Considering FA Career

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Feb 6, 2010 8:01 pm
I'm considering a career as an FA and wanted to get some feedback.  I currently work as a VP of Sales for a private owned company that I'm a minority shareholder in.  There are two other owners who were the original founders and equal partners.  I made $60K last year + my truck and all expenses associated with it, all gas and cell phone service for other family vehicles and phones (worth aprox. $600-$650 per mo.)and a light expense account and a Mon-Fri 8-5 schedule.  I'll likely be at $55K this year due to some business plan changes.  I've been with this company 7 yrs and came in as a sales rep and have had alot of success.  My wife works full time and is currently getting a raise which will put her earnings above mine. 
 
I had taken a position in another city with my company almost 6 yrs ago and then 3 yrs ago was told I could never relocate back to the original town we had come from.  I believed my family was best suited for the other town and therefore had decided on a career as an FA.  I was hired with Edward Jones however when I sat down and discussed what I was going to do with my partners they allowed me to relocate, increased pay, etc.  After accepting with Edward Jones I called my recruiter back and declined the offer. 
 
Well 2 1/2 yrs later I'm still seeking what a career in Financial Planning can provide.  I'm thinking late this year early next year of taking the leap.  I like the aspect of being able to make a difference in peoples lives, being engrained in the local community, controlling my own destiny and income and the challenge of growing and operating a FA business.  I really like what Edward Jones is about (I personally have accounts at EDJ and my advisor was a friend and now advisor who I have observed with EDJ for the past 11 yrs.)  So all of this to say I have a few questions. 
 
What other firms may I want to consider?  I have no college degree so I'm concerned about this as well as EDJ making another offer after declining the first.  My local EDJ rep. says he will help me through the process again. 
 

My current career has no room for advancement, limited income growth potential however gives me alot of flexability in time.  I'm a family man and enjoy time with the family (have 2 boys 10yr and 4 yrs.)  I understand the first couple of years are critical because you are essentially starting your own business and will need to alot the appropriate time for doing so.  I'm not scared of hard work or long hours.  What kind of work hrs should I expect after getting my business established? 
 
What kind of realistic income should I be gearing for my first years?  Most things I read are 6 figures after 5 yrs.  Is this correct as well? 
 
What other advice or things would you tell me to consider with this?
 
I am meeting with my EDJ advisor next week and have 3 pages of hand written questions for him but wanted to post and get some opinions on a few things here as well.  Thanks for working through the long post. 
 
 
Feb 6, 2010 8:55 pm

AGEman is, and I'm sure he'll admit, the exception to the rule. It takes an enormous amount of work to get a business up and into growth mode. Liken it to a rocket ship and the amount of energy needed for liftoff and ascent into orbit. Once in orbit the amount of energy required to stay there is not nearly as great.

 
Everyone has different experiences. You should expect to put in a lot of hours. I could say 60 a week, and probably be accurate, but there are a lot of ways to work. If you are a good "schmoozer", which means are good at chatting people up, you might be working the crowd at your 10 year olds little league games on Saturdays. If you know a lot of people with money, that might cut down on the volume of calling and knocking you need to do. On the other hand probably not, unless you not only can tap into your network , but work them for referrals as well. Plus they might not want to give you their money until you have a few years under your belt.
 
