Sales Representatives, Services, All Other
Sales Representatives, Services, All Other - 41-3099.00
Most positions require a bachelor's degree in business, finance, accounting, or economics. An MBA or professional certification is helpful for advancement.
Education and training:
A bachelor's degree in business, finance, accounting, or economics is important for securities and commodities sales agents, especially in larger firms. Many firms hire summer interns before their last year of college and those who are most successful are offered full-time jobs after they graduate.
Numerous agents eventually get a master's degree in business administration (MBA), which is often a requirement for high-level positions in the securities industry. Because the MBA is a professional degree designed to expose students to real-world business practices, it is considered to be a major asset for jobseekers. Employers often reward MBA holders with higher-level positions, better compensation, and even large signing bonuses.
Most employers provide intensive on-the-job training, teaching employees the specifics of the firm, such as the products and services offered. Trainees in large firms may receive classroom instruction in securities analysis, effective speaking, and the finer points of selling. Firms often rotate their trainees among various departments, to give them a broad perspective of the securities business. In small firms, sales agents often receive training at outside institutions and on the job.
Securities and commodities sales agents must keep up with new products and services and other developments. Because of this, brokers regularly attend conferences and training seminars.
Brokers and investment advisors must register as representatives of their firm with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Before beginners can qualify as registered representatives, they must be an employee of a registered firm for at least 4 months and pass the General Securities Registered Representative Examination—known as the Series 7 Exam—administered by FINRA. The exam takes 6 hours and contains 250 multiple-choice questions; a passing score is above 70 percent.
Most States require a second examination—the Uniform Securities Agents State Law Examination (Series 63 or 66). This test measures a candidate’s knowledge of the securities business in general, customer protection requirements, and recordkeeping procedures. Most firms offer training to help their employees pass these exams.
There are many other licenses available, each of which gives the holder the right to sell different investment products and services. Traders and some other sales representatives also need licenses, although these vary greatly by firm and specialization. Financial services sales agents may also need to be licensed, especially if they sell securities or insurance.
Registered representatives must attend continuing education classes to maintain their licenses. Courses consist of computer-based training in regulatory matters and company training on new products and services.
Many employers consider personal qualities and skills more important than academic training. Employers seek applicants who have excellent interpersonal and communication skills, a strong work ethic, the ability to work in a team environment, and a desire to succeed. The ability to understand and analyze numbers is also important. Because securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents are entrusted with large sums of money and personal information, employers also make sure that applicants have a good credit history and a clean record. Self-confidence and the ability to handle frequent rejection are important ingredients for success.
Most firms prefer candidates with sales experience, particularly those who have worked on commission in areas such as real estate or insurance. Other firms prefer to hire workers right out of college, with the intention of molding them to their corporate image.
Certification and advancement:
Although not always required, certifications enhance professional standing and are recommended by employers. Brokers, investment advisors, and financial services sales agents can earn the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, sponsored by the CFA Institute. To qualify for this designation, applicants need a bachelor's degree, four years of related work experience, and must pass three exams which requires several hundred hours of self-study. Exams cover subjects in accounting, economics, securities analysis, financial markets and instruments, corporate finance, asset valuation, and portfolio management, and applicants can take the exams while they are obtaining the required work experience.
Brokers, investment advisors, and financial services sales agents usually advance by accumulating a greater number of accounts. Although beginners often service the accounts of individual investors, they may eventually handle very large institutional accounts, such as those of banks and pension funds. After taking a series of tests, some brokers become portfolio managers and have greater authority to make investment decisions regarding an account. Some experienced sales agents become branch office managers and supervise other sales agents while continuing to provide services for their own customers. A few agents advance to top management positions or become partners in their firms.
Investment bankers who enter the occupation directly after college generally start as analysts. At this level, employees receive intensive training and have little contact with clients as they spend most of their time producing “pitchbooks“—information booklets used to sell products. After 2 to 3 years, top analysts may be promoted to an associate position or asked to leave. Recent graduates from MBA programs can start as associates, which is similar to the analyst position, but with more responsibilities, such as leading a group of analysts and having contact with clients. After 2 to 3 years, associates are promoted or terminated. Successful associates can become vice presidents, and vice presidents may advance to become directors, sometimes called executive directors.
The data sources for the information displayed here include: Virginia Career VIEW Research.