WealthManagement Magazine

Brokerage Report Cards

In October, RR polled a total of 400 brokers; 50 from each of the top firms as measured by number of retail reps: A.G. Edwards, Dean Witter, Edward Jones, EVEREN Securities, Merrill Lynch, PaineWebber, Prudential Securities and Smith Barney. Brokers were asked to rank their employers on the categories shown, based on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best.The brokers polled were drawn from a random

In October, RR polled a total of 400 brokers; 50 from each of the top firms as measured by number of retail reps: A.G. Edwards, Dean Witter, Edward Jones, EVEREN Securities, Merrill Lynch, PaineWebber, Prudential Securities and Smith Barney. Brokers were asked to rank their employers on the categories shown, based on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best.

The brokers polled were drawn from a random sample of 4,800 names-600 from each firm-from the RR subscriber list. The first 50 willing and available brokers who had been with their firm at least one year were polled.

Each firm is given its own report card with an average score and a letter grade for each question and each category. Four major categories are broken out: Work Environment, Support, Product and Management. Scores for these four items are averages of the survey items listed below each category heading.

One final note: Quoted comments in the firm write-ups and in the quotes shown separately are from brokers who were surveyed. No respondents were quoted more than once within the entire report on each firm.

Poll Notes ... Once again, Edward Jones scores the highest of the eight firms on 14 of the 19 questions on the RR survey. Jones was not rated on two questions: quality of sales assistants and branch manager. A.G. Edwards reps gave their firm the top score on the firm's image with the public. Dean Witter's research was ranked highest by brokers, surpassing Merrill Lynch, which in past RR surveys has taken top honors on this item. But this year, Merrill takes third place with Edward Jones rising to No. 2 in research. However, Merrill Lynch reps do rank their firm top-notch in quality of sales assistants. And Prudential reps rated their firm highest on two items-account statements and branch manager.

PaineWebber scored lowest of the eight firms on six of the 19 items, including hiring and recruiting practices, sales support, the quote and information system, operations, quality of products offered and the firm's strategic focus. Dean Witter and Prudential tied for second to last place, each with five questions that brokers rated rock bottom.

Looking at the average scores of all eight firms, reps ranked overall ethics of the firm No. 1-with an average of 9.17, and freedom from pressure to sell certain products came in No. 2 at 9.07. That's progress-or perceived progress anyway. Reps also are satisfied with realistic sales quotas, quality of products offered by their firms, their employer's strategic focus and the firm's image with the public.

The biggest problem area, according to reps, is the quantity of sales assistants with an average score of 6.84. Not only are there not enough sales assistants to go around, but the quality of the ones they have is lacking, according to brokers. In addition, there's room for improvement with hiring and recruiting practices, payout, quality of sales ideas and ongoing training.

A.G. Edwards Report Card

Becoming More Like a Wirehouse?

Registered Reps: More than 6,000

* February 1997: Internal memo warns lower 40% of sales force to shape up or think about shipping out.

* May 1997: Firm introduces Spectrum mutual fund wrap program, offering 562 funds from 19 money management firms.

* August 1997: CEO Ben Edwards is quoted in the Aug. 29 Buffalo News: "We're not for sale at any price."

* September 1997: The firm has applied with the government to charter a thrift, according to the Sept. 16 American Banker.

A.G. Edwards brokers are generally happy with the environment of the firm, especially with their freedom from pressure to sell certain products. One broker says: "They come out with a lot of ideas, but they never put any pressure on us to sell products." Edwards reps also are content with the firm's overall ethics and its image with the public. No big surprises there.

Some reps beef about the firm's research-that it's weak in coverage of high-tech, doesn't cover enough stocks and is not always timely. "I've been burned too many times-I do the research better myself," says one rep.

The biggest complaint and lowest scores concern sales assistants. Reps say the firm is stingy with sales assistants with ratios of four to seven brokers per SA. "I get one SA for two hours once a week," grouses one broker. "She has seven reps to deal with."

Another observation by reps it that management is slow to change, citing for example, their delay in introducing a fee-based account. "We seem to be more of a follower than a leader," says one rep.

