Mother Merrill?

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Mar 9, 2008 12:47 pm

Smith Barney management has always bragged that THEY have the most entrepreneurial culture and the ML is very constricting and heavy-handed -- hence the "Mother Merrill" reputation.  I spoke with a ML recruiter who said that the term comes from the fact that because the brokers represent such a large part of the firm, ML "takes care" of the brokers better than any other firm. 

Mar 9, 2008 1:23 pm

That is where the term comes from.

Mar 9, 2008 1:37 pm

If your a big producer at any wirehouse they are going to "take care" of you.


I've always been told that: "Yes they have higher bonuses, but they also have quotas."

Can't argue with that.

Mar 9, 2008 7:49 pm

I wouldnt expect a Merrill recruiter to say, yeah, your right, SB has a more entrepeneurial culture and Mother Merrill connotates the notion that Merrill is heavy handed?

Mar 9, 2008 8:01 pm

No s*** pratoman.  I want to know if (in the opinion of this forum) it's true.

Mar 9, 2008 9:23 pm

ok Lex, dont get your balls in an uproar, I'm from NY, so I'm a little sarcastic.

 
I never worked for Merrill. The contact I've had that would help me come up with an answer, is meeting with a complex manager who tried to recruit me a few years back (real asshole) and my contacts with ML FA's whom I've tried to recruit (i'm an ABOM). My impression is that they are pretty rigid about the way they do their business. Its their way, or no way. Again, full disclosure, I never worked there, so you would prob ably get better feedback on this from some on this forum who have.
 
As far as SB goes, I have worked there, and I do think that despite all the s**t going on there right now, and all the bad  mistakes that Sr Managment has made in the last 2 years, their culture is still very entrepeneurial. Of course they want fee based business, and they focus on wealth planning, no different than the other firms. But the guys that do a lot of transaction type business, are not made to feel like outcasts, they are left to do their business their way. I've even heard from some of the Structured Product guys on BOM calls. So I think they are pretty openminded in that regard.
 
JMHO
Mar 12, 2008 7:20 pm

Pratoman -- I apologize.  That you for your thoughts.  I work at SB so I know what the culture there is like.  I would describe it as entrepreneurial, but heavy on the legal requirements.  I don't know ML, but from what I've heard, your comments about being rigid and "it's their way or no way," seem to have some truth.

May 5, 2008 10:34 pm

I work @ ML.  No quotas once you're out of the training program.  No pressure to sell firm products.  But....BIG incentives to produce.  If you don't produce, expect to be kicked out of an office and into a cubicle.  Expect to go 6-to-1 on a sales associate.  Thankfully I've managed to stay above the Mendoza line and I get good support, and I probably speak to management once a month, if that often.  I'm left alone to run a business and it's a good place to work.

May 7, 2008 11:27 am

Where's the mendoza line @ Merril

May 7, 2008 7:44 pm

You need to stay out of the 4th and 5th Quintiles for your LOS (length of service).  They vary, but I'll say generally that if you do 75k for each year you're in business (LOS 4 300k, LOS 8 600k), you're in good shape.  I say that because I work in a major market.  If you work in a smaller market, a more rural area etc., you might be able to get away with lower production hurdles.

May 7, 2008 10:06 pm
cubfan1404:

I work @ ML.  No quotas once you're out of the training program.  No pressure to sell firm products.  But....BIG incentives to produce.  If you don't produce, expect to be kicked out of an office and into a cubicle.  Expect to go 6-to-1 on a sales associate.  Thankfully I've managed to stay above the Mendoza line and I get good support, and I probably speak to management once a month, if that often.  I'm left alone to run a business and it's a good place to work.

 
What are the quotas the first few years, and what are the incentives? 
May 7, 2008 11:18 pm

They have changed the program a half-dozen times since I got through it.  But I think generally you are expected to bring in $20 Million in assets over 2-3 years, and get to where you're annuitizing $100k/year in production.    There are incentives to build your business the "right" way, i.e. fee-based, C-shares, planning-oriented (i.e. no B-shares or back-end loaded annuities).  They do this by increasing your grid payout on annuitized products up to 50% payout for the first few years, then it drops to 40% and then you start on the ordinary grid (I'm paid 42% on annuitized products now, at the half-million dollar production level).  You start with a salary which is gradually replaced by your production, and there are bonuses for hitting hurdles ahead of schedule.  It's  a fair program, maybe a little tough, but that's the business we're in.  The firm is very fair to its producers, honestly.  The producers run the firm and it is evident.  In most top-level offices, the highest producers out-earn the management.

