Im 21 and want to become a FA (need help)

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Apr 19, 2006 2:36 pm

Hello, Ive been reading this forum for quite a while and I did almost every search possible. Now I want to ask some questions that havent been REALLY answered.

I am still in school and have 6months left.
I am starting right now as an unpaid intern at Smith Barney

I am hearing many bad comments from people who work at wire houses such as smith barney and hearing all the best from people who went independent.

Obviously I know I cant go independent myself since I have 0 clients lol

However, I was thinking maybe
1. working for a well established independent company

2. working with a couple guys who just left and want to get started on a company of there own (jump in with them and start up the independent company with them)

or
3. stick with smith barney for 5yrs get some clients and then go indep myself or then join a indep company

Apr 19, 2006 3:37 pm

Go with number 3.  The opportunities will be more advantageous (in most cases) for training, etc.  Some people love wirehouses.  There are no golden firms that are 100% perfect for everyone.  Keep that in mind and look for what is the best fit for you.

Apr 19, 2006 7:31 pm

Option 4:  Forget about being an FA and try something more realistic. 



Unless you have an extremely wealthy family who have a bunch of
extremely rich friends, and all of them have indicated that they want
to invest with you, I wouldn't recommend it. 



Starting out in this biz as a youngin isn't fun, and its darn near
impossible to make it.  What do you plan on doing - cold
calling?  Its been done to death and doesn't produce accounts fast
enough to work.  All other methods of prospecting take too long;
you need to be opening big accounts every week to make it. 



I'm only telling you this because I wish someone had talked some sense
into me a year ago.  I was a new college grad thinking I would
make it as long as a worked hard enough...well my clock is about to
stop ticking despite working 12 hour days.  And this year of
"experience" on my resume has absolutely no relevence to any other job
in business, so I'm not any more attractive to employers than I was
coming out of college.  I feel like I wasted the last year of my
life.  There is no correlation anymore to hard work and success in
this business - the most successful trainees in my office put in the
least amount of hours.  Its because they were already connected
coming into it...which in my opinion is the only way to make it happen
in today's environment. 

Apr 19, 2006 7:42 pm

I started at 21 from scratch and I'm still here 10+ years later.


It can be done.  Its hard work, long hours, saturdays, $2000(now $4000) IRA's, rubbing elbows with the town centers of influence, and ALOT of hand shaking. 


Its been said here many times, Jones is a good place to start as they train new brokers quite well.  Then after you know what you're doing and have a book.....leave.


Toss

Apr 19, 2006 7:57 pm

I'm with the koolaid guy.... it can be done, and some of the best and

brightest guys in the industry started when they were young.



Yes, things are different in terms of how you get your clients. But, with

hard work, and playing the smart game, it will pay off very well.



I will say, stick with Smith Barney - they have a solid program. The

training in a wirehouse is generally quite good, and it will prepare you for

anything... including running your own firm.



As a 21 year-old advisor it might be harder to get started than a 40 year

old with experience doing other things. But, I've seen plenty of both age

groups fail - so, grab the brass ring kid, you won't regret giving it your

best shot.



I started when I was 22 (now 36) and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

I was trained at my current firm, worked there as an intern, then an

assistant, then an advisor. I will say, that being an intern and then a full

assistant allowed me to understand the systems better, and saw the

practical aspects of our business from afar PRIOR to getting my feet wet.

There are plenty of partnerships that might like to have a licensed

assistant.... and there are plenty of older advisors who will be looking for

the exits within the next 10 years.



So, look to stay at Smith Barney... learn the ropes, get yourself positioned

in the right direction (i.e. managed money and fee-based investments)

and work hard.



It's the best business in the world, and you will not regret your decision.



C

Apr 19, 2006 9:29 pm

I wasn't trying to discourage the kid.  Just give him the realities of today's environment.



