Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents connect buyers and sellers in financial markets.
What they do
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents sell securities to individuals, advise companies in search of investors, and conduct trades.
They typically do the following:
- Contact prospective clients to present information and explain available services
- Offer advice on the purchase or sale of particular securities
- Buy and sell securities, such as stocks and bonds
- Buy and sell commodities, such as corn, oil, and gold
- Monitor financial markets and the performance of individual securities
- Analyze company finances to provide recommendations for public offerings, mergers, and acquisitions
- Evaluate cost and revenue of agreements
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents deal with a wide range of products and clients. Agents spend much of the day interacting with people, whether selling stock to an individual or discussing the status of a merger deal with a company executive. The work is usually stressful because agents deal with large amounts of money and have time constraints.
A security or commodity can be traded in two ways: electronically or in an auction-style setting on the floor of an exchange market. Markets such as the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation system (NASDAQ) use vast computer networks rather than human traders to match buyers and sellers. Others, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), rely on floor brokers to complete transactions.
The following are examples of types of securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents:
Brokers sell securities and commodities directly to individual clients. They advise people on appropriate investments based on the client’s needs and financial ability. The people they advise may have very different levels of expertise in financial matters.
Finding clients is a large part of a broker’s job. They must create their own client base by calling from a list of potential clients. Some agents network by joining social groups, and others may rely on referrals from satisfied clients.
Investment bankers connect businesses that need money to finance their operations or expansion plans with investors who are interested in providing that funding. This process is called underwriting, and it is the main function of investment banks. The banks first sell their advisory services to help companies issue new stocks or bonds, and then the banks sell the issued securities to investors.
Some of the most important services that investment bankers provide are initial public offerings (IPOs), and mergers and acquisitions. An IPO is the process by which a company becomes open for public investment by issuing its first stock. Investment bankers must estimate how much the company is worth and ensure that it meets the legal requirements to become publicly traded.
Investment bankers also connect companies in mergers (when two companies join together) and acquisitions (when one company buys another). Investment bankers provide advice throughout the process to ensure that the transaction goes smoothly.
Investment banking sales agents and traders carry out buy and sell orders for stocks, bonds, and commodities from clients and make trades on behalf of the firm itself. Investment banks primarily employ these workers, although some work for commercial banks, hedge funds, and private equity groups. Because markets fluctuate so much, trading is a split-second decision-making process. Slight changes in the price of a trade can greatly affect its profitability, making the trader’s decision extremely important.
Floor brokers work directly on the floor—a large room where trading is done—of a securities or commodities exchange. After a trader places an order for a security, floor brokers negotiate the price, make the sale, and forward the purchase price to the trader.
Financial services sales agents consult on a wide variety of banking, securities, insurance, and related services to individuals and businesses, often catering the services to meet the client’s financial needs. They contact potential clients to explain their services, which may include the handling of checking accounts, loans, certificates of deposit, individual retirement accounts, credit cards, and estate and retirement planning.
Most securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents work many hours under stressful conditions. The pace of work is fast, and managers are usually demanding of their workers, because both commissions and advancements are tied to sales.
Investment bankers travel extensively because they frequently work with companies in other countries.
Because computers can conduct trades faster than people can, electronic trading is quickly replacing verbal auction-style trades on exchange floors. The environment of the stock exchange is changing as a result, with more traders carrying out orders behind a desk and fewer working on the exchange floor.
Because most of the major investment banks are in New York City, employment of securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents is concentrated in that metropolitan area.
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents usually work full time and some work more than 40 hours per week. In addition, they may work evenings and weekends because many of their clients work during the day.
How to become a Securities, Commodities, and/or Financial Services Sales Agents
A bachelor’s degree is required for entry-level jobs, and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) is useful for advancement.
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents generally must have a bachelor’s degree to get an entry-level job. Courses in business, finance, accounting, or economics are important, especially for larger firms. Many firms hire summer interns before their last year of college, and those who are most successful are offered full-time jobs after they graduate.
Numerous agents eventually get a master’s degree in business administration (MBA), which is often a requirement for high-level positions in the securities industry. Because the MBA exposes students to real-world business practices, it can be a major asset for jobseekers. Employers often reward MBA holders with higher level positions, better compensation, and large signing bonuses.
