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Jan 25, 2007 10:57 am

Next week will be my last week with Ameriprise. Having read the boards, I felt like there are a lot of misconceptions about Ameriprise. Now, given the fact that I am choosing to move elsewhere, I obviously agree that Ameriprise isn't probably the best fit for most people (or at a minimum not for me). But a lot of the things I read on the board are either slightly off or completely wrong. So, having worked for the company for a year and a half, I'd like to give you my experience and my perceptions.


The most common complete inaccuracy I read here is that you have to sell proprietary mutal funds (Riversource) and that they are inferior funds. The former is definitely not true and neither if the latter. It is true that several years ago advisors had to sell Amex funds, but like I said it's been years since that was the case. Not only are we not required to sell Riversource Funds, relatively few advisors (outside of the vets) do. The fund family that is currently sold the most at AMP as a whole is actually Oppenheimer funds. Oppenheimer, which is owned by Mass Mutual (which has no affilitation with Ameriprise outside of the selling agreement) actually has very good funds. Also, over a 3 year time frame and more recently, Riversource funds have done fairly well (at least the value funds have). But I only have $12,000 in Riversource funds and it wasn't my decision (a trainer's when I first started). The rest of the money I manage is in wrap and Oppenheimer.


The second misconception I read is that Riversource insurance and annuities suck. Actually, they don't suck at all. I think it's a scam that advisors can only sell proprietary insurance...so you have no disagreement from me there. This way, the company not only makes money on the advisor side through the commission generated from the insurance company, but they make profit on the insurance company side as well (same with the annuities). However, that does not necessitate that they are bad products...because they are not. I just think having options is better. In reality, with over 60 sub accounts in each the VUL and the annuity, and with a 7 or 10 year surrender schedule (starting at a 9 or 10% surrender charge) and an M&E expense of .85 (for qualified) and 1.05 (NQ) plus a purchase credit...Riversource Annuities are not bad. But once again, having options is better. 


Here are my major beefs with AMP. One, I would like to have the option of doing transactional work...which I currently don't. So, if somebody came up to me and said, "I have $400,000 in assets, I just want you to manage it." I can't. I have to charge them a fee between $300 and $3,000 PLUS the commissions that I will charge them (either through an A share front load or an asset based fee).


Two, the use of the annual planning fee on top of commissions discourages many people from working with you who would other wise like to. This makes the quantity of your business less and means in order to make a decent living you need to make more money per client. This, I believe, encourages adviors to sell high commissioned products as much as only being a commission based advisor does.


Thirdly, my belief is that if you want to be a "fee based planner" then the only money you should make is from the fee...not also from comissions. It might be okay, to me, if you charged somebody a fee to develop a plan and commissions as well if you recommended products that you could and could not sell them. But nobody does that and in fact, at AMP, you're not allowed to (its selling away). So, you're charging somebody an annual fee so you can give them biased advice based on what you can sell while also knowing certain products will pay you more. That's fabulous.


I'll sum up the rest of the reasons. I feel most advisors here are young, ignorant, and greasy. There are a few veteran advisors who are also very knowledgable and ethical. But for the most part it's a bunch of stupid kids straight out of college who have no idea what they are doing but want to make a lot of money off their clients. That's weak. Also, I think it's hard to succeed here in the long term without selling a lot of insurance and annuities. Once again, its not that the insurance and annuities here suck, but those products are not right for everybody. The overuse (IMO) of REIT's, annuities, and VUL's is quite alarming.

Jan 25, 2007 12:19 pm

First, I could not figure out if your post was a joke.  How can you defend Ameriprise at all?  They simply abuse young brokers.


Secondly, get your running shoes on, cause they will hunt you down like a dog and make sure you don't work anywhere elses.  They have very deep pockets for lawsuits and I will assume you don't.

Jan 25, 2007 12:25 pm
Nole32303:

But a lot of the things I read on the board are either slightly off or completely wrong.


See Exhibit A above. Plenty of people leave Ameriprise. The reason is obvious...it sucks. And out of the probably 50 people I have seen leave this company in a year and a half...not one of them has been sued. I know somebody they begged to stay that now works as a bond broker. He hasn't been sued. I know somebody that works for Wachovia Securities. He hasn't been sued either. I know tens of people that work for Chase bank...none of them have been sued.


So many people on this site talk out of their rear it's ridiculous. And furthermore, their reading comprehension is extremely poor. If you think my post was a defense of Ameriprise, either you couldn't or didn't read it.

Jan 25, 2007 5:38 pm

Thanks for your thoughts. As a thirteen year Ameriprise veteran, I enjoyed hearing them.


There is no need to defend anything.


The beauty of this business is the freedom and flexibility. Personally, I don't sell planning fees, sell few proprietary products (mostly guaranteed certificates), go to one meeting a year (compliance), etc. I make a very nice living, doing what is best for the client.I am not a greaseball, and don't plan to become a greaseball. There are a ton of greaseballs in this business, everywhere.


I like term insurance, I think it is a commodity and don't really care if my company manufactures it. I hate annuities.


As for charging a planning fee, I think if you are affiliated with a broker dealer, you are likely being paid enough in other ways.


