Careers in Brokerage Operations
Brokerage operations personnel, sometimes also called brokerage clerks, ensure accurate record keeping within the securities industry. Automation continues to reduce the overall need for staff in this area, and the remaining positions are less concerned with manual processes for recording data and more focused on monitoring computerized record keeping systems.
According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), total employment of brokerage clerks was roughly 60,000 in May 2013, versus 190,000 in 1990.
Of the 2013 figure, about 38,000 were employed in securities brokerage firms, and the rest in other types of financial services companies. Despite the longtime decline in brokerage operations jobs, the BLS projects 4% annual growth in employment over the next several years. Also see our discussion of the 1968 Wall Street paperwork crunch for some historical perspective.
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Normally, a bachelor’s degree is sufficient. A high school diploma used to be the top educational attainment of the vast majority of brokerage clerks but rarely is so today.
Formal certifications usually are not required. However, for some brokerage operations positions, a FINRA certification such as a Series 7 license may be preferred. If the operations clerk is expected to have direct contact with clients, being registered allows greater latitude in what this person may discuss with clients.
Duties and Responsibilities
Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are five principal categories of brokerage operations personnel. Depending on the firm, a specific position may combine the duties of more than one of these.
Purchase and sale clerks ensure that securities trades result in the appropriate movement of securities positions between financial services firms and client accounts.
Dividend clerks ensure that dividends (and interest) are collected when due and credited to the proper account, whether belonging to a client or to the firm itself.
Transfer clerks execute changes in the registration of securities certificates. Staffing in this field is in serious decline, as the use of paper certificates has plummeted.
Receive and deliver clerks handle the movement of securities certificates among securities firms. This is another field in decline as physical certificates become obsolete.
Margin clerks track clients’ compliance with the terms and conditions of margin loans (that is, loans to finance purchases of securities).
Brokerage operations personnel normally have a standard 40 hour work week. However, during periods of exceptionally high trading volume, overtime may be required.
What’s to Like
Experience in brokerage operations can be excellent training in the intricacies of various security types and of the financial services industry as a whole. Registered brokerage operations personnel hold the essential credential, a Series 7 license, necessary for becoming a financial advisor, if they wish to take this route.
What’s Not to Like
Many jobs in brokerage operations can be repetitive and rote.
In times of high trading volume, keeping up with the work can be taxing.
Per the Occupational Employment Statistics published by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual compensation for brokerage clerks was about $45,450 as of May 2013, a 7% increase from the figure of $42,440 reported for May 2012. The top 10% were earning over $69,730 in May 2013.