Potential Carrer Change Advise WFA/EDJ/PMD

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Oct 29, 2015 6:02 pm

Hello Everyone,

Im currently 27 and I work in Financial Aid at a community college. I have over 5 years experience in this field. I am currently thinking about taking a leap and looking into starting a financial advisor program with either Wells Fargo, Merrill Lynch, or Edward Jones. I would really love to start a UBS but there are none located close to my area. I have great sales and cold calling experience from working at the University of Phoenix for 3+ years so that is not a problem. I have a decent network with a decent number of multi millionaires in it. I currently live in a small town close to a military base with mostly retired officers and government civilians. I don't care what I have to do to build my book of business, cold calls, cold walks, seminars I DON'T CARE. i will get out and grind day in and day out. I have read many different threads about these companies but they all seem to be from 5+ years ago and I would like some updated information. I have very thick skin so all comments are welcome as from what I can tell this is a business for sharks anyway. I have no licenses at this time.  So if anyone that has or is currently involved in these training programs please provide any info from requirements to pros and cons to yearly hurdles it would be greatly appreciated.

Jan 4, 2016 7:46 pm

Have you thought about going with First Command? They are near military bases and have a much smaller footprint with only about 400+ advisors nationally. FC has offices with multiple advisors that focus more on team play, as opposed to EDJ who has over 12K advisors and uses a one-person, one-office model with redundant offices nearby - a waste of overhead expense IMO.

I am interested in both and trying to decide which to pursue for my encore career.

Jan 5, 2016 8:09 am

Baronbvp I have thought about first command. I actually sent them an application recently. I also sent an application to EDJ, ML, and WFA. Hopefully I hear something back soon.

Jan 8, 2016 9:32 am

I am a new FA at Morgan Stanley. You can get hired at any of the major wirehouses without having your license. They will typically pay you either your salary, or in Jones' case an hourly wage, while you study for both exams. I would suspect you will take about 6 weeks for the 7 and maybe 3-4 for the 66.

As for study materials, I used STC and passed both exams the first time around.

Now to your real question - I was in the same boat as you trying to figure out which wirehouse to go to and had offers from Jones, MS, and ML. Here's what I found out.

At ML - either you push bank of America's products, or the bank will hound you for access to your client list so they can do so. I wanted a job as an FA and had no interest in being forced to ram banking products down someone's throat. Also, to my understanding, quite a few FAs left after the buyout in 2008 due to this. They also required $250,000 account minimums.

Jones - to me, Jones is an odd business model. I feel more like a State Farm Agent than I would an FA. Every Advisor has independent boutique offices that are supposed to make clients feel like you're their "neighbor". To me - this would appeal to low net worth investors, which they tend to get since they have no account minimums. They also go on rather extravagant trips - which I had experience going on in the insurance world. They are awesome! My concern with that, however, is that they are based on your production, obviously. If you're coming down to the end of the qualifying period, and you are short some revenue, are you going to be tempted to say put someone in a Class A share at 3-5% commission to make your revenue when maybe a Class C share would be best? I don't know - but I don't think it's fair to put an advisor in that position. It is also much more like owning your own business(expenses, managing staff) than being an FA - things which will detract you from sales.

Morgan Stanley - MS just really fit with me. They're compensation structure is very lucrative, as are the others, but they have an incredible platform to launch your career on. Meaning we have access to things virtually anything you could want in regards to the market. Another big thing for me was being that I would be a new FA, I wanted to be able to leverage something behind me that people would trust - and the intellectual capital of Morgan Stanley is just that. I have gotten meetings JUST from telling people I am an FA with MS.

At the end of the day, you will determine whether you succeed or not. We essentially all do the same thing - go with what makes you competitive. I will tell you I have taken accounts from Jones by simply saying: "you should feel good about having saved this much money. But, to be honest, I think you have outgrown EDJ..." It was the simple. People know the major wirehouse names, and for a newbie, that's priceless. Go meet with everyone who you are interested in and see which places FEELS the best. Keep in mind - this job is tough, no need to make it harder by forcing yourself to go to an office you hate.

If you stick your head down and do the 'dirty work', you will succeed.

Jan 9, 2016 9:10 pm

Rc-cola thanks for the response. What are the yearly hurdles or goals at MS for a newbie?

Jun 18, 2016 1:50 pm

Interested in hearing this too. I'm considering making a change from my current shop.

Jun 21, 2016 5:35 pm

One thing that seems to be very overlooked here is starting with an independent firm. Many advisors are older and are looking to sell their book to someone younger. Look around your area to see what is out there - attend FPA events, etc. They might offer you a salary and a few lower level clients of your own after a pretty short time.

Now this business is not easy, it takes 5 years at least before you can even really pay yourself. Those firms that give you an upfront are giving you a gift and most don't last there because you will see that they push their own products and are selling organizations. You are a pawn in their game and they make it due to the law of large numbers. A caring planner rarely lasts with those firms. The pushy sales person is king. Times are changing and pushy sales people are not what consumers are looking for today.

I made a career change in 2012. I did not want to be captured, so I went out and took my life/ann/health license and training on my own. Then I found a local advisor who I helped for a minimal hourly salary - we are talking minimum here. He sponsored me to take the securities exams. I passed the 7 and 65 with a lot of study, but did pass. I paid for the courses and exams myself. I sat in his meeting with clients did prep work, marketing, filing, etc.
I found he was not my cup of tea and left him about a year later. I opened my own doors with an independent B/D and I am still struggling to bring money into my house, even with six figure business income. It costs a lot to do your own marketing, pay office rent, and fees up the wazoo. You pay for E &O, software to run analysis, office software, printers, paper, ink, a cut to the B/D, etc.
I do have a spouse who carries our healthcare and can pay most of the bills, so it is OK that I am growing, but I am loosing about $2-3k per month, and project I won't break even until the end of year 4 with real income happening that I can take home in year 5.
It takes at least $150k of income to be able to make $40,000 for yourself.
Then it can roll a bit, but it is not sky is the limit! The more clients you take on the more burdensome the daily tasks, then you need help in your office to deal with those tasks so you can start to have a life again.
All remuneration has been compressed. The old commissions that the Baby Boomer planner saw are gone. The financial industry is seen as thieves in the night. People are skeptical and the wealthy want older white males to manager their funds.
Right now there is the RIA push for the 1% fee, but that is even getting complaints from consumers, and then don't get me started on the DOL.
I try to do the right thing, do a lot of planning, many clients don't want to pay for planning, so you have to be really adept at showing your value.

Good luck, but know you will probably do much better getting an engineering degree or working at a large company with a business degree in accounting. You have to love this, or love ramen for a long time before you can make your way in this industry and hold your head high.