When you people say "Oh I started at age 21 and made it...." that was
10+ YEARS AGO!!  Its about a million times more impossible now
than it was back then.  Nowadays its unheard of for someone like
that to make it.  For example - my office has over 100 non-trainee
FAs in it, and only 1 of them is under age 30.  And guess what,
his family is loaded.  So basically no youngster has made it there
in the past 8-9 years, otherwise there would be twenty-somethings
outside of the training group. 




Apr 19, 2006 9:51 pm

You know what helps things???? A guy with 3 months in the business and the family connections that ANYONE would DIE for. It doesnt hurt to have a father in law who is the biggest real estate developer in Southern California. He just handed over a $30MM 401K account to the FA, and is also moving over a $400MM corporate cash management account. Not bad eh????


I agree with Scorpio that the businees is infinitely tougher than 10, even 5 years ago. With DNC and other roadblocks, it is simply much more difficult to hit the numbers as a young rook..... It can be done though with work ethic, competence when given the chance to pitch your wares, and some luck......

Apr 19, 2006 9:54 pm
brothaK:

Hello, Ive been reading this forum for quite a while and I did almost every search possible. Now I want to ask some questions that havent been REALLY answered.

I am still in school and have 6months left.
I am starting right now as an unpaid intern at Smith Barney

I am hearing many bad comments from people who work at wire houses such as smith barney and hearing all the best from people who went independent.

Obviously I know I cant go independent myself since I have 0 clients lol

However, I was thinking maybe
1. working for a well established independent company

2. working with a couple guys who just left and want to get started on a company of there own (jump in with them and start up the independent company with them)

or
3. stick with smith barney for 5yrs get some clients and then go indep myself or then join a indep company



In the end I got pretty sick of working at a wire, but it is a good place to start.  Far better than starting indy, unless you can find a very well established office with an owner willing to mentor you closely and take a stake in your success.

Apr 20, 2006 1:40 am

if i find an indy company and a good director to manage me would it be more beneficial to go with them

or go with smith barney... the branch manager is going to be managing me and she knows wuts up and would be a good director for me.

i'm just scared if I DO want to go indy it would be really hard after working with smithbarney
and it would be much easier and MUCH less stressful going indy in the beginning

Apr 20, 2006 2:04 am
Scorpio:

Option 4:  Forget about being an FA and try something more realistic. 



Unless you have an extremely wealthy family who have a bunch of
extremely rich friends, and all of them have indicated that they want
to invest with you, I wouldn't recommend it. 



Starting out in this biz as a youngin isn't fun, and its darn near
impossible to make it.  What do you plan on doing - cold
calling?  Its been done to death and doesn't produce accounts fast
enough to work.  All other methods of prospecting take too long;
you need to be opening big accounts every week to make it. 



I'm only telling you this because I wish someone had talked some sense
into me a year ago.  I was a new college grad thinking I would
make it as long as a worked hard enough...well my clock is about to
stop ticking despite working 12 hour days.  And this year of
"experience" on my resume has absolutely no relevence to any other job
in business, so I'm not any more attractive to employers than I was
coming out of college.  I feel like I wasted the last year of my
life.  There is no correlation anymore to hard work and success in
this business - the most successful trainees in my office put in the
least amount of hours.  Its because they were already connected
coming into it...which in my opinion is the only way to make it happen
in today's environment. 



wtf should i do then? I'm a math major with a specialization in statistics and a managment minor. Good school (i guess) and good gpa (for a math major)

I dont have a multimillionare family, but we do live in a million dollar house. The family is not loaded but is doing alright.

Honostly what I am thinking to make it big is to get involved with my people (the persians) and get money from them since 90% of them are all rolling.

This is a kid talking. So does "plan" seem legitimate?

I will be part of an organization and honostly supporting my people. While making money off of them.

Apr 20, 2006 8:07 am

"Getting with" or "less stress route" will not work. If you find a nitch more power to you.. You need to network and sell reguardless of where you are.


