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  • An agent is a person who acts on behalf of another person or institution in a transaction. For example, when you direct your stockbroker to buy or sell shares in your account, he or she is acting as your agent in the trade.

    Agents work for either a set fee or a commission based on the size of the transaction and the type of product, or sometimes a combination of fee and commission.

    Depending on the work a particular agent does, he or she may need to be certified, licensed, or registered by industry bodies or government regulators. For instance, insurance agents must be licensed in the state where they do business, and stockbrokers must pass licensing exams and be registered with NASD.

    In a real estate transaction, a real estate agent represents the seller. That person may also be called a real estate broker or a Realtor if he or she is a member of the National Association of Realtors. A buyer may be represented by a buyer's agent.

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