Sell Side vs Buy Side

Difference Between Sell Side and Buy Side

Sell side can be defined as firms that tend to sell, issue or trade-in financial securities and it includes corporations, advisory firms and investment banks whereas buy side can be defined as firms that tend to buy financial securities and it includes pension funds, investment managers, and hedge funds.

If you are in the Investment BankingInvestment BankingInvestment banking is a specialized banking stream that facilitates the business entities, government and other organizations in generating capital through debts and equity, reorganization, mergers and acquisition, more industry, it is essential to know the difference between the Sell and buy side. Yet the irony is that many of us are still unaware of these very important terms. Many a time, I have seen that students are not only confused between these two terms but also about its usage in the context of Investment Banking RolesInvestment Banking RolesInvestment bankers play diverse roles and responsibilities in a company as analysts, associates, vice president and managing director. They handle the front, middle, and back-office responsibilities to cater to the clients with all sort of financial more in the industry. Statistics say that the Sell-side makes up one half of the Finance Market, and the Buy side makes the other half.

  • The sell-side includes the entities which facilitate the decision making of the buy-side.
  • The buy-side includes entities that are involved in making Investment Decisions.

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Firms Involved

What do they do?

Sell Side vs. Buy Side Infographics

Sell Side vs Buy Side

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Sell Side Analyst

  • The Analysts of the Sell side provide greater insights into Trends, Analysis, and projections of Financials
  • They come up with recommendations & Research reports which are used to make investment decisions for their clients.
  • One major point of difference is: Sell side analysts do their own research and analysis and create their reports. These reports are available in the public domain.
  • The job of an analyst is to recommend a Buy or a Sell recommendation for a particular security.

Skills Requirements

Buy Side Analyst

  • A very interesting point of difference you will find here is that the reports which are created by the Buy Side Analysts are not available publicly.
  • These analysts use the reports created by many Sell Side Analysts and carry out their own analysis further to come at an investment decision.
  • Here, the job of the Buy Side Analyst is not just to give a Buy or Sell decision but to make an investment decision adhering to the company strategy.

Skills Requirement

  • Strong & Intellectual eye for investment opportunities
  • Monitoring the Market developments
  • Ability to create productive, timely & high-quality reports for investment decisions;
  • Ability to analyze Risks and Industry characteristics
  • Ability to constantly monitor Portfolio performance
  • Keep updated with the economy & global markets
  • Expertise in excel, word & PowerPoint;


A requirement of higher skill-sets and knowledge for buy-sideBuy-sideThe term "buy-side" refers to entities that advise their clients like individual investors and institutional buyers on investments and securities purchases. Private equity firms, mutual fund companies, life insurance companies, unit trusts, hedge fund companies, and pension fund entities are examples of buy-side more analysts for the investment decisions makes them fetch higher pay than the sell-side analysts. But there may always be exceptions.

Buy-Side vs. Sell Side Video

Recommended Articles

This article has been a guide to Sell Side vs. Buy Side investment banking. Here we discuss the top differences between sell and buy side analysts along with their skill requirements. You may also have a look at the following articles –

Reader Interactions


  1. Can says

    Awesome article. Very high quality. Greets from Germany

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thanks for your kind words!

  2. Anand Somani says

    Very nice article. It enhanced by understanding.

  3. Abhinav says

    Good article.. very easy to comprehend

  4. Shivani says

    Great job! Very informative

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      thanks Shivani!

  5. AB says

    Brilliant Article Man! Gives a very clear and precise understanding to the concepts!

  6. Vikram Patil says

    Excellent Article which covers the basiscs

  7. Christie K. says

    What a nice visual article of this topic! It was so simple and easy to follow. Thank you for taking the time to share this.

  8. Vartika says

    Such an amazing explanation…thanks alot dheeraj :)

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      thanks Vartika. happy to see that you liked this article.

  9. Marcel Prado says

    Hi Dheeraj,

    Maybe I didn’t quite understand the hierarqhy part, but aren’t Analysts superior to Associates in ER?

    Great job by the way

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Hi Marcel,

      In ER, Associates are senior to Junior Analysts. Associates in turn report to the Senior Analyst.


  10. shrisai says


    • Dheeraj says

      Thanks Shrisai!

  11. Piyush Jain says

    Very crisp indeed

    • Dheeraj says

      thanks Piyush!

  12. Danny says

    As what you replied previously – a large firm, like JP. Morgan, can be both sell-side and buy-side. Yet, is there any conflict of interest of being buy-side and sell-side at the same time? What I am concerned about is insider-trading if a firm can be on the both side. Thanks for your answer!

    • Dheeraj says

      Hi Danny, I totally agree with you on this. Infact the regulators are also concered with this. That is why IB firms have a very strict policy where they create Chinese walls – sell side and buy side are not allowed to interact. If they are required to interact with each other, they are moderated by the compliance team.

  13. orenolu bunmi says

    Quite insightful, amazing article

    • Dheeraj says

      thanks Orenolu!

  14. Rashid says

    Such nice way of explaining…. Thanks Dheeraj !!

    • Dheeraj says

      thanks Rashid!

  15. NELSON says

    It awesome, it has broadened my knowledge in investment banking and think am best suited in buy side… Thanks alot…

    • Dheeraj says

      thanks Nelson. I am glad you liked the article.

  16. Deepak Sharma says

    Nicely written, just a small one, could you check the compensation part in description and infographics.

  17. Amrita says

    Awesome Insight and true picture for typica buy and sell analyst

    • Dheeraj says

      thanks Amrita :-)

  18. Rajeena says

    Hi, Amazing way of made it so easy to understand the difference.

    • Dheeraj says

      thanks Rajeena!

  19. Nidhi Malik says

    Hi Dheeraj,

    Thanks for such a simple and elaborate explanation of both the terms. Please also provide a glance on credit research and equity research.Thanks a lot..

    • Dheeraj says

      Thank you Nidhi!

  20. James Hartley says

    Dheeraj, one more awesome posts. Hats off to you for your incredible and knowledgeable posts. If anyone follow your posts, surely he will become a master in Finance :) Thank you for knowledge sharing…

    • Dheeraj says

      thank you James!

  21. Florence McShaw says

    Hi, Thanks for this content, I always enjoy it, the way it is written is excellent. The Infograph helps a lot.

    • Dheeraj says

      Thank yo Florence!

  22. Prachi Mishra says

    Thanks A lot for such an insightful detail on sell side vs Buy side. I had a small question. Can any firm be both a Sell side and a Buy side firm?

    • Dheeraj says

      Hi Prachi,

      A large investment bank with an asset management division as well as a brokerage arm can be both sell side as well as buy side. For example – large investment banks like JPMorgan etc.


  23. Neeraj says

    Amazing article.

    • Dheeraj says

      thanks Neeraj :-)

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