Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents arrange financial transactions for securities. They are most commonly called stock brokers, investment bankers, or traders, and act on behalf of their clients. When an agent and client agree on a set price for a security, the agent enters the transaction through an electronic system which sends it to the exchange floor to complete the transaction. Careers in this field can be very challenging but rewarding. Agents must have good communication skills to effectively interact with clients, and must be quick thinkers to be able to submit trades at the right time and price.
Many factors come into play when calculating securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents’ salaries. It is common for sales agents to receive low base salaries, and commissions based on the amount of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, insurance, or other products they sell. Entry-level brokers are usually paid a base salary while they are in training until they are able to build up their client list.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for sales agents was $91,390 in 2009. The top 10% earned more than $166,400. The middle half of sales agents earned between $39,310 and $78,210. The bottom 10% of sales agents earned less than $29,980.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents receive very good benefits. They typically receive health, medical, retirement, and life insurance benefits. Some firms give their agents discounts on financial services that they sell to clients. It is common for firms to buy dinner for employees that are working late or taking clients out for dinner. There are also extensive travel opportunities available to employees.
Job Description and Outlook
The roles of agents vary depending on their specialization. However, in most cases, certain skills are required. It is important for agents to have excellent communication skills. They are often times required to deal with clients who are emotionally motivated. Agents have to be able to communicate their thoughts and the reasons for them in an efficient manner.
Investment bankers are sales agents who connect businesses with investors. They work with businesses that need to raise money, and connect them with investors who are looking for great investment opportunities. Successful investment bankers are good sales agents, who often times sell their services twice. They first sell their services to companies who are in need of an advisory team to sell their stocks and bonds. They must also convince investors that the companies for which they are selling stocks and bonds for are the right investments.
Financial services sales agents contact potential clients in an effort to sell security investments and other financial products. Some companies provide their agents with potential client leads. Agents use a variety of methods to generate clients, such as cold calling and networking with various civil organizations and groups.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents’ jobs are expected to grow at the same pace as jobs for all other occupations. A 9% job growth rate is expected through 2018. Hiring for this industry is expected to be very competitive, with the number of applicants exceeding the number of available jobs.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
The recent troubles of the financial industry have caused a large number firms to layoff workers. Many firms are now consolidating, and this will be the main cause for slow job growth. Candidates will sales experience will have better job opportunities than those with no experience.
Training and Educational Requirements
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents usually possess bachelor’s degrees in general business, finance, accounting, or economics. Many firms have intern programs that hire seniors to work for them in the summer.
Many agents who are looking to move up to high-level positions obtain master’s degrees in business administration (MBA). The degree is considered to be a valuable asset, and many companies offer bonuses and better compensation for agents who possess the degree.
At most firms, trainers are required to go through intensive on-the-job training programs. The programs are designed to teach trainees about the firm, the products that have to offer, and sharpen their sales skills. Many firms offer a trainee rotational program that is designed to familiarize employees with different departments. It is from there that trainees select their specialty.
There are some certifications and licenses that are required before agents can sell securities and financial products. Companies usually pay for the preparation classes and the exam. Agents typically receive more responsibility and higher salaries once they have obtained the necessary certifications.
There are several professional associations that offer sales agents the ability to become licensed professionals.
- The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) offers an exam that allows individuals to become registered agents. Candidates who pass the exam receive a Series 7 license. This license is required for brokers to sell certain financial products.
- Completion of the Uniform Securities Agents State Law Examination is required in most states for brokers to receive Series 63 or 66 licenses.
- The Chartered Financial Analyst Institute offers the CFA designation.
Most popular business careers:
- Business Administration
- Business Manager
- Claims Adjuster
- Human Resources
- Project Manager
Get Your Degree!
Find schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.
Powered by Campus Explorer