Jamie Schlim

At the time of this interview, Jamie worked as a Leveraged Finance Credit Research Analyst at Credit Suisse.

Jamie became interested in sales and trading through some of the classes she took for her economics major at UVA. These classes included Theory of Financial Markets (ECON 4340) and Behavioral Finance (ECON 4370).  She interned for Credit Suisse’s global credit products group after her third year.  After graduation, she started working in credit research for CS, and now works in high-yield finance.

Can you go over Sales/Trading and how it differs from investment banking?

“Sales and Trading is oriented towards the public, and it deals with the aftermath of companies raising equity and debt (which is what investment banking focuses on).  We deal with the secondary market, which is where the debt and equities freely trade.  We sell securities to buy-side investors.  I’ll go over three types: traders, sales groups, and sector strategy.  Traders take on the risk by actually buying and selling the securities; it is a very quantitative job, and traders usually specialize by sector, like energy or healthcare.  The sales group works under the trader; sales tries to convince the buy-side that the securities we sell are worthwhile.  I work in sector strategy; we do research to cover all of the bonds our traders trade.  We also build models for every company whose bonds we trade.  That way, we can help the traders and sales by giving them detailed data and news.”

How did your major translate to your career?

“There are lots of classes in the Econ department that help with understanding finance. Along with the two classes I mentioned in my background, Money and Banking (ECON 3030) and Corporate Finance (ECON 4350) helped me prepare really well for my internship.  Sales and trading isn’t rocket science, so a basic econ major can help you understand the main drivers behind the securities market.”

What do you recommend doing, outside of classes, to prepare yourself for a sales/trading job?

“It’s very important to be knowledgeable about the world and current affairs; it will help you in interviews and on the job.  Reading a lot is important; sooner you start, the better.  I read The Morning Brew along with The Wall Street Journal.  Also, it’s helpful to write down key information that’s updated everyday, like values of market indices; it will help you stay on top of stuff.”

What Excel formulas should you memorize?

“I actually didn’t have much of an Excel background while in college; I came into my job only knowing how to copy and paste.  I generally pull information from Bloomberg’s terminals for more complicated financial models.  V-lookup and SumIF are good simple statements to know; both of them help with sorting.”

What is your favorite/least favorite thing about your job?

“My favorite thing is the environment.  It’s competitive, but there’s a teamwork feel.  My coworkers have a lot of energy and are fun to be around.  My least favorite thing was that at the beginning, it was daunting to arrive at work so early, since I’m not a morning person.  But I got used to it, and I think most people can get used to it.”

If you changed your mind about your career, would it be easy to switch to a different area of finance from sales/trading?

“Sales and trading is a little difficult to transfer from.  Nonetheless, a lot of skills are transferrable between capital markets, sales and trading, and investment banking.  Research skills in particular are very versatile; if you know the fundamentals of credit analysis, it shows that you know how to value companies, and thus you can even move to the buy-side down the road.”

What are interviews for Sales and Trading like?

“At CS, they will personalize your interview to your resume.  If you don’t list finance experience on your resume, they won’t ask you about it; if you do, they will.  There are questions aimed at gauging work ethic and how you deal with pressure.  Most technical questions are geared towards current happenings in the market; an example would be ‘what have you read about the Fed recently?’”