Last year's soaring stock market was great for investors, and so you knew it had to be for their brokers, too.
But just how good?
Well, the figures are in. In 1991, the average retail broker -- the person who handles accounts from ordinary individuals -- earned $98,401, which is 24 percent more than the average $79,160 earned in 1990, according to the Securities Industry Association, a trade group.
To make $98,401, the average retail broker generated $258,493 in commissions, 23 percent more than in 1990, with the difference going to the firm.
"In total, 1991 was an extraordinary year," said Adrian L. Banky, executive vice president of the association, which represents more than 600 brokerage and investment-banking firms in the United States and Canada.
"It was just outstanding in terms of bond and stock activity," he said. "Prices were up. . . . Investors did very well in very active markets. And whenever that happy confluence of events occurs, brokers also tend to do very well. And they did."
An association study released last week showed that institutional brokers, the people who handle large accounts for mutual funds, pension funds and insurance companies, did even better. Their pay jumped 43.6 percent in 1991, to $238,821 from $166,335 in 1990.
The average institutional broker generated $1.5 million in commissions, 20 percent more than in 1990. Institutional brokers make up less than 10 percent of the brokers in association member firms.
Since brokers' earnings come mainly from commissions, they make more when more stocks and bonds are traded. Last year, soaring stock prices triggered record volumes and lured back into the market throngs of individual investors who had been sitting on the sidelines since the market crash of 1987.
For example, the Dow Jones industrial average of 30 widely watched stocks climbed from 2,633.66 at the end of 1990 to 3,168.83 at the end of 1991. Average daily trading volume was up 14 percent on the NYSE. The total value of mutual funds rose 27 percent.