Ameriprise

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Jun 6, 2006 12:50 am

Okay, I've been offered a job with these people.  I am an industry veteran, though much of it NOT in the retail end of it, and have a very solid background in investment priniciples, products, financial planning and insurance.  I've not really succeeded in sales in this biz, in large part because I worked for indy firms where there was no training program and my "mentors" weren't particularly useful in this area.  


I've been out of the biz completely for a couple of years so this marks a re-entry.  Over the years I've probably interviewed with every type of firm, and have tried a few.  Having written and researched for the industry (as a journalist) for several years, I'm very well aware of the different personalities of the different major firms, as well as the indy world where I started.


I interviewed with AMEX many years ago and was not impressed but this time they genuinely sound different.   There was a lot they said that I liked, and only one major red flag (though a few questions have been raised via various d/bs).


I see a couple of Ameriprise people are on these boards, so I need both pros and cons from those who actually KNOW how these people are doing business before I make my final decision.


I am looking for a firm that will help me eliminate my fear of picking up the stupid telephone and will help me build a reliable, solid marketing plan.   Once I am established and past my fears, I actually have a lot of other knowledge I can use to work smarter.


So....is this a good place for that type of training?
Are they going to be okay if I'm not big on selling proprietary products?
What percentage of their "hirees" don't actually get past pre-appointment?
Do they really "throw rookies at the wall and see which ones stick (expecting a lot of failures)?
Are they okay if I'm not pushing product or plans onto my natural market (they say they are..and yes, I will work my market but prefer a soft, non-direct approach with this market)?
Is their insurance product list limited to only their own stuff?
Are their insurance products competitive?
Does their planning software give real, useful plans or is it ONLY a vehicle to push their products?


In their prospective employee meetings, I mentioned insurance and the gal seemed to pretty much want to discuss investments, as if insurance was not a big deal.


They do seem different than when they were AMEX.  Are they?


Any feedback that is legitimate is valued.

Jun 6, 2006 12:57 am

They will only do so much to help you with your fear of prospecting....much of that you must do yourself.

Jun 6, 2006 7:22 am
lostintexas:

I am looking for a firm that will help me eliminate my fear of picking up the stupid telephone and will help me build a reliable, solid marketing plan.   Once I am established and past my fears, I actually have a lot of other knowledge I can use to work smarter.



The list of former stock brokers, financial planners or whatever name du jour is being used where you are is teeming with people who have the knowledge coupled with a fear of the phone.


It is my experience, which admittedly only stretches back to the early 1970s, that a "fear" of the phone is fatal.


The term "phone fear" is used as a catch-all for a host of related problems.


Nobody enjoys the smile and dial routine that virtually everybody has to do throughout their career, but those who end up as long timers would never use the word "fear" to describe their emotion.  The most common term I've heard is "phone reluctance" or "call reluctance" because, as every broker knows, there are a lot of "A-Holes" out there who seem to take sadistic pleasure in being rude to people who they actually envy.


What you have to do is identify why you're afraid of the phone.


I am a product of the malaise of the 1970s and a great many of us from that era were phone phobes because we knew that whatever we recommended was not going to work out.  Nothing went up in value, for ten years.  In an environment like that it's easy to dial, but tough to smile.


Those of us who made it finally came to realize that the guy who answered the phone:


1.  Knew less about what we were talking about than we did, and


2.  Was not happy (there is a difference between being unhappy and not happy) with his current broker and actually wanting to talk to somebody else.  Somebody with a new idea.


It becomes a mindset.  The name associated with this phone number is not happy with what's happening, my own client's aren't either.  I am a new voice, a new idea, he'll listen.  And when he does he's mine, because I'll baffle him with bullschidt.


There is a term, "The Imposter Syndrome" which is used to describe the common feeling that we all feel when we start.  You're sitting there thinking, "I can't believe I'm trying to convince strangers that I know something about investing.  I'm past due on my car payment.  This is a joke."  Most of us have been there, done that.  You're not the Lone Ranger.  What other cliches are there?


Set it aside, compared to most of the people you'll encounter while prospecting you are an encylopedia of information.  They don't know you're worried about your rent.  They know they should be doing something with their retirement, their roll over, their inheritance, their winnings from Vegas--whatever.  And most of them are not so damn happy that they won't at least listen.


I'm boring myself.  Let's end it with this warning.


My sister broke up a marriage.  I know, I know she's a slut or worse but what can I do?


She talks all the time about how she worries that her husband is an "easy mark" to any woman who is willing to break up his marriage.


What I'm saying is this.  If you don't have to work very hard to win a client from another broker that client will leave you just as easily as he joined you.


The business is hard.  Your job is to make it even harder for the guy trying to steal your book.



