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A bachelor’s degree is required for entry-level jobs, and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) is useful for advancement.Education
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents generally must have a bachelor’s degree to get an entry-level job. Studies in business, finance, accounting, or economics are important, especially for 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 exposes students to real-world business practices, it can be a major asset for jobseekers. Employers often reward MBA holders with higher level positions, better compensation, and large signing bonuses.Training
Most employers provide intensive on-the-job training, teaching employees the specifics of the job, such as the products and services offered. Trainees in large firms may receive technical instruction in securities analysis and selling strategies. Firms often rotate their trainees among various departments to give them a broad understanding of the securities business.
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents must keep up with new products and services and other developments. They attend conferences and training seminars regularly.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Brokers and investment bankers must register as representatives of their firm with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). To obtain the license, potential agents must pass a series of exams.
Many other licenses are 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 by firm and specialization. Financial services sales agents may need to be licensed, especially if they sell securities or insurance. Most firms offer training to help their employees pass the licensing exams.
Agents who are registered with FINRA must attend continuing education classes to keep their licenses. Courses consist of computer-based training on legal requirements or new financial products or services.
Although not always required, certification enhances professional standing and is recommended by employers. Brokers, investment bankers, and financial services sales agents can earn the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, sponsored by the CFA Institute. To qualify for this certification, applicants need a bachelor’s degree or 4 years of related work experience and must pass three exams, which require several hundred hours of independent study. Applicants also must have an international passport. Exams cover subjects in accounting, economics, securities analysis, financial markets and instruments, corporate finance, asset valuation, and portfolio management. Applicants can take the exams while they are getting the required work experience.Advancement
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents usually advance to senior positions in a firm by accumulating a greater number of accounts. Although beginners often service the accounts of individual investors, they may eventually service large institutional accounts, such as those of banks and retirement funds.
After taking a series of tests, some brokers become portfolio managers and have greater authority to make investment decisions regarding an account. For more information on portfolio managers, see the profile on financial analysts.
Some experienced sales agents become branch office managers and supervise other sales agents while continuing to provide services for their own clients. A few agents advance to top management positions or become partners in their firms.
Many investment banks use an “up or out” policy, in which entry-level investment bankers are either promoted or terminated after 2 or 3 years. Investment banks use this policy to ensure that entry-level positions are not occupied long term, allowing the bank to bring in new workers.Important Qualities
Analytical skills. To judge the profitability of potential deals, securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents must have strong analytical skills. This includes computer programming skills which they use to analyze financial products.
Customer-service skills. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents must be persuasive and make clients feel comfortable with the agent’s recommendations.
Decisionmaking skills. Investment banking traders must make split-second decisions, with large sums of money at stake.
Detail oriented. Investment bankers must pay close attention to the details of initial public offerings and mergers and acquisitions because small changes can have large consequences.
Initiative. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents must create their own client base by making “cold” sales calls to people to whom they have not been referred and to people not expecting the call.
Math skills. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents need to be familiar with mathematical tools, including investment formulas.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Client Advisor
Top Careers After Client Advisor
Hispanic or Latino10.9%
Black or African American0.7%
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University of Phoenix9.4%
Michigan State University7.7%
Montana State University - Billings7.7%
University of California - Los Angeles6.8%
University of Texas at Arlington5.1%
John Brown University5.1%
Florida State University5.1%
Southern New Hampshire University5.1%
University of Alabama4.3%
Ohio State University4.3%
University of Utah4.3%
University of Massachusetts Amherst4.3%
Northern Illinois University4.3%
Western Michigan University4.3%
Ball State University4.3%
University of North Carolina at Greensboro3.4%
Appalachian State University3.4%
San Jose State University3.4%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Senior Client Advisor||Citibank, N.A.||New York, NY||Aug 22, 2013||$250,000|
|Executive Director, Senior Client Advisor||UBS AG||New York, NY||Dec 01, 2009||$230,000 -
|Senior Client Advisor||Citibank, N.A.||New York, NY||May 01, 2010||$200,000|
|Senior Client Advisor||Citibank, N.A.||New York, NY||Apr 01, 2012||$200,000|
|Director, Senior Client Advisor||UBS AG||Miami, FL||Aug 03, 2009||$180,000 -
|Executive Director, Senior Client Advisor||UBS Financial Services Inc.||New York, NY||Oct 26, 2009||$160,000 -
|Senior Client Advisor||UBS AG||Miami, FL||Oct 12, 2009||$160,000|
|Client Advisor||Bridgewater Associates, LP||Westport, CT||May 01, 2010||$159,120 -
|Client Advisor||Bridgewater Associates, LP||Westport, CT||Oct 01, 2010||$159,120 -
|Private Client Advisor||Citibank, N.A.||Miami, FL||Oct 01, 2010||$150,000|
|Vice President; Private Client Advisor II||Bank of America N.A.||Glen Rock, NJ||Feb 12, 2016||$140,000 -
|Private Client Advisor||Citibank, N.A.||Miami, FL||Feb 06, 2015||$137,000|
|Private Client Advisor||Citibank, N.A.||Miami, FL||Aug 27, 2013||$137,000|
|Client Advisor||Neuberger Berman Group LLC||New York, NY||Nov 08, 2016||$120,000|
|Client Advisor||Bluffview Wealth Management LLC||Dallas, TX||Aug 25, 2009||$120,000|
|Client Advisor||Bluffview Wealth Management, LLC||Dallas, TX||Aug 06, 2009||$120,000|
|Client Advisor||Bluffview Wealth Management, LLC||Dallas, TX||Aug 01, 2009||$120,000|
|Associate Director, Client Advisor||UBS AG||New York, NY||Jan 27, 2010||$120,000 -
|Associate Director, Client Advisor||UBS AG||New York, NY||Oct 26, 2009||$120,000 -
|VP; Private Client Advisor||Bank of America N.A.||Menlo Park, CA||May 18, 2011||$119,621 -
|Director, Client Advisor||UBS AG||New York, NY||Sep 15, 2010||$115,800 -
|Client Advisor||Sungard Kiodex Inc.||New York, NY||Nov 25, 2014||$91,645|
|Director, Client Advisor||UBS AG||Miami, FL||Oct 01, 2014||$90,000 -
|Director, Client Advisor||UBS AG||Miami, FL||Nov 27, 2010||$88,504 -
|Associate Director, Client Advisor||UBS AG||New York, NY||Mar 02, 2012||$88,213 -
|Associate Director, Client Advisor||UBS AG||New York, NY||Feb 14, 2012||$88,213 -
|Associate Director, Client Advisor||UBS Financial Services Inc.||New York, NY||Aug 28, 2011||$86,965 -
|Associate Director, Client Advisor||UBS AG||New York, NY||Sep 15, 2010||$86,965 -
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A Day in the Life of a Financial Advisor