ML POA Training – Your experiences

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Jun 5, 2006 10:46 am

I am considering a POA position at Merrill Lynch and I am hoping to get some feedback from those who are in or have been in the program.<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


 


Pre-Production


Are there any advantages to completing pre-production tracks 1 and 2 early?  What percentage of the learning was in a classroom environment and how much was self study?  How rigorous were the first two tracks?  What was the success rate at your branch?  What do you feel were the keys to your success and what do you feel were the main contributing factors to those who did not succeed?


 


Production LOS 0-24 months


Besides for the training goals, what are the fundamental differences between tracks 3 and 4?  How valuable was the POA mentor or coach?  How did the training techniques employed for the CFP certification differ from those for becoming registered and licensed?  Did you or anyone in your group graduate POA early?  Was the primary reason for graduating early the ability to secure one or two large clients or was it more so the ability to build a book with a number of small to mid-sized clients?  What percentage of the group made it though tracks 3 and 4?  What do you feel were the primary reasons why some were successful and others were unsuccessful?  Did people leave the program early to pursue similar careers at other companies?  If so, were they allowed to leave freely or did they owe back some training expenses?


 


Post POA


Once you’ve completed the program, how much of your work is selling and how much is advising?  Are you still almost entirely dependant on your sales skills or are you able to really work with clients on wealth management strategies?  How often do you attend charity and social events with the primary purpose of building up or maintaining your network?  Do you plan on staying with ML for the long haul or would you jump ship should an offer come about and you believe you could retrain a good percentage of your book?


 


So far my understanding is that the POA program at ML is very challenging and that success is almost entirely up to the individual.  I’ve also been told that while the pay is low and the hours can be long, this career is very rewarding (both monetarily and emotionally) if you are successful.  Should I accept this position I would be taking a huge pay cut from my other offers in different careers.  The reasons why I would even consider the pay cut and large risk of failure is that I am genuinely interested in financial markets, wealth management and helping individuals meet their financial life goals.  I believe that if you do what you love then the rewards will eventually come.


 


Thank you,


WM

Jun 5, 2006 5:05 pm

I have found answers to some of my questions since starting this topic.  I wanted to post what I have found out in order to save other people the time of replying.<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


 


Most of the learning is self study.  This includes both the certifications and the CFP.  You can take outside CFP classes and have them reimbursed by the company.


 


I’ve also had it reiterated that success is almost entirely up to the individual.  Some of it is luck, but the more that you get in front of people the better the chances are that you will be lucky.  You must be creative in finding ways to meet potential clients.  Never stop prospecting.

Jun 5, 2006 5:55 pm

"Some of it is luck, but the more that you get in front of people the better the chances are that you will be lucky.  You must be creative in finding ways to meet potential clients.  Never stop prospecting."


If you can understand that before even jumping in, then you have an infinitely higher chance of doing well.

Jun 5, 2006 8:37 pm

^^^^  The fool who didn't realize this before jumping in deserves what's coming to him....



When I met with the director of my complex for the final hire meeting,
I asked him what separates those who make it from those who
don't.  His response was, "luck".

Jun 5, 2006 9:10 pm
Scorpio:

When I met with the director of my complex for the final hire meeting, I asked him what separates those who make it from those who don't.  His response was, "luck".


Scorpio,


   Do you think that luck is the only factor or do you think that some skill along with proper positioning allows for better chances with luck?  I value your opinion because my understanding is that you are in the POA program.  Which track are you on?


WM

Jun 5, 2006 9:11 pm

You must take the CFP courses sponsored by ML in order to get
reimbursed.  This is the College of Financial Planning course, the
investment module you will need to complete prior to getting your
number.  For non-POA filks there are more options.

Jun 5, 2006 10:01 pm

"The fool who didn't realize this before jumping in deserves what's coming to him"


I have seen several new hires that have come in and have NO CLUE what it takes to make it. Its sad- you actually look at them and know that they will be gone within 12 months. Either management mustve needed to fill a quota or they thought they could survive by working 8-3 and staring at their computers.... It sad, but I dont even react anymore when I hear that someone is gone....

Jun 6, 2006 8:48 pm

I had a couple of fraternity brothers not make it in the business. They
said that it can definitely be done and that it is long hours and yes,
you do need a little luck. However, they weren't with ML, and I would
think maybe it would be a little easier with ML, b/c of the training
and the name recognition. These guys were with New York Life etc. Also,
it's not that they didn't make it, they just gave in to better offers
at the time. To my understanding its all about putting the time in now
to get the rewards a few yrs. down the road. I've read articles on guys
that just wouldn't give in. Maybe the luck might not hit that first
year or two, but maybe year 3 or 4. However, getting fired b/c of poor
performance might end the job instead of quitting.

Sep 19, 2006 6:36 am

Does anyone know if ML goes after training costs? It does't make sense to fail one test, i.e. 7 or 66, and have to pay over $20 grand. I read it on this site: http://registeredrep.com/mag/financeindentured_servitude/


I was just curious, because I was about to accept an offer and can not afford those kind of training costs. I would like to keep trying in the profession even if Merrill says no. Does anyone who has worked there or was in the same shoes have any insights?

