Being a stockbroker requires concentration and knowledge of the market

At 1.15 p.m. on Wednesday with the Sensex and Nifty fluctuating, A. Revathi had little choice but to continue watching the volatility with two other clients staring on to the monitor that is flickering with red and blue bars. Her lunch could wait.

“Cut 10 from Reliance cap,” said Uday Rajan, a client into intraday trading, listing names of a few other scrips. Ms. Revathi types them in quick succession to be interrupted by a client on the mobile who wants her to check the status of L&T. That is followed by another call on the landline about the status of Infosys. In the closed confines of this share broking office tucked at Greams Road, it is hard to see employees looking off the monitor for long, especially from 9 a.m. when the market opens till 3.30 p.m. when it closes.

A stockbroker's job requires complete concentration on the uptrend and downtrend of stocks that they monitor on the computer screen, knowledge of the market, analysis skills and good speed.

“When the market is up, it is tough as every client would want to sell his/her shares,” says Ms. Revathi, a senior dealer who has been in the industry for eight years. “I have told my family and friends never to call me, unless it is very urgent, between the trading hours.”

A few cabins away, “jobbers” working on “arbitrage trading” say three seconds is the maximum they can take their eyes off the monitor. Listening to music is one popular way to de-stress, they say.

People working with such firms are largely referred to as financial advisors and could make or spoil an investor's day. “It is difficult to gauge the market. But, all the time you have to ensure your client is earning a profit,” says K. Madan, working with a brokerage firm. He recalls an incident where a client asked him to buy a share, instead he sold them. “Luckily, the mistake I made helped the client. The market favoured me that day,” he says. But, many a time brokers have to bear the brunt of a disappointed client who is upset that his shares did not fetch him profit.

Online trading has brought down the number of people coming to brokerage firms, but it has brought in more transparency and competition in terms of price and service a centre offers.

K. Siva Subramanian, who started as an authorised assistant, says trading in regional exchanges was active in the 1990s and there used to be difference among various exchanges where arbitrage was common.

“Brokers were the king then. Unlike now where order of execution, time and second is known to you, those days only five persons could go inside the trading hall on behalf of each broker. Communicating was not easier either. Pagers came in much later,” says Mr. Subramanian, head branch development, Saravana Stocks Private Limited. One paid a price if the seller's signature did not match. “The entire scrip must have come after going through some 20 brokers. This involved a lot of delay,” says K. Jayaraman, research associate, Bonanza Portfolio Limited.

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