Today's Market Players: A User's Guide
The Trading Community
Whether it is the traditional full service model of Edward Jones, discount firms like Charles Schwab or Scottrade, or online players such as ETrade or Ameritrade, these firms buy and sell stocks for customers and charge a commission.
Of course, some firms also trade for their own accounts, which makes them broker-dealers.
The largest are subsidiaries of the big bank holding companies, such as Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.
Market markers serve something of a middle-man role. They quote prices to both buyers and sellers of stocks (and other financial instruments), and profit from the difference, the spread, between the two orders. There are dozens of market makers and even some the biggest—Getco, for instance, may not be well known.