Reality check

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Oct 20, 2006 1:43 pm

I know from scanning this forum that I can get some candid advice and that's what I'm looking. I'm a 48 year old attorney who is very tired of practicing law. I've always been interested in the financial world. I do some tax and estate work, so I took a review course and took and passed the CFP exam on a challenge basis. I'm exploring various options right now, but the bottom line is that I'm not thrilled with their long term financial prospects.


Here's my question. I have never even considered working for a wirehouse or major B/D because of my age. I assume they would be more interested in taking on younger people with longer careers ahead of them. Is this true?


Also, I know that the washout % is very high and that there are people on this board that think it's just a waste of time to try to start this type of new career at my age. Everyone agree that it's stretch at this time in my life?


Finally, a question that is probably impossible to answer. I had a sales background before law school and did a ton of cold calling and door to door sales. If a person is successful, what is the probable income range in 5 years.


Thanks for your input,


Steve




Oct 20, 2006 2:02 pm

I completely  disagree that you are too old for this business.  You are exactly what many wirehouses are looking for.


When I started at Morgan Stanley, they hired a gentleman who was 55 and a mid level retired executive from Weyerhauser.  He had a list of people with money who trusted him.  There is no greater asset to the fledgling broker/advisor.  He is doing pretty damn well.


You are at a great age to begin in this career, especially considering your background and age...your peers need your services.


Most people with money are your age or older, it's alot easier for you to build rapport with those folks than I could (I'm 29).


In five years, depending on how robust your current network is, you could be earning over $100,000 annually...maybe even well over $100,000. 

Oct 20, 2006 2:05 pm

You should also know that because of the nature of this work the retirement age is usually much older than your general population.  It's common for many brokers to work (in some capacity) into their 70's

Oct 20, 2006 2:10 pm
Smorgan:

I know from scanning this forum that I can get some candid advice and that's what I'm looking. I'm a 48 year old attorney who is very tired of practicing law. I've always been interested in the financial world. I do some tax and estate work, so I took a review course and took and passed the CFP exam on a challenge basis. I'm exploring various options right now, but the bottom line is that I'm not thrilled with their long term financial prospects.


Here's my question. I have never even considered working for a wirehouse or major B/D because of my age. I assume they would be more interested in taking on younger people with longer careers ahead of them. Is this true?


Also, I know that the washout % is very high and that there are people on this board that think it's just a waste of time to try to start this type of new career at my age. Everyone agree that it's stretch at this time in my life?


Finally, a question that is probably impossible to answer. I had a sales background before law school and did a ton of cold calling and door to door sales. If a person is successful, what is the probable income range in 5 years.


Thanks for your input,


Steve



No Steve, you are not too young to become a successful broker.


You should approach major firms, stressing your network of peers.


There are a lot of second career professionals who join the ranks of firms such as Merrill, Smith Barney and the other top tier players.


Take care not to appear to be nothing more than restless--I would stress that you intend to exploit the hell out of the estate planning niche.


Don't settle for anything other than top tier.  Make an appointment with AG Edwards--go on the interview, listen carefully to what is asked, be self critical of your responses on your way home.  If they make an offer beg off with some excuse about needing to tie up some lose ends with your legal career and get yourself in front of the decision makers at Merrill and/or Smith Barney.


If you have friends at any major firm you ALWAYS come in with more going for you if they, your friend, suggests to their manager that they have a lawyer buddy who would be great at estate planning.......

Oct 20, 2006 4:28 pm

Thanks for the helpful information. As for top tier firms, are Merrill and SB pretty much it?

Oct 20, 2006 4:55 pm
Smorgan:

Thanks for the helpful information. As for top tier firms, are Merrill and SB pretty much it?


I won't blast you like others might--screaming that you should use the search feature.


Actually depending on how you look at the business Merrill and SB are not top tier firms--places like Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and a host of others, primarily in NYC, are the true silk stocking firms.


However, when it comes to "Main Street" you can't go wrong with Merrill, Smith Barney, UBS (formerlly PaineWebber), Morgan Stanley (formerlly Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter), Wachovia Securities (formerly a lot of names including Bache Halsey Stuart), AG Edwards, and several well established regional firms that could be mentioned if you'll let us know what state you're in.


Among the firms with several hundred branches, the similarities are so numerous that the average retail (deals with the public as opposed to institutioinal) broker will be unable to tell the difference.  All of them will offer you a relatively attractive salary for a 18 to 30 months--use the search feature for a guy named "opie" who put up some very good info about how the various firms share commissions while training.


