howtobecomeastockbrokerThanks to Gordon Gekko and Wall Street, two generations of young men and women have grown up wanting to be stockbrokers. As personal advisors and brokers to some of the wealthiest people in the world, stockbrokers must combine seemingly contradictory qualities to become successful. Top brokers are part salesmen, part financial wizards, part marketers, and part managers. The challenges – and rewards – of this job attract thousands of people each year, making it one of the most lucrative career options around.

If you’re unsure of what being a stockbroker actually involves, try this introductory course on stocks, futures, options and forex.

Read on to find out how you can be a part of the exciting world of finance by becoming a stockbroker

Understand the Job

What do you see when you hear the word ‘stockbroker’?

If you see Gordon Gekko in an expensive tailored suit lounging around in a Manhattan penthouse apartment, you probably have the completely wrong idea.

Instead, if you see young men packed like sardines into hot, small offices where the volume rarely goes below 100db and your workday starts at 9 and ends at 9 the next day, then you’re right on track.

As far as professions go, stockbrokers can football players look lazy. The significant financial rewards attracts extremely talented and motivated people to try their hand at playing stockbroker. The result? Intense competition with endless working hours, challenging targets and constant stress, especially in the early years. This is a winner-take-all, alpha-driven world that doesn’t tolerate, let alone encourage laziness.

Most stockbrokers have to go through a ‘rookie’ learning phase where they are expected to devote every waking hour to the job. This means saying goodbye to family, friends, sleep and even regular meals.

But if you do manage to stick around past the rookie phase, the rewards and opportunities are endless. While the initial salaries are very lucrative (average salaries in New York start at $132,000/year), stockbrokers have the opportunity to move into asset management and investment banking where the sky is literally the limit to what you can make per year. A talented, hardworking stock broker for a major firm can easily expect to more upwards of $100,000 per year along with bonuses (which usually run into six figures).

Responsibilities

As a stockbroker, your primary responsibility is to make money for your clients. Breaking it down, the fundamental responsibilities of a stockbroker are:

Required Skills

As a stockbroker, you will need to master a wide domain of skills, such as:

The best stockbrokers combine the charm, wit, and communication skills of top salespersons with a savant-like hold on financial topics. These skills are often contradictory, but in no way impossible to develop, either through practice, or through formal education.

Education Requirements

On paper, you don’t need any educational qualifications to be a stockbroker.  After all, a stockbroker simply buys and sells stocks – something even a high-school dropout can do.

However, the ground reality is that there are far more would-be stockbrokers than there are jobs at brokerage firms. With such tough competition, a bachelor’s degree is a must, preferably in finance related subjects such as business, economics or accounting. To really gain an edge over your peers, you might even want to get a master’s degree, usually a MBA.

There is a definite bias towards premier college graduates in top brokerage firms. Going to an Ivy league school will definitely boost your prospects of landing a job, though is by no means necessary. A MBA from a top-tier program will also give your application the edge needed to stand out from the crowd.

To recap, you’ll need:

Warren Buffet doesn’t have a fancy MBA degree or an Ivy-league education. Learn how he got his start in this free course on value investing.

Exams and Certifications

In the United States, every individual must pass the Series 7 or General Securities Representative Exam to become a stockbroker. In addition, you will also need to clear the Series 63 or Series 66 exams, depending on the state where you want to ply your trade.

Let’s take a look at these exams in a little more detail:

Getting In

There are two basic ways to become a stockbroker:

Understandably, option B is a lot harder than option A. The network, knowledge, training and prestige a brokerage firm offers is beyond value to an aspiring stockbroker. Starting out on your own, on the other hand, means building a client list and reputation from scratch – a process that can take years of trial and error. This is why we recommend getting a job with a brokerage firm to start off your journey.

Most of the top brokerage firms are based out of Wall Street, so a relocation to New York would be in order. Open job listings at most top firms are rare. You will have to build a network or get referrals to get your foot in the door in most cases. The best way to get in, however, is to start out as an intern (just like Will Smith in Pursuit of Happyness). Don’t expect to be paid much (if paid at all), but you’ll gain valuable experience and possibly impress your employers enough to land yourself a full-time job.

So there you have it: everything you wanted to know about working as a stockbroker. To further your education, try out this course on advanced tactics for mastering the stock market.

What  your personal favorite tips for picking stocks? Share them with us in the comments below!

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