S&T Sales

First, let me give you a bit of background: I am a math student, and I am interested in finance. Although I am better in the humanities subjects, I am working hard to get better programming and am reading a lot about finance and economics. I think a job as a salesman would suit me.
So now let's go to questions:

-Can You Please Describe A Job In Sales?
-Is a job in sales a bit of a mix between communication skills, creativity and finance?
-Are the hours long?
-Is the job intellectually stimulating?
-Is it stressful?
-What about the overall future of sales & trading?

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Comments (28)

Dec 31, 2019 - 4:09pm

Junior level sales - you book trades, trouble shoot breaks/errors, you may put items out for the bid, and you're going to be picking up the phone a TON. Will you be the one pitching ideas? Nope, that's for senior associates and up, you will have virtually no part in pitching trades. Is it intellectually stimulating - fuck no! Do you make decent money - yes, you'll be in line with all the other analysts as long as your VPs/MDs like you. Now once your bank gives you a book, you will be the one pitching trades and visiting clients. You still visit clients at the junior level, but you're going to be buttoned up the whole time and it will be virtually no fun. Hope this gives you some insight.

  • Associate 1 in S&T - FI
Jan 1, 2020 - 2:25pm

I used to have much more fun at client stuff as an analyst. Nobody actually expected me to say anything intelligent, and I was basically there to get fucked up and talk about how sweet it is to be young and single or bullshit with the clients junior guy. Now when I go visit clients I actually have to prepare and try to get something out of the meeting/dinner outside of the relationship building.

Jan 1, 2020 - 5:43pm

I currently am a senior sales analyst on a commodities trading desk at a top BB (think GS, MS, JPM).

Another commenter above stated that you won't be involved in pitching trades but I think that this is largely dependent upon which institution you end up at. I say this because at my firm it's an expectation that juniors on the desk are consistently generating new market analysis and trade ideas - whether it is something that you hop on the phone in order to pitch directly to a client or something you distribute to a number of clients via a broadly disseminated email.

With that said, idea generation is probably the second largest responsibility behind handing day to day flow across the desk. The breakdown of a general day would be to primarily focus on market activities (booking trades, fielding client requests, dealing with internal issues like trade breaks, and answering the phones) while the market is open between 9:30am-4pm (yes, that is only equity hours but that's when most activity takes place in other markets too). Outside of these hours, you will likely be working on trade pitches and idea generation in your free time.

All in, you'll probably spend about 15hrs/d in the office to start with your hours falling to about 12/d as you approach your promotion to associate.

Comp is largely similar to other front office roles to start but is slightly less at the associate level when compared to IB. However, the work-life balance is significantly better with weekend work almost non-existent, which is one of the largest aspects of the job that attracts people.

Let me know if any questions.

"Well, you know, I was a human being before I became a businessman." -- George Soros
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Jan 1, 2020 - 6:16pm

Thank you!

Why did you choose S&T Over IB? Do you think S&T is still a good long-term-career? What would the alternatives be? Quant, tech sales, IB...?
Does it require at least median levels of intellectual labor?

Most Helpful
Jan 1, 2020 - 7:59pm

I actually worked in LevFin at a European BB prior to making this switch. So I've had exposure to both IBD and S&T. I ultimately chose S&T over IBD due to the dynamic nature of the job. I am innately interested in news and current events, which plays a large role in the day to day tasks on most macro-oriented desks (like commodities). With that said, LevFin is essentially a capital markets group and the job became monotonous with each transaction that I worked on feeling like a rinse & repeat of the previous one. I also wasn't passionate enough about the role to accept sacrificing other parts of life and other experiences in favor of working on books until 4am on a consistent basis (however, some people are and more power to them - not trying to rip on any aspect of IBD). For context, I worked 65-80hrs/week (with some 100hr weeks and all nighters sprinkled in) in LevFin and now rarely crack 65hrs/week. Regarding intellectual rigor, my role requires it because of the pressure placed on juniors at my firm to generate organic trade ideas for our clients. While there are some who skate by without generating valuable insight - the highest achievers are known to produce useful and actionable market analysis and ideas. In many ways, I feel like my current role in S&T is more intellectually demanding than my previous role in LevFin where books were totally based on information/content that MDs and VPs came up with and the modeling aspect was a joke (a monkey can make a basic DCF/cash flow model/football field analysis). In addition, there is something to be said for the ability to intuitively understand complex derivatives, bespoke structured products/exotics, and even the option greeks and how basic market making works - all of which are central to this role.

"Well, you know, I was a human being before I became a businessman." -- George Soros
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Jan 1, 2020 - 8:08pm

Forgot to answer a couple of other items: 1) do I think it's a good long term career? Depends on desk.. desks that revolve around bespoke products and structured transactions are likely the safest and I do think that there is room for it to be a long term career. Worst case, there may be a time where salespeople will be selling principal automated platforms / algorithms for counter parties to use instead of trading directly with the desk via voice/chat rooms. 2) what are the alternatives? I don't think there is a list of definitive alternative roles that are comparable to S&T - id suggest to take a role that you are genuinely interested in.

"Well, you know, I was a human being before I became a businessman." -- George Soros
  • 6
Jan 3, 2020 - 3:26pm

There is a junior rates sales guy sitting a different aisle from me. He has been here for a year. I saw him walking around with a futures book and I asked what it's for and he said he wanted to learn how to trade. He had no idea how to trade at all. I asked him if the flow he gets helps visualise whoever the other side of the trade is doing and he said kind of but he knew absolutely nothing about actual trading... He asked me if we can grab drinks so I can teach him... Pretty much I gathered he was not stimulated with his job but I guess its all relative.

  • VP in S&T - FI
Jan 6, 2020 - 4:06pm

Sales is all what you make of it. If you have drive, then you will take responsibility for your education, and not wait for people to hand it to you...because they won't.

Sales & Trading are totally different careers. It just so happens that they work together...similar to how a secretary works with her CEO boss...arranging his travel, managing appointments, doing all the admin stuff for expenses and such.....they work together, multiple times every day....but do they do the same job?

Jan 5, 2020 - 2:24pm

Not sure why you keep asking what the alternatives to sales are OP. There are tons of jobs out there and you can't simply put them on a scale of most awesome/intellectually stimulating from Job A to Job Z.

Pretty shocked at the hours for commodities sales. I'm in physical which is actually pretty similar but with the logistics thrown in on top. If I had had to do 15hrs a day for 2-3 years I'd be dead by now. Different intensity perhaps.

Jan 6, 2020 - 3:42pm

Thanks for your reply.
Can You Please Describe your Job? What is the culture like in S&T? What about the overall future of sales & trading?
I want a job that has a lot of math in it and also a high degree of social interaction. Also, I want to make a lot of money and the job should be intellectually stimulating. I don't know of anything that has all of that. What would the alternatives be?

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