Compensation Negotiation for Merrill Lync

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May 31, 2006 11:04 pm

I may soon be in the position where I will need to negotiate my compensation for a POA position at Merrill Lynch in the NYC metropolitan area.  I would greatly appreciate all productive feedback that any of you can provide.<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


 


I don’t want to seem pompous but I believe that I bring a lot more to the table than the typical POA applicant.  I am an experienced working professional and I have an exceptional personal network.  I have an MBA from NYU/Stern and while I know that many of you feel that credential has a limited usefulness in becoming successful as an FA (at least initially), I am certain that in many circumstances it does give me a leg up on the competition.  I also believe that ML is looking to attract a higher class of clientele and that they would like to better compete with JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs in the high-net worth arena (both of these companies require a top MBA to even be considered).  Outside of that, I have also done exceptionally well in the assessment tests (I was told one of the top scores, if not the top, that the office has ever had) and the assessment simulation (4-hours in the life of an FA).  This branch obviously has done a lot to test me and I’m pleased to see that they put so much effort into weeding out those who might not make it.


 


My goal is not necessarily to negotiate the highest possible guaranteed pay (I’ve heard in these forums that a higher pay is not necessarily a better thing) but it is more so to balance the risk/reward.


 


My aim is basically to find out what is negotiable and how much latitude does the branch hiring manger have in extending themselves?


 


Thank you,


WM

Jun 1, 2006 12:01 am

Unless the offer is an insult, I do not suggest that you attempt to negotiate any increase. 


If you are as successful as you think you will be, then the guaranteed salary during the initial phase will not be especially material.  On the other hand, if it takes you a while, then you should not give ML any incentive to flush you.


I have never worked for ML, but I can tell you that they are quick to pull the trigger when someone does not hit their numbers.  I know of a very qualified individual that was dumped by ML in our city in 2002 because he was not hitting his numbers. 


The thing you need to realize is that there are factors beyond your control (like bad markets) that have a dramatic impact on your ability to hit their goals.  


Here's the bottom line - if your talent and connections are as good as you think (and I really have no reason to doubt it) then you will blow past your salary number very quickly.

Jun 1, 2006 12:12 am

With your credentials why not just skip POA and go straight to PBIG?



In all seriousness, you should decide what your bottom line is and weigh

that against the fact that you have to maintain that level of production as

soon as you finish POA (which I guess you will do in the next few

months?). As far as "what is negotiable", you can negotiate your salary;

benefits and bonuses are set across the board and are not negotiable. I

have seen a POA negotiate an office (he did $29 in production his first

year and left soon after), I also know a POA that was stuck in a corner

with a phone and a computer (and barely enough room to turn around)

and he finished POA in 11 months... The branch has as much leeway as

you need for salary. If you are asking for a salary that is beyond their

ability to negotiate, then you need to reassess your expectations of this

position. You are a POA. You have to earn everything else.



I would keep in mind that even with your MBA, your professional work

experience, and your exceptional personal network, you went

through the same process as everyone else. I understand that you are in

the metro NYC area, you are probably not the only candidate with those

same credentials.



If you want to take on this extremely challenging (non-MBA requiring)

position, I believe you should set your salary as close to the minimum as

possible and work every day to earn more.

Jun 1, 2006 7:15 am

WM,



You really have to understand the position.  You will be required
to go to weekly meetings and late work nights/saturdays to discuss and
work on issues ranging from the mutual fund share classes to tax issues
with CRUTS.  You may get yelled at for entering a meeting
late.  You will have classes on how to dress, and be scolded for
not dressing proplerly at an event or meeting.  You will have to
sit and do personal evalutaions and little projects you really think
are juvenille.  Your area in the office will likely be a cube
right next to an 23 year who is enjoying his or her very first real
job...and you will be treated the same by everyone. 



I say this because I see the irritation in many poeples faces with
having to be subjected to such crap, and that frustration clouds the
real issues at hand...learning and gathering clients.  Your not
employed yet and you have positioned yourself higher than everyone...be
very careful as you progress.



As for your salary?  It will dictate whether your salary will last
18 or 24 months.  My experience has been to take the lower amount
($45,000 or below) and let it run 24 months...this will give you more
time to build fee based revenue.  Management typically does not
have too much of a problem going over that amount and shotening its
duration.