Most employers provide intensive on-the-job training, teaching employees the specifics of the job, such as the products and services offered. Trainees in large firms may receive technical instruction in securities analysis and selling strategies. Firms often rotate their trainees among various departments to give them a broad understanding of the securities business.
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents must keep up with new products and services and other developments. They attend conferences and training seminars regularly.
Brokers and investment bankers must register as representatives of their firm with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). To obtain the license, potential agents must pass a series of exams.
Many other licenses are available, each of which gives the holder the right to sell different investment products and services. Traders and some other sales representatives also need licenses, although these vary by firm and specialization. Financial services sales agents may need to be licensed, especially if they sell securities or insurance. Most firms offer training to help their employees pass the licensing exams.
Agents who are registered with FINRA must attend continuing education classes to keep their licenses. Courses consist of computer-based training on legal requirements or new financial products or services.
Although not always required, certification enhances professional standing and is recommended by employers. Brokers, investment bankers, and financial services sales agents can earn the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, sponsored by the CFA Institute. To qualify for this certification, applicants need a bachelor’s degree or 4 years of related work experience and must pass three exams, which require several hundred hours of independent study. Applicants also must have an international passport. Exams cover subjects in accounting, economics, securities analysis, financial markets and instruments, corporate finance, asset valuation, and portfolio management. Applicants can take the exams while they are getting the required work experience.
The median annual wage for securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents was $62,270 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,320, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $204,130.
Employment of securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Services that investment bankers provide, such as helping with initial public offerings and mergers and acquisitions, will continue to be in demand as the economy grows. The United States remains an international financial center, meaning that the economic growth of countries around the world will contribute to employment growth in the American financial industry. An aging population and the decline of traditional pensions may boost demand for these workers, as individuals approaching retirement seek brokers to facilitate securities purchases.
Similar Job Titles
Sales Agents, Securities and Commodities:
Account Executive, Financial Consultant, Financial Representative, Investment Advisor, Investment Consultant, Investment Executive, Investment Representative, Investment Specialist, Registered Representative, Stock Broker
Sales Agents, Financial Services:
Client Manager, Financial Consultant, Financial Services Representative, Financial Specialist, Investment Officer, Personal Banker, Registered Representative, Relationship Banker, Relationship Manager, Select Banker
Securities and Commodities Traders:
Broker, Corporate Bond Trader, Equity Trader, Fixed Income Director, Fixed Income Trading Vice President, Investment Trader, Option Trader, Options Trader, Securities Lending Trader, Trader
Sales Agents, Securities and Commodities:
Public Relations and Fundraising Manager, Financial Manager-Branch or Department, Personal Financial Advisor, Insurance Sales Agent, Sales Agent-Financial Services
Sales Agents, Financial Services:
Financial Manager-Branch or Department, Personal Financial Advisor, Loan Officer, Insurance Sales Agent, Sales Agent-Securities and Commodities
Securities and Commodities Traders:
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- Security Traders Association
- American Institute of Banking
- American Institute of CPAs
- S. Chamber of Commerce
- Association for Financial Professionals
- Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards
- CFA Institute
- Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
- National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors
- North American Securities Administrators Association
Magazines and Publications
Scrolling by on the side of a building… or at the bottom of the news… the stock exchange update can look like random lists of numbers. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents use their knowledge to translate those numbers into investment advice for their clients. These sales agents make trades, advise clients, and sell securities. Sales agents spend much of their time with clients, and deal with a wide range of products. Products they sell include commodities— usually an electronic transaction rather than a face-to-face sale— of agricultural products like wheat or cocoa, or resources such as oil and gold; securities—different types of tradable assets such as stocks, bonds and options; and financial services— essentially, the service of investing clients’ money to increase it, using a variety of investments. These agents differ based on the types of products they trade, the services they provide and the licenses they hold: Brokers sell directly to individual clients and give financial advice. Investment bankers connect businesses that need financing with investors, and may travel extensively. Investment banking sales agents and traders buy and sell stocks, bonds, and commodities for clients and make trades on behalf of firms. Floor brokers make trades directly at a securities or commodities exchange. All of these sales agents closely monitor and analyze markets to stay informed and make strong decisions. They usually work full time and many work overtime, including weekends. Entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree in business, finance, accounting, or economics. An MBA is helpful for advancement.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org