RealJobs: Brett Wilzbach

Hey gang! Welcome to my first ever attempt at blogging. Please let me know early and often if I just “don’t get it”. I’ll keep posts after this more brief. Thanks for stopping by, will try to avoid making this a complete yawn-fest….

I currently work in Fixed Income Sales at Citi; specializing in Interest Rates. This falls under the Sales & Trading umbrella in Citi Market’s Institutional Client Group. Essentially, working in a regional office (the home office, like most Wall Street banks, is in New York, where the trading desks reside) the entire staff here is in sales. The thought is that in having a regional office, we are able to have better client ‘touch’ and make more of an impact with the institutional clients in the region.

A typical day for me starts EARLY. I try to be on the desk by 6:00am. This is been part of my routine since college. The reason I get in so early is because this is truly one of the only ‘quiet’ parts of the day. It’s when I get my best reading done in terms of market-moving news that occurred overnight while US markets were sleeping. I leaf through a few newspapers (NYT, WSJ, FT) and prepare a note for clients, which outlines the trading day, including significant events, trading catalysts, and a “feel” for what Citi/our trading desks/our economists/strategists think is going to occur.

A friend of mine once made a fantastic analogy for the role of sales in the Sales & Trading industry. She compared a salesperson to a waiter/waitress. It’s the role of the salesperson to know the menu inside-and-out, provide recommendations, be engaging, and offer advice. The client is of course, the diner. There is more behind the scenes, however. The traders are of course, the (well-paid) chefs. They are the ones that are going to provide the ‘execution’ and leave the lasting impact on the client in terms of the overall impression of the experience. It’s simply up to sales to augment this experience. Yet, in the chef’s “positioning” it’s important for the chef/server to work as a team. What if the chef went a little overboard on the steak tartare? It would be in the best interest of the salesperson to really play it up to try to ‘move the position’ right? Does the restaurant want to lose money by having it end up in the trash? Not so much. On the flip-side, what if a testy client (think hedge fund) strolls in 15 mins before close and asks for Crab Rangoon? Not exactly what a weary chef wants to hear. If a server could politely steer to, well, the four-star chicken fingers, this might leave the chef in a MUCH better mood. Bottom-line, a salesperson does his job if both customer and chef leave happy……and the good guys are able to take that 20%+ !

A little background about myself, I was a finance/marketing major at BC, which means I’m both an avid Mike Barry and Maria Sannella fan. I’ve had a decently volatile career so far in terms of moving, which is symbolic of working for a decently volatile firm (yet which survived the financial crisis and likely has a stock that is a screaming buy here). In four years at the firm, I’ve traded in New York, sold interest rate derivatives in Chicago, and now sit on the Rates Sales desk in Boston. I couldn’t be happier to be closer to Chestnut Hill and again be an Eagles season-ticket holder.

My initial advice in starting out what will be a fun week of blogging is…..that if you’re reading this….you’re likely doing a good job. Read everything you can, seek out alumni, and most importantly, TALK. The more professionals you speak with, the more you will begin to understand what people do on a day to day basis, and the more impressive you will sound in an interview. More importantly, you won’t take a job just to have a job, and you won’t be looking to change careers 1-2 years into work. The economy is getting better and you’re soon going to have the luxury of being selective. Take a lot of time deciding where you think you would thrive. At the end of the day, you’re going to be happiest in the role that you excel at (no one frowns at promotions)… utilize the career center to hone down your best skill sets and what type of jobs those skill sets should point you towards. Every time I go to BC, I ask students, “What class did you do best at?” Are you A.D.D. like myself, yet are quick on your feet and can pull everything together quickly? If you like rolling the dice; Sales & Trading might be for you. If you prefer the semester-long “European” school of teaching in which you’re constantly working on a project that you can completely delve into, then perhaps more of a research/Investment Banking/Consulting role is preferred. Last, if a blog that YOU would make would be 10x more creative and awesome than my lame Server/Chef analogy above, then marketing/advertising might be your gig. Just don’t expect it to be like Don Draper in year one on the job….

Thanks for reading, I’ll try to highlight the ups and downs of the week and give an accurate description of what life on the ‘ole trading floor is like.


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