I think the bottom line is plan on working at least 55-60 hours a week for the first 3-5 years.
I think, and this is my opinion only, that you really need to have an interest in the markets to be good at this. Dont get me wrong, you are a salesman first, and not an analyst. If you try to be an analyst, you will fail for sure. But you need to have a point of view, and to form that, you need to do a lot of reading, and gain a lot of knowledge. If its not an interest, it will be hard to do so. Some will disagree with me on this. I know for me, i wouldnt be successful without the passion. I am just not that good a salesman.
Yes, the lack of degree is an issue. Although, I have seen in rare instances Smith Barney (before the merger with MS) hire a trainee who is not a college grad. The one instance i am thinking about was a military vet. He was exceptionally well spoken, agressive in a polished way, and we knew because he was military, and a former officer, he had the discipline requred. But its rare, so you might be limited to EDJ. Once you build a book, you can be a high school drop out, and go anywhere.
Good luck with your process.
Feb 6, 2010 9:56 pm
Madman:
I'm considering a career as an FA and wanted to get some feedback. I currently work as a VP of Sales for a private owned company that I'm a minority shareholder in. There are two other owners who were the original founders and equal partners. I made $60K last year + my truck and all expenses associated with it, all gas and cell phone service for other family vehicles and phones (worth aprox. $600-$650 per mo.)and a light expense account and a Mon-Fri 8-5 schedule. I'll likely be at $55K this year due to some business plan changes. I've been with this company 7 yrs and came in as a sales rep and have had alot of success. My wife works full time and is currently getting a raise which will put her earnings above mine.



I had taken a position in another city with my company almost 6 yrs ago and then 3 yrs ago was told I could never relocate back to the original town we had come from. I believed my family was best suited for the other town and therefore had decided on a career as an FA. I was hired with Edward Jones however when I sat down and discussed what I was going to do with my partners they allowed me to relocate, increased pay, etc. After accepting with Edward Jones I called my recruiter back and declined the offer.



Well 2 1/2 yrs later I'm still seeking what a career in Financial Planning can provide. I'm thinking late this year early next year of taking the leap. I like the aspect of being able to make a difference in peoples lives, being engrained in the local community, controlling my own destiny and income and the challenge of growing and operating a FA business. I really like what Edward Jones is about (I personally have accounts at EDJ and my advisor was a friend and now advisor who I have observed with EDJ for the past 11 yrs.) So all of this to say I have a few questions.



What other firms may I want to consider? I have no college degree so I'm concerned about this as well as EDJ making another offer after declining the first. My local EDJ rep. says he will help me through the process again.





My current career has no room for advancement, limited income growth potential however gives me alot of flexability in time. I'm a family man and enjoy time with the family (have 2 boys 10yr and 4 yrs.) I understand the first couple of years are critical because you are essentially starting your own business and will need to alot the appropriate time for doing so. I'm not scared of hard work or long hours. What kind of work hrs should I expect after getting my business established?



What kind of realistic income should I be gearing for my first years? Most things I read are 6 figures after 5 yrs. Is this correct as well?



What other advice or things would you tell me to consider with this?



I am meeting with my EDJ advisor next week and have 3 pages of hand written questions for him but wanted to post and get some opinions on a few things here as well. Thanks for working through the long post.









Where is Mlgone when we need him??

Feb 7, 2010 8:31 am

How much of a role do you tink not having a 4 yr degree will play? I know that you cannot obtain your CFP without it which is a little disappointing but understandable.  I have some college but had a business opportunity that I went after and never finished school and now would have to start over again.  I've always been in sales roles and going back for a degree wouldn't have done anything for me. 



I'm confident in my abilities.  I spent hours reading forums last night (some life I have on a Sat. night) and have followed this industry for the past 3 to 3 1/2 yrs.  I'm in a leadership program that has advisors in it and know several others.  I like that this is a high energy prospecting business.  I've built my career off of being a great cold caller in the business arena and developing relationships.  In fact I am speaking this week at the local Chamber of Commerce to a group of 125 sales reps across all different industries about cold calling. 
 
Thanks for the comments thus far looking forward to hearing more. 
Feb 7, 2010 8:55 am

Nancy Langdon Jones wrote a good book I'd recommend titled"  So You Want to Be a Financial Planner:  Your Guide to a New Career" -- I believe it is now in her 5th edition.  Feel free to call me and I'll be happy to share my other suggested book lists with you Advisors have told me were helpful in getting things ramped up.  Ph.  888-579-8640.

