After achieving his professional status as a chartered accountant, John moved into the world of institutional broking, which he finds stimulating and engaging
How did you get the job?
After graduation I joined a graduate training programme with KPMG, where I worked for three years to become a qualified chartered accountant.
I knew I wanted to get into stockbroking and applied for positions in 'front and middle office' functions within banking institutions. I was invited to six interviews and was offered a position at each, but the job offer I took was most in line with the career I wanted.
What's a typical day like?
I start work at 6.30am and read the research that has been published in the second half of the USA markets' day by our analysts. I use my Bloomberg terminal to search for news stories that are relevant to the markets that I cover or the stocks that I am recommending the most.
After that, the morning consists of helping to disseminate the summary of the morning briefing to investors.
Around lunchtime, the USA wakes up and we have a conference call with the analysts over there, who spend an hour each day summarising the research published that day and answering questions from sales.
My day is usually punctuated throughout with meetings, where I either take an analyst or a colleague to visit with investors. My firm is relatively small, yet we normally have two or three different 'roadshows' each week, so I will usually attend five to ten hour-long meetings. I take notes in these meetings, contributing, where necessary and later the clients with follow-up information.
In the afternoons I read more news and information from the market and talk to clients about my new findings. This will continue until the end of the day.
After-work drinks with clients, companies and analysts are frequent and part of the job.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoy the fact that each day I get total freedom about what I want to do. Sometimes I will be constrained by certain factors, i.e. meetings or presentations, but most of the time I choose what I want to read and I choose what to recommend.
It is a very rewarding job but as with all sales the rewards are few and far between. I enjoy working in this kind of atmosphere as I feel it brings the best out of me, but if you can't handle rejection this is not the job for you.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Some people would not enjoy the travel. I fly at least every two weeks and took 56 flights last year. While this does come with benefits (racking up air miles), it can be hard leaving your partner at home and spending time in hotels or on planes. Some people also may not enjoy working 12 hour days and starting early.
When I started, I also found it very hard to read the requisite amount each day.
How has your role developed?
My role has changed very little from when I began and will not change very much in the future.
After two years I will reach a more senior role but it is really just a title and will not change my day-to-day activities. Everyone here, from two to 30 years' experience performs a very similar role.
My ambition is to be as good at this job as possible, it is a target-driven industry and I frequently measure myself against my own personal goals, as well as my firm's expectations of me.
What are the best things about working in this sector?
The best thing for me is the exposure to people from completely different industries and at completely different levels of seniority. I could be meeting the CEO of a top tech company one day and meeting the investor relations representative of a food company the next.
How relevant is your degree to your job?
Very relevant, although I didn't realise how much until I started. The reason being that salespeople need a differentiating factor to stand out from the crowd and there are very few that have the same background as myself.
That said most people doing my job tend to have degrees in either economics or engineering.
What advice would you give others?
Always remember that differentiation is your key goal. Being the smartest or the hardest working may not get you to the top; it's all about standing out from the crowd.
Most of all remain open to learning and realise that there is no one way to sell, you can't copy someone else's style, so have the confidence to make your own and make it successful.