What Is A Broker? A Complete Insight Into Different Type Of Brokers

Want to become a broker but don't know where to start? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Continue reading this article for a complete insight into the brokerage world.

A broker is an individual or firm that acts as an intermediary between an investor and a securities exchange. A broker can also refer to the role of a firm when it acts as an agent for a customer and charges the customer a commission for its services.

Discount brokers execute trades on behalf of a client but typically don’t provide investment advice. Full-service brokers offer execution services as well as tailored investment advice and solutions. Brokers register with FINRA, while investment advisers register through the SEC as RIAs.

This was just a taste of all the information to come. Continue reading this article to learn about the wonders of different types of brokers and how you can become one too.

What is a broker?

A broker is a person or company who works as a go-between for an investor and a securities exchange. Individual traders and investors require the services of exchange members since securities exchanges only accept orders from persons or organizations that are members of the business. Brokers provide that benefit and are paid in various methods, including commissions, fees, and payments from the exchange itself.

Broker basics

Brokers may assist investors with research, investment ideas, and market knowledge in addition to executing client orders. They may also cross-sell additional financial products and services offered by their brokerage business, such as access to a private client offering high-net-worth clients customized solutions. Only the wealthy could afford a broker and gain access to the stock market in the past. Discount brokers arose due to the rise of online trading, allowing investors to trade at a lesser cost but without receiving customized guidance.

Types of brokers

Numerous brokers exist, some of which are synonymously out of context.

For the context of this post, we will bother on three main types of brokers. Stay with us!

The discount broker

Brokers may assist investors with research, investment ideas, and market knowledge in addition to executing client orders. They may also cross-sell additional financial products and services offered by their brokerage business, such as access to a private client offering high-net-worth clients customized solutions. Only the wealthy could afford a broker and gain access to the stock market in the past. Discount brokers arose due to the rise of online trading, allowing investors to trade at a lesser cost but without receiving customized guidance.

However, the Internet has resulted in an avalanche of online bargain brokers, allowing people with limited funds to trade for lower fees and less money. When it comes to the stock market, most bargain brokers use online platforms. As a result, the terms “discount broker” and “online brokerage” are almost interchangeable.

Discount brokers execute orders at a lower cost, although they usually only do so for their clients. Customers can’t get personal consultations, advice, research, tax preparation, or estate planning from these brokers. Discount brokers can offer reduced costs due to the lack of these services and the fact that they do not spend money closing deals with high-net-worth clients. Furthermore, most bargain brokers run their companies online, where their overheads are minimal. Many discount brokers went so far as to eliminate commissions for certain types of securities starting in 2019.

Discount brokerages provide clients with their accounts to place orders for execution in the securities sector. Typically, these investors do not communicate with an honest broker. If they do, there is minimal contact, and they are only involved in trade executions. Discount brokers’ services are geared for self-directed traders and investors, and their electronic trading platforms are designed to benefit active traders with charting and position monitoring features.

Full-service broker

A full-service broker is a registered financial broker-dealer that offers clients a wide range of services, such as research and guidance, retirement planning, tax counseling, and more. Of course, all of this comes at a cost, as full-service brokerage commissions are significantly greater than those paid by cheap brokers. Full-service brokers can provide experience for those who don’t have the time to stay current on complex problems like tax or estate planning; however, discount brokers are the way to go for those who only want to execute trades without the added services.


A stockbroker is a financial professional who places orders on behalf of clients in the market. Sometimes, a stockbroker is an investment advisor or a registered representative (RR). Most stockbrokers work for a brokerage business and deal with various individual and institutional clients. Stockbrokers are frequently compensated on a commission basis, though this varies by job. A stockbroker is a generic term used to describe brokerage firms and broker-dealer corporations. Full-service and cheap brokers fall under this category, as they execute trades but do not provide personalized investment advice. At least at their most basic service levels, most online brokers are discount brokers, meaning transactions are performed for free or for a small set-price commission. Many online brokers now offer premium-level services with higher fees.

Insurance broker

An insurance broker is a person who acts as a middleman between a customer and an insurance company, assisting the latter in finding the best policy for their needs. Because insurance brokers serve consumers rather than insurance companies, they cannot bind coverage on the insurer’s behalf. Insurance agents play this job, as they represent insurance firms and can close insurance deals. Commissions from the sale of insurance to people or corporations are how an insurance broker gets the money. Most commissions range between 2% and 8% of premiums, depending on state restrictions. Health insurance, homeowner’s insurance, accident insurance, life insurance, and annuities are sold through brokers.

