In context of general equities, buying or selling for the account and risk of a customer. Generally, an agent, or broker, acts as intermediary between buyer and seller, taking no financial risk personally or as a firm, and charging a commission for the service. The broker represents a customer buyer/seller to a customer seller/buyer and does not act as principal for the firm's own trading account. Antithesis of principal. See: Dealer.
Copyright © 2011 Campbell R. Harvey, Professor of Finance, Fuqua School of Business at Duke University