Merrill Lynch Interview Process

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Nov 24, 2008 2:55 pm

I have an interview coming up with Merrill Lynch for a Financial Advisor position.  There was some mention prior to the interview of a FIAT exam to gauge Series 7 exam performance. 

 
What should I expect going into this interview? 
What advice would you give someone in this spot? 
Is this position with them mostly on the phones?
What is the training like?
 
Please advise.
Nov 24, 2008 5:16 pm

Reading your previous posts I suggest something VERY back office for you. Anything client facing where you might face rejection and you are DOOMED!

Nov 24, 2008 5:25 pm
BogJohn:

Reading your previous posts I suggest something VERY back office for you. Anything client facing where you might face rejection and you are DOOMED!

 
Hey John,
   Thanks for your honesty.  I was hoping to be judged independently of any other postings.  I've simply had a bad experience on this site and have a tendency to carry an underlying tone when making posts, that's all. 
 
    I'm waiting for the next few replies to prove my initial experience as an exception to what's customary.
Nov 24, 2008 5:41 pm

I suggest having a very solid basic understanding of investments in general, including some basic knowledge about how stocks, bonds, funds, etc. work. Most importantly, you'd better have a very, very solid underlying business plan. This should focus on convincingly presenting the manner in which you intend to build a book of (high-end) business. Your question about whether or not they work basically "phone-based" doesn't speak well about your level of preparation on the latter.

Nov 24, 2008 5:43 pm
RickRoss:
BogJohn:

Reading your previous posts I suggest something VERY back office for you. Anything client facing where you might face rejection and you are DOOMED!

 
Hey John,
   Thanks for your honesty.  I was hoping to be judged independently of any other postings.  I've simply had a bad experience on this site and have a tendency to carry an underlying tone when making posts, that's all. 
 
    I'm waiting for the next few replies to prove my initial experience as an exception to what's customary.
 
Why don't you just re-register under a different name and come back having learned from your mistakes?
Nov 24, 2008 6:07 pm
snaggletooth:
RickRoss:
BogJohn:

Reading your previous posts I suggest something VERY back office for you. Anything client facing where you might face rejection and you are DOOMED!

 
Hey John,
   Thanks for your honesty.  I was hoping to be judged independently of any other postings.  I've simply had a bad experience on this site and have a tendency to carry an underlying tone when making posts, that's all. 
 
    I'm waiting for the next few replies to prove my initial experience as an exception to what's customary.
 
Why don't you just re-register under a different name and come back having learned from your mistakes?
 
I think there is more honor in openly admitting one's faults.  Learning from my mistakes, I will, but to pretend to be somebody else who doesn't make any mistakes is definitely not my character. 
Nov 24, 2008 6:11 pm
YHWY:

I suggest having a very solid basic understanding of investments in general, including some basic knowledge about how stocks, bonds, funds, etc. work. Most importantly, you'd better have a very, very solid underlying business plan. This should focus on convincingly presenting the manner in which you intend to build a book of (high-end) business. Your question about whether or not they work basically "phone-based" doesn't speak well about your level of preparation on the latter.

 
Well, the reason I mentioned the phones piece is b/c I saw someone else post about Merrill in such a manner that suggested that.
 
The business plan is a great idea.  I'm glad you responded. 
Nov 24, 2008 6:22 pm

Think of it this way. IF they hire you, you will be trained, told what your "quotas" are (i.e. be in the top quarter of your class in production), show you to a cubical with a computer and a phone and say, "Good Luck." ALL the rest is up to you.

Nov 24, 2008 6:36 pm

For the fiat, be able to do any kind of basic calculations with fractions.  Use the search tool on here, I think I posted several of the questions a few months ago right after I took it.


Tip:  They say no calculator, but I was in a room by myself and my cell phone calculator came in handy.   
Nov 25, 2008 1:39 am

I just got hired by merrill a couple months back.

Advice for people looking to get hired that worked for ME.  I will only speak for what worked for me.

First: Come in looking sharp.  I dressed in my best suit with a fitted french cuff shirt and some nice links.  I also wore my best watch.  High end watch but not over the top flashy.  I actually got a comment from a morgan stanely branch manager regarding the watch.

Walk in with a confident attitude with a little ego.  Not over the top but when you walk in they will know you are serious.

Also I would have a solid business plan as someone else mentioned.  Be able to tell them very specifically how you will get in front of atleast 10 qualified individuals weekly ( 250k and higher).  The more specific a niche the better e.g. (Asian Physicians, Manufacturing Business owners)  Be able to tell them why you have a common link with that niche.

