A brokerage firm, or simply brokerage, is a financial institution that facilitates the buying and selling of financial securities between a buyer and a seller. Brokerage firms serve a clientele of investors who trade public stocks and other securities, usually through the firm's agent stockbrokers. The staff of this type of brokerage firm is entrusted with the responsibility of researching the markets to provide appropriate recommendations, and in doing so they direct the actions of pension fund managers and portfolio managers alike. These firms also offer margin loans for certain approved clients to purchase investments on credit, subject to agreed terms and conditions. When a brokerage firm, in addition to buying and selling for clients, transacts for its own account, it is known as a broker-dealer.
The BSE and NSE
Most of the trading in the Indian stock market takes place on its two stock exchanges: the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE). The BSE has been in existence since 1875. The NSE, on the other hand, was founded in 1992 and started trading in 1994. However, both exchanges follow the same trading mechanism, trading hours, settlement process, etc. At the last count, the BSE had about 4,700 listed firms, whereas the rival NSE had about 1,200. Out of all the listed firms on the BSE, only about 500 firms constitute more than 90% of its market capitalization; the rest of the crowd consists of highly illiquid shares.
Almost all the significant firms of India are listed on both the exchanges. NSE enjoys a dominant share in spot trading, with about 70% of the market share, as of 2009, and almost a complete monopoly in derivatives trading, with about a 98% share in this market, also as of 2009. Both exchanges compete for the order flow that leads to reduced costs, market efficiency and innovation.