There are hints that more sales pressure is on the way, according to some brokers. In terms of sales quotas, one rep says, "About a year ago one of the managers came out and said they expected at least $225,000 for everyone. That was the first hint they're starting to put more pressure on their managers, and that's scary."

On the positive side, reps are thrilled with the client-oriented focus of the firm. One Edwards broker explains, "I'm pleased with the consistency of the philosophy of putting the client first. ... "

Edwards brokers are satisfied with their retirement plan, too. "A.G. Edwards has a lucrative retirement plan," notes one respondent. "They match you dollar for dollar up to 3% of your contribution and have a 2% profit sharing plan. If you want to buy A.G. Edwards stock, there's no commission on it."

"The firm's image is good because of our chairman and CEO. We're in big trouble if he retires or dies."

"I love this firm. Tell other brokers they should come to work here."

"We should have more pressure. We don't have any. We should be kicked in the rear now and then."

"We need a little more help at the branch level in terms of support, both financially and getting more sales assistants."

Score/Grade Work Environment 9.10 A

Freedom from pressure to sell certain products 9.78 A+

Realistic sales quotas 9.28 A

The firm's hiring and recruiting practices 8.19 A-

Payout 9.14 A

Support 8.22 A-

Sales support 8.30 A-

Quality of sales assistants 7.65 B+

Quantity of sales assistants 7.00 B-

Quality of sales ideas 8.20 A-

Ongoing training 8.55 A-

The quote and information system 9.00 A

Quality of the firm's operations 8.80 A

Account statements 8.28 A-

Product 8.60 A-

Quality of the firm's research 8.10 A-

The firm's fixed-income pricing 8.51 A-

Quality of the products offered 9.18 A

Management 8.99 A

Your branch manager 8.08 A-

The firm's strategic focus 8.70 A

Overall ethics of the firm 9.74 A+

The firm's image with the public 9.42 A+

Dean Witter Report Card

Mega-Merger with Morgan Stanley

Registered Reps: 9,565

* February 1997: Dean Witter Discover & Co. acquires on-line discount broker, Lombard Brokerage Inc.

* February 1997: $10 billion deal is announced in which Dean Witter Discover & Co. merges with Morgan Stanley.

* June 1997: RR reports that Dean Witter has given most of its analysts the boot and turned research over to Morgan Stanley people.

* August 1997: Dean Witter cuts retail reps' sales credits on Morgan Stanley IPOs from 100% to 65%; secondaries are cut to a 75% credit.

* September 1997: Firm launches mutual fund wrap program.

Dean Witter brokers are delighted with the firm's synergistic merger with Morgan Stanley for a number of reasons-superior research, improved technology and the responsiveness of Morgan Stanley management and analysts.

The merger has been "seamless," says a Dean Witter producer. "The enthusiasm and support we've gotten from the institutional side of Morgan Stanley has been nothing less than heartwarming."

Another respondent adds: "I'm really pleased with the kind of research we have access to through Morgan Stanley. Also, we have IPOs, and that's good, too."

But some reps were not too happy about the firm's pay cut on IPOs. "I'm obviously disappointed with the payout reduction ... particularly the recent haircut on underwriting business," notes one rep.

Dean Witter reps rated payout the lowest of any of the eight firms. "It's a little low, and actually seems to be getting lower than it has been," gripes one respondent. Other areas that ranked at the bottom: freedom from pressure to sell certain products, account statements, and quality and quantity of sales assistants.

Reps have the typical beefs about sales assistants: The firm doesn't hire enough of them, and they don't get paid enough. One respondent explains, "The problem is that they don't give the sales assistants enough ownership in what the brokers are doing."

In spite of a few complaints, things are looking up for Dean Witter reps who are enthusiastic about the firm's direction, particularly on the heels of a merger that's receiving rave reviews.

"While some firms on the Street are going 25 mph and weaving ... Morgan Stanley Dean Witter is going 90 mph on cruise control. That's because management believes the little cogs-and brokers-are what makes the big cogs-firm management-turn."

