The best way to learn?

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Dec 27, 2006 5:26 am

I'm a prospective FA wannabe, and am trying to find the best way to learn what I need to know. I've gathered from searching the posts here that the training provided by the big wirehouses isn't usually to be counted upon unless there's a fabulous branch manager in the picture, and that, while an MBA can be great, hands-on sales experience is generally better in terms of making your business succeed. I'm not yet clear, however, what the best way is to get going if one has really no background at all in finance save that gleaned from the WSJ and a lifelong amateurish love of money and economic theory. I'm only 23 with no dependents, which gives me time and freedom enough to do this properly, and while I have a BA in the mostly unrelated field of International Studies, I'm a very quick learner, am willing to work my tail off to get ahead, and am thick-skinned enough that I can handle brutal teachers, be they jobs or otherwise. That being said, however, I don't want to pour my time and resources into endeavors that, like my BA, aren't necessarily going to help me; I'm an obsessively hard worker and definitely self-motivated, but I need some guidance as to where best to start. Long-term benefits are definitely more important right now than short-term comfort.


So my question is, if those of you who've been in this industry were going to do it all over, how would you go about teaching yourself what you needed to know to make it? Have you found hands-on experience to be the best ground-level teacher, and if so, where would you recommend as the best place to get it? Should I start, say, as an assistant to a FA to see how s/he does things and learn by example, or just jump in myself if I can get an offer, and count on the good ol' work ethic? Would a entry-level position in banking be more useful, or would I be better yet starting in a completely unrelated field that allowed for heavy sales/business experience? For those of you with fleshed-out academic backgrounds, do you come from programs geared toward finance, business, etc., and how useful have you found your degrees and/or certifications as preparation? And for all of you, how much did you know about this industry before you began, and how has that impacted you? What kind of backgrounds do you come from, and what would you change about the career path you've followed if you could?


Any advice you could give would truly be appreciated.

Dec 27, 2006 8:02 am

I was in your situation a year ago, I was a communications major with no financial services experience at all. I met a great branch manager when i graduated and he put me on a team of big money producers. Being that I am so young, only 23 as well its important to join up on a team and use there experience to help build my business. Right now Im working like an animal but I am really learning the business from the guys who took me under their wing. In my opinion if you wanna learn the business and do not have a lot of financial liabilities, joining a team would be great way to go. PM me if you have any questions.

Dec 27, 2006 8:48 am

I am also 23 and have found that without a team, my chances would be little to none to succeed in the business.  The biggest thing is being able to pitch someone, when they doubt you for your age, you simply reply "well all assets we manage are by the effort of our entire team, why don't you come by the office and meet them."  Without a team, the best you have is "yes I'm young, but don't you want an FA that will still be working through your retirement?"  Just a hint, it sounds good in theory, but most people will reply "I'll take my chances

Dec 27, 2006 8:58 am

I hate to say it but your age would be a real obstacle to overcome if you went at it on your own.  I’m 33 and many initially feel that I’m too young.  If you can gain leverage by joining up with a team of older and more experienced FAs then you will increase your chances of success.  The problem will be finding a team willing to take you on.  Outside of relatives or existing FAs bringing books of business, I have not seen anyone take on a rookie as an FA on their team.  I have however seen (and heard of) CAs (Merrill’s administrative assistants) migrating to the FA position.<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


 


--WM

Dec 27, 2006 9:48 am

If I could do it all again -


Go into the Merrill program - learn the right way (I didn't ).  Spend 5 years there and you will be in great shape to move anywhere (you'll probably want to stay put).


Good luck.

Dec 27, 2006 12:26 pm

Agreed, don't start out on your own.   Sign on as an assistant or join a team.  You are smart.  Good luck.

Jan 16, 2007 6:00 pm

Absolutely get with a team. I'm 3 months in production and have just been assigned $12 MM in assets by a wonderful group of people (with a 50/50 split). I was also handed 2/3 of someone's book after that person left. I am in such a state of relief right now. Granted I still have to work my buns off but I can't imagine how I'd get through this year without that kind of support.

Jan 16, 2007 7:07 pm

What happened to the good old days of building your own business?


There's nothing wrong with getting some help here and there, but being handed assets and books? Wasn't there a book written about those kind of people "How to succeed in business without really trying"


Is bootstrapping yourself up from zero dead?

Jan 16, 2007 9:54 pm
BondGuy:

What happened to the good old days of building your own business?