May 7, 2008 11:45 pm

So far I have been extremely impressed with ML's organized, well thought out training.  Additionally, they seem to take the approach that what is best for the client will be best for the FA.  By providing a base salary to start, they remove the temptation for you to recommend something that will put food on your table but will not be good for the client in the long run.  And man, do they have a ton of different products and services to offer to clients! 

 
They do a good job of providing you with the tools you need to succeed as a new person.  Furthermore, I feel that the coaches in the trainee program and the management kind of take it as their "duty" to make sure that you succeed if you are following their trainee program and doing the things they ask you to do.  Make no mistake, though, if you don't pass your 7 on the first try you WILL get canned.    
 
I get the impression, though, that the more experienced people do as they please.  They kind of leave the experienced people alone and give the new people the guidance, as it should be.    
May 7, 2008 11:54 pm

Did you have to take a FIAT exam at the begining of the hiring process?  Can you give me any sample questions of what's on that exam?


Thanks!
May 8, 2008 12:07 am

I think I took that test when tI got hired.  I think it is one that you will either pass or you won't.  I wouldn't spend much time studying because it is not something you can really study for.  I don't remember thinking it was remotely intellectually challenging the personality questions seemed more intense to me. There were about 4-5 different investing types of questions but I answered that I didn't know what the concepts they were talking about were on the test.  I almost wonder if these questions were designed to ascertain your honesty; or maybe I am just ignorant of these concepts.   I did make it past the test, though.   

May 8, 2008 11:11 pm

I'd say if you're doing well in this business (wirehouse, reginal, indy) you ARE entrepreneurial! No firm can make you or prevent you from being who you are. As far as "quotas", unless you're a POA (trainee) it doesn't exist.

Here's the kicker........

For those FAs who work at growing their OWN business (given Merrill's own goals, aka Net New Households, Net New Assets, etc) they can get an additional 10-70% of T12 gross as a Bonus (granted 70% is ridiculously hard, virtually impossible), but 20-30% is achievable.

That is EXTRA money for DOING YOUR JOB. I don't think SB, MS, UBS, etc have that. It's unreasonable to think that some of the nations top advisors will be "forced" to do what their firm says.

MOTHER MERRILL has to do with ML being US' largest BROKERAGE FIRM with a top 5 Investment Bank and a top Trading franchise.

Morgan Stanely is a top INVESTMENT BANK with Trading and Brokerage (in that order) and Smith Barney is less than 5% of a huge BANK, same with UBS' former Painne Webber.

No offense to anyone, but that's my take.

May 8, 2008 11:12 pm
Sedona:

I'd say if you're doing well in this business (wirehouse, reginal, indy) you ARE entrepreneurial! No firm can make you or prevent you from being who you are. As far as "quotas", unless you're a POA (trainee) it doesn't exist.

Here's the kicker........

For those FAs who work at growing their OWN business (given Merrill's own goals, aka Net New Households, Net New Assets, etc) they can get an additional 10-70% of T12 as a Bonus (granted 70% is ridiculously hard, virtually impossible), but 20-30% is achievable.

That is EXTRA money for DOING YOUR JOB. I don't think SB, MS, UBS, etc have that. It's unreasonable to think that some of the nations top advisors will be "forced" to do what their firm says.

MOTHER MERRILL has to do with ML being US' largest BROKERAGE FIRM with a top 5 Investment Bank and a top Trading franchise.

Morgan Stanely is a top INVESTMENT BANK with Trading and Brokerage (in that order) and Smith Barney is less than 5% of a huge BANK, same with UBS' former Painne Webber.

No offense to anyone, but that's my take.

May 9, 2008 4:48 am
iceco1d:

So Akkula, you've transitioned to ML now?  Looks like you are enjoying it thus far, congrats!

 
So far so good.  Talk to me in a couple of months though.
May 9, 2008 9:31 pm

I'm not worried about quotas, I'm worried about the ML REQUIRING me to run my business in a certain way.  For example, a requirement that I must do financial plans.  I'm not against plans, I just don't like being told what to do.  At SB, I have pretty free reign.  I hardly speak to my manager unless I seek him out. 

May 9, 2008 10:33 pm

No financial planning requirement at ML, at least not once you're out of the training program.  I don't know if they still require them when you're in the training program.  Truthfully speaking, there is absolutely no pressure, none whatsoever, to do any specific type of business at ML.  No proprietary fund requirements, no product pushing, NOTHING.  I cannot be any more clear about that.  If you can get through the rigorous and demanding training program, you will have full autonomy to run whatever type of business you would like to run.  But the compensation structure will gear you towards annuitized business rather than transactional business (but, again, you have complete freedom to trade away if you really want to).  It is a great place to work.  No place is perfect.