"John Mack, the CEO at Morgan Stanley who is now head of retail sales for Dean Witter, has an attitude of 'How can we make it happen?' In the past, Dean Witter, as an institution, has had an attitude of 'We don't want to do it.'"

Score/Grade Work Environment 7.59 B+

Freedom from pressure to sell certain products 8.02 A-

Realistic sales quotas 8.78 A

The firm's hiring and recruiting practices 7.00 B

Payout 6.56 B-

Support 7.35 B+

Sales support 7.34 B+

Quality of sales assistants 6.90 B

Quantity of sales assistants 5.76 C+

Quality of sales ideas 7.62 B+

Ongoing training 7.56 B+

The quote and information system 9.04 A

Quality of the firm's operations 7.56 B+

Account statements 6.98 B

Product 8.36 A-

Quality of the firm's research 9.42 A+

The firm's fixed-income pricing 7.37 B+

Quality of the products offered 8.30 A-

Management 8.55 A-

Your branch manager 7.90 B+ The firm's strategic focus 8.58 A-

Overall ethics of the firm 8.94 A

The firm's image with the public 8.76 A

Edward Jones Report Card

Being Fruitful and Multiplying

Registered Reps: More than 3,700

* January 1997: RR reports that Jones is utilizing the Gallup Organization to interview broker prospects in an effort to hire the right people.

* September 1997: Jones ranks sixth in national employer and employee survey on family-friendly companies by Business Week and Boston College's Center on Work & Family.

* October 1997: In Oct. 13 Fortune magazine story entitled "The Wal-Mart of Wall Street," John Bachmann, Jones' managing partner, says, "My job now is to see how large and how important we can become without giving up the partnership."

Edwards Jones retains its cult-like following from its reps who ranked their firm highest on 14 of the 19 questions on the survey (and two didn't apply).

The one area that has shown the most dramatic improvement for Jones is research. Reps ranked it second to Dean Witter, beating Merrill Lynch, which took a close third. One Jones rep points out that the firm's research has "really improved a lot. It's really beefed up, and it's starting to show." Research has been a weak spot in past surveys.

Although research has been bolstered, name recognition for the firm has not. An Oct. 13 story on Edward Jones in Fortune magazine called the firm "The Wal-Mart of Wall Street," referring to its niche of serving middle America. But it's a misnomer to the extent that Jones is nowhere near a household name-a complaint some reps have. "The mass public does not seem to know about us," says a Jones rep.

Jones producers also gripe about the firm's account statements-the lowest item on the survey. Reps say the statements are comprehensive to the point of confusing clients.

Some brokers say that operations hasn't kept up with the firm's growth. But others disagree. "They have two-and-a-half people backing up every broker, and they treat the brokers like they're God," says a Jones rep.

Overall, Jones producers have few gripes; they are happy as clams with most aspects of the firm: ethics, technology and freedom from product pushing.

And the entrepreneurial spirit is a big seller with reps. "The reason I like working with Edward Jones is because I'm in business with myself but not by myself," explains one respondent.

"[Ethics] couldn't get any better. The best I've seen in 22 years in the business."

"Mr. Bachmann [CEO] has a goal of having 10,000 offices nationwide by 2003 or 2004, and they're on schedule for reaching that goal."

"IRs [investment representatives] pay the full cost of health insurance, and that was a policy that was put into place before Jones started to grow, and it doesn't make a lot of sense now."

Score/Grade Work Environment 9.36 A+

Freedom from pressure to sell certain products 9.90 A+

Realistic sales quotas 9.52 A+

The firm's hiring and recruiting practices 8.84 A

Payout 9.18 A

Support 9.22 A

Sales support 9.24 A

Quality of sales assistants na/na

Quantity of sales assistants 9.58 A+

Quality of sales ideas 9.14 A

Ongoing training 9.34 A+

The quote and information system 9.40 A+

Quality of the firm's operations 9.28 A

Account statements 8.56 A-

Product 9.22 A

Quality of the firm's research 9.16 A

The firm's fixed-income pricing 8.86 A

Quality of the products offered 9.64 A+

Management 9.48 A+

Your branch manager na/na

The firm's strategic focus 9.36 A+

Overall ethics of the firm 9.86 A+

The firm's image with the public 9.22 A

EVEREN Report Card

Getting Ready for a Sale?

