When Travelers Group and Citicorp merged in 1998, Travelers chief Sandy Weill crowed about the cross-selling potential. Back then, reps worried about impending sales pressure, but they say now that the anxiety was unnecessary.
“There's total freedom here. We're not required to push any proprietary products,” one SSB rep says. “There's zero pressure here to sell any product or mutual fund,” echoes another.
Brokers like the breadth of products Citigroup offers and the firm's focus on capturing affluent clients. “We have a one-stop shop for high-net-worth clients,” says a respondent, pointing to the firm's wealth management program and its combination of banking and brokerage services. Adds another broker, “This is the first [integrated, global business] model that really works.”
Reps also prize the firm's commitment to fee business. “I'm in total agreement with the firm's focus, which has always been and continues to be toward fees rather than transactions,” one broker says.
SSB's technology tools get positive comments. One respondent says, “I'm looking at my computer screen right now, and the list of ideas, suggestions and recommendations is huge.” Says another rep, “The ability to run my business is all built into the system.”
But SSB brokers complain about the lack of sales assistants and overall corporate cost cutting. “They have too many number crunchers running things,” an SSB rep says.
And respondents are critical of the firm's analysts. “The research here is far from unbiased,” says one broker, echoing others. “Everyone has always known that, but now it seems to be more flagrant than ever before.” Adds another: “We had a telecommunications analyst come out with a buy when the stock was plummeting. We found out later he was under pressure to do that.”
Nevertheless, SSB reps are happy. Sums up one satisfied respondent: “They give us what we need to run our own businesses, they're pretty innovative, and there's not too much that they don't do well.”
|Firm Score||Average: All Firms|
|Freedom from pressure to sell certain products||9.30||9.23|
|Realistic sales quotas||8.51||8.65|
|The firm's hiring and recruiting practices||7.86||7.66|
|Quality of sales assistants||8.00||7.87|
|Quantity of sales assistants||6.74||7.20|
|Quality of sales ideas||8.16||7.82|
|The quote and information system||9.02||8.70|
|Quality of the firm's operations||8.52||7.96|
|Quality of the firm's research||7.00||7.54|
|The firm's fixed-income pricing||7.86||7.77|
|Quality of the products offered||8.76||8.64|
|Your branch manager||8.10||8.31|
|The firm's strategic focus||8.56||8.25|
|Overall ethics of the firm||9.38||9.31|
|The firm's image with the public||8.92||8.54|