Nura Alam Siddique, a tall middle-aged man with a long beard wearing a white prayer cap, looks like an ordinary citizen in this country - whose days may seem rather uneventful.
But every morning, Siddique waits for the 9:30 am alarm to ring, typically known as the market start time. For the next two hours, Siddique stays high on numbers.
Siddique is a stock broker of Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE), who has been in the stock market business as an investor and a stock broker for many, many years. Currently, he works at the Mohammadpur branch head of Mika Securities Ltd, a stock brokerage house of DSE and CSE.
"Earlier, I had been a service holder and even got a job at a renowned university in the country. But somehow I found the stock market to be my forte and for the last 15 years I have been a stock broker agent.
I get butterflies in my stomach when I see my clients making profit," said Siddique.
Tasnim Faria, a novice, has been working for only six months in the stock brokerage market. But she has adapted quite well to the vibe, to the roller coaster of stock exchange and money transaction business.
This young stock broker said, "At first it all seemed incoherent and promiscuous to me. A big screen full of numbers, company profiles and an array of analytics sheets - nothing made any sense to me. But with time I understood how the market works. I enjoy my job now."
Not like the movies
Do you remember Jordan Belfort from 'The Wolf of Wall Street' or Chris Gardner from 'The Pursuit of Happyness'? Men wearing suits, with sleeves rolled up, pick up the phones and keep dialing their clients to tell them about a new hot stock tip - we are accustomed to these images of a stock broker house.
Though these portrayals may have been accurate for the west, it is not the same for Bangladesh. In fact, even those traditional portrayals shown in movies are becoming outdated because of technology.
Now everyone can view the stock prices on websites. But one thing that still remains common between those American movies and the stock market in Dhaka is how male-dominated the brokerage house is. For instance, you will rarely find female brokers dealing with clients or trading shares in Mika Securities Ltd.
In a mediocre stock broker house of Bangladesh, the day starts with the DSE or CSE website on a big projector screen and the employees ready, with their phones and a piping hot cup of tea.
"Although most of the clients communicate over phone to buy and sell stocks, you will always find some of the investors sitting here in front of the screens," said Siddique. The number is not much, barely 15, and these investors are mostly business owners or contractors who can spare five hours outside their own offices.
From 9:30 to 10:00 am and then again from 2:00 to 2:30 pm are the busiest time intervals for a stock broker because most of the transactions and trades occur at the market starting and closing hours. And throughout the market hour, the day moves at a steady pace - clients keep bidding or trading stocks, investors keep chatting and eating snacks offered by the brokerage house. All the stock market jargon or the market's everyday terminologies pop up all around the office throughout the market hours - most interesting hours in the industry.
For instance, you may hear an investor wants to sell his 'bonus' or someone else might have said he is worried about the 'board meetings' of a company, of which he owns stocks.
The language heavily consists of numbers. For example, one might say, "Siddique bhai, 500 Lanka at 18.90 for 45." This means his client ID number is ***45 and he wants to buy or sell 500 stocks of Lanka at Tk18.90 per stock.
And for the entire day Siddique and all brokers like him have to remain extremely cool-headed because they are dealing with thousands and thousands of money.
"But these are just the retail buyers we are talking about. There are market tips and other informers who will spread information. But do not fall for these tips," Siddique kept reminding me.
At the end of the day, Siddique and his team prepare the trade and transaction history of the day and then the portfolio or certificates are prepared for the clients. "As any trade takes two working days, the clients will get their share certificates in two days time with the transaction portfolio that would be sent to their email," explained Siddique.
Stockbrokers are not financial advisors
They are basically individual middlemen who buy and sell stocks and other securities for both retail and institutional clients, through a stock exchange or over the counter. Most stock brokers work for a brokerage firm, for example, Siddique works for Mika Securities.
What does he get in return? Stockbrokers mostly are paid on a commission basis although compensation methods vary by clients. In Bangladesh, the brokerage fee is 20-50 paisa per Tk100. As Siddique explained, "If you are a million-taka investor, you will be charged the least, 20 paisa per Tk100."
Institutional stockbrokers work with fund managers and other financial institutions, but there are also retail investors.
"But do not turn your stock broker your 'financial guru,' because they are not," Siddique reiterated.
"I have 4,000 clients in this branch and everyday hundreds of transactions and stock trades occur in the market.
But if you investigate, you will find instead of studying and analysing, a majority of these retail investors follow some kind of 'guru' or advisor. And that is when they lose everything. It is a market, not a casino table," explained Siddique.