In the past few years, sales jobs in investment banks have gained a reputation akin to video rental assistants in 2003 - just about ok if you're passionate about the product, but sure to disappear in the next few years as the market becomes digitized. Occupants of sales positions tell lewd stories of redundancies, MiFID II, and the need for "administrators" in place of product specialists and relationship types. Who would work in sales now?
All sorts of people, actually. A new report from PWC on the future of sales in investment banks acknowledges that things have changed. But this doesn't mean sales careers have disappeared entirely.
After interviewing various sales professionals in investment banks, the PWC authors concluded that a new career path has evolved for today's eager young salesperson. Predictably, it involves technology - but not just that.
PWC says banking sales careers now develop in stages, as salespeople move through the three new types of client interface: serviced, managed, and customized.
Serviced sales jobs in banks: Aged around 21 to 24, with around three years' experience
Serviced sales jobs are what you'll do when you start out as a sales person in a bank. These are the 'pile it high' end of banking sales and are all about volume.
In serviced sales, you'll be responsible for up to 200 clients but you won't actually have much to do with them. Serviced salespeople mostly rely on customer relationship management (CRM) technology to deal with clients who mainly interact with the bank through electronic trading systems. - There's very little need to actually talk to the clients, and the system will mostly deliver any insights they need.
For these roles, PWC says you'll need both to know how to use the technology and a bit of general markets product knowledge.
Managed sales jobs in investment banks: Aged around 25 to 30, with five or more years' experience
Managed sales is what you'll progress onto if you survive in serviced sales. Managed salespeople have five years' experience and actually get to do a bit of relationship management.
In managed sales you'll ditch 90% of the clients and will deal with 10 of them instead 100. You'll still be selling across different assets and you'll still be using a lot of technology, but here you'll actually get to talk to clients more often.
Managed salespeople work with clients who use a combination of electronic systems and conversations with human beings to make trades. A managed salesperson needs to be comfortable talking about all products and markets and different divisions of the bank. - He or she is a single point of contact for the more demanding client, and this isn't necessarily easy.
Customized sales jobs in investment banks: Aged around 28+, with five or more years' experience
If you prove yourself in managed sales, you could move sideways into the most elite sales roles: customized sales.
Here too you will only have 10 clients. Here too you will need to know how to use technology and to have relationship-building skills.
Customized sales jobs are similar to managed sales, but with more specialism. - Unlike in managed sales, customized salespeople are product specialists. Customized salespeople know particular asset classes intimately and structure solutions within those asset classes to suit clients' needs. They are 'solutions advisors.' This is the pinnacle of banking sales today.
Data jobs in sales
Lastly, and extrinsic to the three categories of serviced, managed and customized sales jobs, there's a growing need for data scientists to analyze all the data that underpins contemporary sales functions. PWC notes that finding data scientists to work alongside banking sales teams isn't easy: data scientists mostly want to work for Google or Amazon instead. Nor does it help that banks' data scientists are working with technologically illiterate senior relationship managers who are resistant to adopting new technologies instead of product managers in flipflops.
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