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Apr 27, 2006 5:42 pm

My situation:


I am 23, graduated from a top 30 college with highest honors. Interned at Smith Barney my Senior Year. I am interviewing at Merrill and Smith Barney. I have passed both rounds of tests, and am now on the the interviewing step. I do have some HNW contacts, but feel that meeting the 2yr. goal would be attainable, but still very tough.


Option 1:


I know a 2-man team at both firms that would be interested in mentoring me if I go straight into production.


Option 2:


I get on as a registered sales associate for a year or two to learn the system, back office, language, and prospect on the side, with the intention to go into production.


Option 3:


I try to get into a top MBA program and see where I am at in 2 years. Gaining both age and knowledge in the process.


Thanks for any insight, advice, and opinions...

Apr 27, 2006 6:28 pm

This is a sales career, and "With highest honors" from one of the country's top schools types should not settle for sales.


Go back and read how many of these kids brag that they dropped out of college and ask yourself why you would want to go into a career that also admits them.


Get your MBA with a goal of becoming a raiinmaker in a major firm's public finance unit.  You'll be able to earn more in a year than you could in a lifetime as a retail broker, financial consultant, financial advisor or whatever the term du jour is.

Apr 27, 2006 6:34 pm

Is that accurate, BEF?  I'll try and hunt down the data, but I saw a report showing that, on average, salespeople had the highest annual incomes of any profession in the country, and financial advisors were the highest of the salespeople.

Apr 27, 2006 6:39 pm

Add this fact in:


I want to be a finacial advisor. In my Smith Barney Internship, I loved what I did, and what I saw the advisors doing. Yes, there is a chance I could change my mind, but in the above situation, consider that I want to be in this field in the long run.

Apr 27, 2006 6:40 pm

And dont waste your time telling me that this job is all sales. I know that already, so dont bother....

Apr 27, 2006 6:41 pm
FreedomLvr:

Is that accurate, BEF?  I'll try and hunt down the data, but I saw a report showing that, on average, salespeople had the highest annual incomes of any profession in the country, and financial advisors were the highest of the salespeople.


Those who get the million dollar bonuses on Wall Street are not the brokers.  They're the bankers and rainmakers.

Apr 27, 2006 6:43 pm
Boomer:

And dont waste your time telling me that this job is all sales. I know that already, so dont bother....


It must have become much easier to graduate "With Highest Honors" in our dumbed down society.


Go for it kid, no reason to want to get one of the most highly coveted jobs in Wall Street when you can be a dime a dozen broker.

Apr 27, 2006 8:18 pm

An MBA won't do sh*t for you in this industry.  Don't get it
unless you want it for another career.  Even if you decide not to
be a broker, I would get some work experience before going back for the
MBA.  It will be hard to get an MBA job with no real work
experience on your resume (stuffing envelopes at SB doesn't
count). 



If you do want to attempt to be a broker, try to join that team you
mentioned.  If they won't take you on, forget about the job
altogether and do something else.      

Apr 27, 2006 8:22 pm
Big Easy Flood:

Go for it kid, no reason to want to get one of
the most highly coveted jobs in Wall Street when you can be a dime a
dozen broker.





Put-



I agree, but it appears the IB ship has already sailed on him if its
May and he's without a job.  Bulge bracket IB's recruit as early
as October for grads the following summer.  Once you get passed up
in that cycle, you're out. 

Apr 27, 2006 10:21 pm

 Good points- I dropped out of college. I started working at a small mutual fund company. I loved the industry, the lingo , the clients , and most of all the sales. I now work for a major company, and still love it. They are paying for my tuition to finish up slowly in the evenings. Honestly though, i do feel bad about my education. Yes, i have done well for myself so far. It still can be a pride issue though.



 Let the bashing on me begin about my education haha

Apr 28, 2006 1:27 am
Big Easy Flood:

This is a sales career, and "With highest honors" from one of the country's top schools types should not settle for sales.


Go back and read how many of these kids brag that they dropped out of college and ask yourself why you would want to go into a career that also admits them.


Get your MBA with a goal of becoming a raiinmaker in a major firm's public finance unit.  You'll be able to earn more in a year than you could in a lifetime as a retail broker, financial consultant, financial advisor or whatever the term du jour is.



