A Career as a Stockbroker
Stockbrokers are responsible for buying and selling stocks and shares with the aim of achieving maximum possible return on behalf of their clients, who can be either individuals or organizations. In general, Stockbrokers will manage their clients’ investments according to their specific instructions although some will be given authority to make autonomous decisions. By regularly reviewing the investment portfolio, a Stockbroker can inform their clients of any possible changes that can be made to improve performance and profitability. They also need to be aware of the latest market trends to ensure that their clients are provided with up-to-date advice.
The nature of the work means that Stockbrokers often work long, unsociable hours within a fast-paced office environment. Their role is one that can be particularly stressful requiring them to respond promptly and effectively to any sudden changes in the markets that may have an impact on their clients’ investments.
Stockbrokers are required to analyze and interpret often complex statistical information requiring strong mathematical skills and the ability to make critical decisions based on their findings. Although they often work on their own initiative, they may also work closely with other members of a team.
Stockbrokers tend to enter the industry via a training programme having first graduated with a degree in a relevant subject such as Economics or Business. However, it is possible to achieve a trainee role through internal promotion rather than as a graduate entrant. The application process itself can be very complex involving not only interviews but also the completion of aptitude tests.
Stockbrokers must achieve registration with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) requiring the completion of an examination. Qualifications from either the Securities and Investments Institute (SII) or the United Kingdom Society of Investment Professionals (UKSIP) must be obtained before progressing further within the industry and knowledge and skills must be updated on a regular basis.
Due to the location of the Stock Exchange, most jobs are based in London although stockbroking firms, investment banks and private banks do offer positions in other locations. Members of the London Stock Exchange include Charles Stanley, ABN Amro, BNP Paribas and Cantor Fitzgerald along with all the leading high street banks such as Barclays and HSBC.
Progression within the industry is very much dependent on performance although fast track routes are available. It is also possible to transfer overseas to work in leading financial centres where language skills will prove invaluable.
The salary paid to Stockbrokers is generally performance related and is extremely competitive, although this takes into account the demanding nature of the role and the stress that it can involve.
Author: James Innes