I read a lot of misleading information regarding sales jobs in banks on this forum recently (I am lumping sales/sales traders and all products here). I won't mention any particular users, but it got me angry. Given I have not contributed to WSO in a meaningful way in more than a year (apart from my sly comments slagging muppets...)
Here we go, in no particular order:
Myth 1 - Junior sales go out all the time with clients
No they don't - you've just given a corporate card to a kid, and more than USD 50k as a salary to someone who was used to eating ramen noodle and attending BYOB parties... What do you expect?
He will be getting sh.t faced with the rest of his grad class for the first 6 months of his career. He might take a client 2 times a MONTH grand MAXIMUM, and that client (notice the lack of s) is most likely the same client, who is the exact same age as he is, and they both realised that they can just use that AMEX to get clobbered for free!
Myth 2 - Juniors get handed in smaller accounts
No they don't - if there is the slightest whiff of a junior on-boarding a new client, some useless VP will smarmily get his hands all over him and knick the client from the junior. I started a little before Lehman so I might be a bit biased, and the landscape was brutal, there was NO SMALL client, MDs and Ds were seeing their clients die by the day, they would hold on to whatever they could. If you were a junior and hoping to survive you had to have an extremely strong back to break off all the blades that were smashed on you. You had to go and find your clients, make alliances with some sales people and fight. Fight. Fight every single day. You had to learn how to go after accounts, and sometimes knick accounts yourself from weak sales people - and it will be good, and you will learn to like it. Now sometimes you are lucky and someone will take you under his protective wings - just don't expect it, business is dying by the day - and the last thing we need is another sales person on the desk to compete with. You will learn that sales people are all for me, and all for me again. (At a more senior level, you hire two sales guy for the same job - and you have them fight over during a year and fire the weaker link. That's just to add a bit of flavour)
Myth 3 - Sales people give a fuck about their clients
Lol - I care that my trader doesn't blow up his book so we get paid at the end of the year. That's about the only thing I care about. Maybe I'd also like my clients to stay alive more often so I don't have to constantly chase new ones. You don't have the cash to meet a Margin Call? I took you out clubbing a year ago when you were a big BSD and you thought we were best friend? You really think I will pull some strings today to get you out of whatever mess you are when you are getting margin called everywhere and are on the verge of collapse? Well actually that's not true, I will help you out cause I am probably the only one who you can trade with and I smell money and fat spreads... (In case you did not notice: this is a joke, a client not being able to meet his Margin Call is the biggest hassle you will ever have to face, and I wish it on no sales in the world as it will most likely mean a smaller bonus - that was my 2008 in a nutshell)
Myth 4 - Sales people don't do much work
Actually this one is partially true. If you have been out the night before you will go submarine on the desk. Most likely miss the morning meeting (who gives a flying fu.ck anyways about what some dim whited analyst has to say). Take a snooze in the lavatory, or just find an empty meeting room to pass out in. Plan your personal finances, go on bloomberg and catch up with some mates, and get out when the market close to see a man about a dog. Or and if you have to execute a trade, try your best not to fuck it up.
When you are full of beans you will maybe go ahead and talk to a couple of clients on the phone about how they are doing, and how you really want to try that new [insert whatever new fashionable overly expensive place just opened]. In the end it's all about relationship, once you are no longer a junior you are indispensable to your company, because when you leave your company the client goes with you. So your bosses know not to piss you off, and if you want to show up at 11AM on a Friday because you feel like it, no one will care as long as you print the money. Bad sales can't pull this off, they actually have to do some "work", ie: send bull sh.t emails.
Myth 5 - You have to be good to stay in sales
Nope - all you have to do is change companies from time to time, have a year to adapt, blame it on the crisis. If you get along with your boss even if you are shit you can stay an eternity in a bank. You can be a "sales manager" just find a few good juniors and claim their P&L. In other words - loads of useless pricks in sales. Unbelievable how you can get away with not printing tickets and stay in a bank. This is particularly true at the larger institutions, although they have been cleaning up the useless weights recently, you find the shi.tty sales working at Santander, and other 4th tier names no one has ever heard of.
Myth 6 - Sales peoples are trader's bitches
Yea at a junior level you are everybody's bitch and you will like it. If you are more senior the trader depends on you, he needs you to get him out of a shitty position he is in. He needs you to trade his products (remember you are a sales guy, you can just fucking trade the moon if you want to and tell him to fuck off). Don't tell him to fuck off too often though, as the day you have a yard of options to trade with fat P&L he might not be kind to you... However, in this environment the BSD trader who is taking prop positions does not exist anymore, they are dependent on client flow to survive. Your traders are monkeys showing markets, if they don't have you they don't exist. Now if you don't have traders you don't exist either, let's be clear with that. But in today's world sales and traders are dependent on each other. And apart from a few idiots, most traders are decent human beings (unless you are a junior, but you need to learn the ropes of fisting)
Myth 7 - Sales people are brainless
Well not entirely true... We just can't be bothered and are happy to come home and forget about work. No positions to carry overnight. No markets blowing up. Just a nice pint on a Thursday with all your mates and an early leave from work as no positions to mark or bullshit blowing up. Oh, and I really don't care about the market, if I did I would be on the buy side. Today happily sitting on the sell side with no care in the world. I get fired? We are the oil that keeps the bank running, there is always a need for a sales guy, plus I can always sell used cars if shit REALLY hits the fan...
Myth 8 - Career progression is fast on the sale side
Actually that's not a myth - and I fucking love it. Suck it you 6th year associates in IBD...
PS: This post was partly written as a joke. I am stuck with family at the moment and doing the best to keep myself entertained. Do not take all of this seriously, especially if you are just starting your career. Getting hammered 3 working nights a week on your corporate card is probably not the best move when you are starting out. Or pissing on your clients when they are down, they always tend to get back up, hopefully...
- A salesman, happily sitting on the sell side for many moons
Mod Note (Andy): Throwback Thursday, this was originally posted 12/26/14