Jun 6, 2006 8:06 am
Big Easy Flood:

as every broker knows, there are a lot of "A-Holes" out there who seem to take sadistic pleasure in being rude to people who they actually envy.


I always wondered why you posted on here so much.  Thanks for the peek into yor twisted psyche. 

Jun 6, 2006 8:30 am
lawsucks:
Big Easy Flood:

as every broker knows, there are a lot of "A-Holes" out there who seem to take sadistic pleasure in being rude to people who they actually envy.


I always wondered why you posted on here so much.  Thanks for the peek into yor twisted psyche. 



Always wondered?  I've posted about six or seven times since you joined the forum.

Jun 6, 2006 8:46 am

Are they going to be okay if I'm not big on selling proprietary products?


Not really as you primarily can only sell prop VA and insurance (IDS).
What percentage of their "hirees" don't actually get past pre-appointment?
Do they really "throw rookies at the wall and see which ones stick (expecting a lot of failures)?


Yes.
Are they okay if I'm not pushing product or plans onto my natural market (they say they are..and yes, I will work my market but prefer a soft, non-direct approach with this market)?


If you don't push the financial plan, you might as well not show up to work at AMP.  Geographically, as long as you are bringing the clients in and starting them with a financial plan, they won't care where they are.
Is their insurance product list limited to only their own stuff?


For the most part - IDS
Are their insurance products competitive?


Not in my opinion since they only offer one company to work with primarily.
Does their planning software give real, useful plans or is it ONLY a vehicle to push their products?


Their planning software is strong and will help allocate where to position a client.


At the end of the day, whether you are a P1 or P2, you are captive.  Every rep I've talked to has said "I have equity in my practice".  My response has always been - so does the guy across the street.  It doesn't matter where you are.


Platform is very limited, the comp structure is consistently a moving target, technology is weak (although I hear they're revamping sometime within the next year), cost of doing business is high.  Additionally, you will see as a P1 a revolving door of management.  Field Vice Presidents are changed frequently, depending on the market.  Some FVPs are very good, but most are poor and you see a great deal of turnover on the manangement side.

Jun 6, 2006 2:36 pm

Dont do it man. I know a few people that have worked over there and NONE are doing financially well to be in the business in my opinion.  That company only has stars because they got in early.  New hires and trainiees need to read the writing on the wall.  Someone's gonna gobble them up soon i predict.  And also dont do it if you are not a people person or a prospecting person.  Brokers prospect period.  The phone is something you must master or you wont last in this business at all.  And the ones who dont cold call anymore usually have fat enough accounts to where they don't need to anymore (usually at small firms). But these guys Ameriprise recruit like its going outta style.  Almost like a desperate chick lol.

Jun 6, 2006 4:12 pm

Carefull - I don't believe their training is all that great.  I also believe that the advisors are 'pressured' into selling B-shares and annuities.  Also - who can forget about the website, http://www.amexsux.com/

Jun 6, 2006 6:00 pm

I take exception at the desperate chick comment!  (being female and unmarried...lol)


Most of what people are telling me that is negative comes from individuals who have no direct, or even indirect, experience with them.


I'm listening but want real information from those with experience. I don't think these guys are big demons, but clearly they have their own way of doing business and that may be right or not for me.


Incidently, there is NOTHING new on the Ameriprisesux.com site that isn't left over from the old firm, despite having been up for more than a year. 

Jun 6, 2006 6:15 pm

Chicks don't need to worry about the phone. Try this approach:


"Mr. Prospect, my name is Jennifer Anniston--no not that one--and I am a financial planner with Ameriprise.


I'm calling today to ask if I can have five minutes of your time to introduce myself and discuss how we might work together to ensure you financial future is secure.


Would Thursday at 10 work for you, I'll be in your area?"


Then shut up.  He'll be thinking about Rachel and mutter, "Sure."

Jun 7, 2006 9:53 am

Even though AMP has been spun off, it's still directed by the same people.  The only thing that's critically different is the name.  The selling approach is still the same - targeting middle America and not having anywhere near the right tools or resources to go after the HNW prospects - the platform is still sub-par compared to most firms on the street, technology is circa 1990, they are putting people in leadership positions that have 3 years of industry experience and they have a revolving door for their Field Vice Presidents.  What more do you need?

Jun 7, 2006 10:41 am
BrokerRecruit:

  What more do you need?




It sounds like she needs someone to support the answer she already had in her mind before she posted.


For those with OPEN minds: DO NEVER AMERIPRISE.

Jun 7, 2006 11:58 am
RealityBichslap:
BrokerRecruit:

  What more do you need?




It sounds like she needs someone to support the answer she already had in her mind before she posted.


For those with OPEN minds: DO NEVER AMERIPRISE.




No..I haven't made up my mind, hence my reason for posting.  I am aware of the bashing, however it seems much has been done by people who don't really have any experience with the company.