The name of the game is prospecting.  Don't be fooled by all the investment services, and best practice servicing clients... that will come in handy later and also your client associate will help you out with that.  FOCUS on prospecting and tell them that you understand you will prospect from 8:00 am to 5:00pm and will do all the servicing and paperwork and research before or after that time.

Explain if you will cold walk, cold call, network, or do seminars and why.  Again the more specific the better.

Now this last part is key.  This is what got me a higher salary and impressed all the managers I met with. (At least thats what the recruiter told me, how reliable that is I will leave it up to you)  Ask the manager interviewing you that from all the people they have seen become successful and the ones that have failed what are the three biggest difference in their experience that separated them. Or what is the biggest key in making it in this industry.  Something along those lines.

Each manager will tell you something different.  But LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN ( as if you were in a client meeting)  Keep asking them for their advice and also HOW they made it and any advice they would give you even if you didn't get hired at Merrill.   This really helps you get a perspective on what it takes to make it from different people. 

I'm sure there is a lot more that others can add, but this was the basics of what I used in my interviews

Nov 25, 2008 1:51 am

Tell them you have a lot of rich relatives who are eager to invest with you.  If they believe you have 30 million+ in your family pipeline someone will take you on just for that.  You can always give them some "they want me to get some seasoning before they invest with me" after your in the door.  Don't feel bad for being a little dishonest in this regard.  Telling people what they want to hear is what we do all day.  You'll do fine.

Nov 25, 2008 12:12 pm
younggunz:

I just got hired by merrill a couple months back.

Advice for people looking to get hired that worked for ME.  I will only speak for what worked for me.

First: Come in looking sharp.  I dressed in my best suit with a fitted french cuff shirt and some nice links.  I also wore my best watch.  High end watch but not over the top flashy.  I actually got a comment from a morgan stanely branch manager regarding the watch.

Walk in with a confident attitude with a little ego.  Not over the top but when you walk in they will know you are serious.

Also I would have a solid business plan as someone else mentioned.  Be able to tell them very specifically how you will get in front of atleast 10 qualified individuals weekly ( 250k and higher).  The more specific a niche the better e.g. (Asian Physicians, Manufacturing Business owners)  Be able to tell them why you have a common link with that niche.

The name of the game is prospecting.  Don't be fooled by all the investment services, and best practice servicing clients... that will come in handy later and also your client associate will help you out with that.  FOCUS on prospecting and tell them that you understand you will prospect from 8:00 am to 5:00pm and will do all the servicing and paperwork and research before or after that time.

Explain if you will cold walk, cold call, network, or do seminars and why.  Again the more specific the better.

Now this last part is key.  This is what got me a higher salary and impressed all the managers I met with. (At least thats what the recruiter told me, how reliable that is I will leave it up to you)  Ask the manager interviewing you that from all the people they have seen become successful and the ones that have failed what are the three biggest difference in their experience that separated them. Or what is the biggest key in making it in this industry.  Something along those lines.

Each manager will tell you something different.  But LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN ( as if you were in a client meeting)  Keep asking them for their advice and also HOW they made it and any advice they would give you even if you didn't get hired at Merrill.   This really helps you get a perspective on what it takes to make it from different people. 

I'm sure there is a lot more that others can add, but this was the basics of what I used in my interviews

 
Younggunz, this might be a bit too personal, and if it is, I apologize, but how, exactly, did YOU come up with YOUR business plan.  I'm not looking for a cut / paste response that I can regurgitate at the interview, but more a stimulus to help me generate ideas.
 
Quite frankly, I'm relatively new to my area, and I don't know too many people just yet.  The ones I've met are no where near $250k.  I can deal with hard work, long hours, rejection, et cetera, but I'm having difficulty wrapping my hands around where to start.
 
I know most of, if not all of, the business is generated by the actual FA, but I was hoping the training might answer a lot of the how to get over the hurdles type questions.  Sort of the, here's where your focus should be, kid, no go get 'em type of approach.  I think coming up with a business plan is a great idea, and definitely shows one is prepared/serious, but it's a little intimidating if I don't really know where to start.  The last thing I want to do is go in there with fluff and b.s.  I'm sure they'll smell that right away.
 
