What is a Broker Sales Assistant?
A broker sales assistant helps financial advisors (traditionally called brokers) with time management by handling routine client inquiries, mainly those related to account maintenance matters, freeing financial advisors to devote more time to their value-added activity, providing investment advice.
While the phrase "broker sales assistant" still is common parlance, most wealth management firms officially will use "financial advisor sales assistant," or something similar, mirroring the title of the investment professionals assisted by these persons.
This job category is among those traditionally associated with women on Wall Street.
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In past years, this job category was deemed suitable for high school graduates. Today, in concert with the general increase in the minimum educational attainment expected for many positions, a bachelor's degree normally is required. Coursework in finance, accounting and/or economics is helpful, though not required.
No special certifications are required, except for registered sales assistants. People in this subcategory of the field can accept and process unsolicited securities trade orders, placed by clients entirely on their own initiative.
At a minimum, registered sales assistants must pass the Series 11 exam offered by FINRA and meet continuing education requirements. Larger securities firms, however, require much more rigorous qualifications, insisting instead upon passing the same Series 7 and Series 66 exams that are part of financial advisor certification and training.
A sales assistant screens telephone calls to financial advisors and solves operational problems, such as issues with statements, deposits, checks and credit card transactions. A sales assistant thus has large influence over client satisfaction.
Registered sales assistants perform these same duties, in addition to processing unsolicited trade orders.
However, they typically are not permitted to offer investment advice of any sort.
A 40 hour workweek, or something close thereto, is typical for a sales assistant. Nonetheless, there are bound to be busy periods, such as during turbulent markets, when work extends beyond these hours. Additionally, sales assistants often are expected to attend events in which clients are being entertained.
What's to Like:
Those with excellent people skills often enjoy the constant interaction with clients. Troubleshooting for clients gives the job focus and clear yardsticks for success.
What's Not to Like:
Supporting a busy financial advisor with a large roster of clients means a constant stream of telephone inquiries and
constant time pressure to resolve problems.
Compensation is highly variable, depending on the firm and the size and profitability of the financial advisor's book of business. The salary for a seasoned sales assistant typically will range between $30,000 and $60,000.
Registered sales assistants, as might be expected, tend to earn at the higher end of this range. Eligibility for participation in bonus pools varies by firm.
Advisor-Paid Sales Assistants:
In an ongoing drive to cut expenses, many securities brokerage and wealth management firms have moved to a system in which pay for sales assistants is deducted from financial advisor pay. Morgan Stanley, which currently has the largest contingent of financial advisors, is the most notable example. Such sales assistants are officially employees of the firm, but the firm effectively has relieved itself of much, if not all, of their compensation costs.
Where this system is in place, it is bound to diminish job openings and pay potential for sales assistants. Only the most successful financial advisors will earn enough to take on a sales assistant, or to pay a competitive salary.
As you go up the learning curve, look for openings that support more seasoned and successful financial advisors, with the goal of gaining a commensurate increase in pay if one brings you aboard. Much less frequently, a sales assistant (especially one who is registered) can use his or her sales support experience to become a financial advisor. While this path makes logical sense, there may be cultural barriers in some firms to taking it. Another leading option is to use your daily contacts with brokerage operations areas of the firm to move there.
For More Information:
Follow the links below for more detail on credentials and related job categories. Related job categories are of interest in two respects. First, they must concern you from the standpoint of understanding the sorts of people with whom you will be working closely, their roles and how they can be of assistance to you and to the client base that you serve. Second, they also matter from the perspective of identifying where the most likely future career options may exist if you decide to move on. In this regard, also see our articles about the importance of networking, mentoring and workplace sponsors in career development and advancement.