Remember you are "21" and although you may think your the most mature 21 year old on the earth. The 40 year old (potential client) sitting in front of you thinks that you have not left mamas home or worked a day outside of cozy college.

Apr 20, 2006 10:14 am

Start out as an assistant or an junior broker.

Apr 20, 2006 7:29 pm

blarmston:

You know what helps things???? A guy with 3 months in the business and the family connections that ANYONE would DIE for. It doesnt hurt to have a father in law who is the biggest real estate developer in Southern California. He just handed over a $30MM 401K account to the FA, and is also moving over a $400MM corporate cash management account. Not bad eh????


-------------------------------------------------


And you can be sure that, at the next national meeting for Merrill FA's, this guy with 3 months in the business will be giving a pep talk to the other FA's about what it takes to make it in this business.


At one such meeting, when I was a rookie, I cornered an FA who had given a pep talk about his success. During his speech, he fed us the same old, same old. However, what I found out later was that his father was a CPA who fed him referrals AND he had a bank CD list from his former employer.


Now, I don't begrudge the guy and his assets. But don't tell me how to gather assets when it obviously wasn't the way you gathered yours.


Show me someone who built their business from the ground-up and without "cheating" and I'll show you someone I respect.

Apr 20, 2006 9:19 pm


"During his speech, he fed us the same old, same old. However, what I found out later was that his father was a CPA who fed him referrals AND he had a bank CD list from his former employer".


Jones is famous for doing this. They put some fast starter up on a pedestal and then you find out later there's a "story behind the story".  Another Jones tactic is they love you when you're there and when you leave you "never did things the Jones way" or something like that. Can't wait to hear what they'll be saying about me. 



"Show me someone who built their business from the ground-up and without "cheating" and I'll show you someone I respect."


Thank you for the respect.

Apr 21, 2006 7:37 am

I don't think the business is all that much harder than it was 10 years
ago.  Obtaining clients is tough, and always have been. 
While it is true the markets are more challenging, and we have DNC
lists, but there are more challenges for investors today...retirement
income challenges, getting performance in possible flat markets, etc...



The cat with the solutions, and willing to put it out there will do
just fine.  Run around with morningstar reports and hypothetical
portfolios reports, touting yourseld as a good "fund picker", you will
not make it. 



You just have to be smarter today than say 10 years ago.  If that
makes it more challenging for you, then you need to get smarter.




Apr 23, 2006 11:01 pm

no i dont think it is worse than 10 years ago either, probably better if anything since more and more people want to plan their financial future.

anyways back to the topic. I want some more feedback from all of you who have been through this. what should i do? these are my options:
1. working for a well established independent company

2. working
with a couple guys who just left and want to get started on a company
of there own (jump in with them and start up the independent company
with them)

or
3. stick with smith barney for 5yrs get some clients and then go indep myself or then join a indep company

4. or just stay with smith barney my whole career

Apr 24, 2006 7:39 pm

I'd say pick 3 is your heart so desires to leave after 5 years, but bottom line is that successful people figure out a way to make it happen. Think outside of the box. Don't just cold call or door knock, or whatever you may do.  Think of all the people you come in contact with each day. Every one is a potential client. Make it seem that by chance you "bumped" into them at the store, then introduce yourself as a professional.  Make it happen.

Apr 24, 2006 11:05 pm

om_nupe what are you doing now?
are you in a indep firm? or in a big firm? just wondering to see if your opinion has bias :)

Apr 26, 2006 12:06 am

i'm with EDJ. I started out door knocking and was getting decent results, but I have wife, a son and a daughter on the way. So I have no choice but to make it if I want to continue to put food on the table for my family. It was amazing much networking and just trying to introduce myself to any and everyone I meet. I feel thus far I have been getting great results.

Apr 26, 2006 1:18 pm

I am 21 as well, so my opinion may be rather

useless, but I do have several family members in the

business. My thought would be to start off with Smith

Barney. They will give you the tools you need to

estabilish yourself and build a book of clients.