DEFINITION of 'Account Executive'

An account executive is a person who has primary responsibility for an account, whether it be for an individual or corporate client. Generally applied to anyone who handles a sales relationship, it is often used in the advertising and public relations business, and in financial services.

BREAKING DOWN 'Account Executive'

An account executive is the primary contact person for a relationship between the vendor and customer. The account executive calls upon a client to introduce new products and services, arranging for technical, design or other support staff to travel with him or her to conduct show-and-tell demonstrations and help with the sales pitch. The account executive negotiates deal or transaction terms and once business is secured, it is the responsibility of the executive to make sure the client is satisfied on an ongoing basis. Under internal company guidelines or those mandated by regulatory authorities such as FINRA (e.g., Rule 3220 - applicable to broker-dealers and investment advisors), account executives are encouraged to build closer relationships with clients by taking them out for meals and entertainment.

Account Executive Responsibilities

Account executives are usually expected to develop new business by themselves, often with annual quotas, but they also could be assigned new clients by the company. An account executive could be assigned one very important client, who would be given the red carpet treatment, or the executive could have multiple clients that he or she must prioritize in terms of sales-generating importance. An account executive would handle the advertising needs of food and beverage company, for example, the cybersecurity hardware and software needs of a bank, the pharmaceutical needs of a hospital group, the wealth management needs of a private client or the prime brokerage service requirements of a hedge fund. Compensation for the executive is typically a base salary, sales commission and bonuses for reaching or exceeding sales targets.

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