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Buy-Side vs. Sell-Side Analysts: Understanding Recruitment Differences for Experienced Professionals

Posted on September 2023

Buy-Side vs Sell-Side Analysts

In the intricate maze of finance, buy-side and sell-side analysts are central figures, each playing a distinct role. Beyond their day-to-day tasks, a crucial difference between them is the recruitment process. In this article, we explore the world of buy-side and sell-side analysts, focusing on the recruitment nuances for experienced professionals.

Understanding Buy-Side and Sell-Side Analysts

  • Buy-Side Analysts: These professionals work for institutions that buy securities, like investment management firms or mutual funds. Their primary duty is to research and recommend securities for their institution to purchase.

  • Sell-Side Analysts: They operate in brokerage firms or investment banks, researching and recommending securities to their institution's clients. They may also assist with the underwriting process when companies look to issue new stocks or bonds.

Recruitment Differences

Educational and Experience Requirements

    • Buy-Side: Firms expect candidates to have a robust background, often from the sell-side. Advanced degrees or certifications like an MBA or a CFA provide a distinct advantage, signaling a comprehensive understanding of the industry.

    • Sell-Side: While experience in industry analysis and client interactions is paramount, credentials like an MBA or CFA can amplify a candidate's profile. Prior experience in similar sell-side roles is often a prerequisite.

Skill Set

    • Buy-Side: Beyond financial modeling and sector analysis, buy-side analysts must possess a visionary approach to detect long-term investment prospects. A keen understanding of global markets, geopolitics, and macroeconomic factors can set an analyst apart.

    • Sell-Side: Alongside adeptness in financial modeling, effective communication is pivotal. They must simplify complex financial jargon for clients. An ability to forecast market trends and a deep understanding of various sectors can make a candidate particularly attractive.

Recruitment Cycle

    • Buy-Side: The cycle here is less uniform. Openings might not follow a fixed calendar and often depend on factors like fund performance, firm expansion, or analysts' turnover. It's not uncommon for buy-side firms to hire based on niche requirements, seeking specialists in certain sectors or asset classes.

    • Sell-Side: For senior roles, recruitment is more deliberate. Institutions might seek analysts with expertise in specific industries, especially when expanding their portfolio or entering new markets. Headhunters and referrals are prominent methods to source experienced talent.

Interview Process

    • Buy-Side: The interview can be multifaceted. Candidates might be asked for stock pitches, long-term investment strategies, or to critique an existing portfolio. Problem-solving exercises and situational analysis are commonly used to evaluate a candidate's analytical prowess.

    • Sell-Side: Interviews often dissect past success stories—successful client advisories, research reports that influenced market movements, or challenging client interactions that were handled adeptly. They also probe deep into the candidate's understanding of market dynamics and industry trends.


For both roles, the salary usually hovers in the range of $80,000 - $120,000. Additionally, bonus compensations can significantly augment earnings, with bonuses typically ranging from 50%-100% of the base salary. For clients and candidates keen on gaining a deeper insight into Investment Management compensations, downloading our Investment Management Salary Guide is recommended. It provides an exhaustive benchmarking that can be pivotal for negotiation and decision-making processes.

Whether you’re targeting a buy-side or sell-side role as an experienced professional, understanding the recruitment landscape can be instrumental in shaping a prosperous career in finance.

If you're a firm looking to secure the best talent in these areas, consider reaching out to Selby Jennings. We specialize in financial recruitment and can assist in identifying the perfect fit for your team. Request a callback today to ensure you're partnered with the best in the business.