Financial Services Brokers
Education and Training Requirements
If you are interested in becoming a financial services broker, you should take courses in business, accounting, economics, mathematics, government, computer science, and communications.
Because of the specialized knowledge necessary to perform this job properly, a college education is increasingly important, especially in the larger brokerage houses. To make intelligent and insightful judgments, a broker must be able to read and understand financial reports and evaluate statistics. For this reason, although employers seldom require specialized academic training, a bachelor's degree in business administration, economics, accounting, finance, or quantitative finance or analysis is helpful. Many brokers earn a master’s degree in business administration, which often makes them eligible for higher level positions, large signing bonuses, and better compensation.
The Investments & Wealth Institute offers an essentials of investment consulting certificate program. The Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association offers the Fundamentals of Alternative Investments Certificate Program. In this online, self-paced course, you’ll learn about traditional vs. alternative investments, risk management, investment returns and risks, due diligence, private equity and venture capital, hedge funds, and other topics. Visit https://caia.org/programs/fundamentals for more information.
Other Education or Training
The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association offers continuing education classes such as Focus on Emerging Markets, The Impact of Technology on the Financial Sector: A Focus on Mobile, Social Networking, Collaboration and Cloud Technology, and Fundamentals of Market Returns. It also partners with The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to offer the Securities Industry Institute, a six-day executive development program for financial services professionals. Contact the association for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
Financial services brokers can earn the title chartered financial analyst. While certification is not required, it is highly recommended. The CFA program, which is administered by the CFA Institute, consists of three levels of examinations. The CFA Institute reports that the average candidate takes four years to earn the CFA charter. Before taking the exams, you must already have a bachelor’s degree (or four years of professional experience) and have four years' of work experience.
Almost all states require brokers to be licensed. Some states administer written examinations and some require brokers to post a personal bond. Brokers must register as representatives of their firms with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). In order to register with FINRA, brokers must first pass the General Securities Registered Representative Qualification Examination (Series 7 exam) to demonstrate competence in the areas in which they will work. In addition, they must be employees of a registered firm for at least four months. Many states also require brokers to take and pass a second examination—the Uniform Securities Agents State Law Examination (Series 63 or 66).
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Experience in general sales positions or in a summer internship or part-time job at a brokerage house will provide useful preparation for aspiring financial services brokers.
Because they deal with the public, brokers should be well groomed and pleasant and have large reserves of tact and patience. Employers look for ambitious individuals with sales ability. Brokers also need self-confidence and the ability to handle frequent rejections. Above all, they must have a highly developed sense of responsibility, because in many instances they will be handling funds that represent a client's life savings. Other important traits include good analytical and research skills, a detail-oriented personality, strong mathematical acumen, and a willingness to stay up to date regarding the latest financial products and services throughout their careers.