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Aug 16, 2005 9:30 am

I always hear that there are differences between firms like Merrill Lynch and AG Edwards.  Could someone give some examples of how they are different?  Pros and Cons from both sides of the fence.


Thanks

Aug 16, 2005 11:00 am

You seem fairly knowledgeable on Primerica in another post- stick to that.

Aug 16, 2005 11:44 am

Thanks "blarmston"


Knowledge is a good thing.


Helps us to make better decisions.


Primerica is not for me- I want more investment options.


It could be the perfect fit for someone else.

Aug 16, 2005 12:36 pm

Merrill - proprietary products (ie. mutual funds), some say causes conflict of interest, I agree, because you get paid more or the company gets more of the money in fees


AGE - no proprietary products, you do what's best for your client and be compensated accordingly

Aug 16, 2005 12:46 pm

What is your business plan?  What types of prospects do you have?  Pick the firm that is best for your clients, or you are headed for disaster.  If you don't have multi million dollar prospects, don't go to SB or ML.


With all due respect to Kargon, I like Raymond James better than AGE.  Better management (Tom James) and better computer systems.  But, other than that, they are two great firms to start at.


Aug 16, 2005 12:55 pm

Being with Merrill, is like being the US Navy out in the treacherous sea. You never have to explain what you do, and I have noticed that the name has given me some credibility, at least where I am. In 2 years, Ive never had anyone even suggest I sell more Merrill product. I don't use many ML funds, but check out MDGRX...It's fun watching clients make money!


Why would'nt Merrill and other firms offer funds... I mean it's not rocket science for people in the business to buy and sell stocks. Why should traditional "Fund" companies gather all the assetts. And if Merrill is leading the fund sector, Why would'nt I use them. Just because a firm has a product does'nt mean it's bad. It's when that's all the broker pushes...(right, wrong or indifferent)  there is problem. ...(ask an insurance agent...or a banker....they'll know what I mean.


Edwards on the other hand... Good firm from what I've heard?...


In this day and age, aside from the scum, we all  do what is "best for the client".


Aug 16, 2005 1:14 pm

One is the 800 pound gorilla of brokerages, and the other is AG Edwards.

Aug 16, 2005 1:38 pm

It is a misconception that ML & SB are for those advisors seeking million dollar prospects exclusively, I work (ML)  with several guys who have 250 million AUM and more. They will open acoounts for $200,000 and higher all day long. Are they going to drive 2 hours to get one, or door knock for them.....no... That's where I fit in! If you could get 1.25 % annutized on a $200,000 account - that's 2500 PC's per year. I'll take a couple hundred of those clients please!! And when 2 or 3 decide to transfer out (it happens...) I won't freak out.


The reason ML and SB don't want the smaller (under 50K) is not because they look down on small acounts. Research shows that 95% of the time, an account under 50k, Never goes above 100K. Additionally, there is a lot of exposure in the these accounts. Do you really want service issues with people who have $37,000 in an IRA, and generate 91 PC's for the firm???.....and oh yea, i'm tired of this $50 a year fee.


Meanwhile, accounts $250,000 - $500,000 are awesome!!!! There is more of them. They are usually easy clients to deal with. Even guys making a ton of dough love to add a good new client. There are just not many advisors who can draw the line that high (million or more).   

Aug 16, 2005 3:05 pm

"Merrill - proprietary products (ie. mutual funds), some say causes conflict of interest, I agree, because you get paid more or the company gets more of the money in fees."



To my knowledge, no one at a wirehouse gets paid more to sell proprietary funds than any other fund.

Aug 16, 2005 3:12 pm

"Merrill - proprietary products (ie. mutual funds), some say causes conflict of interest, I agree, because you get paid more or the company gets more of the money in fees."


Thats not true. I have never been asked to sell ML funds.. Sure, we offer them, and sure, its a larger revenue producer for the firm, but there is no pressure to sell ML funds. If anything, the firm is encouraging the use of Consults or fee based account more than their own prop. As for AG, its a good firm. I have 2 buddies in different branches on both coasts, and they say that everything isnt all roses there either... The problem is we all generalize everything we hear about firms.

Aug 16, 2005 3:32 pm

No, you ar right, we do not get paid more for ML funds. I'm sure the firm makes more on them. What Blarmston said is my experience also.


Most of the grumblings from newer advisors, is simply the difficulty in bringing in new Biz. The senior guys seem to have issues with payout, and parking spaces not large enough for the A8.


Aug 16, 2005 4:04 pm

It sounds like there are a lot of Merrill Lynch people on here...


Would someone from ML describe some key advantages of the ML system.


What kind of tools or research or anything... that will set ML apart from AG or the others.


One example ive heard is you can do wrapped accounts at ML... AG you can not.

Aug 16, 2005 5:35 pm

Its not a matter of opinion that ML has the best tools, research (#1
according to WSJ), services, software, specialists, resources....the
list is too long to get into the specifics.  The only other firm
that comes close is Smith Barney.  But in the end, all it comes
down to is whether you can bring in assets or not.  At ML they
will expect much much more out of you than at AGE, so that should be a
factor in your decision as well.  If you think you can bring in
7.5 M+ per year, go with ML.  If you think you can only bring in
3-4 M per year, go with AGE.  If you don't think you can even do
that, find another line of work.  I'm not trying to be
sarcastic...that is what these firms expect you to produce.
     

