Am I crazy?

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May 3, 2008 1:13 pm

I need some advise.  I
am 58 years old and a home builder.  As
you all know home building is not the business to be in now and I have been
thinking about changing careers.  So far
I have had interviews with EJ and MS.  EJ
sent a rejection letter with no explanation and MS said I was one of two
finalists but they went with an accountant who already had a book of clients
to offer.  The local BM backed me but he
had to defer to the complex VP who preferred the accountant.   So here I am back to the beginning wondering
if this is something I should be pursuing. 
The MS BM encouraged me to keep applying to other companies like ML and
UBS insisting that I am a good candidate and would fit in well.

My background includes straight commissioned sales of auto
parts, construction equipment and service contracts for DaimlerChrysler
vehicles.  I also have many years of
district management experience with Peugeot Motors of America and Porsche Cars
N.A..  My wife dresses me very well and
the wisps of grey hair confirm some sense of maturity. I do have a BA.

Last night I applies to ML via their website. What do you think? Am I crazy?

May 3, 2008 3:58 pm

I was 49 when I started int he business, and was asking myself the same questions. Now I am 57, have a small but solid book ($45MM assets, 70% fee based) and 2 years ago stopped building my book and got on the management track. And I'm asking myself the same question all over again.

 
Bottom line - if you know some people, realize thats a start but it wont make you. If you are willing to and have the energy to, work your arse off for 5 years, you'll have a decent business, and will be able to coast a bit. If you get lucky, you'll partner or buy someones book. But its a business of longevity, and if you dont get lucky it willl be hard. You also will need capital to support yourself, because the salaries are not enough to sustain an adult, unless you really have no bills, responsibilites, mortgage, etc. Last point, i think you gotta be passionate about the business.
May 3, 2008 5:14 pm

Thanks Pratoman,

I do know a lot of people but don’t want to rely on just
those contacts.  Will probably use all of
the traditional prospecting methods like cold-calling and the seminar approach
as well as simply knocking on business doors (
I really do like building a client base ). Of course this is predicated on someone hiring me. 

May 3, 2008 7:54 pm

I have to agree with Ice. Know its not what you want to hear, but as I said its a business of longevity. The point i was trying to make and i guess i wasnt direct enough, is that the clock is working against you. I still feel that way, regret that I didnt make the career change sooner, and I started at an age 10 years younger.

It really takes a long time to get the rocket ship into orbit.
May 4, 2008 12:43 am

Have you considered applying at a career insurance shop like Northwestern Mutual, New York Life or Mass Mutual?

Your age is an ASSET when you have a built-in network of people, like you, that are planning retirement and estate planning.

I wouldn't want to go through the RIGOR of getting started at your age, but it's my opinion that people stick around longer in the insurance business (and enjoy it more) than in the wirehouse settings.

May 4, 2008 7:00 am

If you listen to Skippy, you have a chance.  You must be willing to rely heavily on your contacts.    

May 5, 2008 2:25 am

58 and applying to be an advisor?  Sorry, you are crazy.  Even if you get to full retirement age as an advisor(65-67), you've got less that 10 years in the business.  If you are lucky, you would work you butt to the bone only to retire 3 years later.  In my opinion, 50 is around the max you should apply to do this job.  I lucked out and started right after my masters degree at age 25.

May 5, 2008 11:33 am

My estimation is you have many contacts through your old business, as well as having experience running a business. Your age is an asset, in my opinion. Sure the first year or 2 will be lean possibly (depends on how you cultivate your existing relationships). Many have started this career rather late like you and have netted $100,00 their first year- I've seen it happen. What is the size of your metro?

Stok
May 5, 2008 4:51 pm

I really want to thank you all for your feedback.  It has been very helpful.

The metro Springfield, MA area is about 320K+, Stok.  Your thoughts are about the same as the MS BM.

May 5, 2008 5:11 pm

I have considered Insurance, Skippy. But it seemed very limited when all there is to offer is life and health while the companies like ML, MS, UBS, etc. have insurance as well as all the other investment products.  I know it's a job that is 90% sales but I am a strong believer in investing and would get a lot of satisfaction from helping people get their finances squared away.  Sounds a little corny but it's true.

Mick

May 5, 2008 5:14 pm

I winced when I first saw 'Springfield, MA'.  But from what I am told, it's not your Dad's Springfield anymore.  "Suburban Boston" has pushed all the way out there.  Lot of $$'s in Mass.  Not like when I grew up (I don't live there anymore).  I used to go to the OLD Hoops HOF.

 
So is it pronounced Mick Zaaaahky? 
May 5, 2008 7:20 pm

I have considered Insurance, Skippy. But it seemed very limited when all there is to offer is life and health while the companies like ML, MS, UBS, etc. have insurance as well as all the other investment products.  I know it's a job that is 90% sales but I am a strong believer in investing and would get a lot of satisfaction from helping people get their finances squared away.  Sounds a little corny but it's true.


 
Mick, do your homework because everything in this post makes it clear that you have not done so. 
May 5, 2008 8:56 pm

Skippy,

I'll take a closer look at the insurance companies. I'm sure the business has changed over the past 10 years.  My brother has been in insurance for decades (MassMutual) and his work as well as his colleagues is very focused on Life and Health not much else...doesn't interest me.
Is a financial advisor's work not 90% sales, especially in the beginning?   That's what I've been reading on this forum and hearing from BM's.  Do most advisors not get satisfaction from their work (too idealistic)? I like money too but I do want to get some satisfaction from it. 