Going "RIA" or going "independent" is absolutely in no way a virtue in itself. I challenge anyone here on this forum to debate this point, it will be fun.


Broker dealer affiliation is more expensive, but I think it provides more protection that "RIA" for both the client and advisor. I have pretty intuition, I am a survivor. I believe smaller RIAs will be in for a rough ride. That may be in part because of the power of the b/d industry, but I would think very carefully about where the grass is really green.


Jan 25, 2007 6:00 pm

As a P2 advisor you have a lot more freedom than a P1 advisor does. The problem is, as a P2 advisor you basically are an independent. You certainly have expenses like an independent does. I know the P2 platform is far better than the P1 platform, but it takes a while before flipping P2 makes sense. Also, I am unsure what rules exist around your ability to sell nonpropietary insurance and annuity products.


Also, I think you noticed this, I did note that even in the P1 office, there are a few knowledgable, ethical advisors. Problem is that the office is 60 people.

Jan 25, 2007 6:10 pm

Nole


I've read your recent posts with great interest and I'd like to know how long you've been in this business, if you'll be honest about it.  Are you one of those young, ignorant, and greasy advisors or did you jump to AMP because you thought the grass was greener there and now you're jumping somewhere else because the grass wasn't as green as you made it out to be?


"Here are my major beefs with AMP. One, I would like to have the option of doing transactional work...which I currently don't. So, if somebody came up to me and said, "I have $400,000 in assets, I just want you to manage it." I can't. I have to charge them a fee between $300 and $3,000 PLUS the commissions that I will charge them (either through an A share front load or an asset based fee)."


Sounds like you are primed to jump to EDJ.  Maybe that's why you got so upset at FreeFromJones in his post. What's up with you? DO what you want, but if someone disagrees with your opinion that's their opinion.  If someone dislikes Jones and wants to vent here, then that's their right to do so.  Settle down some where and make a living at this business.  Do what's right, no matter where you work, and you'll be successful.

Jan 25, 2007 6:35 pm

That's about it, USAF.


Nole, do you feel like you are trying to drink from a fire hose?


Two, the use of the annual planning fee on top of commissions discourages many people from working with you who would other wise like to. This makes the quantity of your business less and means in order to make a decent living you need to make more money per client. This, I believe, encourages adviors to sell high commissioned products as much as only being a commission based advisor does.


Nole, planning fees are definitely optional. I get a referral from a client of a friend with a 600k rollover, I don't start talking about separate planning fees. I talk about typical b/d type fees - wrap, 12b-1, ETF, CD surrender charges, whatever. Educate the prospect, and you have a client. Have nothing to hide, and deliver competitive value, and it comes down to if they trust and like you.


I think, on P1, Ameriprise hires a lot of young people, who endeavor to take on smaller clients, educate them, "plan them". This generates a lot of concern in expanding minds about planning fees, surrender charges in permanant life  products, etc.


The more money you have, the less things like formal financial plans, life insurance, etc., are really that important. Put it this way: as a CFP with 13 years at Ameriprise, I can do a plan on a yellow pad in about an hour with a client, just the way any good broker any where else can, and I don't care if it is some fancy downtown office or a strip mall office. If they need insurance, I'll point out the need, frankly, it is almost too much trouble to the application but if they want it I have the license to provide it. With my high payout, practice ownership, and fixed costs paid, every new dollar of GDC is profit. I will be spending my time playing golf with clients and their friends, and will focus on the amount of money I manage, and how that money is allocated. And doing a little writing about this industry, for the next generation of bright young planners.


As far as Ameriprise hiring trainees, doing plans, selling insurance: last I checked, most of the $$$ that goes into that stuff would have been spent at mall. If you don't believe it, go find yourself in a situation where you feel comfortable. Just make sure you are spending your time well, and not lost in thought.

Jan 25, 2007 7:12 pm
USAF-Retired:

Nole


I've read your recent posts with great interest and I'd like to know how long you've been in this business, if you'll be honest about it.  Are you one of those young, ignorant, and greasy advisors or did you jump to AMP because you thought the grass was greener there and now you're jumping somewhere else because the grass wasn't as green as you made it out to be?


Sounds like you are primed to jump to EDJ.  Maybe that's why you got so upset at FreeFromJones in his post. What's up with you? DO what you want, but if someone disagrees with your opinion that's their opinion.  If someone dislikes Jones and wants to vent here, then that's their right to do so.  Settle down some where and make a living at this business.  Do what's right, no matter where you work, and you'll be successful.



I started with Ameriprise so I have been in the business for a year and a half. I am young, but neither ignorant nor greasy. My #1 goal is to do what is right for the client.


WRT Free's post, it certainly is his right to not like Jones. However, firstly, I think it's not really a newsflash he doesn't like Edward Jones. His user name is FreeFromJones. Furthermore, I couldn't care less whether he likes Jones. But my point was that with him, Jones is damned if they do (have wrap) and damned if they don't (have wrap). That point has nothing to do with whether or not he likes Jones and whether or not I like Jones.

Jan 27, 2007 12:26 pm

Haven't been on there in a while but I went on AMEXSUX.COM and there was a thread called DEVULGED (sic) INSURANCE TATICS that listed a lot of AMPs call scripts, absolutely hilarious.