Registered Reps: 1,280

* May 1997: James Boris, EVEREN's chairman and CEO, says in a May 13 Dow Jones News Service story that he wants to decrease the percent of revenue derived from retail brokerage to 60% from 76% and increase revenue from capital markets and asset management.

* July 1997: EVEREN launches a national advertising campaign to raise name awareness.

* August 1997: Firm cuts commission payouts for lower producers by one to two percentage points. Meanwhile, big management bonuses cause some grumbling.

EVEREN brokers still appreciate being employee owned-especially since the stock has done so well. One respondent says, "We're 75% employee owned and our stock has gone from 17 to 45 in the last year, so lots of us are happy."

The most highly rated areas for EVEREN reps: freedom from pressure to sell certain products, the overall ethics of the firm and realistic sales quotas. "I'm not pressured to do things for clients they don't need," one EVEREN rep points out.

The biggest gripes for EVEREN producers: quality of sales ideas from the firm, ongoing training and the firm's image with the public-or lack thereof. "No one knows who the Sam Hill we are," a respondent grouses.

Some EVEREN reps feel they're getting squeezed while the firm prepares for a possible sale. "They're making the accounting side look good so things like having good sales assistants takes a back seat in importance," says another EVEREN broker.

EVEREN producers also grumble about the quality of operations staff-who are underpaid, they say, which makes it difficult to attract and retain good people.

Although some reps say technology has improved at the firm, others are less complimentary. "Why didn't we have the Internet until three weeks ago? And why doesn't our Internet site give the client quotes?" asks an EVEREN rep.

Brokers do like the fact that EVEREN is a smaller firm. "You can talk to management, traders, they call you with ideas," says a respondent.

One EVEREN producer sums it up this way: "I think as a whole, most everyone is happy. Most of the complaints are generally directed at growing pains the company is having."

"Our main strength and one of the reasons I chose to be with this firm is that it is further along the evolutionary continuum toward a relationship-based, fee-for-service business."

"We need more continuing education credits along with training opportunities to make sure everyone is up to speed on current trends."

"The firm combines the capabilities of a big firm and the nimbleness of a small firm."

Score/Grade Work Environment 8.46 A-

Freedom from pressure to sell certain products 9.40 A+

Realistic sales quotas 8.74 A

The firm's hiring and recruiting practices 7.56 B+

Payout 8.14 A-

Support 7.64 B+

Sales support 7.86 B+

Quality of sales assistants 7.70 B+

Quantity of sales assistants 7.28 B

Quality of sales ideas 6.92 B

Ongoing training 7.16 B

The quote and information system 8.26 A-

Quality of the firm's operations 7.90 B+

Account statements 8.06 A-

Product 7.57 B+

Quality of the firm's research 7.24 B

The firm's fixed-income pricing 7.24 B

Quality of the products offered 8.24 A-

Management 8.11 A-

Your branch manager 8.10 A-

The firm's strategic focus 8.24 A- Overall ethics of the firm 8.94 A

The firm's image with the public 7.16 B

Merrill Lynch Report Card

Reorganizing, Creating More Wraps

Registered Reps: 14,800

* January 1997: Merrill introduces Financial Advantage, a fee-based account that offers various levels of services.

* June 1997: Firm agrees to pay $30 million fine to Orange County, Calif., district attorney to end investigation of alleged improper disclosure in several 1994 bond deals Merrill underwrote for the county.

* June 1997: Merrill reorganizes, dividing itself into four sectors: U.S. Private Client Group, International Private Client Group, Asset Management Group, and Corporate and Institutional Client Group.

* September 1997: Firm introduces Mutual Fund Advisor Selects, a no-load and load-waived fund program.

Merrill Lynch producers are most satisfied with the firm's image with the public, which appears to make up for the lowest payout in the industry.

