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7.5.2 Buy Side

Understanding the buy side of fixed-income trading, focusing on portfolio managers, traders, and the institutional clients they serve.

The Buy Side: An Overview

The buy side of fixed-income trading is where investment management takes place. Buy-side institutions, also known as the investment management side, are concerned primarily with asset management. These institutions buy and hold securities on behalf of their clients. These clients typically include entities such as mutual funds, insurance companies, and pension funds.

Key Roles in Buy-Side Fixed-Income Investment Management

Most buy-side firms divide fixed-income investment management duties into two primary roles:

  • Portfolio Manager: Portfolio managers are responsible for building and maintaining a portfolio of securities that aligns with the investment goals and risk tolerance of their institutional clients. They make decisions about which securities to buy, hold, and sell.

  • Trader: Traders are responsible for executing the buys and sells that align with the portfolio manager’s strategy. They seek out the best prices, often working with brokers and electronic trading platforms.

We will discuss the subject of institutional clients in greater detail in the next volume of this course, the Canadian Securities Course (CSC) Volume II.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the buy-side of fixed-income trading?

The buy side refers to investment firms that purchase securities for the purpose of asset management for institutional clients. These firms make investment decisions on their clients’ behalf to build profitable portfolios.

Who are the main clients of buy-side institutions?

The main clients typically include mutual funds, insurance companies, pension funds, and other institutional investors.

What is the difference between a portfolio manager and a trader on the buy side?

  • Portfolio Manager: Focuses on overall investment strategy and decision-making for the portfolio.
  • Trader: Executes the buying and selling of securities as directed by the portfolio manager’s strategy.

Key Takeaways

  • Buy-Side Institutions: Primarily focused on asset management for their clients, which include mutual funds, insurance companies, and pension funds.
  • Two Primary Roles: Portfolio managers and traders collaborate closely to achieve the investment goals of buy-side institutions.
  • Detailed Topic: A more comprehensive discussion on institutional clients is provided in the Canadian Securities Course (CSC) Volume II.


  • Fixed-Income Trading: Buying and selling of debt securities such as bonds.
  • Buy Side: Segment of the financial market that purchases securities for investment purposes.
  • Portfolio Manager: An investment professional responsible for making decisions about investment holdings in a portfolio.
  • Trader: A professional who buys and sells securities, aiming to achieve the best execution in financial markets.
  • Institutional Client: Large organizations such as pensions, mutual funds, and insurance companies that invest substantial amounts in various asset classes.

Diagrams and Charts

Buy-Side Investment Management Roles

    graph LR
	A[Buy-Side Institutions] --> B[Portfolio Manager]
	B --> C[Strategy Development]
	B --> D[Portfolio Maintenance]
	A --> E[Trader]
	E --> F[Buy Securities]
	E --> G[Sell Securities]

This diagram delineates the relationship and flow of responsibilities between portfolio managers and traders within buy-side institutions.

CSC® Exams Practice Questions

📚✨ CSC Exam Questions ✨📚

Welcome to the Knowledge Checkpoint! You'll find 10 carefully curated CSC exam practice questions designed to reinforce the key concepts covered. These questions will help you gauge your grasp of the material, identify areas that need further review, and ensure you're on the right track towards mastering the content for the Canadian Securities certification exams. Take your time, think critically, and use these quizzes as a tool to enhance your learning journey. 📘✨

Good luck!

markdown ## What is the primary role of buy-side institutions in fixed-income trading? - [ ] Creating and issuing securities - [ ] Conducting regulatory oversight - [ ] Underwriting initial public offerings (IPOs) - [x] Asset management for institutional clients > **Explanation:** Buy-side institutions are primarily concerned with asset management, buying, and holding securities on behalf of their institutional clients such as mutual funds, insurance companies, and pension funds. ## Which of the following is NOT a type of client commonly served by buy-side institutions? - [ ] Pension funds - [ ] Mutual funds - [ ] Insurance companies - [x] Investment banks > **Explanation:** Buy-side institutions typically serve mutual funds, insurance companies, and pension funds. Investment banks are generally part of the sell side. ## What are the two primary occupational roles in fixed-income investment management on the buy side? - [x] Portfolio manager and trader - [ ] Research analyst and compliance officer - [ ] Financial advisor and consultant - [ ] Risk manager and auditor > **Explanation:** Buy-side firms divide fixed-income investment management duties into two primary roles: portfolio managers, who make investment decisions, and traders, who execute those decisions. ## What is the focus of the buy side in the context of fixed-income securities? - [ ] Selling securities to individual investors - [ ] Issuing new securities - [x] Buying and holding securities - [ ] Regulatory compliance > **Explanation:** The buy side focuses on asset management, which involves buying and holding securities on behalf of their institutional clients. ## Which volume of the Canadian Securities Course discusses institutional clients in more detail? - [ ] Volume I - [x] Volume II - [ ] Volume III - [ ] Volume IV > **Explanation:** The subject of institutional clients is discussed more fully in Volume II of the Canadian Securities Course. ## Which type of institutions does not typically fall under buy-side institutions? - [x] Brokerage firms - [ ] Pension funds - [ ] Mutual funds - [ ] Insurance companies > **Explanation:** Brokerage firms are typically on the sell side, whereas buy-side institutions include pension funds, mutual funds, and insurance companies. ## What is the primary concern of buy-side institutions? - [ ] Product development - [ ] Compliance and regulation - [x] Asset management - [ ] Market making > **Explanation:** Buy-side institutions are primarily concerned with asset management for their clients. ## What type of trading activity do buy-side institutions primarily engage in? - [ ] Issuing securities - [ ] Day trading - [x] Buying and holding securities - [ ] Market manipulation > **Explanation:** Buy-side institutions focus on buying and holding securities as part of their asset management responsibilities for their clients. ## Who makes investment decisions at a buy-side firm? - [x] Portfolio manager - [ ] Compliance officer - [ ] Research analyst - [ ] Financial advisor > **Explanation:** Portfolio managers at buy-side firms are responsible for making investment decisions. ## Who executes investment decisions in a buy-side firm? - [ ] Portfolio manager - [x] Trader - [ ] Compliance officer - [ ] Research analyst > **Explanation:** Traders at buy-side firms execute the investment decisions made by portfolio managers.

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