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Skills you’ll need to work in sales and trading

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Sales & Trading Skills

If you want to work in sales and trading, you’ll need to be analytical, with an ability to draw together disparate information to form a bigger picture.

“A good analyst-level trader knows how to research the market to gather information. A great one knows how to piece all this information together to extract meaningful data and trends,” says Yeoh Choo Guan, head of equities Singapore at UBS.  Yeoh says you’ll need a, “strong methodical and analytical” mind: “There is a lot of information and data which you will encounter…You will face many questions covering trends, correlations, causal relationships.”

In trading there is no textbook way of what is right or wrong

You’ll also need to be receptive to new ways of doing things. “In the investment [read trading] world, there is no textbook way of what is right or wrong,” adds Yeoh. “Different methods work differently in different situations and for different clients. Knowledge is power and you are always in a better position if you widen your repertoire of approaches and methods. For example, a particular way of analysing information has worked well, but there might be another way which allows one to draw more meaningful conclusions and trends from the data.”

That’s trading, but if you work in sales you’ll need to be a bit different. Victor Cortes, a vice president in equity sales at Morgan Stanley, says good salesmen come with, “an ability to communicate a message or idea in a clear and concise fashion.” They also need to be consistent says Cortes – you can’t advise a client to buy one product one day and it sell it the next. And they need to be able to develop relationships with clients.

Sales roles also contain an element of creativity. The best salespeople are those who can come up with trading ideas that are different to the herd. You need, “the ability to think laterally when confronted with a piece of news or research,” says Cortes. Sales can also be high pressure – as the market changes, you need to communicate your ideas to clients in a timely manner.


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