This may not be the case for all of you, but I work at a wirehouse and about 1/2 of the guys that have come in the last 5 years essentially chose this over investment banking - rest are displaced low end institutional types. Maybe not ibanking at goldman or morgan, but nearly early every hire has an MBA from a name school (Wharton, Kellogg, Anderson, Berkeley) and 5 or so years in management consulting or a growth industry (usually sales executives, but VP level). Most have their CFP by now and a few have their CFA or are near getting it.


I Banking makes OK money these days, but the MDs are the only ones who really get paid like millions any more and there are only a few of them at every firm. Wall street's changed...


What seems to have attracted everyone is the lifestyle and the annuitized business model. I'd say the average rookie firm-wide is bringing in $500-600k a month in assets and in my region its like $800k or more, so it seems to be working for most of them. Can't imagine that they're thrilled to make $90 or $100k, but its not that shabby...

Apr 28, 2006 7:45 am
san fran broker:

This may not be the case for all of you, but I work at a wirehouse and about 1/2 of the guys that have come in the last 5 years essentially chose this over investment banking - rest are displaced low end institutional types. Maybe not ibanking at goldman or morgan, but nearly early every hire has an MBA from a name school (Wharton, Kellogg, Anderson, Berkeley) and 5 or so years in management consulting or a growth industry (usually sales executives, but VP level). Most have their CFP by now and a few have their CFA or are near getting it.


I Banking makes OK money these days, but the MDs are the only ones who really get paid like millions any more and there are only a few of them at every firm. Wall street's changed...


What seems to have attracted everyone is the lifestyle and the annuitized business model. I'd say the average rookie firm-wide is bringing in $500-600k a month in assets and in my region its like $800k or more, so it seems to be working for most of them. Can't imagine that they're thrilled to make $90 or $100k, but its not that shabby...



Let me see if I have this right.  Half of the new hires chose retail instead of Investment Banking, and the other half chose retail instead of "low-end" institutional?  Is that what you're saying?


As for the comment that only the MDs are making "like millions."  Like, why not, like, set your, like, goal to be, like, one of those who is?  Why, like, settle, for, like, anything less when, like, the opportunity does, like, exist?


Something else has been happening.  Firms are suggesting (insisting quietly) that less be made of the huge bonus pools.  It irritates the clients to hear that the bankers who did their deal bought homes in the Hamptons with their take.  Additionally firms are paying bonuses more frequently, making them less spectacular than year end checks that make the news.


As long as anybody is making millions, why not set your sights on one of those jobs?  It might take several months to get there, but it will be worth the wait.

Apr 28, 2006 2:03 pm
san fran broker:
Big Easy Flood:

This is a sales career, and "With highest honors" from one of the country's top schools types should not settle for sales.


Go back and read how many of these kids brag that they dropped out of college and ask yourself why you would want to go into a career that also admits them.


Get your MBA with a goal of becoming a raiinmaker in a major firm's public finance unit.  You'll be able to earn more in a year than you could in a lifetime as a retail broker, financial consultant, financial advisor or whatever the term du jour is.



This may not be the case for all of you, but I work at a wirehouse and about 1/2 of the guys that have come in the last 5 years essentially chose this over investment banking - rest are displaced low end institutional types. Maybe not ibanking at goldman or morgan, but nearly early every hire has an MBA from a name school (Wharton, Kellogg, Anderson, Berkeley) and 5 or so years in management consulting or a growth industry (usually sales executives, but VP level). Most have their CFP by now and a few have their CFA or are near getting it.


I Banking makes OK money these days, but the MDs are the only ones who really get paid like millions any more and there are only a few of them at every firm. Wall street's changed...


What seems to have attracted everyone is the lifestyle and the annuitized business model. I'd say the average rookie firm-wide is bringing in $500-600k a month in assets and in my region its like $800k or more, so it seems to be working for most of them. Can't imagine that they're thrilled to make $90 or $100k, but its not that shabby...



