SUGGEST for a second that a career in stockbroking means easy money and the chairman of the Hong Kong Stockbrokers Association will quickly counter that it is one of the hardest professions in town. Contrary to the image of brokers as money-grubbers, this seasoned industry player insists that money-mad brokers are destined only to end up in a lunatic asylum. ''Can you think of a profession in the territory that is more difficult than stockbroking?'' snapped association chairman Chu Chung-tin. ''For a $10,000 transaction, you would have received a commission of not less than $100 [the official lower limit] in 1960, and not less than $50 in 1970. Since around 1972 and 1973, the official lower limit has been around $25,'' said Mr Chu, bristling with indignation. ''As there's competition for business, you wouldn't dare to charge much more than the lower limit,'' he said. ''And that's increasingly the situation. Back in 1972, I insisted on charging $50 for a $10,000 deal. Then it was still okay and I still had clients. However, with increasing competition, I gradually reduced that to the lower limit,'' he said. ''But for the rising turnover during the years, many brokers would have gone bust,'' he said. No individual broking house can register bulging turnover in line with the market turnover growth partly because of the increasing number of brokers. The 63-year-old Mr Chu fondly recalled the good old days of 1973 when the Hang Seng Index was at 1,700 points - a shockingly high level then. ''At that time, my practice saw turnover of more than $10 million every day. Now there may not be as much as $10 million,'' he said with a wry smile. ''In those days, we were busy to death. Broking was a lucrative business then. Unfortunately, you wouldn't have had time to work out how much money you were making. Every day, we worked from 8.30 am to midnight,'' he recalled. But Mr Chu, who has been in the broking business for 35 years, never regrets his entry into the profession in which he has taken the rough with the smooth. ''At the end of the day you manage to earn money for a livelihood. Of course, if I really count the gains and losses, then I should say I would be much better off now had I invested in property in 1973,'' he said. ''In this trade, you must not worry too much about money or you'll go mad,'' he added with a resigned tone. Mr Chu paints a picture of the gloom of the stockbroking industry that underlies its glittering facade. Another blow to the industry, he said, was the unification of the territory's four exchanges into the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong in 1986. The resulting closures of the former exchanges' facilities - such as trading halls - meant losses to their members, he said. Mr Chu shrugged off suggestions that brokers can readily make a fast buck just by selling their broking shares, which at one time carried a price tag of over $10 million. ''If you need your broking share, a high price for them doesn't mean you'll make money because you're not going to sell it anyway. And it makes no difference if the price is $10 million or if it's $100,000,'' said Mr Chu. He joined the industry in 1959 as an assistant accountant at the now-defunct British broking house, A V White. ''At that time, I did almost everything at the office, including typing letters for my boss. I learnt a lot from it,'' he said. In 1968, Mr Chu was promoted to the position of floor trader, one of the few broker-authorised stock traders in the territory at that time. ''I resigned in 1972, and bought a broking share to set up a partnership with another broker. Then in 1975, we split and I set up this practice,'' he said, his eyes roaming over his decade-old, 1,000-square-foot Central office staffed by 10 people. For Mr Chu, who has never received any formal schooling, success did not come easily. Born in Guangzhou in 1931, he arrived in Hong Kong in 1937. At the start of the Japanese occupation in World War II, he fled back to Guangzhou after risking death at the hands of the Japanese army. In the provincial capital Guangdong, he helped with his father's rice trading operation. After the war, he returned to Hong Kong as a 14-year-old to work as an employee before starting a small business in wholesaling cooking oil. ''Later, I was convinced that doing small business would lead me nowhere. It looked as if I could make money out of it but it was just an illusion. Customers often delayed their payment. He also regretted his lack of formal education. ''One day, I decided to close down the business and get some education,'' he said. Mr Chu found a job as a clerk in a Central office and began attending an evening school to learn English. He has no intention of retiring from stockbroking. ''I'm healthy. If I retired, I wouldn't know how to kill time,'' he said. Mr Chu, whose two-year term of office as chairman of the association runs until September 1995, aims to recruit all stock exchange members. ''With more members, our association will become more representative and have a greater voice,'' he said. The stock exchange has 564 members, of which about 300 are members of the association. ''I'm also seeking to organise more social activities for our members . . . to enhance their sense of belonging to the association,'' said Mr Chu.