Working as a Stock Broker: the Pros, the Cons, and the Necessary Skill Set

Working as a Stock Broker: the Pros, the Cons, and the Necessary Skill Set
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Working as a broker in the financial industry always sounds fascinating, lucrative and impressive.

It is known to be a very high paying job with an opportunity to make incredible sums of money in commissions, but it is also tasking and wearing.

In this article we will create a thorough analysis of the Stock Broker position, or profession, and measure out the advantages and disadvantages associated with it.

Let’s start off by a short overview of what a broker actually is. The broker is someone who essentially buys and sells assets.

A stock broker will be buying and selling stocks or bonds on behalf of his client.

A derivatives broker will do the same for either his client or for the company that employees him (hedge fund or investment bank).

An FX dealer will either buy and sell currency on behalf of his client (in commercial FX companies) or manage the FX risk of a firm or an investment bank.

To summarize, a broker can buy and sell a lot of financial assets, depending on his exact role.

What is it considered so lucrative then?

Many would think it’s a pretty easy, straightforward, role.

The reason is that it has been perceived as tough job is because all markets, stocks, bonds, OTC, FX or derivatives are very high-paced and unforgiving.

You have to make the right decisions at the right time and follow through with an immaculate execution.  “You snooze, you lose”. Now making these decisions based on limited data could be very difficult, and you have to stay alert throughout sessions of 8, 10 or even 20 hours straight.

This is a job that only a few can perform, but we’ll get to it later on in this article.

The second reason this role is considered so lucrative besides the great challenge it encompasses, is the high wage. If this position requires someone with a unique skill set, and some deep understanding in the financial markets, then it has to be paid accordingly.

More importantly in that regard, brokers are known to make commission off of each trade they make or the profit they generate. That means someone who is extremely good at what he does can make substantial amounts of money through commissions.  

So what are the disadvantages?

So far I’ve only mentioned it’s a difficult job to maintain but is it really any more difficult than driving a truck or growing oranges in the field? The answer to that is that it is not necessarily any tougher than any other job but it makes a dent on one’s personal life.

If you work very long shifts where you have to be super-focused, you come back home completely shattered. There is a lot of illegal substance abuse too – an artificial way that allow you to keep sharp and alert for prolonged periods.

Besides that nature of the job itself, the work environment is extremely competitive. In many times, one man’s lost is another man’s win (if you lose a client, the broker sitting next to you may grab him).

When you mix up a high-testosterone highly-competitive environment with an insatiable lust for money, it’s a pretty much gloomy work environment.

For these precise reason not all Ivy League MBA graduates go after investment banking, although the vast majority of themselves can easily find a job paying $120,000/year or more. Sometimes, it’s not all about the money.