What I have noticed as a huge advantage to this career path, like was mentioned above, is the lifestyle that is available with the annuitized model once you have build your book. It is similiar, in a way, to the network marketing model. You build your book for a time (the tough part), then your book coninues to grow and you continue to get referrals from your satisfied clients. One of my contacts is in this exact position. He build his book the good old fashioned way, and now, that he is a large producer, he says he can just respond to his referals. He works out of his home 3 days a week, and goes to the office only when he wants. Like I said, if you make it, the lifestyle that presents itself is second to none.

Apr 29, 2006 10:54 am
Big Easy Flood:
san fran broker:

This may not be the case for all of you, but I work at a wirehouse and about 1/2 of the guys that have come in the last 5 years essentially chose this over investment banking - rest are displaced low end institutional types. Maybe not ibanking at goldman or morgan, but nearly early every hire has an MBA from a name school (Wharton, Kellogg, Anderson, Berkeley) and 5 or so years in management consulting or a growth industry (usually sales executives, but VP level). Most have their CFP by now and a few have their CFA or are near getting it.


I Banking makes OK money these days, but the MDs are the only ones who really get paid like millions any more and there are only a few of them at every firm. Wall street's changed...


What seems to have attracted everyone is the lifestyle and the annuitized business model. I'd say the average rookie firm-wide is bringing in $500-600k a month in assets and in my region its like $800k or more, so it seems to be working for most of them. Can't imagine that they're thrilled to make $90 or $100k, but its not that shabby...



Let me see if I have this right.  Half of the new hires chose retail instead of Investment Banking, and the other half chose retail instead of "low-end" institutional?  Is that what you're saying?


As for the comment that only the MDs are making "like millions."  Like, why not, like, set your, like, goal to be, like, one of those who is?  Why, like, settle, for, like, anything less when, like, the opportunity does, like, exist?


Something else has been happening.  Firms are suggesting (insisting quietly) that less be made of the huge bonus pools.  It irritates the clients to hear that the bankers who did their deal bought homes in the Hamptons with their take.  Additionally firms are paying bonuses more frequently, making them less spectacular than year end checks that make the news.


As long as anybody is making millions, why not set your sights on one of those jobs?  It might take several months to get there, but it will be worth the wait.



Why not choose a career in Investment Banking? Because you have no life for several years and you may only be rewarded with the realization that you are never going to break Director level. There are SO many burnouts in the profession who end up doing damage to their "capital C" Career because they've spent 5 years building contacts inside of an investment bank instead of industry or the community.


In my office, there were at least 6 men and women who made more than $1 million last year. None of them worked more than 50 hours a week. In addition to their gross run, some of them have the clientele that makes them a rainmaker for investment banking. This means that they got paid for origination. At my firm, that doesn't hit your grid, it just results in a check. You can realistically generate $200-400k a year just doing that (VERY few manage to, however.)


I have a number of clients in the investment banking division of my firm and I am struck by how little they actually make. Granted, they are Associate and VP level, but still, they only make maybe $30k a year more than I do. I'm in the first quintile of my class, but I've only been doing this a for 5 years. My lifestyle is infinitely better than theirs. I suppose that their paycheck is guaranteed, but 80% of my T12 is fee-based. And If you counted the check that I could take if I moved firms every five years, I would probably come out on top.


Additionally, I think you have a better chance of becoming a $3 million producer at a major wirehouse than you do of making MD at a bulge bracket investment bank. So why not set your goals on becoming one of those winner's circle brokers instead of being an MD at a goldman or morgan stanley (this assumes that they would want you in the first place)?


Finally, if you want to make more money than a broker or an investment banker, why not look to become a venture capitalist? The partners at a big VC firm make vastly more money than any but the top investment bankers in the world and they seem to have a splendid lifestyle....

Apr 29, 2006 11:05 am
Big Easy Flood:

As for the comment that only the MDs are making "like millions."  Like, why not, like, set your, like, goal to be, like, one of those who is?  Why, like, settle, for, like, anything less when, like, the opportunity does, like, exist?



Oh, and one more thing; Insulting my use of an adverb that is part of the lexicon of people under age 40 is rude and not conducive to polite discourse. <?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Apr 29, 2006 12:04 pm
san fran broker:
Big Easy Flood:

As for the comment that only the MDs are making "like millions."  Like, why not, like, set your, like, goal to be, like, one of those who is?  Why, like, settle, for, like, anything less when, like, the opportunity does, like, exist?