Jun 1, 2006 8:21 am
WealthManager:

I may soon be in the position where I will need to negotiate my compensation for a POA position at Merrill Lynch in the NYC metropolitan area.  I would greatly appreciate all productive feedback that any of you can provide.<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />



I don’t want to seem pompous but I believe that I bring a lot more to the table than the typical POA applicant.  I am an experienced working professional and I have an exceptional personal network.  I have an MBA from NYU/Stern and while I know that many of you feel that credential has a limited usefulness in becoming successful as an FA (at least initially), I am certain that in many circumstances it does give me a leg up on the competition.  I also believe that ML is looking to attract a higher class of clientele and that they would like to better compete with JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs in the high-net worth arena (both of these companies require a top MBA to even be considered).  Outside of that, I have also done exceptionally well in the assessment tests (I was told one of the top scores, if not the top, that the office has ever had) and the assessment simulation (4-hours in the life of an FA).  This branch obviously has done a lot to test me and I’m pleased to see that they put so much effort into weeding out those who might not make it.



My goal is not necessarily to negotiate the highest possible guaranteed pay (I’ve heard in these forums that a higher pay is not necessarily a better thing) but it is more so to balance the risk/reward.



My aim is basically to find out what is negotiable and how much latitude does the branch hiring manger have in extending themselves?



Thank you,


WM



Can you sell? Can you close?

Jun 1, 2006 8:48 am


Thank you for all of the great information!<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


 


It seems that the general consensus is that I should not push for a higher base salary and that doing so will only increase my numbers and reduce my timeframe.  The resulting additional pressure would make the need for short-term success trump long-term.  Instead I should focus more on finishing POA early and getting off of salary and onto commission.


 


I now understand that benefits and bonuses are set.  I would have thought that they may have been some room to reduce the waiting time for some of the benefits such as retirement.  (I will first need to know if they have a waiting period)


 


What about negotiating the initial payout percentages?


 


While I certainly would not want to negotiate an office from day one, I would however like to establish what goals I would need to reach in order to be eligible for an office.  Is there a standard?


 


I also appreciate the insight on what to expect as far as realities of the position.  I understand that I will be working with some people who are just starting their first job and do not understand much about how the world operates outside of school.  I now also understand that much of the training, projects and evaluations may at times seem denigrating.  While my post clearly states that I think that “I bring a lot more to the table than the typical POA applicant” one of those things that I do not bring is arrogance.  I know that I will have to start off just like everyone else and that if people think I feel I am better than them, that I will soon become the least liked person in the office.  The “bringing more” comment was only about establishing my position for the negotiations.


 


To answer the questions “Can I sell?  Can I close?”; I certainly hope so!  If I can’t then I wouldn’t last six months in this type of position.  Yes, I can sell but that does not mean that I’m the used car salesperson type of seller.  My approach is more of a consultative approach in which I help the clients understand their needs and I provide them with solutions that meet those needs.  As far as the closing part, I do have the instinct of knowing when the clients’ questions have been sufficiently answered and the time is right to ask for the sale.  I feel that one of my advantages is that I will have an ability to get in front of a number of wealthy individuals who are currently not happy with their relationship (or lack of) with their current advisor.


 


Thank you,


WM


Jun 1, 2006 9:09 am

In my branch, Office = >175,000 production/yr.  It would vary
by location and price of real estate though.  Since you are in NYC
Im guessing it will be much higher.



As for your exceptional personal network, guess what...they all already
have someone.  And I'm sure he or she is doing just fine for
them.  Despite what ML wants you to think, the rest of the brokers
out there aren't complete hacks.  Most of them do a good
job.  From your comments I think you are going to be very
discouraged from the start because your expectations are unreasonably
high at this point.




Jun 1, 2006 10:37 am
WealthManager:


Thank you for all of the great information!


 


It seems that the general consensus is that I should not push for a higher base salary and that doing so will only increase my numbers and reduce my timeframe.  The resulting additional pressure would make the need for short-term success trump long-term.  Instead I should focus more on finishing POA early and getting off of salary and onto commission.


 


I now understand that benefits and bonuses are set.  I would have thought that they may have been some room to reduce the waiting time for some of the benefits such as retirement.  (I will first need to know if they have a waiting period)


 


What about negotiating the initial payout percentages?


 


While I certainly would not want to negotiate an office from day one, I would however like to establish what goals I would need to reach in order to be eligible for an office.  Is there a standard?


 


I also appreciate the insight on what to expect as far as realities of the position.  I understand that I will be working with some people who are just starting their first job and do not understand much about how the world operates outside of school.  I now also understand that much of the training, projects and evaluations may at times seem denigrating.  While my post clearly states that I think that “I bring a lot more to the table than the typical POA applicant” one of those things that I do not bring is arrogance.  I know that I will have to start off just like everyone else and that if people think I feel I am better than them, that I will soon become the least liked person in the office.  The “bringing more” comment was only about establishing my position for the negotiations.