There's nothing wrong with getting some help here and there, but being handed assets and books? Wasn't there a book written about those kind of people "How to succeed in business without really trying"


Is bootstrapping yourself up from zero dead?



similar thoughts crossed my mind....I'd love to know the quality of those assets....

Jan 16, 2007 11:29 pm
BondGuy:

What happened to the good old days of building your own business?


There's nothing wrong with getting some help here and there, but being handed assets and books? Wasn't there a book written about those kind of people "How to succeed in business without really trying"


Is bootstrapping yourself up from zero dead?



Dunno. Why not scratch your book and try it all over again and find out? Situations may vary.

Jan 17, 2007 1:01 am

Instead of joining a cattle herd at a "training house", try to learn the business from a solo or group of independent practitioners.


When I graduated college 20+ years ago, and could not find a job for my international studies, I just cold called sales businesses. Owners and managers were really impressed that I just called them up. It lead to non-financial sales work, and one year getting hired into Merrills training program.But a lady broker at Merrill told me, "get the heck out of here and go live overseas, this broker stuff will be here after you have some adventures and get tired of travel.  I left that when I got a hot international sales job, and did live overseas for three years, but came back to this fantastic industry!


If I was starting today, I would call the owners of local independent or franchise broker dealer affiliates. I am amazed that I never receive calls from people wanting to get into the business, even though I have a distinct phone book listing for the (solo) office. Directly calling someone shows so much confidence and initiative. If the person you call is rude, they are a loser, go on the the next one. Winnners will respect and help you.

Jan 17, 2007 5:55 am
joedabrkr:
BondGuy:

What happened to the good old days of building your own business?


There's nothing wrong with getting some help here and there, but being handed assets and books? Wasn't there a book written about those kind of people "How to succeed in business without really trying"


Is bootstrapping yourself up from zero dead?




similar thoughts crossed my mind....I'd love to know the quality of those assets....



You know I started in the business at the age of 25 ...(35 now) ..knocking on doors with EDJ ..you know the thing is .. You do acquire a bit more repsect for yourself for sweating it .. I don't know I just think there is something to be said for sacrafice...and when you are young it is the best time to get gritty and learn all you can before you step into REAL bills and the like.. just my 2 cents.. as for where to learn it ..as long as you are somewhere with VAST resources to learn from .. I don't think it matters... (Mother Merril UBS EDJ ect)


Jan 17, 2007 8:55 am
anabuhabkuss:
BondGuy:

What happened to the good old days of building your own business?


There's nothing wrong with getting some help here and there, but being handed assets and books? Wasn't there a book written about those kind of people "How to succeed in business without really trying"


Is bootstrapping yourself up from zero dead?



Dunno. Why not scratch your book and try it all over again and find out? Situations may vary.



Well, let's see. The advice on this thread was/is leaning toward get a handout and/or ride on someone elses coattails to insure success. As someone who boatstrapped themselves up from nothing, who doesn't take inherited accounts, I believe my statement is valid.


There is no varied situation, you either have what it takes or you don't. In my 24 years in this business I have yet to see a focused hard working trainee fail. Of course my definition of hard working may be different than that of those who fail. Probably is.


Problem is too many people enter this business wearing rose colored glasses. They fail to connect the dots between the high potential income the business can generate and the ball busting hard labor it takes to deliver that income. This business may be simple, but it's not easy.


There is nothing wrong with mentoring partnerships, in my view, as long as the trainee applies the knowledge gained to build a strong practice. Case in point my wife. She entered the business ten years ago. I had her join a competitor so as not to interfere with her building her own business. I supplied the plan and the guidance, she supplied 100% of the labor.  She became not only the top new account opener in her training class, but also one of the top new account openers at her wirehouse firm. By the way, for any trainees out there who may be reading this, opening new accounts is the only thing you need to be doing as a trainee. With these accounts, in my wife's case, there were no hand outs, no books changed hands, no assets handed over. Just a focused committment to hard work. And yes, there were days she came home and cried. Nothing is easy in this business.


Jan 17, 2007 9:18 am
whitewlfz:
joedabrkr:
BondGuy:

What happened to the good old days of building your own business?


There's nothing wrong with getting some help here and there, but being handed assets and books? Wasn't there a book written about those kind of people "How to succeed in business without really trying"


Is bootstrapping yourself up from zero dead?



similar thoughts crossed my mind....I'd love to know the quality of those assets....



