Sales & Trading (S&T)

An Overview of Sales & Trading, Including Careers, Roles, Salaries and Exit Opportunities.

What Is Sales & Trading?

Definition of Sales & Trading: Sales & Trading is the division of an investment bank that pitches buy and sell recommendations to clients (sales) and then executes on those trades (trading).

This is more difficult than it sounds because persuading clients to part with millions or tens of millions of dollars takes a lot of effort and trading large volumes of securities is complicated.

Traders spend a lot of time dividing large orders into smaller chunks, setting up buying schedules, and making sure that clients get what they want at a reasonable price.

Sales & Trading Recruitment

At a high level, the recruiting process for entry-level S&T candidates is similar to investment banking.  Steps typically include:

  1. Networking via alumni or LinkedIn/email to win interviews.
  2. Complete an online application including screening questions.
  3. Then, complete a phone-based or in-person interview.
  4. Finally, attend a Superday if you’re in the U.S. or an assessment center if you’re in the EMEA region.

That said, there some aspects of the recruitment process are specific to Sales & Trading roles.

Sales & Trading Resumes

To have a realistic shot at landing a job in Sales & Trading, you’ll need to be able to point to a sequence of previous internships.

Then, you need to present that experience effectively on your resume. Our sales and trading resume template will help.

In S&T, employers want to see strong evidence for a passion for the financial markets.  Your resume should reflect this.

Networking For Sales & Trading Jobs

Most of the advice in our investment banking networking article will apply, albeit with these caveats:

  1. Don’t disturb traders or salespeople during market hours (especially no around market open or close).
  2. Cold calls and emails tend to be less effective because the large banks dominate sales & trading and it’s harder to reach decision makers directly.

Sales & Trading Interviews

Most interviews for sales and trading will start with a variation of the “walk me through your resume” question.

From there, questions about the markets and investment/trade ideas may feature prominently.  You may be asked questions about math and even coding, since these disciplines feature prominently in modern S&T.

For more information see our coverage of:

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Agency Trading vs. Prop Trading vs. Flow Trading

There are two major types of trading, with the third being a hybrid:

  • Agency Trading: You execute orders for the client – you’re merely an “agent” doing what he/she wants and do not have (much) freedom.
  • Prop Trading: You are the principal and can make whatever trades you want, using your own money – within your trading mandate and risk limits. You can make a lot more money investing capital rather than simply earning commissions on trades.
  • Flow Trading: a hybrid of the two, where you have clients but you also get to make some investment decisions.

There’s also the question of what you’re trading, with equity trading and fixed income trading being the major categories there.

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Sales & Trading Career Path

Sales & Trading features the familiar job titles and hierarchy of other banking and financial groups, such as:

  • Intern or Summer Intern
  • Analyst
  • Associate
  • VP
  • Director or Senior VP
  • Managing Director

Although deal size, level of authority and salary will increase as you move up the ladder, the work itself does not change. 

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Sales & Trading Salaries & Compensation

At the junior levels, pay is not that much different from investment banker salary levels.

At hedge funds and prop trading firms, the pay varies more than in investment banking or private equity because firms’ returns are heavily linked to the market.

In general, you’ll start out in the low six-figure range and move closer to $1MM and beyond as you move toward the Partner-level.

S&T compensation may also be almost entirely or entirely performance based. So when things go well, you can make a lot, but when the economy tanks, you can earn nothing at all. 

Sales & Trading Exit Opportunities

Exit opportunities in trading are more limited than in investment banking: you keep trading or you move to a different industry.

It’s difficult to move into private equity or corporate development coming from trading because the skill sets don’t have much overlap.

The longer you stay in the field, the harder it is to move elsewhere – so you should decide within your first year or 2 where you want to be.

On the sales side, you could move to a normal company and work in sales there more easily – selling products and stocks are different, of course, but overall sales is sales and it’s more transferable to other industries.

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Sales & Trading Courses

Like most well-paid roles with plenty of earning potential, Sales & Trading is a highly-competitive field – especially at the most prestigious firms.

The field is diverse.  In some roles you’ll need weapons-grade math and coding skills. In others, your core skill sets will be sales and persuasion (coupled with a solid knowledge of the markets).

Some of the most relevant courses offered by Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street include:

Sales & Trading (S&T)
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