The Sales team can be seen as the voice and face of the bank and much of its role involves personal contact with clients, traders and researchers. As such, an ability to build relationships and communicate effectively is of the upmost importance. Sales people essentially sell trade ideas to clients on the buy-side (i.e. the clients looking to purchase assets). These ideas are generated either through a Sales person’s personal opinion on how the market is likely to change (based on their own research), or from work conducted by the Research department. The Sales team then facilitates the execution of trades that clients wish to pursue based upon these ideas, through acting as an intermediary between clients and the Trading teams. Sales people source information on pricing and supply from traders. They may then request traders to execute trades on behalf of clients (if clients decide to proceed).
Sales people are also typically expected to manage and nurture client relationships, which at times may involve providing clients with a general insight into what is happening in the markets. There is a constant tension that members of the Sales team must effectively balance. They must ensure their clients remain content (through securing them good prices on trades, otherwise clients could simply trade through a different bank) whilst ensuring the traders are not pushed to set prices at an inappropriate level (so that the bank can still make money).
Sales people must be strong multi-taskers as well as being able to handle pressure when booking trades and talking to clients. Sales people must also have strong attention to detail when booking trades, as wrongly recording trades could result in the desk distorting its true profit or loss figures.
It is worthy to note that, particularly in the cash equities business, the roles of Sales and Trading teams are not always clearly distinguished and some people take the role of Sales Traders, essentially combining the roles of both Sales people and Traders.
- The Buy-Side: the side of the financial markets comprised of investors looking to purchase assets with the aim of generating financial returns. Firms that invest, such as hedge funds and asset managers, are on the buy-side.
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By Jake Schogger - City Career Series