A common sentiment among Merrill brokers is expressed by one respondent: "We have exceptional senior management, they are visionaries because of their focus on planning and their ability to position us to be key players as we move into the new millennium."

Although reps are pleased with the direction of the firm and speak highly of its research, products and ethics, they do have a few complaints in other areas. Merrill brokers are least satisfied with the quantity of sales assistants, although they rank the quality of the SAs they have higher than any other firm. Operations is a source of broker complaints, too. "The folks handling operations are the weakest link in this firm," claims another Merrill producer.

Merrill brokers are not too thrilled with the different statements clients get, depending on the type of account. Reps wonder why Merrill can't have just one statement style.

Technology reviews vary-brokers who have the new Trusted Global Advisor system, the firm's new workstation, are happy with it. Those who don't complain about sub-par technology.

Pressure to prepare financial plans-Financial Foundations-remains an issue with brokers. "It's not that planning is bad," explains one Merrill rep, "but everybody doesn't need it."

Despite some complaints, Merrill brokers overall crow about the firm. "It's the greatest firm in the world," says one enthusiastic rep. "They've given me everything I've ever wanted ... "

"Payout really doesn't apply because we can penetrate households with other products, like liability management-stuff I can sell and get paid on that I just couldn't do [elsewhere]."

"I applaud this firm's strategic outlook and research, but feel the quality of middle management is low."

"There's too many products and that can be confusing. We don't have enough time to figure them all out."

Score/Grade Work Environment 7.72 B+

Freedom from pressure to sell certain products 8.16 A-

Realistic sales quotas 8.12 A-

The firm's hiring and recruiting practices 7.75 B+

Payout 6.86 B

Support 7.94 B+

Sales support 8.04 A-

Quality of sales assistants 8.02 A-

Quantity of sales assistants 6.12 B-

Quality of sales ideas 8.22 A-

Ongoing training 8.32 A-

The quote and information system 8.12 A-

Quality of the firm's operations 8.22 A-

Account statements 8.42 A-

Product 8.60 A-

Quality of the firm's research 9.12 A

The firm's fixed-income pricing 7.61 B+

Quality of the products offered 9.06 A

Management 8.84 A

Your branch manager 7.92 B+

The firm's strategic focus 9.04 A

Overall ethics of the firm 9.12 A

The firm's image with the public 9.28 A

PaineWebber Report Card

Cleaning Up and Waiting for a Buyer

Registered Reps: 6,100

* February 1997: Firm introduces PaineWebber EDGE, an on-line client information service that allows clients to access their account, track portfolio, get quotes and news.

* March 1997: Federal judge in New York approves $200 million settlement in class-action suit against PaineWebber for misleading sales practices in its limited partnerships sales.

* September 1997: PaineWebber is fined $500,000 by the SEC for putting unsuitable risky securities in the PaineWebber Short-Term U.S. Government Income Fund.

PaineWebber reps value their freedom and the firm's lack of product pushing. They're also happy with the firm's research and its overall ethics. But reps report that the firm is in limbo, waiting to get sold. Some are hoping it happens. "I'm hoping for improved upper management," says one respondent.

Problem areas for reps? Hiring and recruiting practices, payout, sales support, quantity of sales assistants, fixed-income pricing, the firm's strategic focus and operations.

Operations is disjointed, PaineWebber brokers report, and some of the operations responsibilities are dropped on sales assistants whose time would be better spent, naturally, helping brokers with sales. "The firm lacks leadership to develop a system on how to do things operationally and in training operations managers," says a PaineWebber producer.

Training is another area reps say could improve. "Unless you're a major producer, there's not an opportunity to take part in out-of-the-branch training," a respondent says.

Reps beef about account statements, too. "Horrible account statements," says a PaineWebber rep. "No one understands them."

Sales assistants also are a big source of gripes. Like most firms, SAs are overworked, underpaid and in short supply. "They're not well-trained, not well-screened and there's no follow-up," a respondent says. "This is a situation where management should monitor closely, but they don't."

And technology is outdated and slow, although reps have been promised a new system for next year.

