Deciding on Indy or Wirehouse?

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Sep 27, 2006 8:39 am

I am a current semi-indy rep today with an I insurance B/D who is looking to make a change.  I have narrowed down to Commonwealth and ML or SB. 


I know the difference between the two are huge and personally I think I value the Independence much more but I can't help but not think about the the huge forgivable loan money ML and SB have thrown in front of me.


I understand the indy culture side and running a business since that's pretty much what I am doing today.  What I don't understand is the culture difference at a wire-house. 


The managers at ML/Sb have told me over and over that there are now quota's.  Both have said they only need to grow their branch's by around 10-15% and if I can just grow my business that much I would be fine.  Now, I do fairly well in the growth side and my GDC would be fine but it's still scary proposition to be working for someone else.  I don't know what I don't know.


Anyone have advice for me as to the diff in cultures between Indy and Wirehouse and would a fat up front check make up for the loss of Independence?

Sep 27, 2006 8:40 am
OhioAdvisor:

I am a current semi-indy rep today with an I insurance B/D who is looking to make a change.  I have narrowed down to Commonwealth and ML or SB. 


I know the difference between the two are huge and personally I think I value the Independence much more but I can't help but not think about the the huge forgivable loan money ML and SB have thrown in front of me.


I understand the indy culture side and running a business since that's pretty much what I am doing today.  What I don't understand is the culture difference at a wire-house. 


The managers at ML/Sb have told me over and over that there are no quota's, no one that's looking over my shoulder.  Both have said they only need to grow their branch's by around 10-15% and if I can just grow my business that much I would be fine.  Now, I do fairly well (above 300 GDC) in the growth side and my GDC would be fine but it's still scary proposition to be working for someone else.  I don't know what I don't know.


Anyone have advice for me as to the diff in cultures between Indy and Wirehouse and would a fat up front check make up for the loss of Independence?

Sep 27, 2006 8:59 am
OhioAdvisor:

I am a current semi-indy rep today with an I insurance B/D who is looking to make a change.  I have narrowed down to Commonwealth and ML or SB. 


I know the difference between the two are huge and personally I think I value the Independence much more but I can't help but not think about the the huge forgivable loan money ML and SB have thrown in front of me.


I understand the indy culture side and running a business since that's pretty much what I am doing today.  What I don't understand is the culture difference at a wire-house. 


The managers at ML/Sb have told me over and over that there are now quota's.  Both have said they only need to grow their branch's by around 10-15% and if I can just grow my business that much I would be fine.  Now, I do fairly well in the growth side and my GDC would be fine but it's still scary proposition to be working for someone else.  I don't know what I don't know.


Anyone have advice for me as to the diff in cultures between Indy and Wirehouse and would a fat up front check make up for the loss of Independence?



You're a big girl, now, and you shouldn't need to go to the internet to make such important decisions. How the hell would WE know how you would react to "loss of independence" and how much money it would take to neutralize that reaction?

Sep 27, 2006 9:11 am
OhioAdvisor:

Now, I do fairly well in the growth side and my
GDC would be fine but it's still scary proposition to be working for
someone else.  I don't know what I don't know.





How could it be "scary" going to work for one of the premier brokerage firms in the world?



The only reason to be independent is if you're a small hitter and need
the accellerated payout offered by an independent firm.  You
sacrifice by ending up working out of your car and/or a desk at
Kinkos.  You hide behind "Voice Mail" systems that give the
impression that you're a much larger organization and dream that
someday you'll be able to afford a real office.



Look at the major hitters in the business.  They're going to be at
the wirehouses.  If what was offered by an independent firm was
truly worthwhile do you think that the stars at Merrill would not be
opening their own shops and enjoying a 90% payout?

Sep 27, 2006 9:18 am
NASDY Newbie:
OhioAdvisor:

Now, I do fairly well in the growth side and my GDC would be fine but it's still scary proposition to be working for someone else.  I don't know what I don't know.




How could it be "scary" going to work for one of the premier brokerage firms in the world?

The only reason to be independent is if you're a small hitter and need the accellerated payout offered by an independent firm.  You sacrifice by ending up working out of your car and/or a desk at Kinkos.  You hide behind "Voice Mail" systems that give the impression that you're a much larger organization and dream that someday you'll be able to afford a real office.

Look at the major hitters in the business.  They're going to be at the wirehouses.  If what was offered by an independent firm was truly worthwhile do you think that the stars at Merrill would not be opening their own shops and enjoying a 90% payout?


I'd rather be a major earner than a major hitter.

