White Belt Newbie - Advice, Please

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Oct 14, 2008 12:50 pm

Hello everyone,

   I just found this forum (and joined the site) today via Indeed.com.  I was reading comments from folks who have worked for / been agents for different companies in the financial services arena and someone suggested this is the place to gather valuable information and learn from others.
   After viewing several posts in the forum section, it seems like I've found the right place to ask questions.  I must say, though, that some of you guys are harsh!    Unfortunately for me, none of my close friends / family have any experience in this industry, so I can use all the advice / guidance I can get.  I will list my background / situation below:
 
MY BACKGROUND / SITUATION
   I finished school (college) just over two years ago with a B.B.A. in Marketing.  I immediately went to work for a large corporation in the CPG industry as a District Sales Manager.  I was successful there, but wanted to get involved in a more meaningful sales position.  I had a nice base salary, quarterly bonus, 401(k) w/ company match, fully funded pension, stock options, full benefits (medical, dental, vision), etc.  Now, I know what some of you may be thinking - "You're an idiot!  Why'd you leave?!?"  Well, for many reasons, but I wouldn't go back and change that decision, even in the current state of our economy. 
     I recently moved out of state (have the luxury of living at home again - ah...no more rent), but I don't really know anyone at all.  I guess you could say my "natural network" is no longer with me.  I have always been interested in the world of financial services, and personally have a genuine interest in personal finance.  I love reading about it, talking about it, and expanding my knowledge on the subject.  I've always been a people person, with a tendency to talk a bit much (can't you notice by this post?), and think I could do really well in this area under the proper conditions. 
     I've never worked as an independent contractor / 1099 / agent / etc. before, nor have I worked on 100% commission.  I love sales, and don't see a problem with commission, but with no base, well, it makes me slightly uneasy.  Not that I would never do it, I'm actively considering it right now (I'll get to that in a minute), but I want to make sure that my timing is right.  So now that you have heard a little bit about me (to which may seem like my life story to some ), here are the companies I'm seeking advice about:
 
      BANKERS LIFE AND CASUALTY - I am in the final stages of the interview process with this company.  At first, I almost didn't even consider going in for the first step after reading many, many negative things about them on the Web, but I figured I could keep that information in the back of my mind and make my own informed decision.  Well, that time is getting closer and closer to when I have to make my final decision, and frankly, I don't really know what to do.  I suppose a lot depends on the branch you're based out of and who the Branch Manager is, but I'm sure there are other factors as well.
     
      For those of you who may not be familiar with what Bankers has to offer, it's basically a 1099 / agent position.  There is no base.  100% commission w/ bonus potential.  Bankers Benefit Bucks or Bankers Bonus Bucks that you receive based upon production to HELP offset health insurance (but doesn't come close to covering it).  No other benefits.  Retirement Vehicle: Company contributes money on your behalf based on production, of which you're not fully vested until 15 years of service (25% @ 5; 50% @ 10 yrs.; 100% @ 15 yrs.).  So, unless you spend the majority of your career there, this becomes irrelevant.  There are about $500 or so startup costs for prep materials / state licensing, which they partially reimburse upon successful completion (I'm sure this is standard with most companies).
  
       MY FINAL INTERVIEW WITH BANKERS IS THIS WEEK. 
WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE ME ABOUT THIS COMPANY?  
HAVE YOU WORKED THERE?  
WOULD YOU EVER WORK THERE?

 


AFLAC is another company I was looking to get involved with, but after the interview process with Bankers and what Bankers had to offer, I felt AFLAC's offering weren't quite up to par.  I cancelled my interview with them today. 


There's a STATEFARM luncheon I'm thinking of attending next week for those interested in becoming a State Farm Agent.  This seems like it might be structured a little differently and be a good opportunity.

Quite some time ago, I also interviewed with / knew a couple of people who worked for MetLife as Financial Services Representatives, and they loved it.  I think, though, that they may have been exaggerating the size of their income, as a couple of things they said just didn't add up.


I've also been reading a lot about Edward Jones Financial Advisor position.  Apparently they provide a base salary to help new folks get situated with their business.  Door-to-door, however, everyday for 2 years (which is what I've seen many people describe) is just not for me.  Cold calling on the phone, I guess I'm okay with.  Seminars and presentations to different groups, I have no problem with.  Putting in the long hours to succeed (I used to work 75 hrs. / week; 6 days / week; get up daily at 3am), I have no problem with.  But I just don't know quite where I fit.

