Is Merrill Lynch a good firm to work for?

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Aug 25, 2005 11:59 pm

I'm being recruited by Merrill Lynch to be a financial consultant.  Our conversation just began; I have met with the sales manager, and will be having a second meeting to discuss their products.  I'm wondering how it is working for Merrill Lynch these days and hope to get some inside scoop... 


I used to have a friend at Merrill SF office; payout was about 30%+, she used to get about $200K a year mostly in trading commissions, but pressure to produce was high.  This was back in 1994-1998.


Any info is appreciated.

Aug 26, 2005 8:18 am

what was your prior profession?

Aug 26, 2005 8:39 am

It will be a high-pressure environment, but, if you like that, you will thrive.  They aren't the largest brokerage firm in the country for nothing.

Aug 26, 2005 12:57 pm

I was with a full service firm for 4 years then went to Schwab for 8 years.  Schwab seems to be screwing things up, doing all kinds of selling.  I figure, if I'm gonna do the selling, why not go to a real full service firm?


Back in the old days WSJ used to publish annually the average broker income.  Do they still do that?  Is there like a generally average?

Aug 27, 2005 7:34 am

Think of working at Merril as being the owner of a franchise or
something along those lines.  They will provide you everything to
open a 529 account to taking a company public.  You choose how you
want your busienss to look, locate the appropriate contacts within the
firm, and move on it.  They will not, however, hold your hand in
any way at all.  You will feel as though you are just left out
there at times, and you are....it is the nature of the business. 
You are not an employee, despite what many people post out here. 



If you enter the POA program you will likely get a salary close to what
you are making now, and have an inflated pay-out for a year or
two.  USE THIS TIME WISELY and build fast.  Most people set
back, "learn" the markets and the Merrill Way and find themselves
behind.



All in all, it is the finest full service firm in the world, and you will be greatly rewarded if you do well.

Aug 27, 2005 10:31 am

Had another meeting with Merrill, went pretty well.  The representative tried so hard to persuade me me sign on, I actually felt a little funny.


8 years ago I moved from NY to SF and needed to switch firms.  I wanted to go to Merrill, but was rejected because my $100K GROSS production with previous firm was not high enough (my friend made it).  That's why I went to Schwab.  So I had this impression in the back of my mind that Merrill is very hard to get into.


But now they are practically begging me to sign on, and I don't even have a book (I'm a middle manager at Schwab).  And stranger yet, they already took a few of my Schwab FC colleagues who I consider mediocre performers.  What's going on?

Aug 27, 2005 3:48 pm

Management probably needs to satisfy their recruiting goals by quarter
end and they are scraping the bottom of the barrel by trying to bring
you Schwab guys on.... 

Aug 27, 2005 9:40 pm
blarmston:

Management probably needs to satisfy their recruiting goals by quarter end and they are scraping the bottom of the barrel by trying to bring you Schwab guys on.... 


Everything you said makes sense , except how can Merrill enter into such a long term relation to satisfy such short term need?!  I still smell something fishy....

Aug 27, 2005 10:24 pm

My response was a joke, but its a reality that certain people get hired in this business to satisfy recruiting quotas. Its a certain "fill the seats or lose your bonus" attitude. My buddy is a sales manager at ML and he has confessed that certain people in our training program were added due to certain incentives paid out if they brought in a certain number of FA's. Its prevalent in the industry, with perhaps Morgan Stanley taking it to the next level ( until of course all falls down the past few months).

Aug 27, 2005 11:07 pm
bluestar:
blarmston:

Management probably needs to
satisfy their recruiting goals by quarter end and they are scraping the
bottom of the barrel by trying to bring you Schwab guys on.... 


Everything you said makes sense ,
except how can Merrill enter into such a long term relation to
satisfy such short term need?!  I still smell something fishy....





Even the reps who wash out will bring assets into the company.  Some of those accounts will stay when he gets fired.



There is such a push to gather assets that if you even remotely appear
to have a greater than 20% chance of succeeding, they will be very
eager to get you.



I talked to a friend recently who got calls from recruiters from an
insurance company and some sort of investment firm (he didn't remember
the name).  He doesn't have a college education, has never worked
in the investment industry, yet somehow they got his name and called
him.  He has never worked in sales and doesn't have a professional
job. 



Why in the world would they be interested in him?  I have no clue.



Fishy indeed.

Aug 28, 2005 9:38 am
bluestar:
blarmston:

Management probably needs to
satisfy their recruiting goals by quarter end and they are scraping the
bottom of the barrel by trying to bring you Schwab guys on.... 


Everything you said makes sense ,
except how can Merrill enter into such a long term relation to
satisfy such short term need?!  I still smell something fishy....





Maybe, Just maybe... they like you, they feel you would be a good fit,
they see a little fire in your eyes, and they think you might be a good
financial advisor.  Would you like them to toss you out on your
ear?  Would that be more in line with something "less
Fishy"?  ML is hiring and they like you- accept it.

Aug 28, 2005 7:36 pm

I just got hired my ML. I'm in a smaller market in the west. I don't know what they are looking for everywhere, but in my case, one of the questions I asked the sales trainer was "What are you looking for in people these days?"



He looked at my resume, and said, "You have military experience, and you had success in your last position." I was an indy/insurance rep for one company for one year and then another company 4 years. He said nobody stays in sales for 5 years if they haven't been successful.



So, I went through the process with them. I was also interviewing with UBS, SB, and Piper at the same time. In my case, ML was far and away the best choice. Even though it is 100 miles away and I have to move. I will start with them in the next 3 weeks.



I read on a lot of these posts about "their standards are tough...they will cut you loose...blah blah blah". I have a few thoughts about that. What's my worst case. I am in a crappy firm that I dislike and it's time for me to move on if I am going to keep growing. So, I knew I needed to move on. As far as ML. My research told me they were the best of the best. So, for me, If I am going to learn, I want to learn from the best. If I am going to fail, I am going to fail at the best firm. If it works out, I am far better off being there for a successful career over the next 20 years, or if I change my mind in five years or whatever I have great ML experience that someone else will probably respect or pay well for.



In my specific case, I think the decision was swayed by the local manager and the complex manager. I got along well with them both. They both appreciated my experience and my backgound. So, the people in place helped greatly. Also, in my case was the unique situation the office was in, in the unique market place. That might not be the same in NY or LA or SF. I don't know anything about any of those places or markets.



I've been in the biz 5+ years, am pushing 40 and have a family. This ain't my first rodeo.



In my case, I felt ML was the right choice at the right time. I don't know anything about your market place. I wish you the best. It's a difficult exciting terrible wonderful season of life!!



Good Luck!!