 
Edward Jones is a good and decent firm.  If you like them, go for it!  I would recommend however, looking at least at another 2 or 3 firms so you can best determine the right course of action. 
 
Best wishes to you.  A lot of people love this business and often came from other industries and found their much happier here than in their prior careers (of course, that isn't always the case either!)
 
Feb 7, 2010 9:56 am

I don't think a lack of a college degree has any bearing on one's ability to succeed. If you can sell, and are disciplined, and work hard, you will succeed, end of story.

But most of the wirehouses, for whatever their reasons, generally look for an undergrad degree. Probably an image thing, because they cant be so stupid and out of touch to believe that its necessary to make it in the biz.....on the other hand they are wirehosue managers.
Feb 7, 2010 1:44 pm

This is a great profession. It's valuable work, working with clients is generally enjoyable and the financial rewards are great.
Jones is a good place to start in that even if you fail or don't like the company, most ex-Jones advisors generally land on their feet in a good place assuming they were not knuckleheads to start.
When I started at Jones, it was said that you could be up and running in three years. After three years and I noticed that not only was I still struggling but everybody out to 7 years was struggling, I was told that it's really a five-year internship.
Because you have kids and it sounds as if you will want to be there for them in the evenings, it will be critical that you hit the ground running the first year. You won't have the luxury of wandering around knocking on doors for two years until the light bulb goes on, which is the experience for many of us. You have to start with a plan, a point of view, something to sell that people will buy (and right now it ain't mutual funds, imo).
So do your homework and make the leap.


Feb 8, 2010 12:37 pm

BuyandHold, explain further of your comment about "you won't have the luxury of wandering around knocking on doors for two years until the light bulb goes on, which is the experience for may of us.  You have to start with a plan, a point of view, something to sell that people will buy?"  I'm interested in your experience and when the light bulb goes on what you do differently?

Feb 8, 2010 12:40 pm

1 other question about education.  Will firms consider someone without a college degree once they have been in the business for awhile?  A concern I would have is in 5, 7, 10 yrs something changes at EDJ and I need to make a change where will that leave me with no degree in the business? 

 
If I honestly had time and could see the return on  my money in a undergrad degree I would go back and do it.  I'm almost 34 and outside of this career path have never had a challenge doing what I've wanted to do due to my work performance, etc. 
Feb 8, 2010 1:01 pm

In 5 7 10 years if you,re successfull you will not have to be hired by wirehouse, You can go indy, or be your own RIA,

I dont think the lack of college degree should be of any concern to you at this point,
If in the future you decide it would benefit you to get your CFP,  You can always work for a Bachelor Degree at that point.
Have in mind, you need to have enough savings to support your family the first year or 2, You will probaly not make 60K
Feb 8, 2010 2:56 pm

You've received some good advice, and I might can add to it.  I'm an Edward Jones advisor out just over 5 years.  (I've just changed my username and reregistered because I can't remember the other....I was 'Panic Fan' or Widespread- something....)  But anyway, ......

 
FWIW, my regional leader grosses over $800k annually and he only has a h.s. diploma.  I imagine he could go anywhere now and get hired.
 
Edward Jones is very selective as well, but since you seem to have a strong recommendation from your advisor friend that will help greatly.  I've seen very qualified people get rejected, and I've also seen some dufuses get hired, so good luck.  (that's just my opinion, so maybe I'm the dufus!  )
 
If you do what they tell you, you should exceed that income you mentioned in a year or two anyway.
Feb 8, 2010 4:09 pm

Tide, I've witnessd the same thing.  We hire some real duds.  In fact, I think that issue is being addressed now.  I think it has become a common complaint in the field - too much turnover of people that clearly never should have been hired.

However, I place a lot of blame on the FA's that recommend them.  I have met some new FA's that were knuckleheads, and then I find out the names of the FA's in the field that gave them a "pass" and wonder WTF were you thinking?
Feb 8, 2010 8:03 pm
B24:

Tide, I've witnessd the same thing.  We hire some real duds.  In fact, I think that issue is being addressed now.  I think it has become a common complaint in the field - too much turnover of people that clearly never should have been hired.