At least while they're in limbo, waiting to be sold, reps have the "freedom to do business in the best interest of my clients," as one PaineWebber rep points out

"One of our major strengths here is allowing brokers to build a personal relationship without a lot of hands-on interference from the firm forced on the broker and client."

"With the way the industry is going, the firm needs to be providing us with more education to help us capture more assets. We need to be more knowledgeable in the areas of retirement planning and estate planning."

Score/Grade Work Environment 7.93 B+

Freedom from pressure to sell certain products 9.16 A

Realistic sales quotas 8.58 A-

The firm's hiring and recruiting practices 6.90 B

Payout 7.10 B

Support 7.26 B

Sales support 7.10 B

Quality of sales assistants 7.40 B+

Quantity of sales assistants 6.38 B-

Quality of sales ideas 7.78 B+

Ongoing training 7.38 B+

The quote and information system 7.70 B+

Quality of the firm's operations 7.02 B

Account statements 7.32 B

Product 7.93 B+

Quality of the firm's research 9.02 A

The firm's fixed-income pricing 6.74 B

Quality of the products offered 8.02 A-

Management 8.08 A-

Your branch manager 7.88 B+

The firm's strategic focus 7.26 B

Overall ethics of the firm 8.94 A

The firm's image with the public 8.24 A-

Prudential Report Card

Laptops Leased, LP Probation Ends

Registered Reps: More than 6,000

* January 1997: Prudential initiates laptop lease program for brokers.

* July 1997: RR reports that at least 25 Prudential branch managers have left the firm this year because of a new compensation package that ties their bonuses in part to sales of proprietary products.

* October 1997: Prudential's three-year criminal probationary period ends, which stemmed from its sale of limited partnerships and was imposed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

Prudential brokers say life is improving for the firm-there's light at the end of the limited partnership debacle. The firm'simage has improved, and now they're one of the cleanest firms on the Street, according to Prudential reps.

One respondent says, "We're getting back there, it'll take time."

Producers say top management has become more proactive. "In the last year or so, there seems to be a renewed excitement and focus and direction from the firm as it has emerged from its trials and tribulations of the past," reports a Prudential rep. Prudential brokers rank their freedom from pressure to sell products highest of any question on the survey. "They give the rep the freedom to find a niche," explains one respondent.

Reps also are satisfied with the firm's ethics, account statements, product quality, branch managers and technology.

"Our technology is incredible," says a Prudential rep. "There's very little you can't find at your fingertips if you have questions." Problem areas? Quantity of sales assistants, fixed-income pricing, the firm's image with the public, payout, sales support and research are the areas ranked lowest by reps.

Research is a rough spot. "There's a lot of turnover, and we're losing a lot of analysts," says one respondent.

Another Prudential rep adds that turnover results in "lack of research in certain areas."

Turnover also is a problem with sales assistants, according to reps. SA quantity got the lowest score from Prudential respondents.

The firm's fixed-income pricing also got low marks from reps.

In general, however, the firm seems to be moving in the right direction "to focus on the client, getting away from transactional business," says another respondent.

"Our weakness is our size. When you get too large, you run into problems not getting to know people, especially when you are dealing with people in New York."

"Really making great strides with regard to technology."

"Basically, it's not the firm it used to be-it's gotten a lot better."

"Research here leaves a lot to be desired.

I can get information just as good on the Internet."

Score/Grade Work Environment 7.97 B+

Freedom from pressure to sell certain products 9.08 A

Realistic sales quotas 8.08 A-

The firm's hiring and recruiting practices 7.52 B+

Payout 7.18 B

Support 7.79 B+

Sales support 7.38 B+

Quality of sales assistants 7.66 B+

Quantity of sales assistants 6.28 B-

Quality of sales ideas 7.64 B+

Ongoing training 8.22 A-

The quote and information system 8.76 A

Quality of the firm's operations 7.66 B+

Account statements 8.72 A

Product 7.28 B

Quality of the firm's research 6.86 B

The firm's fixed-income pricing 6.58 B-

Quality of the products offered 8.40 A-

Management 7.80 B+

Your branch manager 8.39 A-

The firm's strategic focus 7.48 B+

Overall ethics of the firm 8.76 A

The firm's image with the public 6.56 B-

Smith Barney Report Card

Sandy Buys Salomon

Registered Reps: Close to 11,000

* November 1996: Smith Barney offers proprietary fund portability.