Oh, and one more thing; Insulting my use of an adverb that is part of the lexicon of people under age 40 is rude and not conducive to polite discourse. <?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />



Just because it's part of the lexicon of somebody under forty does not make it, like, proper, like, English.


You know something--if a single adult gets turned off because of an Idiosyncrasy it was one Idiosyncrasy too many.


Using the vernacular of a teenager is fine when you're, like, hanging out at the mall.  But big boys and girls don't do it.

Apr 29, 2006 12:58 pm

"But big boys and girls don't do it."


Then the big boys and girls have a stick up the A$$es and should move their account....

Apr 29, 2006 1:28 pm
Big Easy Flood:
san fran broker:
Big Easy Flood:

As for the comment that only the MDs are making "like millions."  Like, why not, like, set your, like, goal to be, like, one of those who is?  Why, like, settle, for, like, anything less when, like, the opportunity does, like, exist?



Oh, and one more thing; Insulting my use of an adverb that is part of the lexicon of people under age 40 is rude and not conducive to polite discourse. <?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />



Just because it's part of the lexicon of somebody under forty does not make it, like, proper, like, English.


You know something--if a single adult gets turned off because of an Idiosyncrasy it was one Idiosyncrasy too many.


Using the vernacular of a teenager is fine when you're, like, hanging out at the mall.  But big boys and girls don't do it.



Regardless, Prof. Hill, of your perspective, I think we should turn this discussion back to this rookie's very legitimate question. Do you have any observations on the points I made that aren't linguistic?

Apr 29, 2006 1:51 pm
san fran broker:

Regardless, Prof. Hill, of your perspective, I think we should turn this discussion back to this rookie's very legitimate question. Do you have any observations on the points I made that aren't linguistic?



Yep, it sounds to this old guy that you are not only lazy in your use of the language but that you're starting to look for the easy way out from the very get go.


I wouldn't hire you on a bet, and don't suppose you'll make it for more than a few months.


You really ought to give something else serious consideration.  This is not a business that rookies who choose it because of the potential for an easy lifestyle.

Apr 29, 2006 10:04 pm

Big Easy Flood:

<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


san fran broker:

Regardless, Prof. Hill, of your perspective, I think we should turn this discussion back to this rookie's very legitimate question. Do you have any observations on the points I made that aren't linguistic?



Yep, it sounds to this old guy that you are not only lazy in your use of the language but that you're starting to look for the easy way out from the very get go.


I wouldn't hire you on a bet, and don't suppose you'll make it for more than a few months.


You really ought to give something else serious consideration.  This is not a business that rookies who choose it because of the potential for an easy lifestyle.



Big: What I'm about to write is for the benefit of those rookies who read this forum - not you. I have decided to sink to your level for the benefit of revealing to the audience (what audience there is, anyway) the difference between people like me and you.


Big, I don't know what would lead you to the conclusion that I have no work ethic, but I suspect that this is your canned response to anyone who challenges you and to whom you cannot marshal a competent response (I would think you use it frequently.)


About me: I am a 5th year broker at a major firm with 1st quintile production and assets. I actually lead my class in percentage of gross that's fee-based, my average client is 42, a pre-IPO exec and my average account size is over a million dollars. I have (for my level of experience) a fabulous book. Consequently, my branch MD loves me and I am very well treated. If I wanted to, I could go just about anywhere (ok, probably not Goldman or MS PWM) for a T12 check (or guaranteed income for a few years). I represent the Vanguard of this profession in business model and business structure.


Big, my decision to challenge your statement that this young person should not seek out a position in this industry was because you said "This is a sales career, and "With highest honors" from one of the country's top schools types should not settle for sales," was based on my desire to defend this profession from those who degrade it – like YOU.


In fact, I graduated with "Highest Honors" and "Highest Distinction" from one of <?:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />America's most prestigious and competitive universities and I hold a graduate degree in economics (with Distinction) from a similar caliber institution. I have several family members who work in banking and VC and I had entry-level offers from industry, the top management consultancies and investment banks when I left grad school. I caught a lot of crap for going retail from my family and friends. Ironically, my education was not much of a benefit from the perspective of the retail sales managers that interviewed me because they thought I wouldn't have the willingness to get hung up on and sell product. The only reason that I was hired was that (at the time), my educational background really impressed the branch MD (wouldn’t anymore – thanks bear market). I built my business through a combination of cold calling, networking in a specific industry and seminars for accountants. When I met with an elephant, I brought in the branch MD (manager). My first year was great, my second and third pretty mediocre and my 4th and 5th have been very strong.


