Loosening Your Manager's Purse Strings

So, your branch manager is a cheapskate, a penny-pincher and a real tightwad when it comes to spending money on you. Here are a few suggestions on how to loosen those purse strings, offered by speakers at the National Association of Securities Professionals' (NASP) annual retail conference, held in September in Washington, D.C."The average financial consultant is willing to spend 5,000 dollars of

So, your branch manager is a cheapskate, a penny-pincher and a real tightwad when it comes to spending money on you. Here are a few suggestions on how to loosen those purse strings, offered by speakers at the National Association of Securities Professionals' (NASP) annual retail conference, held in September in Washington, D.C.

"The average financial consultant is willing to spend 5,000 dollars of the branch's money in order to make 500 dollars himself," said Mark Willis, former manager of Salomon Smith Barney's branch in Farmington Hills, Mich. "But if a broker comes to me and offers to put some of his own money into the project, that shows me a certain level of commitment."

Remember that branch managers are running businesses, said Willis, now the director of training for SSB's private client division in Hartford, Conn. BOMs are dealing with limited resources, narrowly defined line items in their budgets and a team of brokers who sometimes resemble professional athletes without contracts.

"A lot of what you can expect depends on you," Willis said. "Come to them in a businesslike manner, and you'll be surprised at the funds you can get."

Diana Mullen, manager of the Prudential Securities branch in Roseville, Calif., told brokers to negotiate with their managers. Mention the budget items you are not taking full advantage of (like postage). "Understand what resources you use at the firm" and tell the manager about the expected payoff, she suggested. "Managers place their bets based on the prospects for results."

Speakers also suggested tapping mutual fund company wholesalers for certain resources (check with your branch manager on what's allowed), money managers or your firm's product departments. "Sometimes, branch managers are spending money you don't see," Willis said, explaining that SSB spends an average of 50,000 dollars annually on each producer, including sales assistants' salaries.

Separately, keynote speaker Alexis Herman made a surprise announcement at the conference. Herman, secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, announced that the DOL and the NASP had agreed to work together on an "educational initiative" to bring financial literacy programs to minorities and women. NASP Chairman Ernest Green said it was too early to discuss specifics of the initiative. The NASP is a professional group for minorities and women in the securities industry, but welcomes all brokers to its retail conference. The association is headquartered in Washington, D.C. (www.nasphq.com).

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