* January 1997: Firm introduces AssetOne, which offers customers the option of paying a flat fee for a set number of transactions.

* March 1997: National Organization for Women (NOW) stages protest in front of Smith Barney's New York headquarters and dubs firm "Merchant of Shame" for its alleged lack of response to sexual harassment and discrimination.

* September 1997: Travelers Group Inc., Smith Barney's parent company, buys investment banker Salomon Inc. for about $9 billion in stock.

Smith Barney reps are most content with their freedom to sell what they want to, and they're optimistic about the Salomon merger's potential for underwriting and improved research.

"The recent merger will add to fixed income strengths and research," says a Smith Barney rep. "It will be a real strong shop. Hopefully, the merger will give us a better international product."

Reps rated the firm's current research relatively low. "We need to beef up our equity research," says another Smith Barney broker.

Like most firms, brokers complain of a shortage of sales assistants. "They need more help, more training," notes a Smith Barney producer. "They want to become brokers. The good ones become branch assistants or go to work for top producers; the others who stay put become complacent."

Smith Barney brokers also ranked quality of sales assistants, hiring and recruiting practices, payout and sales ideas the lowest of any survey questions.

Reps are looking forward to a technology upgrade that is supposed to happen within the next year.

Smith Barney brokers like the firm's entrepreneurial environment and the employee stock ownership plan. But as one rep says, "I enjoy being a stockholder more than an employee."

The firm's image with the public, realistic sales quotas, overall ethics and strategic focus get high ratings from brokers. Says one Smith Barney producer, "The philosophy is not only caring about if we're making money, but how well the customers are being served."

"There's a big push by Sandy Weill to make sure everyone is involved with the stock. Some resent that. But it's hard to resent someone who's making money for you."

"This is the best run brokerage firm in the United States. ... If there is any weakness it is in the area of research."

"Although the firm is demanding more from us now, the quality of management is infinitely better, even though it's not as cushy for brokers as it used to be."

Score/Grade Work Environment 8.14 A-

Freedom from pressure to sell certain products 9.08 A

Realistic sales quotas 8.90 A

The firm's hiring and recruiting practices 7.08 B

Payout 7.48 B+

Support 7.38 B+

Sales support 7.66 B+

Quality of sales assistants 7.00 B

Quantity of sales assistants 6.34 B-

Quality of sales ideas 7.32 B

Ongoing training 7.12 B

The quote and information system 7.84 B+

Quality of the firm's operations 7.52 B+

Account statements 8.22 A-

Product 7.59 B+

Quality of the firm's research 7.08 B

The firm's fixed-income pricing 7.58 B+

Quality of the products offered 8.12 A-

Management 8.46 A-

Your branch manager 7.58 B+

The firm's strategic focus 8.72 A

Overall ethics of the firm 9.02 A

The firm's image with the public 8.52 A-

Average: All Firms Grade/Score Work Environment A- 8.28

Freedom from pressure to sell certain products A 9.07

Realistic sales quotas A 8.75

The firm's hiring and recruiting practices B+ 7.61

Payout B+ 7.70

Support B+ 7.82

Sales support B+ 7.87

Quality of sales assistants B+ 7.48

Quantity of sales assistants B 6.84

Quality of sales ideas B+ 7.86

Ongoing training B+ 7.96

The quote and information system A- 8.52

Quality of the firm's operations A- 8.00

Account statements A- 8.07

Product A- 8.14

Quality of the firm's research A- 8.25

The firm's fixed-income pricing B+ 7.56

Quality of the products offered A- 8.62

Management A- 8.49

Your branch manager B+ 7.98

The firm's strategic focus A- 8.42

Overall ethics of the firm A 9.17

The firm's image with the public A- 8.40

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