How to keep up your broker face
Buying a share in Apple Inc. isn’t like buying an actual apple. When purchasing a fruit you’re generally going to one of a limited number of stores and browsing the shelves. But with a share most of the time you’re buying it from a fellow investor (that might be a bank, a hedge fund, or Jenny from Iowa).
It can be hard for these buyers and sellers to pair up: it’s unlikely that you’ll know someone wanting to sell a stock at the exact same time you’re wanting to buy. That’s where brokers, the middlemen of finance, come in. They take your order to buy and find you a seller.
Do I need a broker? If you want to buy and sell stocks regularly (a.k.a. trade), then yes. Having a “broker” doesn’t mean there’s actually a suited guy running around on your behalf on the stock exchange floor though! These days, brokers are mostly digital platforms – systems that you can access from your phone or laptop to trade at your leisure. You can manage your portfolio online, submitting trades that your broker will execute electronically. And there are tons of different brokers out there, ranging from ultra-minimalist to complex tools that let you trade arcane financial products. The choice can be pretty overwhelming.
How do I pick the broker for me? Choosing a broker is a bit like dating: you’ll want to think about what you’re looking for, take your time, and hopefully end up with someone that you can stick with forever. But it’s hard at first to know what to look for, and that’s where this guide comes in. We’ll arm you with the tools to swipe right with confidence.
First up: time to imagine your dream broker…
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With all this volatility, you may want to write that useful old adage down.