Sales vs Trading


Prospect student in a master of Quant Finance at a Target in Continental Europe here and was wondering if someone could give me an overview of traders vs sales traits/perspectives going onward and "atmosphere" at more senior levels. 

I am still unsure about my choice as I kind of see perks in both and have some doubts regarding each's responsibility in the long run (ie how analytical do sales have to be and how much insights is really expected of them)

Quick presentation about myself: I love markets (and talking about markets...) so would not really considering IB/pure corp fin roles. Comfortable with maths/pricing/coding but nothing close to a specialist in each. Personality wise, kind of introverted but not shy and do not feel uneasy talking on the phone/in person for hours, just not the huge party/groups guy.

Sorry if it seems a bit redundant as it ultimately falls to what I really want to do but was really curious to have different perspectives on the matter to help me.


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Comments (8)

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Most Helpful
Aug 28, 2021 - 12:03am

It really depends on the product, but generally what i have seen is that the lines have blurred in terms of skillset.   The main difference comes down to managing risk.  If you are in trading your survival/success depends on your ability to protect the balance sheet, seek alpha, and execute flawlessly.  As a trader i am living and breathing my market to find any exploitable edge.  I'll log off at 5pm, but when i piss at 2am i'm checking in on markets and making a trade if need be first, and might not head back to if markets are ripe.  

The best sales folks i work with may not do all of these things, but it's mostly because they aren't tasked to.  They still live and breath the same goals as traders and they seek to find alpha in similar manners.  They may not be relentlessly researching opportunities to take +ev risk, but they certainly are doing so in the terms of finding ways to distribute it.  That entails knowing exactly what your customer needs are and finding on or off balance sheet solutions towards satisfying it.  This takes not only a nuanced ability to communicate and understand those needs, but to also to connect on a level that others can't or won't.  It's certainly a difficult task to focus on if you are covering several high level of accounts with varying needs.  As a trader i respect and lean on our high level sales folks' opinions heavily.   

At the senior level, most sales/traders need to execute at similar levels.  It ultimately comes down to your personality and skillset.  If you are they type of person that thrives on researching markets AND assimilating information instantly to take and monetize risk you could be great at trading..  If you are better at being relative on a whim,  problem solving, and being empathetic type you could great in sales.  Either way you need to be absolutely passionate and convicted about what you do to succeed. 

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Aug 28, 2021 - 2:18pm

Would you still recommend it as a career? I'm in IB now but really want to be in a markets role. Ive realized that I have a lot more passion for markets than I do transactions.  Would it be hard for me to pivot from IB?

  • Prospect in S&T - Other
Sep 19, 2021 - 3:34pm

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