I chose to do retail because I liked the lifestyle and because I thought that I could leverage my contacts into clients (I was more or less wrong about that until the last year or so). I probably make slightly less than the average person with the same educational background as I do, but I have an infinitely better lifestyle. Additionally, I expect that my income will increase dramatically over the next few years.


My office has some very big producers. My experience with those persons who work at the highest levels of our profession - who are true financial advisors to CEOs and the like (and granted, they are rare) - is that THIS IS NOT A SALES JOB to them. Sure, like all jobs, there is sales involved, but like an attorney, or a plastic surgeon or an investment banker, the job is about ability and competence first and salesmanship second or third. For a registered rep, your competence at financial planning, trusts & estates, credit & lending and investment management will be what largely determines your success. After you've built a core base of wealthy clients (however you do that - its tough), how good you are at your job will determine how many other people come through your door. I have only been doing this for about 5 years, but I now close $800k in fee-based business a month - all off referrals. I don’t have the time to cold call (although I do, admittedly seem to have the time to write to message boards and study for the CFA).


What success I am enjoying (and I would regard it as limited) is attributable to being good at what I do and because my company has a strong brand. I am now asked to handle company benefits plans because I've served the founders and executives well and they know that if they endorse me, I will make them look good (or, at least, not disappoint them) and because my company is highly regarded in this region. They all know that I am fairly junior at my office, but they also know that I'm different from the most brokers and they like and trust me.


Big, if you think that this is a "sales job" that only the second tier of college graduates should seek out, IT IS YOU THAT SHOULD CONSIDER ANOTHER PROFESSION. If you held this position in the esteem that it should be and recognized the value that a good advisor provides to their clients, you would not be discouraging promising young people from seeking out this career. How can you do this job and have so little respect for it? Because you are a moral reprobate, that’s how.


I suspect that success has been elusive to you. I think that the rudeness you’ve evidenced and the lack of empathy that it indicates are responsible for your limited results. You and your kind - who see this as pure sales represent the embarrassing old guard that gives us a bad name and your departure from our profession will represent an increase in the average quality AND ETHICS of those who remain. You are the old guy that is still doing $450k of transactional & annuity business (and who still has to cold call) after 25 years in the profession. Well, I say - GET THEE OUT! You make the rest of us look bad.


To those who actually are reading this forum to get some insight on this profession, understand that the views expressed by "this old guy" are not representative of the views of all of us. His perspective is slowly being driven out of the profession by the regulators and the firms themselves. Ironically, these guys are the ones who actually don't want to work hard. They want the job to be "just a sales position" so that their lack of credentials and dedication don't reveal their true nature. They are the lazy ones. It is harder to build a book these days because you STILL have to go through the “Rejection Olympics” only now you also have get your CFP and become an expert at investment management as well. They don’t want you here because you make them look bad. They want to return to the days when any idiot could get on the phone and sell themselves as a financial advisor.


They are dinosaurs who don't want to get their CFP and who still want to sell annuities in IRAs. I take accounts away from these guys all the time by emphasizing planning, relationship and my educational background. They are my prey. They can be your prey too. Bring your superior education, brains and dedication to the industry. Help me drive these sleazy, embarrassing salesmen into interior offices and, eventually, the "franchise protection programs."


Undoubtedly, Big, you will have some kind of off point, irrelevant insult to respond to my statements and observations. I am confident that you will suggest that I'm lying or something. Ultimately, I think that anyone who reads this discourse (whose opinion matters, anyway) will understand what kind of a person you are and treat any comments you make with the respect they deserve.


This message board has been like an addictive drug. I started looking at it a few months to get some insight about moving firms (a decision I've decided not to make) and got caught up in this and other discussions. Whatever the outcome of this dialogue, I won't be responding to Big again. I don't know if I've kicked the message board habit, but right now I have to get back to work. So do you, rookies!