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Financial Markets: Graduate Area of Work
Developing and maintaining relationships with clients is key if you want a successful career in working the markets.
The financial markets are where financial assets and instruments – such as stocks, bonds, shares, equities, foreign exchange, and commodities – are created, traded, and distributed. Working in the markets is mostly about finding financial solutions that generate revenue, financing or hedging clients from a range of backgrounds such as corporations, financial institutions, and even governments.
Markets experts achieve this primarily by offering analysis and solutions to financial problems, including resources through which clients can trade their various securities and assets in return for greater liquidity (i.e. instant cash). Businesses in markets primarily make money through trading margins and fees, as well as proprietary speculation.
Networking and relationship management are especially crucial in this line of work, as this gives you opportunities to obtain priceless information: insights on what your clients are up to, a more accurate comprehension of the markets, and sometimes, unreleased intelligence. These are all things that may lead to additional income or clue you in on profitable transactions.
Experts who work within this field are usually involved in one of the following three branches: trading, sales, and research.
Traders will find themselves starting the day early (at 6:30 or 7:00 a.m.), as they have to keep up with the opening of the markets. Traders spend most of their time in front of terminals or on the phone, exchanging information and making deals with other traders as well as speaking with clients.
Traders also spend a lot of time booking trades, and advising salespeople and interested investors. The working atmosphere is a noisy, fast-paced one. It may also be stressful to a point, but there is no denying that working as a trader can be a dynamic and exciting experience.
Sales staff tend to start the day slightly later (7:00 or 7:30 a.m.). Their primary duty is to establish and manage relationshipsbetween the firm and its investors. They interact mainly with external financiers, approaching them with suggestions of financially profitable deals, and then persuading them into investing.
If they agree, the salesperson will liaise with traders on behalf of their client to ensure that the agreed transactions are successfully carried out.
Research staff react to what happens once the traders start exchanging products, which means their day starts even later than members of the trading and sales teams. They will make trading recommendations based on ongoing trends in the markets that they observe, and then forward those to their colleagues in trading and sales to help them make more informed decisions.
One thing to note about this field in the recent economic climate is that investors are beginning to shy away from stocks and shares – whose values often suffer in difficult markets. Many of them are now lean towards commodities such as gold and gems, as these are seen as safer bets in difficult times.
With the exception of positions that deal with complicated financial products and calculations, employers do not necessarily require finance or mathematical degrees for jobs in this line of work. Basic numeracy skills will usually suffice, though you must be incredibly accurate.
Hiring employers in this line tend to pay more attention to people who possess excellent communication skills. This ability to build strong relationships and to connect easily with other people is crucial to your success in this line of work, as all market roles will involve plenty of internal and external communication.
Competition for jobs in this field is very fierce. Doing an internship will provide you with an advantage when finding the right job, as well as an insight into the industry and the knowledge to hit the ground running in one of these intensely fast-paced roles.
Ups and downs
While many graduates are enticed to work in markets because of the high pay, it is crucial to remember that all three of these roles come with long working hours. The fast-moving nature of the sector is undeniably stressful, and the constant risk of making a mistake that may cause high losses does nothing to alleviate the pressure.
Most market staff will, however, cite the heady excitement and the energy on the trading floor as being one of the main attractions of working in this field. The chance to network widely is also another reason why you may find this job to be interesting, along with opportunities to travel once you have established yourself as a seasoned marketer.