Here's my ideal career:



Meaningful work / provide value to others.
Preferably a sales / financial services position.
Strong, or at least decent, base salary (enough to pay my bills with if all else fails).
Commission / Bonus Opportunity for results-oriented production.
Medical, Dental, Vision benefits, or at least partial company reimbursement for me to attain those benefits.
Retirement Vehicle of some sort (whether pension, 401(k), or comparable).
Work / Life Balance (vacation time, minimal weekends, weeknights are okay).
Any constructive advice for me would be GREATLY appreciated.  Thanks in advance, everyone! 
 
Oct 14, 2008 1:25 pm

Ross,

Just so you understand this forum and how it works.....we are a simple bunch.  After about 10 paragraphs, we tend to tune out.  If anyone actually reads your entire post (I got through "Hi Everyone" befoer I saw how long it was) and gives you constructive feedback, then they are a better person than me.  For future reference, try to limit your posts to a few less paragraphs.
 
Also,
"Putting in the long hours to succeed (I used to work 75 hrs. / week; 6 days / week; get up daily at 3am), I have no problem with."......
 Your summer job painting houses doesn't count as "hard work."
Also, it contradicts your "work/life balance" needs.
 
Sorry if I am being cynical, but your long-a$$ post was really annoying.  You WILL get soem feedback if you just shorten it up.
Oct 14, 2008 1:40 pm

B24 ....thank you for the Readers Digest response to Ross. I also was puzzled as to " work/life balance needs " on list. But then that's just me.

Oct 14, 2008 2:33 pm

I guess I was right when I saw most folks here seem to be harsh.  Never painted houses, never will, but anyway.  Let me shorten it up.


BANKERS LIFE & CASUALTY
AFLAC
METLIFE
STATEFARM
EDWARD JONES
 
Those are the companies I would like feedback on, especially Bankers. 
Have you worked there?  Would you? Why?
 
Also, it's hard to believe you're a salesperson after some of your feedback.  I hope you don't treat your clients this way.  As for the smileys, get a personality and loosen up. 
Oct 14, 2008 2:36 pm

Honestly i don't like any of those options.


 
Also, none of them are transitional jobs so i would be sure i was in it for the long haul no matter what you choose.
 
 
Oct 14, 2008 2:40 pm

Are you implying those are not good companies to work for?  Which do you suggest?

What options or transitional careers do you suggest?  Maybe there's something I wasn't even aware of.  I'm open to honest feedback.
Oct 14, 2008 2:52 pm

Ross ,

 
I can only comment on three of the firms. Although in the Financial Services Industry they are different.
1) MetLife - emphasis on Insurance Product with other products.
2) Edward Jones - upon attaining objectives/targets a one person / BOA office set-up. Has an excellent training program. Salary during Training.
3) Sate Farm - Auto/Home/Life company directed to General Insurance Products. Excellent training program and salary during training. Under new contract you will be required to hire an assistant , lease office and expenses are on your tab. Be prepared to invest in this venture.
In both EJ and State Farm you will and and are expected to be very involved in Door Knocking.
The others on your list I am unable to comment on. Review their respective programs and see what fits your style and interests.
Oct 14, 2008 2:56 pm

Sounds good.  Thank you very much for the insight.

Oct 14, 2008 3:02 pm

There are some contradictions here.  One, you say you don't mind working long hours, but have qualms about door knocking and that cold calling you 'guess your OK with.' The long hours will be entirely door knocking and cold calling. .... Two, you seem a bit sensitive for someone who is going to have to have 25 or 30 conversations daily with the public, most of them negative.


Oct 14, 2008 3:22 pm

Alrighty then.

Oct 14, 2008 3:50 pm

I hear Ameriprise is hiring.

 
 
Oct 14, 2008 4:39 pm

Is that a joke?  Or is Ameriprise actually a good company to work for?  100% comm.?  1099?

Oct 14, 2008 4:40 pm

Yes.  I managed a route sales team.  I also traveled in personal vehicle and made sales calls within assigned territory.

Oct 14, 2008 5:13 pm
Ferris Bueller:

Your writing style is very familiar.  I think your username was parachute/flamingo...

 
Huh?  What are you talking about?
Oct 14, 2008 8:10 pm

With Bankers' Life, you will be a captive agent with a company that has unacceptably poor 3rd party ratings.  Can you make money with them?  Sure.  Can you do what is best for your clients?  No.  In competetive situations, you will lose 100% of the time to a quality agent.