Listing broker

A listing broker, sometimes known as a listing agent, is a real estate specialist who helps homeowners list and markets their homes for sale. A listing broker’s responsibilities include calculating a fair price for a home, creating a listing, and hosting open houses for potential purchasers. They also collaborate with the buyer’s agent, the selling agent, to manage the home’s sale.

Agency broker

An agency broker is a third-party middleman who is legally obligated to operate solely in the best interests of its clients. Unlike a broker-dealer or a market maker, agency brokers do not keep an inventory of the securities they buy and sell. Instead, they just carry out transactions on their clients’ behalf. When filling a large order, an agency broker would find the best feasible execution. Large institutional investors are often the clients of agency brokers. An agency broker may also be referred to as a captive agent in the context of real estate and insurance sales. An agency broker works for a single firm (agency) and can only offer their listings or products.

Real estate brokers

A broker is a certified real estate professional who typically represents the seller of a property in the real estate sector. When working for a seller, a broker’s responsibilities may include:

  • Determining the market values of properties.
  • Listing and advertising the property for sale.
  • Showing the property to prospective buyers.
  • Advising clients about offers, provisions, and related matters.
  • Submitting all requests to the seller for consideration.

It’s not unusual for a real estate broker to work for a buyer, in which case the broker is in charge of:

  • Locating all properties in the buyer’s desired area sorted by price range and criteria.
  • Preparing an initial offer and purchase agreement for a buyer who decides to offer a property.
  • Negotiating with the seller on behalf of the buyer.
  • Managing inspections on the property and negotiating repairs.
  • Assisting the buyer through to closing and taking possession of the property.

Discount brokers vs. full-Service Brokers

There is also a distinction between these two categories of brokers: full-service and discount. As the name implies, full-service brokers typically provide individualized advice and recommendations, and these services are not cheap. A full-service broker does a lot of the legwork for the investor. Many discount brokers let you make your judgments, while others charge a fee to have a broker advise you on a specific trade. Some experts recommend new investors use a full-service broker. On the other hand, a young person is unlikely to be able to afford to hire a more expensive full-service broker.

A real-world example of brokers

Many companies are registered as brokers with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), while some may use their broker designation for different purposes than others. Many proprietary trading firms register as brokers so that they and their traders can have direct access to exchanges, but they do not provide broker services to the general public. This is in contrast to the services offered by full-service or discount brokers.

Full-service brokers typically treat brokerage as an additional service offered to high-net-worth clients in addition to a slew of other services, including retirement planning and asset management. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch are all examples of full-service brokers. These companies may also utilize their broker services to make colossal block equity trades on behalf of themselves or corporate clients.

Other full-service brokers may provide specialized services such as research and trading execution, such as Cantor Fitzgerald, Piper Jaffray, Oppenheimer & Co. Many such firms exist, albeit their numbers have declined due to mergers or the increased expense of complying with rules such as the Dodd-Frank Act. On the other hand, other full-service brokers provide personalized consultations and discussions with customers to assist with asset management and retirement planning. Raymond James, Edward Jones, and LPL Financial are examples of these firms.

The larger brokerage firms usually keep a stockpile of shares available for sale to their clients. They do this to save money on exchange fees, providing quick access to popularly held equities. Agency brokers are another type of full-service brokerage organization. This implies that, unlike many larger brokers, they don’t have a stockpile of shares on hand and instead operate as agents for their clients to obtain the best trade executions.

Many discount brokers changed their business models in late 2019 and began charging $0 commissions on some or all of their stock trading. Fidelity, Charles Schwab, E-Trade, Interactive Brokers, and Robinhood are cheap brokers. Broker-registered proprietary trading firms may not market their services as brokers, but they may use their broker registration in a way that benefits their business. While larger banks or corporations may have proprietary trading desks, a dedicated proprietary trading firm is typically a smaller organization. SMB Capital, Jane Street Trading, and First New York are standalone proprietary trading firms.

What is a brokerage account?

A brokerage account is a financial arrangement in which a customer deposits funds with a regulated brokerage business, executing trades on their behalf. Although the brokerage runs the orders, the assets remain the investors’ property, generally declaring any capital gains as taxable income.

Type of brokerage account

Full-service brokerage accounts

Investors seeking financial advice should explore full-service brokerage firms such as Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo Advisors, and UBS. Financial advisors are compensated for assisting their clients in developing investment strategies and executing them. Financial advisors can work on a non-discretionary basis, in which customers must approve transactions, or on a discretionary basis, in which clients do not need to approve transactions.

