What’S The Difference Between A Broker And A Dealer?


Brokers and dealers play crucial roles in the financial market, but they serve distinct functions and operate under different regulations. Let’s delve into the key differences between a broker and a dealer to understand their unique roles.

Definition and Function

A broker is an intermediary who facilitates transactions between buyers and sellers without taking ownership of the securities. Brokers earn a commission for executing trades on behalf of their clients. They act as intermediaries, connecting buyers and sellers in the financial markets. On the other hand, a dealer is a market participant who buys and sells securities for their own account, acting as a principal in the transaction. Dealers often play a market-making role by providing liquidity and setting bid and ask prices for specific securities.

Inventory and Risk

One of the major distinctions between brokers and dealers lies in their approach to inventory and risk. Dealers hold an inventory of securities, taking on market risk by buying and selling securities at their own risk. By holding securities in inventory, dealers are exposed to market fluctuations and price movements. In contrast, brokers do not maintain an inventory and do not assume any market risk, as they simply match buyers and sellers for a fee. They facilitate trades without taking on the risk associated with holding securities.

Regulatory Oversight

Brokers and dealers are subject to different regulatory frameworks. Brokers are typically registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and are governed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). They are required to adhere to strict rules and regulations to protect investor interests and ensure fair and transparent trading practices. Dealers, on the other hand, fall under the jurisdiction of the SEC and are regulated by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Dealers are subject to regulations that govern their role as market makers and their trading activities in the securities market.

Client Relationships

While both brokers and dealers interact with clients in the financial markets, their relationships with clients differ. Brokers act as agents for their clients, executing trades on their behalf and providing investment advice. They work to execute trades that align with their clients’ investment objectives and preferences. Dealers, as principals, transact directly with clients and may make markets in specific securities, providing liquidity to the market. Dealers often engage in proprietary trading activities and may take positions in securities for their own account, influencing market dynamics.


Understanding the distinction between brokers and dealers is essential for investors navigating the financial markets. Whether you seek advice and trade execution from a broker or prefer direct transactions with a dealer, each plays a critical role in the efficient functioning of the market. Brokers and dealers complement each other by fulfilling different functions and providing essential services that contribute to the liquidity and efficiency of the financial markets.

Serena Page

A journalism student at the University of Florida, Serena writes mostly about health and health-related subjects. On her time off, she enjoys binge-watching her favorite shows on Netflix or going on a weekend get-away.