Institutional Bond Broker?

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Nov 4, 2009 9:28 pm

anyone work or has ever worked as an institutional bonds broker? what's the low-down?

Nov 5, 2009 8:59 am

They are assholes.

Nov 5, 2009 9:11 am

Can you elaborate?

Nov 5, 2009 9:50 am

Yes.  They are BIG assholes.

Nov 5, 2009 10:13 am

Sound like one yourself right now...

Nov 5, 2009 10:30 am

Don't get butt-hurt.  Do you have a specific question concerning them?

Nov 5, 2009 11:27 am

Not really specific, I'm considering jumping on board with a small institutional bond broker - id be leaving my retail b/d to do so - and was just looking for some insight from ppl who may have been there, or currently are.

Nov 5, 2009 12:13 pm

I was an institutional trader and salesman for 15yrs.  What do you want to know ?

Nov 5, 2009 12:43 pm

Could u sort of compare n contrast the life of an institutional bond broker w that of a Financial Advisor at a wirehouse or retail b/d?

Nov 5, 2009 1:44 pm

Both easier and more difficult.  A lot will depend on what niche your underwriting and trading desk carves out.  Will you be selling proprietary inventory or paper from the street (other dealers) ?  Will you have a Bloomberg ?  Will you be taxable or muni ?  Who will you be calling on ?

 
Biggest difference is that institutional buyers are paid to make accountable decisions, thus you need to provide facts and objectivity.  You need to know your product.  In many cases, your clients will be better educated and smarter than you.  Many will have an MBA in finance and a CFA.
 
On the retail side, emotion often determines whether or not business is done.  Emotion is counterproductive on the Institutional side.  Bottom line is if the numbers work and the facts make sense, business is done.  In a large sense your job is to provide value by helping your buyers make their bonus- they in turn are judged according to their firm's objectives and relative peer group performance.  Over time you will build rapport with your clients and they will trust what you present.  At that point your job becomes making their job easier.  For example the client may give you an inquiry and trust that you will come back with acceptable offerings that he can buy.  His time is leveraged because he doesn't have to talk with 5 or 6 different brokers to figure out what to buy- he trusted you to take care of him.  Screw this up and you lose a client.
 
Most buyers are covered and it takes time to get in the door.  Once someone will talk to you, it is a matter of time before you do a trade.  That said, you are always in a competative situation with their other coverage, meaning that the buyer probably sees your offering or something very similar from several different people.  You will find yourself competing on price because price determines yield.  It is now possible to see in real time where most bonds have traded.  Understand that your clients can and will read the tape to see your markup.  If it is excessive you will hear about it.
 
Many buyers do business with you based on how well your desk bids paper they want to sell.  I worked with serveral buyers who kept detailed spreadsheets regarding who bid and how aggressively they bid.  If your desk did not bid aggressively enough over time, eventually your calls will not be returned. 
 
In my case I sold Muni Bonds to bank trust depts, mutual funds and money managers who only looked for muni paper in specific states.  Once I got in the door, I treated each client like they were my only client.  By focusing in specific areas, I gained local market insight that I could use when selling bonds.  Over time I became a go to guy for specific markets.
 
Why am I no longer in that business ?  I worked for a family owned regional firm that sold out to a large bank.  Said bank stripped the regional firm of the assets they wanted and essentially got rid of what was left.  I live in a 3rd tier (from a business standpoint) town and when the hammer fell my only Institutional options were to move or commute.  Neither were appealing.  I moved over to retail to stay in the business.   If I could go back to the Insituational side and stay where I live, I would do it less than a heartbeat.
 
Any other questions ?
Nov 5, 2009 4:50 pm

Not really, I couldn't have hoped for a more helpful response, thanks!

Nov 7, 2011 9:24 pm

Income?  What kind of income does the average institutional bond broker make?  How about the above average one? Is it less than a retail stock broker?