Full-service brokerage accounts charge commissions on trades or adviser fees. A commission account earns a price when an investment is bought or sold, whether on the client’s or advisor’s recommendation and whether the trade is profitable. On the other hand, advisor fee accounts levy flat annual fees ranging from 0.5 percent to 2% of the total account amount. No commissions are charged when investments are bought or sold in exchange for this fee. At the start of a partnership, investors should negotiate remuneration schemes with financial advisors.

Discount brokerage accounts

Discount brokerage businesses, which charge substantially lower costs than full-service brokerage firms, should be highly considered by investors who prefer a do-it-yourself investment approach. Discount brokerage businesses like Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, E*TRADE, Vanguard, and Fidelity, on the other hand, provide fewer services in exchange for reduced costs. This, on the other hand, may be ideal for investors who primarily want to perform low-cost investment trades using simple internet trading software.

For example, an investor who opens a conventional taxable brokerage account or a retirement account with a typical discount broker might expect to receive a free taxable brokerage account or a free retirement account if they can fund the arrangement with a $500 minimum beginning deposit. Most stocks, options, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have little or no commissions when bought or sold. Some cheap brokers may charge fees for non-US equities or lightly traded stocks; however, this varies from broker to broker.

Treasury bonds usually do not involve a commission, although secondary bonds may. Many brokers, including Schwab, Fidelity, and E*TRADE, provide a large selection of mutual funds with no transaction fees.

Brokerage accounts with a regional financial advisor

Some investors appreciate a full-service broker’s involvement. Still, they also desire the benefit of a more personalized approach while working with a firm that feels more localized to the investor’s town. Companies like Raymond James, Jefferies Group LLC, or Edward Jones are commonly used by such investors as a middle ground between full-service and cheap brokerage firms. They serve as both brokers and financial advisors. This group has a greater minimum account size and caters to a slightly higher net worth. Still, its services are generally less expensive over time than larger, full-service brokerages.

Online brokerage accounts and downward price pressure

Robinhood, an online brokerage launched in early 2015 as a mobile-only platform, offers commission-free trading and minimum requirements for margin accounts. Even though it does not pay commissions, the company was a pioneer in using a process known as payment for order flow to create income (PFOF).

Market-making enterprises that specialize in connecting buyers and sellers via electronic communication networks (ECNs) require a continual stream of orders from individual investors to match buyers and sellers. As a result, companies like Citadel Securities and IMC find it beneficial to establish incentives for brokers to deliver the orders. Robinhood’s business model was made visible by paying brokers for the privilege to execute consumer trades, which improved the speed and accuracy of execution.

The amount paid by the market-making firm is significantly less than traditional stock transaction commissions (on a per-trade basis), therefore even if this cost is ultimately passed on to the customer in the form of embedded fees, this approach still benefits the consumer due to its lower price and efficiency. Almost all discount brokerage firms embraced this business model in late 2019 and shifted to no commissions on most equity trades.

Zero-commission brokerage accounts

In November 2017, Robinhood stated that it had reached 3 million brokerage accounts, with a total transaction volume of more than $100 billion. E*TRADE, on the other hand, claimed 3.5 million brokerage accounts and $311 billion in assets under management (AUM). Zero-fee trading has some disadvantages.

For example, Robinhood does not provide investment advice, which established brokerages normally provide. Robinhood does not currently support annuities and retirement savings. Officials from the firm have stated that they may help the latter shortly. Nonetheless, Robinhood’s concept was so successful that significant discount brokers converted to a zero-commission model for most stock trades in late 2019, proving that customers prefer it.

Broker regulation

Brokers are members of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the self-regulatory organization for broker-dealers. Brokers are held to a standard of behavior based on the “suitability rule,” which states that suggesting a specific product or investment must be based on reasonable grounds. The second section of the rule, known as “know your customer,” or KYC, outlines the measures a broker must take to identify their client and their savings goals, which aids in establishing the reasonableness of the advice. The broker must make a reasonable attempt to collect information about the customer’s financial situation, tax situation, investment goals, and other relevant facts before making a recommendation.

This standard of conduct differs significantly from the standard applied to financial advisors registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs). Under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, RIAs are held to a strict fiduciary standard to always act in the client’s best interest while providing full disclosure of their fees.

Real estate brokers in the United States are licensed by each state, not the federal government. Each state has its laws defining the types of relationships between clients and brokers and the duties of brokers to clients and members of the public.

How to become a broker?

If you’re interested in finance and think handling other people’s money is your thing, a career as a stockbroker might be right for you. It’s not simple to become an investment consultant of this caliber, and the process may be rather demanding and stressful at times. Even yet, many people fresh out of school aspire to join their ranks. As a result, many people have questions and want more information about this enticing job, which provides more alternatives than ever before.