Sep 27, 2006 10:41 am


How could it be "scary" going to work for one of the premier brokerage firms in the world?

The only reason to be independent is if you're a small hitter and need the accellerated payout offered by an independent firm.  You sacrifice by ending up working out of your car and/or a desk at Kinkos.  You hide behind "Voice Mail" systems that give the impression that you're a much larger organization and dream that someday you'll be able to afford a real office.

Look at the major hitters in the business.  They're going to be at the wirehouses.  If what was offered by an independent firm was truly worthwhile do you think that the stars at Merrill would not be opening their own shops and enjoying a 90% payout?
[/quote]


Newbie you know so little about the indy side! The wire houses are Dinosaurs.  <?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Sep 27, 2006 12:05 pm

So my question is this...


Do they have production minimums at ML or SB?  If I am producing around 300 GDC is that enough to keep me around?  Can I have the flexibility I ahve now with my job i.e. coming and going when I want, taking off whenever I want etc? 

Sep 27, 2006 12:10 pm
Greenbacks:

Newbie you know so little about the indy side! The wire houses are Dinosaurs.  





Statements like that would have more credibilty if you cited something. Don't you agree?

Sep 27, 2006 12:25 pm

Newby darling, take your own advice. Or perhaps I missed it. Who exactly are you citing here?:


How could it be "scary" going to work for one of the premier brokerage firms in the world?

The only reason to be independent is if you're a small hitter and need the accellerated payout offered by an independent firm.  You sacrifice by ending up working out of your car and/or a desk at Kinkos.  You hide behind "Voice Mail" systems that give the impression that you're a much larger organization and dream that someday you'll be able to afford a real office.

Look at the major hitters in the business.  They're going to be at the wirehouses.  If what was offered by an independent firm was truly worthwhile do you think that the stars at Merrill would not be opening their own shops and enjoying a 90% payout?

Sep 27, 2006 12:38 pm

I'm asking for examples of why the wirehouses are dinosaures.  They can be anybody's point of view.

Sep 27, 2006 12:55 pm
OhioAdvisor:

...would a fat up front check make up for the loss of Independence?


No.  They don't pull this money out of the air...eventually, they'll get it back on the payout differential...and if you leave early, they'll get it back quicker.

Sep 27, 2006 1:02 pm
Indyone:
OhioAdvisor:

...would a fat up front check make up for the loss of Independence?


No.  They don't pull this money out of the air...eventually,
they'll get it back on the payout differential...and if you leave
early, they'll get it back quicker.





Why would anybody who was making a living leave a wirehouse?  I
refuse to believe it is so they can start to pay the matching FICA, pay
for their own yellow pads, pay for their own assistant, pay for their
own health insurance, pay for their own computer, software and so
forth, pay for their own office space, pay for their own furnishings,
pay their own phone bill, pay their own postage, pay for their own
advertising pieces, pay for their own..........I grow weary.



If being independent was attractive the wirehouse stars would have all gone independent.



If being independent was attractive the independent B/D management
would not be worrying about how to recruit brokers who were worth
having instead of simply bodies.



The only people who think Indy is better than a wirehouse are those who
could not get hired by a wirehouse, or those who were hired by them but
were about to be fired for lack of production.



It really is that simple, yet that complex.  But think
logically--why in the world would a corner office "star" at Smith
Barney in, say, Oklahoma City not form his own office and make more
money?

Sep 27, 2006 1:26 pm

This may be true when you're comparing indy b/ds and wirehouses, but the other kind of "independence" -- joining or forming an RIA shop -- does offer some benefits in that you have more flexibility in terms of the kinds of products and services you offer and the way you charge for those services. You may also have less pressure on you from a large compliance bureaucracy...So leaving a wirehouse for an RIA can make a lot of sense for top producers who have an entrepreneurial bent, and want to do things their own way. That said, i think the wirehouses have caught on to this, and may have begun offering the really top top guys the flexibility they want ....

Sep 27, 2006 2:14 pm
wanda:





You may also have less pressure on you from a large compliance bureaucracy.






Do you believe that a compliance officer's job is to make the sales force's lives miserable, or to keep them out of trouble?

Sep 27, 2006 2:22 pm

of course it's to keep them out of trouble. I'm not blaming the compliance guys. But the end result, unfortunately, at the big firms, is inevitably reams and reams of paperwork. Compliance is not nearly as burdensome at an RIA.  

Sep 27, 2006 2:25 pm
wanda:

of course it's to keep them out of trouble. I'm not
blaming the compliance guys. But the end result, unfortunately, at
the big firms, is inevitably reams and reams of paperwork. Compliance
is not nearly as burdensome at an RIA.  





