Rank the Wirehouse

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Aug 23, 2006 5:41 pm

I would like to get some input. Which wirehouse do you think would be the best place for a rookie to get started and have the best chance to make it in this business?

Aug 23, 2006 5:44 pm

From what I have gathered thus far:



1) Merrill Lynch (supposed best training)



2) Smith Barney (somewhat exclusive)



3) UBS, Morgan, AG Edwards





*But I am a youngster also

Aug 23, 2006 5:45 pm

Never forget Wachovia--large branch network, excellent managment.

Aug 23, 2006 5:49 pm

From what I have gathered thus far:



1) Merrill Lynch (supposed best training)



2) Smith Barney (somewhat exclusive)



3) UBS, Morgan, AG Edwards





*But I am a youngster also

Aug 23, 2006 5:53 pm

sorry for the double post!

Aug 23, 2006 6:28 pm

NASD how would you rank them and why?

Aug 23, 2006 9:59 pm

ML is often ranked at the top of the heap, but there are a few things to consider for newbie FAs:



Now that training is almost entirely CBT-based, it's hard for ML to rank ahead of the others in this category.  Also, no more trips to Princeton for first-year FAs.
If ML has the most market share in your area, some have suggested that it may be to your advantage to work for a rival, to increase the pool of eligible non-client prospects.
Other firms pay commission while in training; ML does not (unless the commission would eclipse the salary for a given pay period).  For the hard workers out there, this could amount to $15k-25k in the first 12 months of production.

Mentoring is something to explore at every branch for every firm - in my region, I think ML has an advantage here. 


Aug 23, 2006 11:35 pm
tmorris93:

NASD how would you rank them and why?


I am of the opinion that the average guy cannot be that picky, you're lucky if you get an offer from one of them--much less face a crisis having to decide which offer to take.


I also believe that the differences between the top six firms are so slight as to be irrelevant at the retail branch level.


So look for other things.  Search back and find what Jeff the recruiter posted a week or two ago about pay packages--which are pretty similar--but if I recall Smith Barney offers a pretty attractive base salary PLUS commissions where the others generally offer an attractive base but no commission payout unless your monthly income would have exceeded your base salary.


If pushed I would say that the creme of the crop is Merrill, followed very closely by Smith Barney.


I have more respect for Morgan Stanley than for UBS, mainly because of people I know who Morgan Stanley hired compared to people I know who were hired by PaineWebber, which is now UBS.  Additonally I know that there is a certain percentage of people who don't like the idea that foreign banks own our businesses--no need to fight any negatives.


As for Wachovia.  As I've said I like Wachovia because I know several of their senior people and know that they're top notch.  The bank is still trying to meld the two cultures.  It's actually an almalgamation of a lot of firms ranging from Prescott Ball and Turben from Cleveland, to Wheat First from Richmond and another firm I can't think of from Philly--all of them were out there as Wheat First Securities and Prudential Bache was out there too.  Then one day First Union Bank bought Prudential Bache and renamed it First Unioin Securities.  Then First Union bought Wheat First--which disappeared into First Union, although most of their managers came over to run First Union Securities.  Finally Wachovia, which is a pretty large Charlotte based bank, bought First Union Bank and also acquired their broker/dealer.  There's been a lot of name changes and shuffling around, closing branches and so forth--but as I said they have really good management and will become a much more powerful force in the years ahead.


Finally AG Edwards which some folks consider a "mega-regional" because they don't meet the traditional definition of having at least one branch in every state.  That may not even be true now, but in any case they're a hell of a great firm.  They have a very loyal client base and great management.


If I were advising my son or daughter and you had offers from all six I'd tell you to take the Smith Barney offer first because you can make more money in your early years, followed by Merrill, Morgan Stanley, Wachovia, AG Edwards and finally UBS.


But as those who have been reading for awhile know, I say take the first offer that comes along and be glad you got it. If you do well there for a few years you can move over to another firm and get a great bonus for having done so.


Remember too that I think this decision should be put off until you're at least 30, and 35 would be even better.  Until then you can get some great experience at a place like Mass Mutual, or Northwestern Mutual, or The Guardian, or even MetLife.  There are others too--the newly formed Jefferson Pilot/Lincoln Financial family would be a good training ground if they're in your area.


In many of your areas there is an ING agency.  They are often run by very inventive general agents who are attempting to dominate their geography.


My fans, such as Philo, will sneer something--this is not designed to be a complete list.  But as I said, if you were my kid I'd think you did good if you can land at any of those places.

Aug 23, 2006 11:43 pm
NASD Newbie:
tmorris93:

NASD how would you rank them and why?


I am of the opinion that the average guy cannot be that picky, you're lucky if you get an offer from one of them--much less face a crisis having to decide which offer to take.