Desire and skills

Working as a stockbroker may appear to be a glamorous profession. Still, many first-year brokers leave the industry because the position typically involves long hours, is often stressful, and takes a significant level of attention.

While there are no specific psychological attributes required to become a broker, the most successful ones have an inner will to achieve and the ability to handle rejection. Given that a broker’s day is likely to be spent on the phone pitching stock ideas to prospective or existing clients, these are vital skills to possess. Other essential abilities to have include:

  • An ability to sell
  • An ability to communicate effectively
  • An ability to explain complex ideas without seeming condescending

Although workshops and seminars help with communication and salesmanship, it requires time and money. As a result, it’s usually preferable if you already have these abilities before entering the field.

Education requirements

These days, a college education is almost a need, as competition for positions in specific firms and training programs can be fierce. However, it is not uncommon to meet effective salespeople who have no formal training beyond studying for licensure exams.

While there are no formal educational requirements for becoming a broker (although there are for becoming a CPA or financial analyst), many firms prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree, preferably in business or finance; individuals who major in these subjects will likely have an advantage over the competition. A master’s degree distinguishes a candidate from the competition by providing additional communication and financial abilities that can be useful on the job.

Licensing requirements

All stockbrokers must receive the same standard securities licenses to become registered representatives and practice. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Series 7 and Series 63 tests must be passed before working in the financial industry (FINRA). Representatives with these qualifications are allowed to purchase and sell stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other types of securities, as well as provide legal advice to their clients.

Beginning brokers have historically taken the Series 7 test. The Series 63 test focuses on state rules and regulations, while the Series 63 is a general securities license that allows an individual to offer securities such as stocks.

These exams are not easy, and aspiring brokers should be aware of this. Furthermore, you must be sponsored by a real brokerage business to take the exam, and the firm that sponsors you expects you to pass.

Many stockbrokers are then required (or choose) to obtain additional licenses, such as the Series 3 or Series 31 commodities and managed futures licenses, the Series 65 or Series 66 to become a Registered Investment Adviser, or a life and health insurance license to sell life, disability, and long-term care products, as well as fixed and variable annuity contracts.

It is also becoming increasingly vital to pass a thorough background check that looks at the prospective broker’s criminal and financial history.

Those with recent bankruptcies, tax liens, or repossessions will likely be discarded from the list of potential candidates just as quickly as those who have been in any type of mentionable legal trouble.

Deciding between competing brokerage firms

How can you get a job with a sponsored company? Keep an eye out for companies that offer reliable and well-structured training. These businesses can be incredibly beneficial in training specific sales strategies, time management skills, and industry knowledge. Conduct an online search, look for job advertising, and, more particularly, look at individual companies’ websites to get this information.

Beyond that, think about companies that are a good fit for your personality and tastes. Consider if you want to work for a huge, internationally recognized financial supermarket or a smaller niche organization as a would-be broker.

Brokers who begin their careers at larger organizations may feel like little fish in an unending pond. However, because of its lesser-known name, a smaller corporation may have a more challenging time attracting clients or ensuring customer confidence.


Becoming a broker gives you automatic bragging rights, among other benefits such as the ability to open your brokerage, hire agents, and manage office staff. If you choose to become a managing broker, you will be stepping away from the sales responsibilities and moving towards more administrative work. You’ll oversee the day-to-day operation of the brokerage, including hiring, coaching, and managing salespeople.  Otherwise, you can work as a designated broker. As the designated broker, you’ll run the full brokerage and oversee other brokers and agents. You may also work in a more hands-on capacity in the dual role of principal and managing broker.

Your daily responsibilities will change depending on what type of broker you choose to become, but as you can see, you have much more flexibility as a broker than you do as a salesperson.

Charles Bains

Charles Bains

Charles Bains started his insurance career as a marketing intern before pounding the pavement as a commercial lines agent in Orlando, FL. As an industry journalist, his articles have appeared in a variety of trade publications. His insurance television career, short-lived but glorious, once saw him serve as the expert adviser on an insurance-themed infomercial (yes, you read that correctly). Having recently worked for various organizations, coupled with his broader insurance knowledge, Charles is able to understand our client’s needs and guide them accordingly. He is a gem for Insurance Noon as his wide area of expertise and experience have been beneficial in conducting further researches to come up with solutions and writing them in a manner which is easy for everyone including beginners to comprehend.

Insurance Noon is the world's leading source of insurance related content on the web, focusing on industry news, buying guides, reviews, and much more.