All of them will arm you with a full quiver of arrows for your journey into the woods and all of them have an excellent reputation among investors.

Oct 20, 2006 5:03 pm
Devil'sAdvocate:
Smorgan:

Thanks for the helpful information. As for top tier firms, are Merrill and SB pretty much it?


Wachovia Securities (formerly a lot of names including Bache Halsey Stuart


Or more commonly known as Prudential.

Oct 20, 2006 5:09 pm
BrokerRecruit:
Devil'sAdvocate:
Smorgan:

Thanks for the helpful information. As for top tier firms, are Merrill and SB pretty much it?


Wachovia Securities (formerly a lot of names including Bache Halsey Stuart


Or more commonly known as Prudential.



No, more commonly known as First Union Securities, or Prudential Bache.  The name Prudential Securities was short lived and not well considered--too much confusion with the insurance company and/or even the real estate company.


The name they used the longest was Prudential Bache, which was around long enough to get a fairly negative reputation.

Oct 20, 2006 5:14 pm

What were they called in 1985?

Oct 20, 2006 5:28 pm
BrokerRecruit:

What were they called in 1985?



I'm a font of useless knowledge, but not that useless.

Oct 20, 2006 6:31 pm

You've gotten some very good info here. A few things to add:


1. With your background you are dealing from a position of strength within the interview process. That's not to say go out there and be cocky. Unless there is something you're not telling us about, like that pesky felony evading conviction, there is nothing standing between you and this career at the firm of your choice.  


2. There is nothing wrong with being up front in the interviews with  the fact that you are talking to more than one firm. Who knows, maybe it will get you a better offer. Don't mention the evading thing.


3. As DA mentioned, from the inside looking out these firms look pretty much the same. Most important issue is the local branch manager. He/she will make you or break you. Synergy and support from this person is key.


4. Another possible route would be to join a large group as their estate expert.


As for income, we have some 5 year guys in solidly in the upper 100s. One seven year guy will break 200 this year. I think he's already done that. From there it's up to how much longer you want to keep pouring on the steam. As I mentioned recently on another thread, I have a freind in the biz making over a million dollars a year. He started a long time ago, 1988, and has been pulling a million plus since the mid nineties. So if it's money you're after, you've come to the right place.


Keep us updated.

Oct 20, 2006 6:37 pm
BondGuy:

There is nothing wrong with being up front in the interviews with  the fact that you are talking to more than one firm. Who knows, maybe it will get you a better offer. Don't mention the evading thing.



I disagree--no I DISAGREE.  Telling me that you're talking to my competitors does not impress me at all.


It sends the signal that I am to engage in some sort of bidding war for your services, or that I should be so lucky as to get to you accept my offer.


There is no way to put a happy face on that impression.


Go get a copy of "What Color Is Your Parachute" or any of the tons of other books about job hunting.  It is a far more complex interchange than most people realize.


Whatever you do, NEVER tell a branch manager that you're interviewing other firms.  Let the manager wonder if you are or not, never confirm anything.


The old adage in selling, "He who speaks first loses" is true in spades when it comes to selling yourself.

Oct 20, 2006 7:10 pm
Devil'sAdvocate:
BondGuy:

There is nothing wrong with being up front in the interviews with  the fact that you are talking to more than one firm. Who knows, maybe it will get you a better offer. Don't mention the evading thing.



I disagree--no I DISAGREE.  Telling me that you're talking to my competitors does not impress me at all.


It sends the signal that I am to engage in some sort of bidding war for your services, or that I should be so lucky as to get to you accept my offer.


There is no way to put a happy face on that impression.


Go get a copy of "What Color Is Your Parachute" or any of the tons of other books about job hunting.  It is a far more complex interchange than most people realize.


Whatever you do, NEVER tell a branch manager that you're interviewing other firms.  Let the manager wonder if you are or not, never confirm anything.


The old adage in selling, "He who speaks first loses" is true in spades when it comes to selling yourself.



DA, you are free to disagree. When I decided I'd finally had enough of my old firm a few years ago I put myself on the market and let the bidding begin. The firms bidding were the two finalist after an extensive interview process. That is, me interviewing them. I interviewed with six firms. I was up front with each. Noone told me they weren't interested in having me join them. Quite the opposite. I elimnated four firms and told the other two to prepare an offer. And here I am.


