Working on Wall Street: Stockbrokers in New York City

Working on Wall Street: Stockbrokers in New York City

New York is recognized as the financial center of the world. And the heart of New York's storied financial district is Wall Street, where fortunes can be made or lost in seconds. The people making the deals that make the money on Wall Street are securities sales agents -- brokers who buy and sell the stocks, bonds, and securities that drive businesses forward (or push them back). This is the ultimate sales job.

The Work of a Stockbroker

Brokers advise their clients -- individuals or retail investors -- about appropriate investments based on their needs and financial ability. They may also explain the workings of the stock exchange to their clients. After the client agrees to an order, the broker then sends the order electronically to the trading floor and collects a commission once the sale is finalized.

Sales are made through market makers or firms on behalf of the investors. Only members of the stock exchange can conduct transactions, so whenever individuals or corporations want to buy or sell stocks they must go through a brokerage house.

Though the most common type of securities sales agent is the stockbroker who assists individuals and retail investors, other financial sales agents are investment bankers (who connect businesses in need of money to interested investors), investment banking sales agents and traders (who sell stocks and bonds to investors), floor brokers (who negotiate with other floor brokers to make sales on the exchange floor), independent brokers, and financial services sales agents (who counsel individuals on everything from stock to checking accounts). All of these jobs require talent in selling -- as no matter their specialty, sales agents need to first sell their services to banks, businesses, or individuals.

Finding clients and building a customer base, though time-consuming, is an extremely important task for stockbrokers. Securities and commodities sales agents starting their careers spend much of their time searching for clients, often relying heavily on telephone solicitation, or "cold calling," from a list of potential clients. Some agents network by joining civic organizations or social groups, while others may rely on referrals from satisfied customers.

Education & Training

There are dozens of tech schools, colleges, and universities in New York offering business or finance degrees and certificates. A bachelor's degree in business, finance, accounting, or economics is important for securities sales agents, especially in larger firms. Many firms hire summer interns before their last year of college, and the most successful interns are often offered full-time jobs at the firm.

If you're thinking of moving up in the securities industry, you'll eventually want to get a master's degree in business administration (MBA), which is often a requirement for high-level positions in the securities industry.

Licensing is key to becoming a broker, because to sell or buy on the stock exchange, brokers must be licensed. You can obtain your license by passing the General Securities Registered Representative Examination (also known as the Series 7 exam), and the companion test, the Series 63, in states that require it. See more information on licensing.

Securities and commodities sales agents must keep up with new products and services and other developments. Because of this, brokers regularly attend conferences and training seminars, and other continuing education classes.

Featured Business Schools & Programs in New York City

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