Senior equity derivatives salesperson: How much am I worth?

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Indeed, according to those who follow it closely, there is a new focus: finding ever more complex and obscure hybrid products and following ever-cannier strategies to maximise returns.

"The equity derivatives sector is still one of the hottest sectors of both the global OTC and the exchange traded industries: it also continues to be driven by the growth in structured products taken up by retail investors," says Richard Fraser of RJF Global Search.

Patrick Burford, head of equity derivative sales at Napier Scott, agrees, suggesting the ongoing search for new products and markets has fed into recruitment. "There is surging demand for structured products specialists particularly on the French and German market, whilst clients are also interested in developing Nordic coverage for structured products," he says.

Salespeople with a decent knowledge of the Swiss and Benelux markets have also been in demand. Yet the main employment growth area has been amongst individuals able to demonstrate excellent market knowledge, good track records and contacts, and able to synthesise often quite complex data quickly and accurately.

Not surprisingly, the ability to understand the needs and concerns of clients is also paramount.

Although 2004 was a good year, volumes were down on 2003: as result the demand has switched for higher value, more innovative structured products to compensate for this lower volatility.

"Hires have been made in institutional sales, retail sales and the corporate equity derivatives area: generally hiring is being driven by long term potential," says Fraser.

So how much are you worth as a top-notch equity derivatives salesperson? Headhunters say that for individuals with a track record in complex products and hybrids, pay rates have been bid up with established players such as Société Générale, Goldman Sachs, BNP Paribas, JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch all prepared to pay top dollar for the right person. How much is top dollar - or in London, top pound? Burford says a senior salesperson or marketer with six or more years experience is looking to enjoy a total package of somewhere between 300,000-400,000.

Fraser is even more bullish, suggesting a typical basic of between 90,000 and 125,000 and bonuses anywhere up to 500% on top of this. The really good news if you are such an individual is that more players are coming around to paying these salaries: amongst the institutions striving to build up their teams are Barclays Capital, Nomura International and Royal Bank of Scotland.

For the short to medium term at least, demand for well qualified individuals looks set to outstrip available demand: this suggests senior equity derivatives salespeople can look forward to an extended period of telephone number-type salaries.

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