Before we address this question, let's review what specialists do. Specialists are people on the trading floor of an exchange, such as the NYSE, who hold inventories of particular stocks. A specialist's job is not only to match buyers and sellers, but also to keep an inventory for him or herself that can be used to shift the market during a period of illiquidity.
The job of the specialist originated in 1872, when it was recognized that there was a need for a new system of continuous trading - before this, each stock had a set time during which it could be traded. Under the new system, brokers began to deal in a specific stock to remain at one location on the floor of the exchange. Eventually, the role of these brokers evolved into that of the 'specialist'.
It is the specialist's job to act in a way that benefits the public above all. Every specialist accomplishes this by filling the four vital roles of (1) auctioneer, (2) catalyst, (3) agent and (4) principal. Let's take a closer look at what a specialist does in fulfilling each of these roles:
- Auctioneer – Shows best bids and offers, becoming a 'market maker'.
- Catalyst – Keeps track of the interests of different buyers and sellers and continually updates them.
- Agent – Places electronically routed orders on behalf of clients. Floor brokers can leave an order with a specialist, freeing themselves up to take on other orders. Specialists then take on the responsibilities of a broker.
- Principal – Acts as the major party to a transaction. Since specialists are responsible for keeping the market in equilibrium, they are required to execute all customer orders ahead of their own.
The specialists at the NYSE are employed by seven firms. Companies listed on certain exchanges will interview employees of the specialist firms, seeking out suitable people to represent them (by holding inventories of the companies' stocks). Here are the seven NYSE specialist firms:
- Bear Wagner Specialist LLC.
- Fleet Specialist, Inc.
- LaBranche & Co., LLC.
- Performance Specialist Group, LLC.
- Spear, Leeds & Kellogg Specialists LLC.
- SIG Specialists, Inc.
- Van der Moolen Specialists USA, LLC.
Read about some of the ways in which technical investors use the absolute breadth index to measure whether a market trend ...
Most stocks are traded on physical or virtual exchanges. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), for example, is a physical exchange ...
Filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection simply means that a company is on the verge of bankruptcy, but believes that ...
With all the financial organizations out there, knowing what they all do can be as complicated as knowing where to invest. ...
The price an asset would fetch in the marketplace. Market value ...
A nickname for the foreign bond market of the United Kingdom. ...
A reduction in the number of a publicly traded company’s shares ...
A refusal of businesses to invest in a particular sector of the ...
An unofficial market where securities are traded. Gray (or “grey”) ...
The number of shares available for trading of a particular stock. ...