A broker-dealer is a company, person, or other organization trading securities on behalf of its customers or its own account. Broker-dealers are the core component of the securities and derivatives trading process.

They provide an important service to their clients and help to ensure that the markets function efficiently. Find out what a broker-dealer is and does down below.

Brokers Looking at Computer Screen

Understanding the Basics of Broker-Dealers

A broker-dealer is a person or company that buys and sells securities on behalf of itself or its customers. They act as the middleman in a transaction and can be either full-service or discount broker-dealers.

A full-service broker-dealer will offer a wide range of services, such as research, investment advice, and account management.

In contrast, a discount broker-dealer will typically only provide the ability to buy and sell securities at a discounted rate to a full-service broker-dealer.

Broker-dealers provide essential liquidity to the markets by buying and selling securities. They also offer research and other services to their clients. Some broker-dealers are registered as investment advisers, allowing them to provide additional services such as asset management. Broker-dealers are also the primary sellers and distributors of mutual fund shares.

The term “broker-dealer” can also refer to a type of financial institution regulated differently than a traditional bank. Broker-dealers are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and are involved in more complex transactions and, therefore, must meet certain financial requirements.

Broker-dealers must be licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to operate, and they are subject to several regulations designed to protect investors. For example, broker-dealers must maintain a certain capital level and segregate customer funds from their own operating funds. They must also perform due diligence on the products they offer and disclose any conflicts of interest.

How Does a Broker-Dealer Work?

Broker-dealers work with various clients, including individual investors, pension funds, and other institutional investors. To buy and sell securities, broker-dealers rely on many sources, including stock exchanges, the over-the-counter market, and electronic communication networks.

To ensure that they provide the best possible service to their clients, broker-dealers use various tools and strategies. They may use technical analysis to track stock prices and trading platforms to place orders. They may also use financial news services to stay up-to-date on market trends.

They fulfill two critical tasks, as the name implies. As a broker, they buy and sell securities for their clients. As a dealer, they trade securities for their account, taking positions in securities to profit from price movements. As a combined role, they provide brokerage and dealing services to their clients.

Broker-dealer's role has been scrutinized recently as several scandals have hit the industry. In particular, the use of high-frequency trading strategies by some broker-dealers has come under fire. High-frequency trading allows traders to place orders and execute trades at lightning-fast speeds, but it can also lead to market manipulation and other abuses.

Despite the industry's challenges, broker-dealers play a vital role in the financial markets. They provide an important service to their clients and help to ensure that the markets function efficiently.

The Purpose Of A Broker-Dealer 

The purpose of a broker-dealer is to provide a link between buyers and sellers of securities, acting as an intermediary between the two parties. They facilitate the buying and selling of securities and may also provide research and recommendations on particular stocks or investments. Broker-dealers may also offer other services such as wealth management or retirement planning.


There are two main categories of broker-dealers: wirehouse and independent broker-dealers.

Wirehouse Broker-Dealers 

Wirehouse broker-dealers are affiliated with a large bank or investment firm. They offer a wide range of investment products and services and typically have an extensive research department that provides detailed analysis of potential investments.

Independent Broker-Dealers

Independent broker-dealers are smaller firms that may not have the same breadth of investment products or services as a wirehouse. However, they often specialize in particular investments, such as options or penny stocks. Independent broker-dealers also typically have more personalized service, which can be important for investors who need frequent hand-holding.

About the author

Ziga Breznik is the owner and head of research at – he is an active investor in the forex, crypto and stock markets – he has seen trading platforms disappear along with his investments – especially during the “crypto boom”. Ziga learned the hard way that finding a reputable and trustworthy online brokerage is key to long-term success in the financial markets. He founded as a platform where he shares his research with one goal in mind: to provide unbiased and trustworthy online brokers reviews.