I've done a little research on the FAs at this particular branch.  Almost all are a lot older with many more credentials, but I'm a little surprised (in a good way) that someone as young as I (I'm 24) is even being considered.  Age shouldn't have anything to do with it, but if I'm talking to high net worth individuals and they see a young kid, it's probably a lot harder to gain credibility.  I'm rambling...
Nov 25, 2008 12:22 pm

Tell them that you have an aunt that will buy a variable annuity from you. 

Nov 25, 2008 12:23 pm
RickRoss:
snaggletooth:
RickRoss:
BogJohn:

Reading your previous posts I suggest something VERY back office for you. Anything client facing where you might face rejection and you are DOOMED!

 
Hey John,
   Thanks for your honesty.  I was hoping to be judged independently of any other postings.  I've simply had a bad experience on this site and have a tendency to carry an underlying tone when making posts, that's all. 
 
    I'm waiting for the next few replies to prove my initial experience as an exception to what's customary.
 
Why don't you just re-register under a different name and come back having learned from your mistakes?
 
I think there is more honor in openly admitting one's faults.  Learning from my mistakes, I will, but to pretend to be somebody else who doesn't make any mistakes is definitely not my character. 



You don't have to admit to your faults, here. They are painfully obvious to everybody.

Nov 25, 2008 12:53 pm
Hank Moody:

Tell them that you have an aunt that will buy a variable annuity from you. 

 
  Good one, Hank!  Glad to see your posts on this topic are value-added.
Nov 25, 2008 5:44 pm
RickRoss:

I know most of, if not all of, the business is generated by the actual FA, but I was hoping the training might answer a lot of the how to get over the hurdles type questions.  Sort of the, here's where your focus should be, kid, no go get 'em type of approach.  I think coming up with a business plan is a great idea, and definitely shows one is prepared/serious, but it's a little intimidating if I don't really know where to start.  The last thing I want to do is go in there with fluff and b.s.  I'm sure they'll smell that right away.

 
You're going to be giving your manager fluff and b.s. everyday anyways so why not start somewhere?  When you're having a bad day dialing or prospecting and he comes into your office and yell excitedly, "How we doin' today, Rick?!?!", or "How many appointments we got so far today, son!?!?!", you better not tell him, "Ahh man, I'm having a real tough day.  I'm feeling kinda down in the dumps."  Until you have proven yourself as a valuable commodity in the office you're going to have to always give some kind of good news to your boss all the time.  Even if it is something as simple as, "Having a great day today, boss!  Haven't spilled coffee on my tie yet!".  See?  And thats just ONE example of how you will be fluffing your boss on a daily basis once you've got the job!
Nov 30, 2008 3:04 pm

Haha.  I like your examples, they're pretty good.  I'm trying to figure out if I should walk in there and be more of a "Here's my gameplan.  I know I need to do x, y, z, to be successful.  Here's how I'll do it."  Or if I should go along the lines of, "Well, from what I gather, I know blah blah blah, and I'm looking forward to the training program which will coach me further on the specifics.  I'm willing to do whatever it takes."

 
I guess probably a mixture between the two.  Being brand new to this area, not knowing too many people, and having to come up with some sort of targeted marketing business plan within a few days of going in for an interview, is definitely intimidating.  Frankly, I need someone to be like, "Okay, this method works and so does this.  I suggest you spend some time doing this.  These types of people can usually be found here.  See what works for you.  Go get 'em and let me know how you make out."  At least that will give me a starting point.
 
Interview Attitude: Be a know-it-all with a gameplan or a coachable asset with determination?
 
Dress:  I usually wear a black suit, colored shirt.  Someone told me to always wear a white shirt to the interview.  Thoughts?
 
Any other comments / thoughts.  Interview is tomorrow.
Nov 30, 2008 3:12 pm

How about you just be yourself?  Go in there, do your best, and if they like you ... your hired.  If not, it was not the right job anyway. Don't over think it.

Go with a Navy suit, red tie, white shirt .. classic interview dress.

Nov 30, 2008 3:56 pm

I talked to them recently. The interviewer was very interested in my circle of relationships -- basically, how many rich people do I know. He said they liked to hire people who had been succesful in some business.
The prospecting method he describes would be uncomfortable to me. For example, he said that if you have a prospect who is a State University football fan, you should finagle your way into going to the game with him, so that you can spend time with him and meet his other heavy hitter friends.





Nov 30, 2008 4:37 pm
buyandhold:

I talked to them recently. The interviewer was very interested in my circle of relationships -- basically, how many rich people do I know.

 
Somewhat unfortunate but true, that's pretty much what gets most people hired...