|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree; MBA common|
|Degree Field(s)||Accounting or related field|
|Licensure/Certification||Licensure and registration required|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)||10 % growth (for securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents)|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)||$71,550 annually for securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A sales and services officer is a customer-facing professional in the banking industry. A licensed professional, he or she sells and oversees securities transactions for customers of banks and credit unions. Their primary job responsibilities are to explain, sell and execute banking securities products, and serve as a liaison between the bank and its securities customers.
Client sales and service officers, sometimes known as CSSOs, are a type of financial services sales agent employed by the banking and finance industry. Working on salary and motivated by commission and bonuses from sales, these sales agents sell and manage the execution of securities products, such as stocks, bonds, treasury notes, debentures, and other investments. A CSSO serves as a consultant on transactional details and - once accounts are sold - maintains a relationship with clients and caters to their individual needs.
Most often working within a banking environment and enjoying predictable work hours and good benefits, CSSOs might find themselves performing the following tasks during any given day:
- Troubleshooting potential problems
- Handling inquiries related to a new client
- Co-signing for securities transfer
- Identifying investment objectives
- Describing the characteristics, rewards, and risks of any particular security
- Informing the customer of tax implications for each investment
- Meeting regulatory compliance standards
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job positions for securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents are expected to increase by 10% between 2014 and 2024, about as fast as the national average for all careers. The median annual salary for these positions was $71,550 as of May 2015, with the middle half of all agents making between $32,680 and $135,430 annually.
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In order to be a sales and services officer, one needs to obtain a bachelor's degree from a 4-year college or university. Individuals looking to advance and possibly enter management may benefit from earning an MBA.
A bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, economics, or business is important to employers of securities of sales agents, reports the BLS. These 4-year baccalaureate programs are very common and emphasize knowledge of investments and corporate financial policy. Graduates finish with a working knowledge of capital allocation, market function, and risk management, all of which are necessary for a solid grasp of securities execution. In addition, these degree programs prepare students specifically for the professional examinations securities agents are required to take.
Although not required, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) that emphasizes a financial field is helpful for advancement in securities sales and banking. The gold standard in business graduate education, these 2-year programs hone students' focus on finance principles and their application in capital markets and investments. An MBA in finance is designed to prepare graduates for a long-term professional career in banking for the finance industry by immersing them in a business-oriented curriculum that may include the following classes:
- Commercial and investment banking
- Investment management
- Security analysis and hedge funds
- Capital markets
- Derivatives and risk management
- Mergers and acquisitions and corporate reorganization
All securities agents are required to be licensed. Registration is required with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
In order to register, employees must have at least four months of experience and pass the Series 7 Exam, also known as the General Securities Registered Representative Examination. Most states also require the Uniform Securities Agents State Law Examination, known as Series 63 or 66 and also administered by FINRA.
Both of these exams measure an applicant's knowledge of the securities business and readiness to trade within it. These licenses must be maintained through continuing education classes.