I also believe that the differences between the top six firms are so slight as to be irrelevant at the retail branch level.


So look for other things.  Search back and find what Jeff the recruiter posted a week or two ago about pay packages--which are pretty similar--but if I recall Smith Barney offers a pretty attractive base salary PLUS commissions where the others generally offer an attractive base but no commission payout unless your monthly income would have exceeded your base salary.


If pushed I would say that the creme of the crop is Merrill, followed very closely by Smith Barney.


I have more respect for Morgan Stanley than for UBS, mainly because of people I know who Morgan Stanley hired compared to people I know who were hired by PaineWebber, which is now UBS.  Additonally I know that there is a certain percentage of people who don't like the idea that foreign banks own our businesses--no need to fight any negatives.


As for Wachovia.  As I've said I like Wachovia because I know several of their senior people and know that they're top notch.  The bank is still trying to meld the two cultures.  It's actually an almalgamation of a lot of firms ranging from Prescott Ball and Turben from Cleveland, to Wheat First from Richmond and another firm I can't think of from Philly--all of them were out there as Wheat First Securities and Prudential Bache was out there too.  Then one day First Union Bank bought Prudential Bache and renamed it First Unioin Securities.  Then First Union bought Wheat First--which disappeared into First Union, although most of their managers came over to run First Union Securities.  Finally Wachovia, which is a pretty large Charlotte based bank, bought First Union Bank and also acquired their broker/dealer.  There's been a lot of name changes and shuffling around, closing branches and so forth--but as I said they have really good management and will become a much more powerful force in the years ahead.


Finally AG Edwards which some folks consider a "mega-regional" because they don't meet the traditional definition of having at least one branch in every state.  That may not even be true now, but in any case they're a hell of a great firm.  They have a very loyal client base and great management.


If I were advising my son or daughter and you had offers from all six I'd tell you to take the Smith Barney offer first because you can make more money in your early years, followed by Merrill, Morgan Stanley, Wachovia, AG Edwards and finally UBS.


But as those who have been reading for awhile know, I say take the first offer that comes along and be glad you got it. If you do well there for a few years you can move over to another firm and get a great bonus for having done so.


Remember too that I think this decision should be put off until you're at least 30, and 35 would be even better.  Until then you can get some great experience at a place like Mass Mutual, or Northwestern Mutual, or The Guardian, or even MetLife.  There are others too--the newly formed Jefferson Pilot/Lincoln Financial family would be a good training ground if they're in your area.


In many of your areas there is an ING agency.  They are often run by very inventive general agents who are attempting to dominate their geography.


My fans, such as Philo, will sneer something--this is not designed to be a complete list.  But as I said, if you were my kid I'd think you did good if you can land at any of those places.



Major wirehouse jobs are a dime a dozen.  Why do you emphasize how 'proud you would be if that was you kid'? 

Aug 24, 2006 12:06 am

Thanks for that analysis nasd newbie...good insight

Aug 24, 2006 1:07 am

Of the 5000+ broker firms:


1) Citigroup (Smith Barney) - Mainly for the capabilities of Citi. Not really for how its currently being executed. Place is so slammed with compliance now, though. Very deep pockets and very broad platform. Pitty about the top leadership, though.


2) Merrill Lynch - Only one that's really pulling it off. Credit management for making a strong commitment to training and establishing a working cross selling platform (lending). REALLY ineffective and expensive move into the UHNW space, though (PBIM). The people you recruited from boutiques don't know how to get business -- duh. 


3) Morgan Stanley - For clear commitment to substantially improving the retail division through true commitment of resources and personnel. Got their work cut out, though. Worst tech in the industry and way too focussed on products.


4) UBS - Fabulous name - terrible management. SO risk averse about everything. The Swiss are more phobic about headlines than anyone. What's happening to discretionary accounts? Beautiful offices though. Piper merger was the stupidest acquisition so far. If the markets take off, things should be quite good for them, with that swank name.


5) Wachovia - Impressive growth rate, but the brand needs serious retooling. They actually dumped Pru's tech platform - what the hell? Buzz over there, though.


There are other firms that should be on this list, but I just don't know the others that well. 


I think you'd have to be insane to train at a boutique firm right now. Nothing to sell, but your research department's stock picks - NO THANKS!


In the end, what pushes Citi to the top over ML is that the training program at Citi is handled in a much classier way. The ML program is a little less cushy.

Aug 24, 2006 1:18 am

great post san fran

Aug 24, 2006 8:20 am

Hey san fran: others have posted that they'd rather be accumulating MER right now rather than C.  Should this play a factor into a newbie's firm choice?

Aug 24, 2006 8:46 am
opie:

Hey san fran: others have posted that they'd rather be accumulating MER right now rather than C.  Should this play a factor into a newbie's firm choice?


