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Graduate jobs in broking and trading: What’s the difference?

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If you like the idea of working in a fast-paced, dynamic and demanding environment, then a graduate job as a broker or trader might be for you.

Both broking and trading graduate jobs involve buying and selling securities, which are negotiable and tradable financial assets such as bonds, stocks or banknotes.

Both of these jobs are intellectually challenging, fast-paced, and call for many of the same skills – someone who is able to keep calm under pressure, has perseverance, great numerical skills and meticulous attention to detail.

And finally, both graduate broking jobs and graduate trading jobs will require a degree – usually in maths, economics, finance or business – as well as a financial licence.

But although there are clear similarities between the two roles, broking & trading graduate jobs involve very different skills and responsibilities that make them better suited to very different types of people.

What’s the difference between a broker and a trader?

There are some key differences between graduate trading jobs and graduate broking jobs.

First and foremost, a broker is a sales agent who has their own portfolio of retail and institutional clients.

They arrange for the buying and selling of securities based on the wishes of these clients, negotiating the very best deals and then earning a commission on each trade.

They also offer trading advice to their clients that will help them make informed decisions about which stocks to invest in, and when.

A broker is always looking to grow their portfolio of clients, so will also spend a fair amount of their time cold-calling potential clients to introduce their services and skills.

As a graduate job as a broker involves a high level of client interaction, it requires someone with strong numerical skills and an interest in financial markets – but also someone who has exceptional negotiation and communication skills.

A trader, on the other hand, usually works for an investment management firm, an exchange, or a bank, buying and selling securities on behalf of the assets managed by the firm.

They will always be purchasing stock with the hope of selling it for a profit, whether this be a short-term trade (sometimes lasting only a few seconds) or a long-term trade, which can last up to several months.

Traders are often depicted in films as angry men in suits running around on an auction-style floor yelling down the phone, but in reality, this isn’t usually the case – most stocks are now traded electronically.

Traders actually spend a lot of their time in front of a computer – meticulously analysing performance charts, researching stocks and closely watching the market in order to ultimately make big profits on their trades.

They are judged exclusively on their performance, rather than on their people skills, so because the role involves much less interaction with clients than a graduate job as a broker, may be better suited to someone who is more of an introvert.

How can I get a job in broking or trading?

Broking & trading graduate jobs are exciting, lucrative, and, as you might expect, highly competitive.

Almost all reputable firms will require you to have a degree to work as a broker or a trader – but there is a lot else that you can do to set yourself apart from the crowd.


1. Learn as much as you can about financial markets

If you want to land a graduate job as a broker or trader, you need to know everything you can about your industry. There are thousands of books and articles on trading that will help to develop your knowledge, as well as make sure that it’s something you are passionate about before you apply for a graduate job.


2. Stay up to date

It’s also vital to stay in touch with current news by reading print or online sources like BloombergFinancial TimesThe Economist or Barron’s.

In a graduate interview, you’ll be able to demonstrate your deep knowledge of the market and discuss current financial news.


3. Gain relevant experience

As with most graduate jobs, being able to mention some work experience you undertook on top of your degree is a surefire way to impress an employer in the financial services sector.

If you’re able to get a placement or short-term internship with a bank, then ideal, but if not don’t fret – any client-facing experience, a job where you have directly increased revenue or can show that you have performed well under pressure, should be pinpointed on your CV.


4. Highlight your skills

Employers at top firms will want to hear about times when you have demonstrated desirable skills, like being able to work as part of a team and great communication skills.

If you have been involved in team sports throughout school, held a position of power in a society at university, or have managed any projects during or outside of your education – make sure they are noted on your CV and mentioned in your interview.

If you are unsure how to condense your experiences at university into something worth talking about, see our blog which highlights 7 skills that university teaches you outside of your degree.


5. Attend talks

If you are still at university, attend any relevant talks or events that are on offer.

Just recently, we visited Newcastle University to attend their Trading Game Evening – and there are similar events happening all the time at universities across the country, so make use of them.

If you’ve already graduated, there are plenty of free events and seminars to attend across the UK, to learn as much as you can about broking and trading.

Depending on whether you relish speaking to people or you are more of an introvert, you might be better suited to broking or trading graduate jobs – it would also be worthwhile to explore economist jobs.

But working in a high-pressure, fast-paced and constantly challenging environment, one thing’s for sure – no two days as a broker or trader will ever be the same.


Find more advice for graduates looking for jobs on our blog – or check out the latest finance graduate schemes and entry level banking jobs.

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