You know I started in the business at the age of 25 ...(35 now) ..knocking on doors with EDJ ..you know the thing is .. You do acquire a bit more repsect for yourself for sweating it .. I don't know I just think there is something to be said for sacrafice...and when you are young it is the best time to get gritty and learn all you can before you step into REAL bills and the like.. just my 2 cents.. as for where to learn it ..as long as you are somewhere with VAST resources to learn from .. I don't think it matters... (Mother Merril UBS EDJ ect)



Building your book on your own you learn to handle adversity, and how sweet can be the rewards of a plan fulfilled.  These are lessons that can carry you through tough times once your business is established.  If a book is gifted to you, those lessons are never imprinted on your brain.


And....your peers will always wonder if you really have what it takes....IMHO.

Jan 17, 2007 9:32 am

I'm sorry, I'm confused. I thought t this job was about helping people and putting financial plans together for them. I am in the opinion that all of you have your sights in the wrong place.


Bondguy said it best: There is nothing wrong with mentoring partnerships, in my view, as long as the trainee applies the knowledge gained to build a strong practice.


How does my way of acquiring assets reflect my implementation of fulfilling those client's needs?


I Know that situations DO vary. I know brokers across the board from different companies that are richer beyond belief, each of the individuals having acquired their book in different ways. Don't say it matters because it doesn't. Don't be a whiner. Get the job done. Afterall, companies only see the bottom line. **** what peers think. They don't pay the bills.

Jan 17, 2007 9:34 am
anabuhabkuss:

I'm sorry, I'm confused. I thought t this job was about helping people and putting financial plans together for them. I am in the opinion that all of you have your sights in the wrong place.


Bondguy said it best: There is nothing wrong with mentoring partnerships, in my view, as long as the trainee applies the knowledge gained to build a strong practice.


How does my way of acquiring assets reflect my implementation of fulfilling those client's needs?


I Know that situations DO vary. I know brokers across the board from different companies that are richer beyond belief, each of the individuals having acquired their book in different ways. Don't say it matters because it doesn't. Don't be a whiner. Get the job done. Afterall, companies only see the bottom line. **** what peers think. They don't pay the bills.



Get back to us in a year or two and let us know how you're doing...whether you have any assets you've raised on your own.

I think it's ironic that you're offering advice on how to best prospect(cold calling versus doorknocking) on the other thread.

Jan 17, 2007 9:43 am

Will do. I have my own goals to bring in $4 Mil of my own assets ($600,000 which I've done already). The book is there to provide a cushion, not to say "Mission Accomplished". It's not my place to tell anyone how to prospect. What works for you may not work for me and vice versa. I think it's ironic you, having been in the business for awhile, do not know that.

Jan 17, 2007 4:11 pm

Planrcoach and Bondguy.. Nice posts.

FOCUSED is important. Like going into a business without a business plan.

Jan 17, 2007 5:13 pm

Yeah, Airforce, focusing on the business plan takes new on new levels of meaning when you are established and trying to take it to the next level.


When you are starting, you have to choose a training situation for yourself - choose wisely. But when you are established, focus is still one of the most important things. Like, a one page business plan - maybe just a few key activiteies for 2007 - well executed. I am talking to myself.

Jan 17, 2007 5:18 pm
anabuhabkuss:

I'm sorry, I'm confused. I thought t this job was about helping people and putting financial plans together for them. I am in the opinion that all of you have your sights in the wrong place.


Bondguy said it best: There is nothing wrong with mentoring partnerships, in my view, as long as the trainee applies the knowledge gained to build a strong practice.


How does my way of acquiring assets reflect my implementation of fulfilling those client's needs?


I Know that situations DO vary. I know brokers across the board from different companies that are richer beyond belief, each of the individuals having acquired their book in different ways. Don't say it matters because it doesn't. Don't be a whiner. Get the job done. Afterall, companies only see the bottom line. **** what peers think. They don't pay the bills.



Give an advisor an account and he'll have a good month.


Teach an advisor to prospect and he'll have a good career.


Of course there are rich beyond belief brokers who've made careers out of calling everyone else's clients. The operative word when referring to one of them is whore. But being whores doesn't change how rich they are or whose best interest they have in mind when offering you help. Whores, generally speaking, don't make the best mentors whether we're talking business building or client advisory issues.


 Be careful who you sell your soul to.


As for the best way to learn, which is what this thread is about, I'd offer this: Find a mentor, watch, listen, observe and then do. Don't accept handouts as they will only slow you down. Your business plan should take up 100% of your time. There isn't enough time in the plan to call someone else's clients. The time taken to cultivate someone elses book is time taken away from developing your own book. Want to learn this business, if you build it , you'll know everything you need to know to survive whatever comes. And business killing things will come.



Inherited accounts slow down the natural selection process.