Smith Barney or Merriil - for new FA
Late twenties, successful sales experience.Been in the financial market now for almost three years. Started with a private firm. Now looking at Merrill, Smith Barney, or UBS. Honestly, I am leaning more towards Smith Barney. From the experience that I have had, Smith Barney branch has a better culture & support for new FA’s. I should be able to make a final decision sometime early next week. The compensation package is the same with all three, pretty much.
Narrow it down between SB and ML. Both are solid firms, with good reputations. You will find better tech, support and platforms at those two.
I can only speak on SB:
I would be extremely focussed on the broker to sales assistant ratio, the average production of the office - you actually want it to be fairly low ($500k or so), as the attention you will get is greater and the chances of an SB office being closed in any area is basically minimal.
Assistants start at $30k in new york and are only paid an extra $1,200 a year for being registered. Their pay goes up at 2-4% a year. There is no performance bonus. Ratio of assistants to production is 1/$1.1mm.
Health plans are very good.
SB is insanely bureaucratic because of the Citigroup connection - essentially it's an extra layer of everything.
Because there isnt a special division for ultra high net worth, the specialist personnel available to a smaller producer are better than any other wirehouse firm (estate planning attorney for every region to consult with clients).
FAR less entrepreneurial than it was even a few years ago.
There are many massive producers in the firm (dozens [really!] above $10mm in production) - all from boutique investment banks (lehman, goldman, robinson stephens) and all in their 40s, so you can never expect to be a real producer in the firm. Never seen a broker move into the $1mm+ in the last few years- all were recruited from investment banks.
ALL of the managers are young and inexperienced (firm is very short on managerial talent - many retirements). No one in ANY position of management has spent a significant percentage of their career as a broker.
Excellent client and financial planning oriented research.
Very cheap firm - branch managers must pay for everything out of pocket and I don't think that the base pay is very high.
Quite a bit of dissatisfaction with the firm from old guard. More departures than ever seen in previous years.
Challenge articulated at last Director's Council meeting is "net asset growth" - firms' assets are just being recycled.
I think Citi's leadership has decided that the endgame is SB serves the "mass affluent" ($500k to $10mm) with a special level of srevice at the $5mm to $10mm range and Citi Private Bank will serve the UHNW.
San Fran Broker,
Thank you very much for the detailed break down of Smith Barney. I feel that the Smith Barney environment is better, but I still think that the Merrill name can open more doors (meaning new accounts) and larger assists under management in a much faster time frame then Smith Barney.
Well, then you are screwed. Neither name opens any doors....or, let's say ML may open the door .1 inch and SB only opens it .09 inch.
A ML/SB name may prevent doors from CLOSED faster than they would otherwise, but it's kinda like the Brinson asset allocation study--90% or more of the variability in success (mostly lack thereof) of new people is based on factors other than the firm they work for. This is hard. Not complicated, but difficult.