What Is Sales and Trading?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2018
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Sales and trading is the backbone of activities at an investment bank, the department concerned with selling and buying securities on behalf of the institution and its clients. Work in this area typically requires certification from regulatory agencies, and many members of the sales and trading department have college degrees in business or related topics. The work can be very high stress and members of the department are typically expected to perform at a very high level.

Members of the sales team interact with clients. They typically have a group of clients they serve with financial advice and assistance. In addition, they recruit new clients. The sales department educates people about the financial products available, provides advice on buying and selling, and also acts as an information clearinghouse for clients who want specific information, such as more information about particular services. This work requires excellent people skills and a keen knowledge of financial markets.

In the trading department, personnel execute trades on behalf of members of the sales team or the institution itself. They buy and sell securities on order, and must take advantage of market movements to decide how, when, and where to sell. Specialists in the structuring subdepartment actually create new financial products like derivatives. These specialists consider the needs of clients and the institution, as well as current market conditions, to develop products that will meet those needs.


Sales and trading also includes analysts. These financial specialists collect detailed information on the market and use it to make projections and recommendations. They act as consultants for the department to help representatives make good decisions and advise clients on the best available choices. This work can be time consuming, as it is necessary to read through financial publications, annual reports, market forecasts, and many other kinds of documents to make accurate and reliable projections.

Work in a sales and trading department is typically available year round. Many firms recruit from business schools and similar settings around graduation time, and the competition can be more fierce in the summer as a result. It can help to have internship experience, preferably with that firm, when applying for a position. Prospective sales and trading staff may also find it useful to work in various financial settings to demonstrate a broad knowledge of the industry and build up connections they can use to land clients and execute the best possible trades on behalf of their employers.



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