PaineWebber is piloting a new recruitment program to lure 50-somethings and retirees into the brokerage business, an effort it hopes will reduce broker turnover and better serve the aging baby boomer market.
The firm says it's aggressively looking for people who have been successful in other careers and perhaps have retired from managing their own businesses. The idea is to have the brokerage force look more like the firm's clientele: older and more affluent. The firm also hopes to capitalize on mature recruits' broader spheres of influence.
Begun this year on a limited basis, the program provides a slightly different training experience for the older newcomers as well as a distinct pay scale. The firm would not comment specifically on the training or pay, however, only to say that it appeals to the needs of more mature reps.
"If we can attract people in at age 50 or 55, that's just fine," says Mark Sutton, executive vice president and director of PaineWebber's Private Client Services. "They could come in and be mentored by a successful broker, have a successful 10- to 15-year career, and when they decide they no longer want to do it, they could transition their business to a younger broker. This is a unique industry where you can continue to work until you just don't want to work anymore."
The program has not yet permeated the branch level, but looks set to go next year, a firm spokesperson says. Branch managers soon will be identifying trainee prospects with the help of PaineWebber reps and employees, and looking at ways to target these people in their communities, the spokesperson says.
Unlike PaineWebber's new college recruitment program, which finds potential employees through the firm's Web site, the mature broker program will scout its recruits mainly through seminars, according to Sutton. "These people are not surfing the Net," he says. "They're sipping Mai Tais, and hitting golf balls."
Last year, PaineWebber recruited 290 experienced brokers and 600 trainees. It hopes to boost that to 400 experienced brokers in '98 and 1,200 rookie trainees, a nearly 80% increase. The firm did not have projected numbers on how many of the new recruits it hoped to have in the 50-plus age range. The firm also says it wants to recruit more minorities and women to tap into previously underserved markets.
Brokers at the firm, however, doubt the mature broker endeavor will fly. Most have not even heard of the initiative.
"If a person's older and successful, what would make them want to switch careers?" questions one PaineWebber broker who was not aware of the recruitment drive. "We're always looking for people who have been successful in other careers, but we've never hired any at our branch. The barriers would be what the firm's willing to pay someone to get started in this business-$2,000 a month doesn't meet survival levels."
Even prior to talk of this new program, PaineWebber managers have had the ability to pay higher salaries to some trainees-into the mid-$30,000 range in some cases, sources say.
Another PaineWebber broker rejects the notion that clients automatically will be attracted by 50-year-old rookies. "They'll say, 'Yeah, this guy's my age, but he's only been in the business six months.'" The same rep worries about the firm's intentions of mining the client base for potential investment reps. "Like I want to give up a client to become a competitor."
He doubts, however, that very many older, successful people would be interested in the rigors of building a new business as a broker.
"I was working 50-plus hours a week and talking to 75 to 100 people a day as a rookie in my mid-30s," he says. "Training is pretty brutal, and as far as pay, you would have to find a retiree that would be willing to work at McDonald's."
A firm spokesman says successful retirees most likely would have the financial stability to allow them to handle the salary differential as a rookie rep.