Companies in this industry broker deals for buyers and sellers of securities. Major companies include TD Ameritrade, E*Trade, and Charles Schwab, and brokerage units of Citigroup and Wells Fargo (all based in the US), as well as Credit Suisse (Switzerland), Deutsche Bank (Germany), Macquarie Group (Australia), and Nomura (Japan).
Many large US-based brokers, particularly those affiliated with major banks and financial services companies, operate internationally. Major global financial hubs include Hong Kong, London, New York, and Singapore. London's status as a global financial center has been cast into doubt following the UK's decision in 2016 to leave the European Union.
The securities brokerage industry in the US includes about 40,000 establishments (single-location companies and units of multi-location companies) with combined annual revenue of about $122 billion. The industry is consolidating: since 2010, the number of brokerage firms in the US has fallen by about 20%, according to FINRA.
Demand is driven by the returns on securities relative to alternative investments. The profitability of individual companies depends on efficient operations and good marketing. Large companies have economies of scale in operations and high name recognition. Small companies can compete effectively by offering better customer service. The US industry is highly concentrated. Four firms (ranked by customers and assets) -- TD Ameritrade (owner of Scottrade), E*Trade, Fidelity Investments, and Charles Schwab -- dominate the business in the US. Discount brokerage firms, which originated in the mid-1970s when stock-trading commissions were deregulated, have become major industry players.
The traditional brokerage industry that sold stocks to individual investors has largely evolved into companies that either broker large stock trades for institutional investors or sell a variety of investment products to individuals. However, reforms enacted in the aftermath of the late-2000s financial crisis have largely put an end to banks and large hedge funds making vast sums buying and selling securities.
Investors' growing appetite for low-cost passive investments has depressed prices on everything from advice and asset management to trading. Pricing pressure is increasing as major brokerage firms reduce commissions -- to zero in the some cases -- on online stock trades in an intensifying competition for customers.
Products, Operations & Technology
Major sources of revenue are investment advice and management; brokerage of stocks, mutual funds, and other financial products; and fiduciary fees for
Sales & Marketing
Finance & Regulation
Regional & International Issues
Also includes the following chapters:
Quarterly Industry Update
Trends and Opportunities
Call Preparation Questions
Glossary of Acronyms