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Jobs Outlook: Securities, Commodities & Financial Services Sales Agents




Employment of securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents is expected to grow about as fast as average for all occupations through 2014. As people’s incomes continue to climb, they will increasingly seek the advice and services of securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents to realize their financial goals. Growth in the volume of stocks traded over the Internet will limit job growth. Nevertheless, the overall increase in investment is expected to spur employment growth among these workers, with a majority of transactions still requiring the advice and services of securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents.

Baby boomers in their peak savings years will fuel much of this increase in investment. Saving for retirement has been made much easier by the government, which continues to offer a number of tax-favorable pension plans, such as the 401(k) and the Roth IRA. The participation of more women in the workforce also means higher household incomes and more women qualifying for pensions. Many of these pensions are self-directed, meaning that the recipient has the responsibility for investing the money. With such large amounts of money to invest, sales agents, in their role as financial advisors, will be in great demand.

Other factors that will affect the demand for brokers are the increasing number and complexity of investment products, as well as the effects of globalization. As the public and businesses become more sophisticated about investing, they are venturing into the options and futures markets. Brokers are needed to buy or sell these products, which are not traded online. Also, markets for investment are expanding with the increase in global trading of stocks and bonds. Furthermore, the New York Stock Exchange has extended its trading hours to accommodate trading in foreign stocks and compete with foreign exchanges.

Employment of sales agents is adversely affected by downturns in the stock market or the economy. Turnover is high for beginning agents, who often are unable to establish a sizable clientele even in good times. Once established, securities and commodities sales agents have a very strong attachment to their occupation because of their high earnings and considerable investment in training. Competition usually is keen, especially in larger companies with more applicants than jobs. Opportunities for beginning sales agents should be better in smaller firms.

Employment of financial services sales agents in banks will increase as banks expand their product offerings in order to compete directly with other investment firms.