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However, when a large institutional investor seeks to buy or sell a large chunk of stock, or a block of stock, the sheer size of the order involves additional facilitation. A buy order for 200,000 shares of IBM stock, for instance, would not easily be accomplished without a block trader. At any given moment, only so much stock is available for sale, and to buy a large quantity would drive the price up in the market (to entice more sellers into the market to sell).
For a NYSE stock, the process of block trading is similar to that of any small buy or sell order. The difference is that a small trade arrives electronically to the specialist on the floor of the exchange, while a block trade runs through a floor broker, who then hand-delivers the order to the specialist. The style of a block trade also differs, depending on the client's wishes. Some block trades are done at the market and some block trades involve working the order.
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