You are getting beat up on because there is much in your post that would lead one to believe that you won't succeed in this business. 

Oct 14, 2008 8:56 pm

RickRoss,



There is a lot of information on the insurance forum website insurance-forums.net. There you will find hundreds of comments on State Farm (and yes, prepare to be poor, poor for 5 years and have money to invest), Metlife (whom I believe still has a signing bonus but is straight commish), and AFLAC are on that forum too...You might want to look into New York Life, they have a good training program as well.

If you want P&C and have some money to invest, look into Allstate...but go to the insurance forum for comments.

This is a good forum if your interest is with EDJ or other investment companies.

p.s. Ameriprise comment was a joke...Ameriprise is a joke.

Oct 15, 2008 5:28 pm

Okay, so I've been directed elsewhere for my questions, but I want to ask this anyway.

 
Final Interview tomorrow (Thursday) w/ Bankers Life & Casualty.  I've done research, asked questions, and smell b.s., but for some reason, I'm still curious and want to go.
 
Anyone that's been through this before, what can I expect?  What are some real ball buster questions I might want to ask to see (or try to) just how this particular branch operates?
 
I was told there are 20+ agents out of this particular office.  That low, high, or does it not matter?
 
Please advise. 
Oct 15, 2008 7:33 pm

1:  If you  "smell b.s., but for some reason, I'm still curious and want to go."  I would suggest a good therapist or perhaps some pill.  They should cure your strange problem but I hear they can cause suicidal tendencies.

2:  If there were 20+ agents in an office and it was located on the moon I would say it is very high and it would matter a lot.

Oct 15, 2008 8:02 pm

if those were my ONLY options, i would choose to interview more extensively with Met and EDJ, and choose from them.  I have worked at both.
depending on the agency, Met can be a great place to work.  they have a 3 year "salary"program for new producers.  they have an excellent brand name, and finding insurance prospects is very easy compared to investment people.  but the key is your office.  if the management is bad, it will be a bad agency.  Met has many fee based products to choose from and has chosen to ATTEMPT to be a "full service" entity.  but again, alot depends on the vision/direction of the man/woman above.  you will have product requirements from within the enterprise, which simply means your contract will demand you sell $X of insurance products (life, di,ltc)
i would look at the office setting.  does it look like a place you would want to bring your hnw clients?  do they even try to do financial planning?  or are they simply trying to sell insurance?

ed jones is a great brand name as well.  your payout will be brutal, but you will have many many more resources on the investment side of the business, which YOU will pay for by a reduced commission, this is both good and bad.  i know alot of reps pummel EDJ for their low payout, but what you get early on is a big plus.  it begins to look worse and worse the further along in your career you get.  your insurance payout will be garbage, so you will likely choose to not even pursue much insurance early on, especially if you are unfamiliar with those topics.  their training will be good-when it comes to workload and prospecting.  they will essentially MAKE you do what is necessary to survive, which is PROSPECT.  do not look for a ton of investment training per se, especially when early on it will not dictate too much whether you succeed or fail.  jones will set you up with an office and assistant, which can be huge for a newbie.
don't kid yourself though, the 2 cultures are completely different.  try to find out, best you can, the atmosphere of the Met agency you would be working in, and then i would explain to Jones you feel it is way too difficult to start from zero, and see what they say.  biggest mistake prospective hires, or interview candidates, make is to not ask enough questions.  good lord, it is your freaking career!  if they cannot answer your questions move on.  and if you don't have the stones to bring up some of these things, how the hell will you ask someone ELSE to invest $500,000 with you?  you will never get it (answers/orders) without asking.

Oct 16, 2008 12:32 am

I took the time to write down the reasons I should / shouldn't go into this Final Interview tomorrow.

To make a long story short, no pun intended, the list of WHY I SHOULD go to the interview is almost laughable. Point blank, if I get an offer I know (for many, many reasons, which I won't delve into here), I won't take the job.

The main reason I am even considering going to the interview is b/c I have some questions that I'm curious to see how they'd answer. Also, since I put some many hours into researching Bankers, I almost feel I should "go one more step." I'm interested to see how far I'll make it and how many more lies they will tell to get me to sign the contracts. Kind of sick, huh?

I guess I'll make my final decision in the morning.
Hopefully I get a few more posts before then with some feedback. Thanks, guys!