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In the fourth instalment of our insights into the career opportunities available to newly qualified accountants in Front Office Investment Banking we are considering the move into equity sales. To register your interest in finding out more about career options and live vacancies please click here.

The job

Equity sales is a client focussed career in which you will provide highly specialised investment advice on companies in a given sector to a wide range of leading institutional investors in the UK, European or global regions.  You will be disseminating Equity Research to institutional clients and formulating investment opinions, so it is essential you have a comprehensive understanding of financial markets.  As a representative of your clients and sector you may also be asked to provide your opinion to media.

As well as maintaining existing client relationships and advising them you would also be involved in helping to bring on new clients in specialist sectors so a part of your role would be business development.  This business development would take the form of gaining referrals and forging new relationships via market and direct sales contacts.  Key to being successful would be consistency in developing Institutional (fund managers, etc) and Buy Side (private equity, etc) relationships.   Your network will be key to you building your coverage, fee income and career.

Many different types of companies with varied work environments have equity sales teams including investment banks, mid cap corporate broking houses and equity research boutiques.  Each team or firm will have a focus and you can develop your own specialisation if you would like to be, for example, small cap, sector focussed or generalist.

Developing your client base and keeping it is the main focus for an equity sales analyst and although the career progression is flat you progress by building your network and your reputation for offering tangible and constructive advice.  

Why would you want to do this job?

Communication is core to being in equity sales so this a much more client facing, fast moving and sales orientated role.  You will have phone calls and meetings throughout the day.  There is not so much heads down analysis work involved and you have the opportunity to be involved in high profile fund raisings that are very close to the market with its potential for volatility.  It is exciting, people focussed and ever changing.  Your job would be as varied as the people you talk to and you can get a lot of long-term job satisfaction by building long term client relationships and watching your advice literally pay dividends and get results.

Working in equity sales can also be financially rewarding.  When helping companies to raise money from the market fees on fund raisings can be up to 5% of the money raised – with a small cap fundraising of, for example, £5 million that would be a £250k fee.  Being in a role that brings in these levels of return which are dependent on your networking and relationship management will put you in line for strong bonuses.

Who would it suit best?

To be successful in equity sales you need to be outgoing, gregarious and sociable to enable you to build and maintain the relationships and long-term network essential for you to be able to sell.  All your clients and contemporaries will be bright and quick witted so you will need to be as well.  You also need to have a genuine interest in the stock and financial markets as well as general economic forces as these are huge influencers in your advice.

Being confident will really help with giving credibility to the advice you pass on and, although you will be working in a team, independence and an entrepreneurial attitude will put you in a good place to build your long-term career in equity sales.

As this is a sales job you will need to be resilient and a self-starter who maintains consistency. This is a highly pressurised, target orientated career and market forces and relationships do not always bear fruit so you need to be able to pick yourself up again and get stuck in even when things go wrong.

Overall, equity sales suits people who like the unpredictability and variety of working with people and have the strong communications to make things happen consistently.

What’s the catch?

Equity sales is very market reliant so in a down-turn there will be less activity and there could be drops in work-load and team sizes.  This is also dependant on your sector or specialisation which is why many salespeople remain generalists.  The reality is also that it is a sales job and with that comes the pressure of targets and the results driven review process.  You will need to perform well on a consistent basis.

The hours are in line with financial markets and therefore you will have early starts, 7am, but the UK day normally ends at 5pm.  However, you can work long hours if you are working on more global markets.

Our consultants at Alan Mitchell have been working with clients and candidates in the equities sector for over 18 years now and will give you very straightforward advice on the sector and if it is right for you so please contact Philip Seager to find out more – philip@alan-mitchell.co.uk.

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