What Is a Broker's Deck?

What Is a Broker's Deck?

3 Min.

A broker's deck is the number of open orders they are working on. Floor traders solely operate on the accounts they have set up for themselves, even though they are employed by one of the many stock exchanges, like the NYSE. A larger deck means more orders, which can make getting the best deals and tracking transactions more difficult.


A broker's deck (a broker's portfolio) symbolizes the volume of active orders under their purview at any given instance. Effective orchestration of these orders is pivotal, as a broker tasked with a substantial deck must adeptly match buyers with sellers for various securities. Failure to do so promptly could lead to voiding pending orders. Accomplished brokers, fortified by experience, can confidently manage more extensive open positions, provided they possess unwavering assurance in their knack for identifying suitable counter-parties.

Order Execution Process of a Floor Trader

Within the realm of stock exchanges, exemplified by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), floor traders engage in the meticulous management of a cluster of client orders, collectively referred to as a deck. These orders pertain to the acquisition or liquidation of specific securities, and floor traders exclusively handle the accounts they have personally acquired.

In situations where brokers are saddled with an extensive deck, the task of handling numerous orders can prove arduous and suboptimal. Operating in the capacity of a floor trader (FT), the broker diligently executes both purchase and sale orders upon their receipt. This endeavor necessitates robust interaction with diverse stakeholders interested in conducting the trade alongside thorough research dedicated to each order nestled within the deck.

The scope of a larger deck signifies the broker's oversight of a heightened count of orders. However, this amplified demand might hinder the attainment of optimal terms for each available open order, potentially diminishing the efficiency of transaction monitoring.

Orders in a Broker's Deck Example

To elucidate, envision a floor trader juggling open orders concerning both Company A and Company B. The challenge emerges when assessing fulfillment avenues for these dual entreaties concurrently proves unfeasible. Instead, the trader toggles between these appeals, concentrating on one until fulfillment before pivoting to the other. While engrossed in catering to Company A's request, an opportune moment may transpire for Company B. Yet, the trader's progress with Company A might preclude seizing the Company B prospect.

Another instance materializes when a broker holds a purchase directive for Company A, bounded at 82.50, and coincidingly, a Company A sell instruction emerges within the deck at 82.48. Here, the broker affects a mid-market order crossing at 82.50, reaping reduced transactional expenses relative to screen-based execution on the exchange.

Impacts of Exchange Closures

Considering the multi-exchange accessibility for certain securities and the mounting reliance on technology in trading realms, an expansive deck exposes brokers to heightened missed prospects should technical malfunctions suspend an exchange.

Case in point, on July 8, 2015, the NYSE temporarily suspended operations for approximately three hours. During this interval, Nasdaq and other exchanges persevered in trading NYSE-listed stocks, unaffected by these technical glitches. Such occurrences could precipitate substantial price oscillations, potentially impinging upon a trader's capacity to consummate orders post-restoration of services.


The broker's deck plays a pivotal role in the fast-paced world of securities trading. Floor traders expertly handle these active orders within stock exchanges, ensuring efficient buying and selling on clients' behalf. Any oversight in managing these orders could lead to missed opportunities and transactional inefficiencies. Additionally, the modern trading landscape's reliance on technology and multiple exchanges magnify the impact of exchange closures, emphasizing the crucial need for skilled deck management by brokers.

Broker's Deck