Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree
Average Salary: $55,800
Job Outlook: Good
A stock broker is a financial advisor who specializes in helping clients choose and purchase stocks, mutual funds, pension plans, and other investments. Although they are called stock brokers, they don’t necessarily only work with stocks, and some brokers are more specialized in different financial investments, such as mutual funds or other popular retirement investment vehicles.
Essentially, stock brokers need to first locate clients and then help those clients make appropriate, beneficial financial investments. Much of a stock broker’s early career is about finding clients – normally through cold calling or getting references from current clients. Once he has a new client, a stock broker will talk with that client (or a business or couple, in some cases) to find out their financial goals. Then, the broker will help the client choose investment options that most closely align with those goals, and make the actual financial transactions for the client.
Stock brokers are also responsible for monitoring a client’s financial investments and helping the client make new decisions that will benefit their financial futures.
Education and Training Requirements
Most of the time, stock brokers have bachelor’s degrees in finance or related fields, though many come into this work with a knack for investing and a totally unrelated bachelor’s degree. Brokers must also pass the General Securities Registered Representative Examination through the National Association of Securities Dealers, and in most states must also pass the Uniform Securities Agents State Law Examination and the Uniform Investment Advisor Law Exam. Stock brokers with MBAs often have an easier time finding jobs at large, reputable investment firms and banks.
To become a stock broker, one needs an in-depth understanding of how the stock market and investments work. In order to gain this understanding, college level classes in finance and even in the history of the stock market in the United States are helpful.
Getting the Job
Stock brokers would do well to join investment clubs during high school or college so that they can get some experience with making investment decisions – even if they are working with “pretend” money in simulation settings. Then, they can put together a portfolio of their choices and how they turned out, which can be a great way to set themselves apart when applying directly to a bank or investment firm.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development
The job outlook for stock brokers often depends on the economy, as people have less money to invest when the economy is declining. However, in a good economy, career outlook is usually quite good.
Excellent stock brokers can develop their careers by handling higher volumes of clients and bigger accounts, which bring in more money for them personally. They can also be in charge of other brokers in a brokerage firm if they show good investment capabilities and excellent leadership qualities.
Working Conditions and Environment
Stock brokers can work in many different environments, and most work for a bank or credit union or investment firm. Some independent brokers travel to the homes of their clients to discuss personal goals and help clients make good investment choices, and still others maintain their own offices where clients meet with them.
Being a stock broker can be quite stressful because they are expected to make money for clients, even when the economy is doing poorly. However, no one can predict everything in the financial world, which means stock brokers are bound to make mistakes at some point. When there is a lot of money riding on a stock broker’s choices, it can be quite stressful.
Salary and Benefits
Today’s average stock broker makes about $55,800, but they can make anywhere from $40,000 to about $65,000 per year. Stock brokers can often get benefits that include healthcare and paid vacation if they work for a bank or other financial entity. Many companies also offer bonuses and commissions to high performing brokers.
Where to Go for More Information
Investment Advisor Association
1050 17th St. NW, Ste. 725
Washington, DC 20036
National Association of Investment Professionals
National Association of Stockbrokers
12707 High Bluff Dr., Ste. 200
San Diego, CA 92130