However, I place a lot of blame on the FA's that recommend them.  I have met some new FA's that were knuckleheads, and then I find out the names of the FA's in the field that gave them a "pass" and wonder WTF were you thinking?



Probably thinking about diversification trips.

Feb 9, 2010 12:47 pm

Tide, do you think that because I declined the first offer a few years back that it may work against me at Jones?  My FA and the others I developed relationships with in the area all support me through Jones if I want to move forward. 

 
What do you guys think about studing for the Series 7 & 66 prior to getting hired?  I'm considering purchasing the study program from Kaplans just to give me a good jump start on study prior to applying. 
Feb 9, 2010 12:51 pm

IMO there are differences between having a job, having a career and having a lifestyle.  Job is working x - x hours making x $.  Career is more involved, advancement etc and lifestyle is where your career becomes part of your life, ie being involved in the community and being an advisor, hard to seperate the two.  Lifestyle positions can pay more than careers, which pay more than jobs.  Also, think about what you will be passionate about 5-10-20 years down the road and that is the path to take.  If it's not investments that's okay, just make sure it is before you take that leap. 

 
For the degree, there are certainly some places that make that a requirement, but the bigger road block is what you think it means.  For example, I worked with an advisor that had no degree and rocky sales.  It was because she felt a tiny bit inferior and did not intro herself as an expert to clients because she worried they would ask about the degree.  Once we got her intro / value script solid her sales went up and the degree never came up.
Feb 9, 2010 2:55 pm

Maybe, but probably not.  Just be honest IF they ask you about it.  If you have an advisor referring you, who is doing pretty good, chances are he/she can sway the hiring person on such issues.   I've had them call me before saying they don't think a person is a good fit, but they will ask someone else to review if I think they should.  So, advisor referrals are heavily weighed provided it comes from a solid FA.

 
Don't worry about the Series 7; you'll get plenty of study time for that thing.  Edward Jones has a pass rate of about 94%, so if you do what they say you'll pass.  Plus, the firm pays for all that.
 
Good luck.  I came on here six years ago and got real worried because I was giving up my $100k plant manager's job.  It hasn't been a walk in the park, but I'm sure glad I did it as my quality of life is much better.  Being a plant manager was tough as hell, too.
Feb 9, 2010 5:07 pm

Roxie, I couldn't agree more with your post.  I'm looking for Lifestyle.  I've had jobs, I've worked through a career and what I'm looking for is a lifestyle.  Well put Roxie!

 
Tide, the degree is not traditionally a challenge for me as I'm usually the only one in my group that does not have one.  I interview individuals for sales jobs with our company all the time that have Masters and an occasional PHD.  These positions report directly to me.  I've even consired being a mentor for an MBA program.  Now that's funny!  Come to think of it I don't have 1 person that reports to me now that doesn't have a undergrad at the min.  No big deal I'm confident in my abilities. 
 
I met with an Attorney friend today and spoke with him in regards to how I would go about working a split from my company.  Being a minority shareholder it's a little more than just putting in a notice and walking away.  It was interesting conversation and he couldn't have been more positive on a career as a FA. 
Feb 9, 2010 9:00 pm
Madman:
I met with an Attorney friend today and spoke with him in regards to how I would go about working a split from my company. 
 
Madman, You know he is going to send you a bill, don't you??   Of course, maybe you can make a future customer out of him...and his 25 best business friends!!
Feb 9, 2010 9:03 pm

no offense but there are some southern hillbillies on this forum

Feb 10, 2010 6:44 am

I was actually visiting the attorney about a rental house I have.  He didn't charge me for the consult on that or about the corporate divide.  I hear you though I know others that if you call them and have a 2 min conversation they send you a bill.