ML PMD or RIA?

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Jul 22, 2015 3:36 pm

Hello All,

I am working on getting into the investment industry back home as an advisor and fortunately, I have two options on my plate.  I am trying to gather as much information as possible to make the correct decision that will give me the best chances to learn and thrive as an advisor.  I have read many helpful threads on this forum and have listed the potential pros/cons and background of each situation.  Looking to make the right fit.

Background - Previously worked in the financial software industry, servicing broker/dealers and RIAs. I come from a small city  where I have plenty of connections through my family.  Although I have not been an FA, i consider myself extremely thorough and a great people person.

RIA - I was offered a job with a small RIA (6 advisors) that has started to make exponential headway in the local market.  My aunt works at the firm as an advisor and got me the opportunity to come aboard.  Unfortunately, there is no salary or benefits,  but the culture seems more laid back than Merrill.  I also get the idea that independent RIA's have greater long term earnings potential.

ML - I am currently in the process of interviewing with ML.  One of the branch vice presidents is really good friends with my family (overall great guy as well) and contacted me to go through the PMD program.  He basically stated that they would be able to provide a salary and benefits and give training/tools to help with success.  I have read on this forum how difficult success is through the PMD program, but it seems to depend the branch.  They are also a small team with 4 total advisors and are looking to bring on candidates as they go into retirement.  It obviously seems the short run with Merrill is a good choice for these reasons, but is it worth it?

I would appreciate if anyone could weigh in on the situation.  From what I have read on this forum, it makes me want to lean towards the RIA firm.  But would working at Merrill be able to provide a good foundation?  Please let me know if i can provide additional context.

Jul 22, 2015 6:30 pm

name of the game is survival. Nothing happens quickly in this biz so be ready for that.

If you join PMD just realize that you can't count on anyone there but yourself. These teams you think you'll be joining and having a $100mil book dumped in our lap one day, doesn't happen. There's a reason 1 out of 100 make it thru the program, it's b/c the challenge is immense.

There is another good thread on here about a "PMD in a bad situation". I suggest you read that before making the decision.

RIA model is good in that you have wide open prospect list, but less name recognition. No salary is also a big hurdle. It can take several years before you start making any meaningful income on a fee based model. If you are hybrid then you can maybe sell some insurance/annuities in the interim.

Whichever avenue you think gives you the best chance at still being in the business 5 yrs from now is the one to take. The income will follow.

Jul 23, 2015 1:29 pm

Thanks for the insight Gekko. I read the "PMD in a bad situation" article, and I will make sure to take that into consideration. When looking from a different angle, my parents/in laws are willing to help support my wife and I financially until i get established.

With that being said, it seems like the RIA would provide a greater cushion due to less scrutiny compared to ML. The RIA is a hybrid and offers annuities which is a bonus.

It seems like i would have more room for error at the RIA, which ultimately would allow me to spread my chances.