Considering EJ Please Help

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May 23, 2007 10:37 am

Ok so I am a recent college grad, who has been working as a commercial insurance underwriter for one year.  I can't STAND sitting in a cubicle all day, so I am changing jobs.  I love the idea of financial advising and I have sales experience.  I am being recruited by an EJ Financial Advisor, and am nearing the end of my interview process.  I don't know a lot of people in the industry to talk to for advice, but I want to get into this industry.  I have read a lot of negative things about EJ, but have also read that they are the 29th best company to work for according to Fortune, they were ranked highest in customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and ass., and that they have great training for new guys like me. 


Am I making a huge mistake by joining them or are there much better opportunities for me??  Please don't just start EJ bashing, but really try to offer some solid advice if you can. 

May 23, 2007 10:53 am

There are many posts both positive and negative on Jones.   Some people are happy as clams to be there and others have had bad experiences.  Some like myself have just moved on to another phase of my career.  I don't carry an axe against Jones as a company.


Jones can be a good place to start your career. They will give you good training to pass the Series 7.  You will also be required to get a life insurance license.  They pay you a small amount during this study period.  If you pass, and you probably will, you will be sent for some sales training.  You will sign a contract (which you should read thoroughly) that has clauses for you to repay all these costs if you leave before a certain time.  I think 3 years??


The main piece of advice I can give you is to be sure that you have some savings to fall back on because once you are on commission it can be very tough.  You will face a lot of rejection and need to be a self starter......means you need to kick yourself in the butt every day to work hard.


There are more prestigious firms to begin with than Jones but they can be more selective and have higher production goals. Many in this industry look at Jones as a less than professional firm that doesn't really offer "full" investment advice or services.   Another piece of advice if you do go that route is to educate yourself on the industry as much as you can, because Jones won't.   They treat their reps like mushrooms......you know.. kept in the dark and feed them sh*t.


Who knows what is right for you.  I think you should examine all the options and try to interview with other firms.

May 23, 2007 11:32 am
NEWBY:

Ok so I am a recent college grad, who has been working
as a commercial insurance underwriter for one year.  I can't STAND
sitting in a cubicle all day, so I am changing jobs.





See if you can switch around while still being in the industry,
commercial underwriting can be alot of fun and all of it is not cubicle
work.



Switching after 1 year only looks weak.

May 23, 2007 1:29 pm
NEWBY:

 I can't STAND sitting in a cubicle all day, so I am changing jobs.



Try standing up and stretching now and then.  That should help!


(But seriously-if you are only out of school about one year, give serious consideration to your decision.  This can be a VERY tough business for a young person with limited contacts and life experience.  Jones will like you because you can be manipulated, but that's not good for your clients or your career.  Give yourself 3-5 years and then you'll at least have some work experience and some contacts with folks who could turn out to be potential clients.)

May 23, 2007 9:50 pm

Newby, I work for Jones, and I agree with Joe. I see very few 23 year olds

make it. I have a great deal of high-level business experience (prior to

this career) in corporate finance, but "only" being in my mid-30's can

sometimes present a problem in clients eyes. I could not IMAGINE having

done this 15 years ago. I gained so much practical and life experience in

the past 15 years, and it is STILL a very challenging career to start.



In addition, I saved and invested a LOT of money the past 15 years, so I

have no worries about going broke the first few years of this. That allows

me to make sound judgement calls and build my business the right way.



Not saying you can't do it, but just do some serious thinking about where

your business will come from.....

Will you walk through neighborhoods and bang on people's doors?

Will you walk into businesses and introduce yourself to the 58 year-old

owner and ask them to "trust you".

Will you just cold-call?



Can you get in front of a group of 60 year olds and give a seminar on

planning for their retirement years? Will they take you seriously, or will

they be waiting for an "adult" to walk out from behind the curtain?



Can you talk to the CEO of a small company and talk to him about his

401K plan? His personal investments? His tax situation? What kind of

firm is it???...C-corp, S-corp, LLC, LP? Do you know what those are? Do

you know his personal tax implications depending on what the structure

is? Does he receieve K-1 income? Is he receiving distributions to cover

the tax bite? Does he hit AMT? Is his plan top-heavy?



