For many of you who love to crunch numbers, you’d be right to think you could have a financially sound career, working as a stockbroker. You need to know a bit more than numbers though, as there’s some other key skills you’re going to need, in order to progress your career in the financial sector.
The first step to become a stockbroker is to ascertain the qualifications needed. You need to display to a potential employer, a professional level of competence. Industry standard is the IMC, which is your Investment Management Certificate. You can further your education, to boost your employment opportunities, by putting yourself through the Chartered Financial Analyst Program, giving you a CFA certification. Employers look for these for 2 reasons. a) Your education guarantees employers that you have the sufficient knowledge to take on the responsibilities required. Looking after clients finances, in the best way possible. b) The second reason is for legal requirements. The financial industry is highly regulated, through the FSA, (Financial Services Authority,) requiring everyone involved in looking after the financial affairs of UK citizens, to display a level of professional competence. That’s acknowledged through the IMC qualification, as the minimum requirement.
Being a math whizz is advantageous, however, there’s a lot of work done via computers. Having the ability to mentally crunch numbers is only going to give you a slight edge. You then need to convey those numbers onto presentations, graphs and charts, and be able to convey those to your clients, and/or your employers. Statistical analysis is another numeracy skill you’ll need. Your mind needs to be sharp, so you can do mental arrhythmic calculations, with speed and precision, to be effective in your role, as a stockbroker.
This is something your university course isn’t going to teach you. You’ll learn the knowledge you need, but you don’t get hands on with the fast-paced work environment that ups your blood pressure, with the stress stockbrokers experience. The atmosphere is competitive and the trading can get intensive and aggressive. You have to adapt to that and be able to cope with the odd tirade, when co-workers are stressed out. Some people have the personality to thrive in this environment, whereas others can take it personal and get emotional. You’ll need to be competitive and be able to handle the stress, a stockbroker experiences daily. The good thing with your IMC and CFA certificates is that you can apply for internships, to get hands on experience from on the job training. If the stress is too high as a stockbroker, there’s plenty of other financial roles you’d be suitable for. As an example, you could be assisting with the financial administration for portfolio managers.
A fundamental role of a stockbroker is research. Either conducting it yourself, or understand third party research. Some large financial institutions have investment analysts, who carry out the research part of the job. Your role as a stockbroker, in this type of organisation, would require you to work as part of a larger team, and communicate with other personnel. The research part of the job, is looking over company projections, understanding the market trends, and being able to act upon it, so you can buy at the lowest price, as indicated by the market, and sell at the highest price. An example of the research would be if a company were to be undergoing expansion into a different sector. Your role as a stockbroker would be to determine if the stocks and shares would be a good investment to make a return on. That would involve a level of risk calculation, ensuring you make sound investments on behalf of clients.
As a stockbroker, you need to be a people person. A strong part of your role is going to involve personal communication with your clients, as well other employees. In essence, you’d be a salesman. You have to sell your services and display to clients that you have the skills to act on their behalf. The better you are at communicating with your clients, the more smoothly your dealings will be. A small part of your role is actually trading. The majority of the time, you’ll have to be generating new leads, sending out correspondence to your clients, arranging meetings, and often attending them out with office hours. That can take you into some long workdays.
Among one of the most essential skills you’ll need to become a stockbroker, is the ability to commit the time in your early stages of your career. Stockbrokers often start at 7am, by their workstation. You can expect to be sitting at the computer from 7am, ready for the London Stock Exchange beginning trading at 8am. That will carry through until 6pm, when you’ll then have your appointments to attend. It takes a lot of time dedication when you’re on the trading floor. Do you have what it takes to become a stockbroker? If you can identify yourself as having the 6 skills above, then you’ll have what it takes to become a stockbroker, and experience the highs, and the lows of brokering stocks and advancing through the various roles in the financial sector.