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What does a Stockbroker do?

Stockbrokers are professionals who manage financial investment portfolios for individuals, companies and large organisations. It is their job to get the best financial return for their clients by buying and selling stocks, shares and other financial products. Stockbrokers offer three types of service: discretionary – managing a client’s investments and making decisions on their behalf; advisory – advising clients about various investment options; execution only – buying and selling only when clients ask, without giving advice.

For all types of service, a stockbroker’s work would involve:

  • interviewing clients to assess their potential in the financial marketplace
  • offering advice to clients about which funds or companies to buy or sell
  • calculating and recording the prices of transactions
  • managing and reviewing clients’ investment portfolios
  • researching financial markets
  • consulting investment analysts
  • keeping clients informed about their investments and changes in the market
  • instructing stock market traders to achieve the best market prices
  • marketing their services to new clients.

What qualifications do I need?

Although there are no set qualifications for becoming a stockbroker, most employers will expect prospective employees to have a degree or, even better, a postgraduate qualification such as an MSc or MBA. A relevant university degree, work experience and passing additional stock exchange exams is required for a position as a portfolio manager, sector or market analyst, institutional dealer, international arbitrageur, strategist in the derivative department, or administrator. For employment as a securities clerk (authorised and unauthorised), candidates attend an in-service training programme offered by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and take an oral exam on stock exchange rules and regulations.

What subjects do I need?

Contact each institution for their specific requirements, but these subjects are recommended: 
• Mathematics
• Physical Science
• Accountancy
• Economics


Where can I study?

University of Johannesburg
Bachelor of Commerce: Economics and Econometrics

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Bachelor of Commerce: Financial Planning

North-West University
Bachelor of Commerce: Quantitative Risk Management; Bachelor of Commerce: Risk Management; Bachelor of Science: Computer, Economic and Mathematical Sciences

Damelin Education Group
Bachelor of Commerce: Risk Management

Bachelor of Commerce: Risk Management

Pearson Institute of Higher Education
Bachelor of Commerce: Risk Management (UNISA)

University of the Free State
Bachelor of Commerce: Risk Management

Academy of Financial Markets
National Diploma: Financial Markets and Instruments (NQF Level 6)

Where can I get more info?

Investment Analysts Society of Southern Africa – www.iassa.co.za
Insurance Sector Education and Training Authority – www.inseta.org.za
Johannesburg Stock Exchange – www.jse.co.za


Interview with a Stockbroker

Luzuko Mrwebo | GRADUATE STOCKBROKER TRAINEE | LegaE Securities

Luzuko Mrwebo | GRADUATE STOCKBROKER TRAINEE | LegaE Securities


How did you end up pursuing stockbroking as a career?
After spending the whole of 2010 without a job, I decided to apply for the Financial Markets Honours programme at the University of Fort Hare – a programme sponsored by BANKSETA. Throughout the programme, I was intrigued by how the stock market functions and this fuelled my desire to work in this fascinating industry. I was then fortunate enough to be offered employment at Legae Securities (a stockbroking firm and member of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange).

What training did you undergo and how was it funded?
The Bachelor of Commerce Honours Financial Markets programme included four of the crucial industries of the financial system: Equity Markets, Bond Markets, Derivatives Markets and Foreign Exchange Markets. BANKSETA fully sponsored my Financial Markets Honours.

Is there a type of personality best suited to this work?
Yes, of course! The type of work I do requires someone who is honest and trustworthy, dedicated and focused. Most importantly you have to be able to work with people, and to be able to establish and maintain long-term relationships with clients.

Experience vs formal training?
Experience plays a pivotal role in stockbroking. Of course training builds one’s mental capacity, but work experience exposes one to real life situations, and how best to deal with them.

Describe a typical day on the job
My day starts off with reading current news to prepare for the morning meeting. We discuss the previous trading day, and how we think the South African stock market will perform on a particular day. Every day I ensure that my trading system and other systems are up and running before the market opens at 9am. I then receive and execute buy or sell orders on the system for clients throughout the day. In executing the buy orders, I have to ensure that the clients have sufficient funds in their accounts. For sell orders, I check if the clients have shares and whether the shares are ready to be sold. I communicate with clients frequently to provide advice, resolve any queries they may have, and to update them on their holdings.

What do you like the most about your job?
The various challenges that come with the job are what fascinate me the most. You are required to be quick and consistently accurate. Every day is different from the previous day.

Which aspects are you least enthusiastic about?
Dealing with difficult clients that do not understand that we are required to follow procedures.

What has been the highlight of your career in stockbroking to date?
Every day brings its own special highlights, but what was a memorable moment for me thus far was purchasing shares for a client worth R14 million.

What are your goals for the future?
I want to obtain a PhD, CFA Level 3 and Stockbroking Licence, and to open a consulting company. I also want to be a lecturer at the University of Fort Hare in the BANKSETA Financial Markets Honours programme. Lastly, I want to be a motivational speaker, and play a role in South Africa’s youth development initiative.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your career?
Work hard, be willing to learn, avoid arguments, don’t compromise your values, be humble and don’t undermine other people’s views.

Describe you job in three words
Exhilarating, fun and challenging!

Tristanne Farrell | STOCKBROKER | Investec

Tristanne Farrell | STOCKBROKER | Investec

Why did you choose to work the stock market?
I initially had an interest in the stock market while I was in school. Starting off by buying a few shares, I then began to read up on companies and expand my knowledge in the field.

What training did you undergo?
I started studying and then decided to work while completing my degree. I found that hands-on experience made aspects of work and study easier to understand. In most job interviews they require one to two years’ experience, which is often difficult to obtain initially.

Are there certain characteristics that a stockbroker should possess?
Outgoing, friendly, passionate, dedicated and focused.

Is experience important?
Experience does benefit you. I started working in the back office initially, doing settlements and payments, and then gradually progressed through the business over time. This gave me a full understanding of how the business operates and what is required to attend to clients’ needs.

Describe a typical day on the job
I start the day by watching the news. I arrive at work and attend a meeting, which involves reading the newspapers and listening to briefs from colleagues and analysts on companies that have reported the previous day, or shares that have experienced big movements in the market. We go over trading ideas and news that may move the market for the day. We start trading at 9am when the markets open. I spend most of my time on the phone speaking to clients, and advising of prices and executing orders. I also cover a few companies, so sometimes I have to write reports. The market closes at 5pm.

What do you enjoy most?
Primarily, the excitement of the market; the fact that you need to be on your toes because everything happens within seconds. When you trade you can easily miss a price if you’re not quick enough getting your orders in. You also have to monitor a lot of orders at limits, so you have to be very alert the whole day. I like it when a big trade goes my way. I think I also enjoy the satisfaction of being right.

Are there aspects of your work that you aren’t very keen on?
Bear markets: when the market starts to pull off sharply. It is never pleasant to have to watch clients lose money, especially when they are your long-term investors.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Try applying for an apprenticeship at a firm. You only know if you love something when you try it. Accept that you may have to work hard to get where you want to be. On a more philosophical note, life is way too short to wake up with regrets, so believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it; if it changes your life, let it.

Describe your job in three words
Stimulating • Interesting • Exhilarating