Each day, hundreds of billions of dollars change hands on the major United States securities exchanges. This money is used to invest in securities, such as stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, which are bought and sold by large institutional investors, mutual funds, pension plans, and the general public. Most securities trades are arranged through securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents, whether they are between individuals with a few hundred dollars or large institutions with hundreds of millions of dollars. The duties of sales agents vary greatly depending on their specialty.
The most common type of securities sales agent is called a broker or stock broker. Stock brokers advise everyday people, or retail investors, on appropriate investments based on their needs and financial ability. Once the client and broker agree on the best investment, the broker electronically sends the order to the floor of the securities exchange to complete the transaction. After the transaction is finalized, the broker charges a commission for the service.
The most important part of a broker's job is finding clients and building a customer base. Thus, beginning securities and commodities sales agents spend much of their time searching for clients, often relying heavily on telephone solicitation, or cold calling, from a list of potential clients. Some agents network by joining civic organizations or social groups, while others may rely on referrals from satisfied customers.
Investment bankers are sales agents who connect businesses that need money to finance their operations or expansion plans with investors who are interested in providing that funding in exchange for debt (in the form of bonds) or equity (in the form of stock). This process is called underwriting, and it is the main function of the investment bank. Investment bankers have to sell twice: first, they sell their advisory services to help companies issue new stock or bonds, and second, they sell the securities issued to investors.
Perhaps the most important advisory service provided by investment banks is to help companies new to the public investment arena issue stock for the first time. This process, known as an initial public offering, or IPO, can take a great deal of effort because private companies must meet stringent financial requirements to become publicly owned companies. Corporate finance departments also help private companies sell stock to institutional investors or wealthy individuals. They also advise companies that are interested in funding their operations by taking on debtoften issued in the form of bonds. Unlike a stock, which entitles its holder to partial ownership of a company, a bond entitles its holder to be repaid with a pre-determined rate of interest.
Ladies, This is war!
The purchase was enough to move the entire global cocoa market, sending the price to the highest level since 1977, and triggering rumours and intrigue in the City.
It is unclear which person, or group of traders, was behind the deal, but it was the largest single cocoa trade for 14 years.
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