firms train their employees in analysis and salesmanship. Conferences and training seminars continue for her entire career, helping her to stay current with developments in the field.
2016 Salary Information for Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents earned a median annual salary of $67,310 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents earned a 25th percentile salary of $41,040, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $131,180, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 375,700 people were employed in the U.S. as securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents
- California Employment Development Department: Labor Market Information
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents
- Career Trend: Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images