My advice is based on my personal experience and people are free to do with it as they wish. These are judgement situations. I'm going to assume that this particular candidate has enough experience to make the right call. Regardless, the advice you've given is excellent and should be considered.


Maybe Jeff the recruiter should weigh in here.

Oct 20, 2006 7:39 pm

One other thought:


I stated in the business about 23 years ago. I was 31 years old. I started with several other guys. Some were in my training class and some were in the classes just in front of mine or just after mine. Here is a short list:


BB - Currently with a major wirehouse 500k production


EH - Super regional 900k


DH - quit biz 1988


EC- quit 2 months into program to become a lawyer


CF- quit biz in 93 to join high tech start up as CEO. Currently doing 20 years for fraud.


BH- super regional 850k


AV- wirehouse 2.5 million


SA- heart attack 1994. 400k at time of passing


RR- wirehouse 400k


TS- moved from retail side to become an analyst in mid 90s


SW- quit in 1990. Multi millionaire RE developer. He married well!


TI- quit biz 1989- pres of small manufacturing firm, income over 1 million/yr, is client of one of the above.



Focus on TS. This guy had more energy than any two of us. He was aggressive. He led the training class. He was a tough competitor.  He stood out from the class. When he moved from the retail side he left a huge book. He was 55 years old when he started, and he kicked our butts. AB was the second oldest of the group at 32. We gained a lot of respect for older guys. TS was the real deal. He was never afraid to ask us why we couldn't keep up. Good question. It's one thing to be beaten, it's another thing when the guy beating you is old enough to be your father. And today as he approaches his 80th birthday TS is still going strong. Put him in a class of thirty somethings today and he'd still kick their butts.


Old? You're not too old.

Oct 21, 2006 1:21 am

Bond that is neat.



Only question for 55 is do you feel your to old? I am sure after x amount of year a big transition is a grand decision, but only you can answer your question.



I think until you die you have x amount of time to accomplish anything! If you are sick and tired or just board of being a lawyer, move on. You have nothing to lose and can always try something different. That is until you die.

Oct 24, 2006 3:25 pm

I don't think it hurts to let the interviewer know you are interviewing with another firm if things get serious and you could get an offer.  This is just from my personal experience so maybe I am the exception. 


I had offers from UBS and SB after leaving EDJ and they both knew about eachother.  When I told the SB manager I was leaning toward UBS he increased his offer to me and threw in some nice perks like paying for my seminars for one year.  In the end he persuaded me to go to SB.  I was just honest and open and it worked out fine.  Just my two cents.    


Be ready to work hard and get humble.  Best of luck.

Oct 24, 2006 3:51 pm
Malcolm:

I don't think it hurts to let the interviewer know you are interviewing with another firm if things get serious and you could get an offer.  This is just from my personal experience so maybe I am the exception. 


I had offers from UBS and SB after leaving EDJ and they both knew about eachother.  When I told the SB manager I was leaning toward UBS he increased his offer to me and threw in some nice perks like paying for my seminars for one year.  In the end he persuaded me to go to SB.  I was just honest and open and it worked out fine.  Just my two cents.    


Be ready to work hard and get humble.  Best of luck.



Good post.


 I'm not throwing stones at DA's approach. How closely you play your cards truely is a judgement call. In my situation every manager I talked to asked me if I was interviewing at other companies. My judgement told me that there was only one right answer to that question. So I told them yes and let the cards fall where they were gonna fall. It wasn't an issue. However, I was in the driver's seat. For someone not in that position, it could be all together different. 

Oct 25, 2006 8:32 pm

Thanks again for the helpful information. One more question. I talked to my brother-in-law last night( an FA with LPL), and his comments were almost identical to a post I read on this forum by TJC45, an experienced and, from what I can gather, well respected member of this board.


His comments were directed to my network of fellow attorneys, family, friends, clients, etc I have accumulated over the last 18 years. He said that they are all going to initially still  see me as an attorney, not a FA. His advice was to not target this network until I had a few years under my belt. I understand the logic of this and have actually wondered about it myself, but doesn't it negate a primary reason for a wirehouse to hire me in the first place?

Oct 25, 2006 8:58 pm

Smorgan,



With your background I would go to the local FPA meetings or look at schwabtransitions.com, an RIA would probably offer you a lot better deal than starting at a wirehouse.



I know a few guys who would love to add an attorney CFP to their team.



FYI, I am also a CFP