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Institutional equity sales

Head of Institutional Equity Sales Superstar

By Fintros — August 2017

In the spirit of strict anonymity, names and all identifying information have been removed from the below article. To learn more about Fintros - the leading anonymous opportunity platform for finance leaders - please visit

Anonymous Peter is one of Canada’s most accomplished sell-side finance superstars working 25+ years at one the world’s top international equity institutions. Fintros got an exclusive interview to learn more about work/life balance in institutional equity sales, director’s expectations at bulge bracket banks and how Peter expects the industry to change.

6:15 am - Gathering the ammunition:

Being global, my morning routine can have multiple stages, and can vary day-to-day, depending on the market. My morning usually starts at 6:15 or 6:30am - with international calls to our research partners in Asia and Europe. Sometimes these calls can be combined, but typically Asia and Europe tend to be separate calls. Then US market research calls follow at around 7:30am. The start of the morning is really gathering the ammunition for the rest of the day. On the whole, the purpose of the call is to gather key talking points, highlights of the research, and to build the stories.

During the call, I’ll open my iPad and draw out what is suitable for clients and who to speak to about it. These calls typically last 30 to 45 minutes – and, it’s usually a recap of the syndicate markets explaining any kind of major deals, any follow-ons, and so on. We start the day with that kind of flow and color.

For us, trading calls are U.S. centric because we're located in North America, but in Europe and Asia you have all sorts of different “huddles” on the floor. Many of these huddles are broadcasted across the hoots [internal speakers that are also known as 'squawk boxes’] to all the different regions in the salesforce. But on North American shores, the trading calls are all the different sector heads from the different trading pods.

Given my clients, I don't get on the trading calls as much as I used to - but it’s also an option for salespeople too. Specifically, for the guys covering hedge funds – usually, they are more interested to hear from the traders in the pit than from the research analysts. Here, calls are geared to gather information which can lead to research on much more shorter-term price action. So, while the calls are largely for sales traders, it’s also valuable to hedge-fund salespeople and research sales. On the whole, these calls help draw people’s attention to certain rotations in the marketplace; such as the selling of tech and rotating into energy, or into financials.

8:00 am - Processing the information

Processing and documenting the research usually takes about 30-40 minutes each morning. It’s about finding your points of interest as a salesperson, and really knowing your clients. I’ve begun to digest information based off the following simple criterion: ‘is this just noise?’, ‘is this relevant?’, and/or ‘is this something game-changing?’ As a salesperson, it's not about reading every single research note from back to front, it's about making sure you have a thorough understanding of the situation.

With the messages taking a bit of a breather, from 8:30 to 9:00am I focus on what is important and pick my focus for the rest of the day. For example, yesterday, I spent an hour developing a sales idea on a client email to captivate their attention. Our research analyst had issued out an upgrade and I wanted to make sure my client had it in hands.

9:00 am - Sales, trading, relationship building and maintenance

From then it's a different kind of game, depending on where you are in your career. As Head of Institutional Equity Sales, I have a consistent flow of projects that I’m working on. I have a to-do list of projects for different clients that keeps me busy - regardless of the market or what was going on in the calls. But as a junior salesperson, you first need to establish your credibility by being more aggressive and jumping on cold calls with potential clients, getting in front of clients and really trying to gather the information that you need in order to be valuable to their clients. If you’ve been covering clients for a long time, it’s a fairly consistent process.

That's the content aspect of our job, then there's the “business of the business” as well. It’s still involving content, but it’s getting the product in front of people. For that, I have to plan analyst visits, marketing, non-deal roadshows, and so on. To some degree, a portion of every one of our days is being a glorified secretary, we’re trying to get our own schedules together and make sure that they work.

On any given day can there can also be situational stuff. Say a Brazilian president gets called out for fraud, and then the next thing you know you have markets crashing out. Then, you’ve got guys calling you about Lat-Am banks and things like that. In those cases, you naturally have to switch focus throughout the day. But generally, from 10:00 am onward it’s your own agenda: ‘this is what I want to get out’, ‘these are the people I want to get it out to’, and ‘this is this is how I'm going to represent my firm’.

3:30 pm Preparing for Tomorrow

Towards the end of the day, starting about 3:30 pm, you start to warm up with capital markets. So, you typically do follow-up about IPOs and deals that can be launched first thing in the morning, or generally for follow-ons. Sometimes you might wait until 5:30 for a deal to get filed, but from 3:30 pm on you’re preparing your team for any kind of event in capital markets. A manager and I will get the team together to focus on that.

In short, all of this comes back to knowing your client. Some companies aren't as easy as to sell as others. If I bring a Microsoft into Canada, you know I'm not going to have a shortage of demand. If I bring something like a mid-cap tech company, then you know it's a harder sell. But there's always someone out there that has an interest in it, it goes down to you thinking about your clients and how you would you frame it so that it captures their attention.

Next Steps

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