Look, not everyone knows these answers when they start in this business,

but many do. And you can do fine even if you don't. But you have some

serious hurdles to overcome.



I would disagree with one thing Joe said... this is not a tough business for

someone with limited contacts and life experience - it's a tough business

for ANYONE to start - it's even TOUGHER for someone with limited

contacts and life experience.

May 23, 2007 11:05 pm

First off, the Jones FA recruiting you is doing so because he gets credit for a Jones paid for vacation called a "diversification trip," and he gets brownie points with the Regional Leader if you sign a contract.  Most of what the recruiting FA will tell you is BS. 


Your first several years will be very tough.  You go off salary after a year, and the commissions are puny.  Did they talk to you about commissions?  They are going to tell you what "you" make, but they don't tell you that what "you" make is then taxed 60% by Jones.  You only get 40% of what you make.  And then after your $2000 expense credit runs out, you will be paying for many of your branch expenses, including all of the marketing materials.  The commissions are basically like a "tip" jar that just slowly adds up.  It is barely noticeable in the beginning.


There are other things they won't tell you when you are being courted.  The weeklong boiler room training session (eval), then the other weeklong boiler room training session (pdp), and the trainer more than likely some burned out waiter turned financial advisor trainer.  Oh and then the monthly new FA meeting, where if you are unlucky, you'll get to drive half way across your state to attend a boiler room session once a month.


Oh and that doorknocking thing is a real blast.  Wandering neighborhoods digging for gold.  You're going to love it.


It's a good career and a good opportunity for certain people.  The only ones I see making it are super goodknights (Usually some shlepp who sits behind a desk all day and gets walk ins or handouts from the producer) and those taking over big offices. 


If your only option is starting new, working out of your home for a year, I wouldn't do it.  I don't see any of them making it.  Every now and then one gets saved when an office opens up.  Some with the work ethic of a North Korean ditch digger do make it also.


But if you do decide to take the plunge as a new/new, choose an area that doesn't have any Jones offices.  Maybe a fast growing area that is attracting retirees or people fleeing the cities.  These places do exist. 


When it comes to doorknocking.  Can you do that every day?  6-8 hours a day for six months?  You're going to have to for a while, and then call the prospects often.  Lots of rejection.


The bottom line is that if you do the work, you might make it and make a lot of money  The problem is doing the work.  Most people can't or won't consistently prospect in the face of constant rejection and pressure to make your numbers.


I've been successful, but the beginning was hell and the lies and half truths told to me in the early going just made it tougher.  I think I've presented an honest assessment of starting out new, non-shlepping.  Lots of good people work at Jones and it is a rewarding career, just know what you're getting into and prepare mentally. 


May 23, 2007 11:24 pm
joedabrkr:
NEWBY:

 I can't STAND sitting in a cubicle all day, so I am changing jobs.



Try standing up and stretching now and then.  That should help!


(But seriously-if you are only out of school about one year, give serious consideration to your decision.  This can be a VERY tough business for a young person with limited contacts and life experience.  Jones will like you because you can be manipulated, but that's not good for your clients or your career.  Give yourself 3-5 years and then you'll at least have some work experience and some contacts with folks who could turn out to be potential clients.)



BTW I speak from experience, having started out in my mid-20's and made it.  But, along the way I saw a lot of men and women who were a little older than I with a few more contacts get out of the box much faster than I did.

May 23, 2007 11:38 pm

FTW to everything that Edward Pwns said.


Oh.... and QQ more FreedomAdvocate

May 23, 2007 11:41 pm

Jones is a great place to start.  I cut my teeth there for five years and went independent about 6 months ago and will never look back.  Start a Jones because they will get you through the series 7 etc, teach you how to sale muni's and American Funds (probably because you really cannot hurt a client with them).  Build "your" buisness though not an EDJ business.  Sell yourself not EDJ.  Trust me on that because it will give you more options down the road.  And, oh yea, work your ass off like never before day in and day out.  Work one evening a week and every other Saturday for the first two years.  College is over now... time to get a real education.