Sep 19, 2006 7:41 am
choida:

Does anyone know if ML goes after training costs? It does't make sense to fail one test, i.e. 7 or 66, and have to pay over $20 grand. I read it on this site: http://registeredrep.com/mag/financeindentured_servitude/


I was just curious, because I was about to accept an offer and can not afford those kind of training costs. I would like to keep trying in the profession even if Merrill says no. Does anyone who has worked there or was in the same shoes have any insights?



If you are terminated because you failed the exams they will not ask you for anything except your key to the office and to clean out your area.

Sep 19, 2006 3:52 pm

They will most likely NOT come after you for training costs unless you go to a competing firm.

Sep 4, 2007 5:14 pm

Key to your office??  Don't you mean the desk drawer of your cubicle? 

Sep 5, 2007 1:04 am
WealthManager:
Scorpio:

When I met with the director of
my complex for the final hire meeting, I asked him what separates those
who make it from those who don't.  His response was, "luck".


Scorpio,


   Do you think that luck is the only factor or do you
think that some skill along with proper positioning allows for better
chances with luck?  I value your opinion because my understanding
is that you are in the POA program.  Which track are you on?


WM





Chance favors the prepared mind, but most of it is luck. Check out Taleb's books "Fooled by Randomness" and "The Black Swan."




Sep 5, 2007 8:24 am

Sometimes you get lucky and get an office.  I'm not at Merrill, but I'm at another wirehouse.  From day one I had an office.  I think it all depends on the particular branch one works at.



bullgamer:

Key to your office??  Don't you mean the desk drawer of your cubicle? 

Sep 5, 2007 6:48 pm
shadow191:

Sometimes you get lucky and get an office.  I'm not at Merrill, but I'm at another wirehouse.  From day one I had an office.  I think it all depends on the particular branch one works at.



bullgamer:

Key to your office??  Don't you mean the desk drawer of your cubicle? 



Branch managers always fail to realize how much harder it is to build a practice out of a cube. Yet, every member of the management team in my branch has a window office, with the branch manager and their assistant manager in the best and second best offices in the branch.

Sep 5, 2007 7:18 pm

The biggest thing that bothers me about "cubelife" is the lack of privacy when cold calling.  Not only are you being judged by the prospect who are also being judged by everyone within a 50ft radius.  It makes me less productive because I am worried about what the guy next to me is hearing.  OH WELL, just makes me want to work for that office that much harder. 

Sep 5, 2007 8:46 pm

The biggest thing that bothers me about "cubelife" is the lack of privacy when cold calling.  Not only are you being judged by the prospect who are also being judged by everyone within a 50ft radius.  It makes me less productive because I am worried about what the guy next to me is hearing.  OH WELL, just makes me want to work for that office that much harder.


I actually liked that aspect. I knew I was good on the phone and when I balled out some huge prospect- to get a meeting, to get the account, whatever- it felt good to know that people overheard... Its a great feeling when you hang up the phone and a Senior FA who was walking by stops to give you props..

Sep 5, 2007 11:20 pm
BullBroker:

The biggest thing that bothers me about "cubelife" is the lack of privacy when cold calling.  Not only are you being judged by the prospect who are also being judged by everyone within a 50ft radius.  It makes me less productive because I am worried about what the guy next to me is hearing.  OH WELL, just makes me want to work for that office that much harder. 



If you're worried about your neighbor in the gopher farm overhearing you, how do you handle the fear of prospecting?  How do you have the balls to ask for the order?

In your last sentence you're heading more in the right direction from an attitude standpoint.

Sep 6, 2007 8:36 am

It can really go both ways.  My "mentor" is former ML, very successful and all that.  He gave me the opposite viewpoint; it's harder to stay motivated while in an office by yourself.  He came up with 10 other guys all sitting in cubes right outside their manager's office.  So if one had a bad call, or didnt' call enough, all the other guys would give him crap about it.  That kept him dialing some days.  I do know that when I first started, it was very easy to take a break from calling when I shouldn't have.  I corrected that, but I can see how sometimes you do need a kick in the butt to get back on track, especially when you have a bad day.  And I remember from training in NJ, we had cold call sessions where they put 30 of us in a room and just made us call.  It did keep me motivated trying to keep up with all the good calls others had as well as trying to outdial them.



BullBroker:

The biggest thing that bothers me about "cubelife" is the lack of privacy when cold calling.  Not only are you being judged by the prospect who are also being judged by everyone within a 50ft radius.  It makes me less productive because I am worried about what the guy next to me is hearing.  OH WELL, just makes me want to work for that office that much harder. 

Sep 11, 2007 8:10 am
san fran broker:
shadow191:

Sometimes you get lucky and get an office.  I'm not at Merrill, but I'm at another wirehouse.  From day one I had an office.  I think it all depends on the particular branch one works at.



bullgamer:

Key to your office??  Don't you mean the desk drawer of your cubicle? 



Branch managers always fail to realize how much harder it is to build a practice out of a cube. Yet, every member of the management team in my branch has a window office, with the branch manager and their assistant manager in the best and second best offices in the branch.



Once upon a time, those branch managers in offices sat in cubes just like you.