Aug 16, 2005 6:49 pm

Nice posts..  The point about how many assets one thinks they can bring into business is relevent.


Also the information about 200-500k clients vs 50k. The $50 dollar yearly charge is a funny fact. The idea that 95% of 50k accounts never reach 100k is important.


It seems some firms dont mind the variable annuity or insurance commissions that can come from these small accounts. Also a 401 or TSP from one of these 50-100k accounts?


My point is so if one is new and cant land multimillion dollar accounts at the start then where should they start? I suppose with the 50-100k accounts that the big firms dont want.

Aug 16, 2005 7:55 pm
moneyadvisor:

It is a misconception that ML & SB are for those advisors seeking million dollar prospects exclusively,



Yes, and in other ways as well.


Most of the smaller regionals can offer most of the products and
services the big boys can offer.  They want the high net-worth
clients, too, you know.  And they'll put in place what they need
to get them.  They may be a year or two behind, but they'll get it.


I heard of a guy at a small regional who had as his client one of
the richest men in the world.  Why wasn't this billionaire at
ML?  Or SB?  Or MS?  Because his broker was at a
regional, that's why!  And yes, that regional was more than
capable of servicing the billionaire client.


So much for the big wirehouses, huh?


This "you have to work for ML or SB if you want to service big clients" is nothing but nonsense. 


Aug 16, 2005 8:13 pm

"I heard of a guy at a small regional who had as his client one of the richest men in the world.  Why wasn't this billionaire at ML?  Or SB?  Or MS?  Because his broker was at a regional, that's why!  And yes, that regional was more than capable of servicing the billionaire client.


So much for the big wirehouses, huh?"


Not trying to start a pi$$ing contest, but that example is LESS common than the story being told at the big's. There is a reason why Merrill services more million dollar accounts than ANY other firm in the industry. A reason why they manage approx. $1.4 T in assets ( that number could be higher), the most of any brokerage firm IN THE WORLD.. A reason why ML brokers, as a whole, produce more, generate more, and manage more assets than any firm in the world.To point out some contrarian examples is simply an attempt to say that it can be done elsewhere- which it can be. But the point being made is that a larger percentage of successful brokers are working at Merrill. It is what it is.

Aug 16, 2005 9:24 pm

This "you have to work for ML or SB if you want to service big clients" is nothing but nonsense.



-This is true.  Anyone can service a big client.  The question is what kind of service are they receiving.



But the point being made is that a larger percentage of successful brokers are working at Merrill. It is what it is.



- more larger clients go with Merrill, Goldman, and Northern
Trust.  Since Goldman and Northern don't handle the juice of $500K
IRA rollover, and Merrill offers superior service and tools to them as
well the larger clients, the best place for high end reps is ML. 

Aug 16, 2005 9:38 pm

"more larger clients go with Merrill, Goldman, and Northern Trust"


 I would also throw in Bernstein Private Wealth. They only have about 200 advisors, but the average rep last year brought in 48 million in net new assets.... Thats serious coin.

Aug 17, 2005 9:35 am

Let's not forget about the relationship end of the Business. Where I am ML has over 50% market share, yet we do not have any of the monster accounts locally. The local wealthy (Individuals worth 50 million plus....there are not many, but probably 100) are at the banks, or one of the few boutique firms. It's because of the relationship that a big client lands where they land. Yea occassionaly business is won on the merits of platforms, service models, wealth mgmt process, but in the end, I truly believe the business goes to where the client just feels comfortable.


Look at the list of top advisors that comes out every year...you have a lot of advisors who don't work at the larger more "seemingly" respected firms, managing huge numbers of assetts.....It's because the advisor has a reputation or a presence, it would'nt matter what firm he was with. (and we probably won't hear from any of them on this forum)


This Bernstein private wealth......Sounds like you may have to give a blood test before you can work there. Our biggest producer does 3mil with @ 400 mil AUM, and he is a worker, he may bring in 20 mil net new this year. 48 mil average, that's alot.  


Executivejock - I, by no means have the answers....after 3 years in the biz, I don't see how a newbie can land multi million dollar accounts. It takes some finesse, and I think these clients want to know who the hell they are working with, and that you are going to be around. This does not mean your stuck with Accounts under 100K as a new guy either. Again, there are a ton of older retired prospects out there with 200k - 700k in bank brokerage accounts, and other places. I just feel this market is very positive. People with 1 million + have been hammered for years by our associates. The folks with a couple hundy, first off there are a lot more of them, second they are a pretty un affected group. I would take a book of 300 - 500 clients with average account balances of $250,000 - 600,000 over big monster clients any day. 100 mil AUM average 80 bps on the whole thing, 800 gross year, with very few headaches.....nice life. BTW, I see some very successful guys in the biz who  are   miserable!!!!

Aug 17, 2005 10:14 am

Wow-take a shot at ML and you  boys fall all over yourselves to defend 'mother Merrill'.  Looking in from the outside-as some one who used to work there-it strikes me as almost comical.  (And Blarm and ightway-I don't mean this as ad hominem...ok....we've been travelling in these same circles a little while now...)  These comments remind me of some the the Jones-related threads, and it sounds like they're serving up some strong kool-aid at ML.


Great resources.  Sure. End all and be all?  Nope.


Superior service?  Hmm....some of those clients I've taken from Merrill look more like they've been 'serviced' by a veterinarian just like a cow might be, if you know what I mean.


You sure about that figure for Bernstein Private Wealth?  That's HUGE!