I have in my hands copies of their contracts, and I've been asking THEM questions, and no..not all the answers I've gotten have been the ones I'd hoped for.  


I've also been involved in the industry for nearly a decade, and researching and writing for advisor publications for years so I think a lot of my problem here, is that I know too much!


I'm a single parent who cannot afford to fund my own startup.  What's more I possess a lot of knowledge but never mastered the arts of prospecting and selling.   So my primary consideration is finding a firm that will teach me what I don't know, as well as pay me until I'm ready to be in a straight commission role.


Finding that and still meeting my desired approach to doing business has been the challenge and I may have to compromise.  However, once I commit to a firm, I want to be happy with that decision and to give 110% of myself to be successful.


The ideal situation would be to find a successful independent person, doing business in the style I'd prefer, who needs a junior rep to train, mentor and ideally eventually buy out their practice.  So far in three years that situation hasn't materialized.   So I may have to do it a different way.


If you know of such a situation in the Austin, TX area, please let me know asap.


Otherwise, appreciate that all I'm trying to do is support my family with some level of satisfaction in the work I will be doing.


What I'm seeking is real advice, not BS.

Jun 7, 2006 1:01 pm

I completely understand and respect what you're trying to do.  From my experience (and I know many FAs at AMP, both P1s and P2s in all stages of happiness and frustration), it is almost guaranteed to not offer the potential for the same level of success as someone at ML, SB, even AGE or EDJ. 


On average, the 5-year producers I know at AMP are not doing over $150k when their counterparts at the aforementioned firms are doing $300k+ in GDC.  They have pigeon-holed themselves into such a niche that it is difficult to cater to the HNW. 


There are fantastic training programs at many firms.  I know the P1 Field VP in Austin (if this person is still there) and am not the biggest fan. 


I would encourage you to do much more exploratory work in some of the firms with much better "street cred" that will not only give you far better training, but the tools to have $20M AUM in year 3, as opposed to the typical 3-year AMP vet with $5-10M.

Jun 7, 2006 7:53 pm

Like any firm it is all about the branch that you are going into.  Before excepting I would ask the FVP to see where the office is nationally.  In the P1 platform you know that they have a great training program if they are ranked well nationally, if they are in the lower half then you can expect that the training program in the office is in shambles.


Regarding your avoidance of the phone I would just say don't do it.  You have to be good on the phone to be successful in this career.  However, if you might be more comfortable prospecting face to face then the ability to have your marketing expenses paid by the AMP office at point of sale might be an advantage over other firms.


The key to remember however is to pick the firm that is the best fit for you.  AMP can be a good fit for some and terrible for others...The same can be true of any training program.  See where the office is ranked and if its in the top 25% and you like the firm I say go ahead. 


Don't worry about the proprietary products as you are ultimately left free to decide how you want to structure your practice.  The VA's are only popular because of the living benefits associated with them and the relatively cheap M/E fee compared to most other annuity contracts on the market (75bps).


Hope this helps and remember that its a game of volume and sales so don't bother at any firm unless you are comitting to putting together an adequate market plan and sticking with it week in and week out. 

Jun 7, 2006 11:07 pm

It turns out this is the #1 office in the company and most think well of them, though I had one person suggest that if the FVP he knew was there, the guy was an ass.  It is the same guy but others have said positive things about him.


Jun 8, 2006 12:26 am

Here's my thoughts (and I used to work at Ameriprise)  If you have a lot of industry knowledge, you'll probably do fine at Ameriprise, because they'll make you get on the phones or resign.  A wirehouse will do less of the controlling your schedule, and would want you to have some other sales experience.  Makes sense to me to go to Ameriprise to get the sales and advice experience, use movable investments like American Funds, and then move to the wirehouse who'll take you in a heartbeat.  Build a huge book there of high net worth clients in SMA's (all assets there can usually be ACAT'ed), and then take your clients independent.


Begin with the end in mind.


Ace

Jun 8, 2006 12:43 am

Suggestions for how to move the book without getting sued for violating the non-solicitation clause?  Though one dude told me they aren't bothering to sue too many reps these days unless they take BIG accounts or try to move the whole thing.



?????

Jun 8, 2006 9:08 am

Did you move to a wire, Ace?  Just curious beause I don't know of many of them that would take a look at an AMP rep.

Jun 8, 2006 2:14 pm
lostintexas:

Suggestions for how to move the book without getting sued for violating the non-solicitation clause?  Though one dude told me they aren't bothering to sue too many reps these days unless they take BIG accounts or try to move the whole thing.


?????



Definitely check your contract and read the details, but in many cases you can send a letter to clients stating that you're no longer affiliated with the former firm, and giving the name and contact information for your new firm and office.  Nothing that can be construed as "solicitation".  I've heard it called a Tombstone Letter.  your new firm should help you put one together.