Mick

May 5, 2008 9:03 pm

Yes it is, Icecold.  Bart is now president of Yankee Candle and Homer is a V.P. at MassMutual.

May 5, 2008 9:31 pm

No B24, it's not dad's Springfield anymore. It's now the 13th most dangerous city in the country and the state is running the city since it went 'belly up" 4 years ago.  The FBI setup a special office 6 years ago to cleanup the corruption and organized crime.  Yes, "Make it in Massachusetts"!!

Yes, Boston is crawling towards Springfield.  A house in Wilbraham is half as much as one in the Boston suburbs and it takes less than an hour to get to RT 128. from here.  There are now many commuters living here.  There's even talk of a high speed train running along the MassPike.

Mick

May 6, 2008 2:29 pm

Gotta disagree with the age thing. I'm 56, started when I was 31. Of the few trainees in my class who survived more a few years was a 55 year old man. He had more energy than any two of us younger guys put together. Not to mention much bigger balls. Nothing stopped this guy. He went on to be the most successful of us all. Today he is an 80 year old million dollar producer, still goin strong.

 
Additionally, another trainee started about 12 years ago at age 53. Another big success story.
 
That said, getting this business off the ground takes a lot of energy. There are easier ways to make money, or so I'm told. If you've got the energy to work long hard hours then there is no reason not to keep with the original plan. Beware of what you are getting yourself into. Good luck!
May 6, 2008 8:06 pm

That's a great story, Bondguy. I Really do appreciate the feedback and inspiration.

Can you be more specific about being very careful before getting into the business.  It's my impression that it is not a business one gets into without a robust commitment.  Do you really need to be driven?  I like to work hard and see a business grow but being consumed by a career is probably not what I what to do now.  Just want an interesting job where I can get out and work with a lot of different people and feel like I've accomplished something at the end of the week and made some money too.

Mick

May 7, 2008 9:02 am
Mick Zarkey:

That's a great story, Bondguy. I Really do appreciate the feedback and inspiration.

Can you be more specific about being very careful before getting into the business.  It's my impression that it is not a business one gets into without a robust commitment.  Do you really need to be driven?  I like to work hard and see a business grow but being consumed by a career is probably not what I what to do now.  Just want an interesting job where I can get out and work with a lot of different people and feel like I've accomplished something at the end of the week and made some money too.

Mick

 
It can work if you are not driven. I know this because I've seen it. That said, cards on the table, if you are not looking to be consumed by this career then it's not the right place for you. Regardless of talent it will take a very life consuming effort to get liftoff. It's not 9 to 5, It's not working 35 hours a week in a relaxed atmosphere. It can be that 5, 6 years down the road. The beginning is 70 hours or more per week of hard, really hard effort. Add in a ton of stress and an X factor, that being the markets, and you've got a flavor of a trainee's life on the front line. Oh, and no real money for the first few years at least.
 
It is a very interesting job/career and you will be helping people. It's just not easy.
 
Maybe a bank would be better for you. It's not a cake walk, but at least the client base is built in. That would take some of the pressure off. If you investigate the bank channel beware that not all programs are created equal.
May 7, 2008 9:39 am

Ice, even though you are right on with your advice in this thread don't get boxed by conventional thinking. That is, the age thing. It's a big mistake to let age enter into your judgement.

 
This is going to sound offensive but it's not meant to be.  You have no idea how a 50/60 something person thinks. You have no grounds to say "This is why i wouldn't want to start at your age." Unless you are that age or have been, how do you know how you'll think as a 50/60 something? Maybe it's exactly how you'll feel or maybe it's not. You are trapped by the conventional thinking message of kicking back as we get older. And while it is true for some, probably most, it doesn't hold for all. Especially in this biz where there is no retirement age.
 
I'm not speaking for myself here, because from a work pov i'm definately kicked back. However, the oldest guy in my office works 60 hours a week and has the paycheck to go with it. Big!!!!! Other 60 plus guys in my firm are working 40 to 50 hour weeks and pulling million dollar paychecks. Then there are guys like me who work half as much as that for half or less of that pay. Not that making $400k for 30 hours of work each week is a crime or something,  it just doesn't typify the average plus age 50 guys I know. Each of us is different and has different goals. No different than the 30 somethings.
 
I don't mean to pick on you. Your comment kinda stuck out.
May 7, 2008 10:28 am

So long as one realizes this is a profession where the earnings generally take a while to ramp up to full cruising speed, and have no problem with that reality, age can be a positive as prospects will perceive you as more experienced than a younger guy.  Some want to work a long time, some don't.  Don't do it unless you have the determination to reap the longer term rewards, since in the short term there won't be many.

This discussion reminds me of a conversation between a buddy of mine - who at age 41 sold a successful business and started med school - and someone he had just met, who asked why in the world he would start med school at his age. 

Stranger: "Wow, when you get out of med school and residency and everything in 8 years, you'll be like, what, 49?!"

Friend: "Yup.  And if I DIDN'T go to med school, in 8 years I'll STILL be 49."

It's your life.  Live it the way you choose to.  This ain't a dress rehearsal.