May 23, 2007 11:55 pm
Dust Bunny:

FTW to everything that Edward Pwns said.


Oh.... and QQ more FreedomAdvocate



FTW?  QQ?

Maybe I'm just slow.....

May 24, 2007 12:47 am

Typical l33t sp33k  in MMORPGs ( Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games ) in which I spend way too much time.


FTW  =  For the win .. means I approve, agree, you rock


QQ  = cry more .... usually  QQ Newb.    Waaah!!!  whine some more, no one cares.  The QQ represents two eyeballs with tears.


My geekness is now totally exposed.  

May 24, 2007 12:51 am
Dust Bunny:

Typical l33t sp33k  in MMORPGs ( Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games ) in which I spend way too much time.


FTW  =  For the win .. means I approve, agree, you rock


QQ  = cry more .... usually  QQ Newb.    Waaah!!!  whine some more, no one cares.  The QQ represents two eyeballs with tears.


My geekness is now totally exposed.  



OK I sorta get it.

I used to play command and conquer but have no time in the last few years.  That's the closest I ever got to an MMPORG.

May 24, 2007 1:23 am
NEWBY:

Please don't just start EJ bashing



You're new here obviously.

May 24, 2007 9:49 am

ha WOW I really wasn't expecting to get any helpful responses on here guys, thanks.


Would you guys recommend taking college courses to get the CFP, pass the series 7 and 66, and then in a year or two trying to jump on with an Indy or Wire? At least that way I'll be about 26 with more contacts and more credibility.  I won't be working in financial planning though (i'm in commercial insurance), so I actually won't be able to satisfy the work requirements for the CFP, even though I could pass the test.  I just don't want to miss the baby boomers.  It's just such a nice little target market!


Dust Bunny, if you haven't seen the south park episode making fun of World of Warcraft, you owe it to yourself to catch it sometime.  SOOoo funny...

May 24, 2007 10:20 am

I would definitely take the CFP courses even if you don't become an advisor right away.  It takes a few years to complete the courses and will give you a great foundation for future work in this field.  The information is valuable for anyone.  You can't take the Series 7 without a sponsoring firm.  You can get a Series 65 without, not sure about the 66.   But yes, any studying you can get out of the way before you leap into the business is good, because once you start as a broker/advisor you won't have much time for anything besides prospecting and gathering assets.


Being young is a real disadvantage in this business as people have already said. I've seen young people make it, but it is the exception not the rule. It might be that if you worked in a team environment with older advisors you could have some of their credibility due to age rub off on you. 


I have seen the South Park episode and laughed my butt off.  It was hilarious and right on target.

May 24, 2007 10:26 am

Doesn't the CFP still require some years (5, if memory serves) of field experience?

May 24, 2007 10:28 am
Philo Kvetch:

Doesn't the CFP still require some years (5, if memory serves) of field experience?



3

May 24, 2007 10:38 am

I think you can still take the courses.  Not sure about whether you can take the test anyway, or if you can take the test but just not use the designation.  Joe is studying right now.  Maybe he knows??

May 24, 2007 10:44 am

I started at Jones and went independent three years ago.  What everybody else says is about Jones is correct.  It's a great place to get training but wasn't right for me.  The first two years were VERY VERY difficult.  The business is Darwinian, natural selection played out in the most competitive business arena. 


If you have a high pain threshold and deep pockets and a compelling need to succeed you have a good chance of success.  What the other guys have said about being 23 is true.  Clients are trusting you with their money and you're going to look very inexperienced.


Understand that the employment agreement you're going to sign with Jones will require you to stay with them at least three years after you are licensed.  Leaving earlier (and staying in the industry) will provoke a law suit from Jones demanding the repayment of the unamortized portion of your acquisition cost (I think Jones valued it at about $75,000 when I was hired).


You will probably notice that thoughtful responses from veterans are not gushing with enthusiasm about your prospects for success.  This is a very tough business.

May 24, 2007 10:59 am

I believe that your key to success in thsi business at your age is probably to start as a licensed assistant working for a modest salary for a successful advisor...learn the business, pass the CFP and gain maturity while drawing a paycheck.  It's not glamorous, but I think it will dramatically improve your odds of success.