As I understand it, MER is better about equity compensation than C. I am generally a contrarian when it comes to stock picking, so I go with the underdog. C will eventually turn around (certainly within the next 5 years of vesting), so I would still favor C.


In my opinion, ML is a little to Sears-like for my taste. SB is a little bit better on spending money on offices and events, generally.

Aug 24, 2006 8:50 am
NASD Newbie:
tmorris93:

NASD how would you rank them and why?


I am of the opinion that the average guy cannot be that picky, you're lucky if you get an offer from one of them--much less face a crisis having to decide which offer to take.


I also believe that the differences between the top six firms are so slight as to be irrelevant at the retail branch level.


So look for other things.  Search back and find what Jeff the recruiter posted a week or two ago about pay packages--which are pretty similar--but if I recall Smith Barney offers a pretty attractive base salary PLUS commissions where the others generally offer an attractive base but no commission payout unless your monthly income would have exceeded your base salary.


If pushed I would say that the creme of the crop is Merrill, followed very closely by Smith Barney.


I have more respect for Morgan Stanley than for UBS, mainly because of people I know who Morgan Stanley hired compared to people I know who were hired by PaineWebber, which is now UBS.  Additonally I know that there is a certain percentage of people who don't like the idea that foreign banks own our businesses--no need to fight any negatives.


As for Wachovia.  As I've said I like Wachovia because I know several of their senior people and know that they're top notch.  The bank is still trying to meld the two cultures.  It's actually an almalgamation of a lot of firms ranging from Prescott Ball and Turben from Cleveland, to Wheat First from Richmond and another firm I can't think of from Philly--all of them were out there as Wheat First Securities and Prudential Bache was out there too.  Then one day First Union Bank bought Prudential Bache and renamed it First Unioin Securities.  Then First Union bought Wheat First--which disappeared into First Union, although most of their managers came over to run First Union Securities.  Finally Wachovia, which is a pretty large Charlotte based bank, bought First Union Bank and also acquired their broker/dealer.  There's been a lot of name changes and shuffling around, closing branches and so forth--but as I said they have really good management and will become a much more powerful force in the years ahead.


Finally AG Edwards which some folks consider a "mega-regional" because they don't meet the traditional definition of having at least one branch in every state.  That may not even be true now, but in any case they're a hell of a great firm.  They have a very loyal client base and great management.


If I were advising my son or daughter and you had offers from all six I'd tell you to take the Smith Barney offer first because you can make more money in your early years, followed by Merrill, Morgan Stanley, Wachovia, AG Edwards and finally UBS.


But as those who have been reading for awhile know, I say take the first offer that comes along and be glad you got it. If you do well there for a few years you can move over to another firm and get a great bonus for having done so.


Remember too that I think this decision should be put off until you're at least 30, and 35 would be even better.  Until then you can get some great experience at a place like Mass Mutual, or Northwestern Mutual, or The Guardian, or even MetLife.  There are others too--the newly formed Jefferson Pilot/Lincoln Financial family would be a good training ground if they're in your area.


In many of your areas there is an ING agency.  They are often run by very inventive general agents who are attempting to dominate their geography.


My fans, such as Philo, will sneer something--this is not designed to be a complete list.  But as I said, if you were my kid I'd think you did good if you can land at any of those places.



Butcher & Singer

Aug 24, 2006 9:17 am
tmorris93:

NASD how would you rank them and why?


Is this just another alias for NASD?  Are you once again holding conversations with yourself Put Trader?  Stop wasting this space.

Aug 24, 2006 9:17 am

I especially like their variation of New York, New York

Aug 24, 2006 10:30 am
NASD Newbie:
tmorris93:

NASD how would you rank them and why?


As for Wachovia.  As I've said I like Wachovia because I know several of their senior people and know that they're top notch.  The bank is still trying to meld the two cultures.  It's actually an almalgamation of a lot of firms ranging from Prescott Ball and Turben from Cleveland,


Wow the ol' PB&T. It's been awhile since I heard that name but that's the firm I started with years ago. Allot of the brokers went over to McDonald & Co others went over to National City since they were HQ'd just a few blocks apart on Euclid Ave...lol.

Aug 24, 2006 9:40 pm

I can't speak for the states out west, but in the south in my opinion its



1- ML

2-SSB

3-MS

4-UBS



This is just on reputation around here.

Aug 24, 2006 10:22 pm
rook4123:

I can't speak for the states out west, but in the south in my opinion its

1- ML
2-SSB
3-MS
4-UBS

This is just on reputation around here.


In the South you must never forget about Wachovia--Pretending that Prudential Bache was a non-entity is a terrible mistake.


Also, don't forget AG Edwards, they too are a big presence in the south.


And so is Ray Jay--especially in Florida, but they have big branches in Atlanta and Charlotte.