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What is the difference between a buy side trading firm and sell side trading firm?

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On Wall Street, "buy side" refers to firms that invest money or 'buy' securities and "sell side" refers to the investment banks that provide the buy side firms with products and services such as initial public offerings (IPO's), secondary offerings, trading, research, conferences, etc. The "sell side" firms are 'selling' IPO's and services to the buy side firms. Examples of buy side firms would be large mutual fund companies like Fidelity or T Rowe Price. Examples of sell side firms would be investment banks like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, etc. Most of the large investment banks also have small buy side operations that are run separately from the larger sell side. For example, you can buy a mutual fund from Morgan Stanley or Merrill Lynch, but this isn't where these firms make most of their money.
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