What Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents Do
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents connect buyers and sellers in financial markets.
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents work in high-stress environments and often work more than 40 hours per week.
How to Become a Securities, Commodities, or Financial Services Sales Agent
A bachelor’s degree is required for entry-level jobs, and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) is useful for advancement.
The median annual wage for securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents was $62,270 in May 2019.
Employment of securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand for investment banking and retirement services are likely to create employment growth.
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents connect buyers and sellers in financial markets. They sell securities to individuals, advise companies in search of investors, and conduct trades.
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents typically do the following:
- Contact prospective clients to present information and explain available services
- Offer advice on the purchase or sale of particular securities
- Buy and sell securities, such as stocks and bonds
- Buy and sell commodities, such as corn, oil, and gold
- Monitor financial markets and the performance of individual securities
- Analyze company finances to provide recommendations for public offerings, mergers, and acquisitions
- Evaluate cost and revenue of agreements
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents deal with a wide range of products and clients. Agents spend much of the day interacting with people, whether selling stock to an individual or discussing the status of a merger deal with a company executive. The work is usually stressful because agents deal with large amounts of money and have time constraints.
A security or commodity can be traded in two ways: electronically or in an auction-style setting on the floor of an exchange market. Markets such as the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation system (NASDAQ) use vast computer networks rather than human traders to match buyers and sellers. Others, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), rely on floor brokers to complete transactions.
The following are examples of types of securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents:
Brokers sell securities and commodities directly to individual clients. They advise people on appropriate investments based on the client’s needs and financial ability. The people they advise may have very different levels of expertise in financial matters.
Finding clients is a large part of a broker’s job. They must create their own client base by calling from a list of potential clients. Some agents network by joining social groups, and others may rely on referrals from satisfied clients.
Investment bankers connect businesses that need money to finance their operations or expansion plans with investors who are interested in providing that funding. This process is called underwriting, and it is the main function of investment banks. The banks first sell their advisory services to help companies issue new stocks or bonds, and then the banks sell the issued securities to investors.
Some of the most important services that investment bankers provide are initial public offerings (IPOs), and mergers and acquisitions. An IPO is the process by which a company becomes open for public investment by issuing its first stock. Investment bankers must estimate how much the company is worth and ensure that it meets the legal requirements to become publicly traded.
Investment bankers also connect companies in mergers (when two companies join together) and acquisitions (when one company buys another). Investment bankers provide advice throughout the process to ensure that the transaction goes smoothly.
Investment banking sales agents and traders carry out buy and sell orders for stocks, bonds, and commodities from clients and make trades on behalf of the firm itself. Investment banks primarily employ these workers, although some work for commercial banks, hedge funds, and private equity groups. Because markets fluctuate so much, trading is a split-second decisionmaking process. Slight changes in the price of a trade can greatly affect its profitability, making the trader’s decision extremely important.
Floor brokers work directly on the floor—a large room where trading is done—of a securities or commodities exchange. After a trader places an order for a security, floor brokers negotiate the price, make the sale, and forward the purchase price to the trader.
Financial services sales agents consult on a wide variety of banking, securities, insurance, and related services to individuals and businesses, often catering the services to meet the client’s financial needs. They contact potential clients to explain their services, which may include the handling of checking accounts, loans, certificates of deposit, individual retirement accounts, credit cards, and estate and retirement planning.
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents held about 464,200 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents were as follows:
|Credit intermediation and related activities||48%|
|Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities||39|
|Management of companies and enterprises||3|
Most securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents work many hours under stressful conditions. The pace of work is fast, and managers are usually demanding of their workers, because both commissions and advancements are tied to sales.
Investment bankers travel extensively because they frequently work with companies in other countries.
Because computers can conduct trades faster than people can, electronic trading is quickly replacing verbal auction-style trades on exchange floors. The environment of the stock exchange is changing as a result, with more traders carrying out orders behind a desk and fewer working on the exchange floor.
Because most of the major investment banks are in New York City, employment of securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents is concentrated in that metropolitan area.
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents usually work full time and some work more than 40 hours per week. In addition, they may work evenings and weekends because many of their clients work during the day.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents.
|Occupation||Job Duties||Entry-Level Education||Median Annual Pay, May 2019|
Financial analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions.
Financial managers create financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.
Insurance Sales Agents
Insurance sales agents contact potential customers and sell one or more types of insurance.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$50,940|
Personal Financial Advisors
Personal financial advisors provide advice to help individuals manage their finances and plan for their financial future.
Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents
Real estate brokers and sales agents help clients buy, sell, and rent properties.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$50,730|
For more information about securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents, visit
For more information about licensing of securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents, visit
For more information about certification for securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/securities-commodities-and-financial-services-sales-agents.htm (visited ).