 


To answer the questions “Can I sell?  Can I close?”; I certainly hope so!  If I can’t then I wouldn’t last six months in this type of position.  Yes, I can sell but that does not mean that I’m the used car salesperson type of seller.  My approach is more of a consultative approach in which I help the clients understand their needs and I provide them with solutions that meet those needs.  As far as the closing part, I do have the instinct of knowing when the clients’ questions have been sufficiently answered and the time is right to ask for the sale.  I feel that one of my advantages is that I will have an ability to get in front of a number of wealthy individuals who are currently not happy with their relationship (or lack of) with their current advisor.


 


Thank you,


WM




You claim not to be arrogant, but you certainly come across that way in your post.  Not meaning to be a jerk by saying that, it's just my perception.

The waiting period for participation in the retirement plan is set by the plan document and is non-negotiable, even for the choicest recruits.  It's a matter of ERISA law.

If you are in NYC at a Merrill branch, you're talking some big numbers before you get an office, because that's some seriously expensive real estate.  I would make an (educated) guess that you need to have at least 400-450k in production to get an office, maybe a little less for a shared double office.

I highly reccommend you search out and read some of blarmstrom's posts for insights into the life of a successful Merrill POA.

Jun 1, 2006 11:56 am
joedabrkr:

You claim not to be arrogant, but you certainly come across that way in your post.  Not meaning to be a jerk by saying that, it's just my perception.


I take no offense to your comment.  The challenge in these posts is to convey self-confidence without arrogance.<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />



Jun 1, 2006 3:44 pm

 the tone in your writing is hilarious...

Jun 1, 2006 4:56 pm
Decisions:

 the tone in your writing is hilarious...



lol...I imagine hearing Thurston Howell III's voice when I read his posts.....

Jun 1, 2006 4:58 pm

"As my darling wife Lovey can tell you, professor, I have an exceptional network of personal contacts!"  

Jun 1, 2006 5:05 pm

slow clap                        LOL

Jun 1, 2006 6:51 pm

I am deeply grateful to all of those who have provided insight in regards to this and other topics where I have posted questions.  Today I received a verbal offer from Merrill Lynch.  Should I have received this offer before consulting these forums, I would have been insulted and may have thought I had wasted my time in the interview process.  Thankfully there were many of you who were willing to put me in my place.  Now I must decide between this offer and another offer that pays double.  While there are absolutely no similarities in these positions, accepting the lower offer will still be a hard pill to swallow.  Even with this, the ML offer is very compelling.<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


 


Thank you,


WM III

Jun 1, 2006 8:24 pm

Wealth Destroyer III -



Take the other offer.

Jun 1, 2006 9:15 pm
Scorpio:


Take the other offer.


Why would you say that?

Jun 1, 2006 9:29 pm
WealthManager:
Scorpio:


Take the other offer.


Why would you say that?



I'm sorry, I posted too quickly.  I meant to ask what reasons besides initial monetary gain should I pick the higher paid offer over ML?  My understanding is that you work for ML.  Are you saying that it's not a good place to work?  Does the POA program fall short on its promises?  Does the huge potential not really exist at ML? 


WM III

Jun 1, 2006 10:02 pm
WealthManager:

I am deeply grateful to all of those who have provided insight in regards to this and other topics where I have posted questions.  Today I received a verbal offer from Merrill Lynch.  Should I have received this offer before consulting these forums, I would have been insulted and may have thought I had wasted my time in the interview process.  Thankfully there were many of you who were willing to put me in my place.  Now I must decide between this offer and another offer that pays double.  While there are absolutely no similarities in these positions, accepting the lower offer will still be a hard pill to swallow.  Even with this, the ML offer is very compelling.


 


Thank you,


WM III



Good luck Thurston!

Jun 1, 2006 10:16 pm

I think your writing style is just fine.  Given the atrocious grammar and spelling common on this site, I enjoy reading something that is clear and concise.<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


However, while interesting, this digression is no more meaningful than the one on an earlier thread where folks were debating the statistical distribution of attorney salaries in the <?:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />U.S.


 


What is meaningful is that you are finally at “crunch time” in the decision-making process.


 


In general, I advise you to think carefully about your goals and self-image as I think you will ultimately be happier and make more money in the career that aligns most closely with those areas. 


 


You seem like a sharp guy and you should be certain you can handle being treated like a dog by your employer until you start doing significant production.  The other thing that can be depressing for a new guy is seeing some of the veterans that are either a little shady or not very bright and are doing big numbers.


 


I don’t work for ML, but the earlier posts by rightway and MobileMentor are something that you ought to read until you completely understand what they are saying. 

Jun 1, 2006 10:20 pm

Your are full of garbage.