Reams and reams?  If compliance is not so "burdensome" it would
have to be because your broker/dealer is not as focused on keeping you
out of trouble.



It's ridiculous to think that wirehouse compliance departments do
things that are not necessary.  If your B/D is cutting corners you
can bet it is not in an effort to do what is right for you.

Sep 27, 2006 3:07 pm
OhioAdvisor:

So my question is this...


Do they have production minimums at ML or SB?  If I am producing around 300 GDC is that enough to keep me around?  Can I have the flexibility I ahve now with my job i.e. coming and going when I want, taking off whenever I want etc? 



Congratulations on your decision to make a change!

$300K in production is nothing to be ashamed of.    Additionally, you should expect your book to grow once you join a wirehouse because of improved cross-selling opportunities.

I'd rather not get into particulars, since I've made placements with both of these firms.  But go ahead and ask your recruiter to go through the payout grids with you.  You'll notice that lower production means lower payouts.  However, $300K is no where near "penalty box" production levels.

You should ask about time commitments during the interview process.  In general, you will enjoy great flexibility with a wirehouse. You will be required to come into the office occasionally for certain sales meetings and etc.  However, the vast majority of your time will be flexible.

Good luck and let us know what you decide!


Sep 27, 2006 3:15 pm

My decision is made..


I am going to where I can control my enivornment, my staffing and my costs.  I think I was letting greed take over but I am convinced that after taxes on the up front money, fighting for staff resources, worrying about future layoffs that I am best served being a small business owner.


After all the majority of wealth in this country is from small biz owners.  Stock brokers enjoy rich cash flow but it's not the same as a small biz owner.


Greed is gone and common sense prevailed.

Sep 27, 2006 3:21 pm

<300k at SB is where you will dinged.  It'll probably go up next yr also.  The big firms nowdays have bulls eyes on their backs so thus compliance is more of a problem.  Yes, it's to protect you but it is most importantly to protect them.  It's over done but it has to be that way right now given they get sued for everything imaginable.


Coming up, time clocks to punch and overtime pay for new hires.


Remember that big upfront check is taxable with an amortization schedule equal to your contract length. THey will take the taxes out of your account once a year.   If you can keep your business going with out dropping much in gross, it's a great thing even with the taxes.  Don't go nuts with the money.  You may need it to sustain your current lifestyle when "probably not if," your biz drops for awhile after the move. 


Your first year pay grid should be negotiated at the the highest payout regardless of your total gross.  After that, you're on your own.

Sep 27, 2006 3:33 pm
NASD Newby:
Indyone:
OhioAdvisor:

...would a fat up front check make up for the loss of Independence?


No.  They don't pull this money out of the air...eventually, they'll get it back on the payout differential...and if you leave early, they'll get it back quicker.




Why would anybody who was making a living leave a wirehouse?  I refuse to believe it is so they can start to pay the matching FICA, pay for their own yellow pads, pay for their own assistant, pay for their own health insurance, pay for their own computer, software and so forth, pay for their own office space, pay for their own furnishings, pay their own phone bill, pay their own postage, pay for their own advertising pieces, pay for their own..........I grow weary.

If being independent was attractive the wirehouse stars would have all gone independent.

If being independent was attractive the independent B/D management would not be worrying about how to recruit brokers who were worth having instead of simply bodies.

The only people who think Indy is better than a wirehouse are those who could not get hired by a wirehouse, or those who were hired by them but were about to be fired for lack of production.

It really is that simple, yet that complex.  But think logically--why in the world would a corner office "star" at Smith Barney in, say, Oklahoma City not form his own office and make more money?


Your fist paragraph answered much of the question about why many capable people choose to stay in a wirehouse environment.  Then you go and say something stupid like "The only people who think Indy is better than a wirehouse are those who could not get hired by a wirehouse, or those who were hired by them but were about to be fired for lack of production."  There are about a hundred million-dollar producers at my indy B/D.  It's highly unlikely that any of these folks couldn't cut it at a wirehouse.


You make absolute statements like this instead of saying something like "MANY people who think...".  That's what ruins your credibility and makes you look like a clueless fool.  I would grant you that some independents are independent because they couldn't cut it somewhere else, but it's far from all of us.


Far from cutting me loose, my former employer begged me to stay and discussed stock options and grid improvement if I did.  I chose to leave because I was simply over-managed and fed up with being lied to, and dealing with an ever-changing grid.


What you are saying is kind of like me saying that since an assistant is capable of ordering paperclips, all wirehouse middle managers are just unnecessary overhead and should be fired.