Financial services sales agents sell banking and related services, such as loans, deposit accounts, lines of credit, sales or inventory financing, certificates of deposit, cash management, mutual funds, or investment services. They contact potential customers and explain these services to them, as well as solicit businesses to participate in consumer credit card programs. Some, known as private bankers or relationship managers, handle all of a single affluent client’s financial needs. Due to deregulation of the financial services industry, banks, securities firms, and insurance companies are crossing over into each other’s areas of business. This has blurred the distinctions between the jobs of different financial services sales agents, and has also increased their importance.
The personal qualities of financial services sales agents are often more important than their educational background. They must have exceptional sales ability, well-developed interpersonal and communication skills, and a high degree of self-motivation. Other important attributes include self-confidence and the ability to handle frequent rejections. Some employers check applicants’ credit history and background to make sure they have no outstanding blemishes.
In 2002, financial services sales agents earned a median annual salary of $60,990. The middle 50% earned between $36,180 and $117,050. The following shows the median annual salaries for the industries employing the highest numbers of securities and commodities sales agents:
- Securities and commodity contracts intermediation/brokerage – $78,140
- Other financial investment activities – 75,110
- Management of companies and enterprises – 54,730
- Nondepository credit intermediation – 43,220
- Depository credit intermediation – 39,870
Training and Education
A majority of financial services sales agents have a college education. Most employers do not require specialized degrees, but most prefer applicants who have at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a specialization in finance, or a liberal arts degree that included accounting, economics, and marketing. In order to sell mutual funds or insurance products, they must pass many of the same exams that securities and commodities sales agents must pass. Large firms usually offer classroom instruction and on-the-job training, and most financial services sales agents continue to attend trainings throughout their careers to update their knowledge and skills. Many financial services sales agents learn their jobs through training under the supervision of an experienced bank manager. Most sales agents advance by acquiring more accounts, particularly larger ones.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of financial services sales agents is expected to increase about as fast as the average. Continued rise in personal incomes will create demand for advice from these agents. While Internet stock trading will grow, the majority of transactions will still require the expertise of these workers. Baby boomer investment has been made easier with government programs such as the 401(k) and the Roth IRA. The growing number of women in the workforce will create higher household incomes, and the self-directed nature of most investment programs will require the advice of financial services sales agents.