What is a Stock Broker?

Read our Advertiser Disclosure.
Contributor, Benzinga
June 12, 2023

In the dynamic world of finance, stockbrokers navigate the complexities of the stock market and facilitate trade. These businesses create value for investors by helping them with information, research tools and a platform on which to trade.  

In this article, Benzinga looks at what stockbrokers do, the benefits they bring and how you can use stockbrokers to grow your wealth. 

What Does a Stock Broker Do?

A stock or securities broker is an investment professional who buys and sells shares on behalf of clients. They are mediators between buyers and sellers in the financial markets. Stockbrokers carry out the following essential tasks:

  • Effect trades: Stockbrokers trade on behalf of their clients. They use their skills to buy and sell assets on the stock exchange or other markets. 
  • Offer investment advice: Stockbrokers provide their clients with investment advice and recommendations. They analyze markets and stay abreast of economic and business data for their client’s benefit. A good stockbroker develops a relationship with clients, communicating regularly to provide updates and recommendations. They can help clients with financial planning and investment strategies. 
  • Portfolio management: Many brokers track and manage their client’s investment portfolios. They ensure optimal profits and risk mitigation.  
  • Regulatory compliance: Stockbrokers must adhere to financial regulations and comply with the law. They must have a thorough understanding of regulatory requirements and ensure that all transactions are ethical and legal.

Types of Stockbrokers

Stockbrokers fall into three main categories.

Full-Service Brokers

A full-service broker offers clients a wide range of services. They provide investors with comprehensive assistance and support. Their services may include personalized advice, research and additional financial services. They often develop tailored investment strategies for their clients. 

Full-service brokers typically have dedicated research teams for in-depth analysis of companies, industries and market trends. They provide research reports, market analysis and insights so clients can make informed investment decisions. They often offer comprehensive financial planning services, helping clients to set long-term financial goals. They may also help with retirement, tax and estate planning. Full-service brokers often charge higher fees than discount or online brokers who offer fewer services.

Discount Brokers

A discount broker offers trading services at a lower cost than full-service brokers. They offer a cost-effective way to trade securities. They typically cater to self-directed investors who prefer to make their own investment decisions. They may provide online trading platforms, research tools and market data to facilitate trading. While some discount brokers also have physical branches, their focus is primarily on providing cost-effective trading services. Discount brokers don’t offer extensive personalized investing advice. 

Online Brokers

Online brokers operate only online. They provide online trading platforms that users can access on desktop or mobile apps. Clients use the apps to execute trades and manage their investments electronically. These brokers have no physical branch locations, as all interactions happen virtually. They may offer several services, from trade execution to more advanced features like real-time market data, research tools, educational resources and portfolio tracking. 

Advantages of Using a Stock Broker

Stockbrokers can provide investors with several benefits.

  • Access to expert advice and market analysis: Stockbrokers spend years studying financial markets. They understand investment products, market trends and how economic factors affect investments. Clients can use this expertise to navigate complex markets and make informed decisions. 
  • Customized investment portfolios: A good stockbroker will get to know their clients and understand their long-term financial goals, risk tolerance and investment preferences. They will combine this knowledge with their expertise to recommend customized investment portfolios. 
  • Investment protection: Stockbrokers provide their clients with investment protection. They must comply with financial regulations and industry standards. They usually provide investors with educational resources, helping their clients to make informed decisions. They also use their financial knowledge to advise clients on investments. Stockbrokers track client investments and supply reports so clients can pick up discrepancies. 

Disadvantages of Using a Stock Broker

There are also some disadvantages to using a stockbroker.

  • Higher fees compared to self-directed investing: Stockbrokers may charge commissions and fees. Stockbroker costs can erode profits. Investors must regularly review costs and compare them with competing products. 
  • Conflict of interest in commission-based compensation: Some investment products may offer higher commissions. Higher incentives may encourage the broker to give non-objective investment advice. 
  • No guarantee of investment success: Investing in financial markets is risky. You can lose money, even with professional guidance. 

How to Choose a Stock Brokerage Firm

There are several factors to consider in choosing a stock brokerage firm. 

Account Minimums and Fees

Account minimums and fees can vary widely. Some brokers don’t require a minimum balance, while others will ask for a deposit before you can trade. Fees may include opening and maintenance fees, transaction, inactivity and management fees. Margin interest will also vary from one stockbroker to the next. 


Stockbrokers charge commissions for executing trades. Commissions are usually based on the value or number of securities traded. Commissions also vary according to the type of security traded. 

Pricing and Execution

In today’s market, securities prices move quickly. Fast trade execution is vital if you want to execute a buy or sell trade at your target price. Stockbrokers aim to execute trades promptly at the most favorable prices. Brokers that prioritize price improvement can save you money by securing better prices for your trades. 

Special Features

Some broker platforms offer special features like automated investments or social trading. Automated trading uses algorithms to create and manage diversified portfolios. Automated trading may be the best choice for investors who don’t want to spend too much time tracking investment performance. 

Tools and Education

Most stockbrokers offer their clients training and educational resources. The quality of these resources can differ substantially. Some brokers have extensive libraries that cater to a broad range of traders. Others may have very basic learning resources.

Research and charting tools are also equally important, so you should ensure that the stockbroker has a full toolbox to help you to make informed decisions. Risk management tools like limit orders and stop orders are also vital.


The speed at which a stockbroker executes trades is critical in fast-moving markets. Look for brokers that offer robust and reliable trading platforms with real-time data, fast order execution and minimal downtime. A responsive and stable trading platform can help you take advantage of market opportunities and avoid execution delays or technical issues.


Stockbrokers often offer promotions to attract new customers and incentivize them to open an account or engage in trading activities. These may include commission-free trades, reduced margin rates and referral bonuses. 

Find the Broker that Aligns with Your Financial Goals

Stockbrokers play a pivotal role in the world of investment. They are conduits, connecting investors with opportunities in the financial markets. Beyond their reputation for executing trades, they bring expertise, research and personalized guidance for the client’s benefit. Whether you choose to work with a full-service broker or a discount broker or plan to explore other investment avenues, your investment goals and strategies should lead you in the right direction. Stock brokers bring value to the market; you just have to find the right one. 

Frequently Asked Questions


What exactly does a stock broker do?


A stockbroker facilitates the buying and selling of equity securities for their clients.


Do I need a broker to buy stocks?


You do not need a human stock broker to buy stocks. You can buy stocks through an online brokerage.


Do stockbrokers make money?


Stockbrokers must make money or they would go out of business. They charge fees and commissions to pay for operating costs and make a profit for themselves.