Career Advice Banking and Finance

Key Characteristics of Successful Stockbrokers

Thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” the life of a stockbroker might seem enticing and glamorous. All that cacophony out on the trading floor, a life of seemingly endless highs, and of course, the financial compensation that comes along with winning big. Unfortunately, the highs of being a successful stockbroker come with its fair share of lows: the hours can be long and exhausting, and the stress can be more than anyone can face on a daily basis. Being a professional stockbroker is not the right job for everyone, but there are some key characteristics of successful stockbrokers that can help you determine if this is the right career move for you. 

Early risers. Stockbrokers rise with the sun. Logically, this makes sense, since markets open at the start of the day. The best brokers, however, are up at the crack of dawn watching international markets, detecting trends, and getting an idea of how those trades are going to affect their local market.  

Roll with the punches. No matter how much you try, you can’t win them all. Many brokers will say that losing money is inevitable. It’s going to happen many times over the course of your career. The sooner you can accept this as reality, the better -- and the more time it gives you to focus on creating a winning strategy! The best stockbrokers learn from their losses instead of dwelling on them. 

Risk-taker. One interesting, and slightly disturbing, study finds that the best brokers have much more in common with typical psychopaths than you might think. While this doesn’t mean that all stockbrokers are out committing crimes, the key is that these brokers aren’t afraid to take big risks. In a way, it’s like gambling: you’ve got to take a big risk to find a big reward.  

Competitive. It goes hand-in-hand with being a risk-taker, but there’s a difference between a good stockbroker and a great stockbroker, and some of that is due to having a competitive spirit. Of course, traders are pretty focused on winning and defeating their counterparts. In reality, it’s more about playing to win in the long run by riding the market highs and outlasting the lows. 

Confidence. Even if you have very little experience with trading stocks or investing, it’s fairly obvious that confidence is absolutely essential. A successful stockbroker can’t spend his or her day second-guessing decisions or conducting too much research. There is definitely such a thing as being too cautious; it can make you miss deadlines and important opportunities. 

Going against the grain. Sometimes, brokers have to make decisions that are contrary to popular belief and/or challenge traditional conventions. It can be particularly difficult to behave illogically and not everyone has this ability. 

Adaptability. Every day will be different, as every market behaves uniquely. Some days will be up, others down, and your approach and decision making process will have to adapt to every environment. Keep a cool head at all times; otherwise, you may not get the type of results you desire. 

Thrives on stress. Most of us don’t want our typical workdays to be stressful. We usually enjoy showing up to the office at the same time each day and be able to anticipate a similar set of challenges each day. Traders are notorious for feeding off of the emotional and physical stress of the stock markets. Rather than feeling drained, some stock brokers might say they thrive and excel in the midst of the action. 

Lifelong learners. A great trader possesses a deep understanding of finance, markets, and economics. But that isn’t learned in a day or in four years of university. It’s learned over the course of a lifetime and every day is a new opportunity to learn and grow. 

Quick decision maker. This probably goes without saying, as you’ve seen footage of brokers working on the trading floor. There’s no time to hesitate; whether you’re working on a computer screen, or out on the trading floor. Time is of the essence and you’ve got to make tough choices in a very short time period. 

At the end of the day, there is no list of characteristics that can ensure your success as a stockbroker. You may possess a few of the traits discussed in this article, or all of them, or even none. What’s most important is that you understand your strengths and opportunities for personal career development and can identify how they will play into your daily interactions or working style. And remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The best stock brokers need to have lasting power to build their own empires.