Prudential 2001 Complete Broker Comments

A (Overall) “Our overall image needs improvement, we need more upscale advertising and better promotion. The firm really doesn’t emphasize its products and services enough.” B (Training) “It's terrific. I’ve been to training programs five times this year, plus we have people coming in once a week to instruct us on the latest computer methods and anything else that’s going on in the market that we

A

(Overall) “Our overall image needs improvement, we need more upscale advertising and better promotion. The firm really doesn’t emphasize its products and services enough.”

B

(Training) “It's terrific. I’ve been to training programs five times this year, plus we have people coming in once a week to instruct us on the latest computer methods and anything else that’s going on in the market that we should know about.” (Quote/info) “It’s the finest on the street. We can do so much with our computer it’s unbelievable.” (Focus) “We’re going public in November. I see that as a positive. I’m a Prudential holder so it’s going to work for me.” (Image) “We’re the rock!” (Overall) “We have a terrific branch manager, our support system is excellent our branch is friendly and helpful because they want everyone to succeed and do what’s right for our clients. We have a very upscale environment.”

C

(Hiring/recruiting) “They don’t seem to retain a lot of who they hire lately and I don’t know the reason for that.” (Operations) “Tough question. Sometimes things seem to go well, other times it seems impossible for anything to go right.” (Branch manager) “I rated him a 5 but even that’s too high. He’s just not living up to expectations. He’s been here two years and I think it’s time for him to go.” (Image) “Not good, definitely less than average. I don’t know anyone who searches this firm out to do new business.” (Overall) “Our technology systems, information systems, ideas and products are very good, sales support, training and lack of hiring aren't.”

D

(Training) “As much as we need.” (Research) “Don’t think it’s that good.” (Fixed income) “They shut down their institutional department, which I used to do. What’s left now is very mediocre.” (Focus) “I have no idea what it is. I’m not sure what they’re doing. That might change once we go public because they’ll have to make some decisions as to their strategic focus.” (Overall) “They promote the name well and their technology is good. What they have to work on is their research department and fixed income.”

E

(Sales ideas) “Not a lot, most are product ideas, not stock ideas.” (Quote/info) “It recently changed, so it’s better now.” (Overall) “Locally, our branch manager is very strong which helps to overcome a lot of the weakness of the firm, particularly the bureaucracy. Being such a small part of the mother company (Prudential Financial), we don’t command the resources that we need to compete with the stand alones like Merrill, PaineWebber and Morgan Stanley.”

F

(Training) “Don’t offer enough.” (Overall) “Our software is great, the tools we have are pretty top notch, our image is high, which helps my business, but they could do better with support staffing.”

G

“They support the style of business that I’m interested in, which is recurring revenue and they are very strong in wrap fee type business. There is good internal wholesalers support, good access to New York, support personal and our overall sales support is strong.”

H

(Hiring/recruiting) “They closed their recruiting program, no more recruiting for the time being.” (Training) “They offer lots of stuff, continuing ed credits, classes, seminars, etc.” (Overall) “They’re good with fixed income and managed money, which helps me do my job. They could make the process simpler though, such as account openings and operations.”

I

(Operations) “Coordination with New York could be better. Sometimes I can’t understand them when I talk to them.” (Research) “It’s actually improved somewhat.” (Image) “Some of the things being done to improve the ethics that I gave a 10 to have not been recognized in the marketplace yet. It’s still too early. It takes a long time for reputations to show the result of change.” (Overall) “They have a very good grasp on the big picture, on what it takes to be successful and to be a leader in this business. The devil is in the details and that has to be worked out.”

J

(Operations): “Pretty weak.” (Overall) “We have independent research, a strong fixed income department and the use of technology that supports a lot of those areas.

K

(Strategic focus): “In the last 12 months it has slipped. The firm is unnecessarily, unduly focused upon going public and therefore is missing the total concept of a bigger mission statement it should be focused on. It’s too shortsighted.”

L

(Payout): “It’s the highest amount for a wire house.” (Ongoing training): “It’s been great.” (Quality of sales ideas): “They’re very supportive. But compliance is horrible.” (Quote and information system): “It’s excellent.” (Quality of the firm’s research): “I don’t listen to it. But we’re the only firm on Wall Street that has buy/sell/hold.” (Ethics of the firm): “It’s very strict, compliance-wise.” (Firm’s image with the public): “It’s getting better.” (Overall): “I think it’s impressive. Top senior management will listen to brokers if you call them. They will help get products pushed through if you want them [added]. Compliance goes overboard. They’re way too strict. They were at one end, and now they’ve gone to the extreme. I’m the first person to tell you it’s good. For a wire house, we do a good job. The estate-planning department needs overhauling. They need to make a better commitment to that area. Regional estate planning coordinators are good, but they don’t have enough support. We’re going public—can’t spend money right now. Overall, I have nothing bad to say.”

M

“I think the environment’s very strict as far as compliance. Sometimes compliance comes before the client. I think because of compliance, clients are overwhelmed with over disclosure. It’s difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, especially when important documents go out. Everything becomes routine. To me, that’s the problem. Our business is run by police.”

N

“One of the things I appreciate at this firm, for FAs who are capable, they let you serve the client. There’s a good focus on training.”

O

“No pressure. They let me do whatever I want. Turnover is unbelievable here, and at other places in this industry. When you find a good person, I guess it’s tough to keep them around. There must be a better method of retaining brokers. I’d like to see more brokers act like the old baseball players – join a team and stay with it.”

P

“[Poor hiring and recruiting] that’s a reflection of upper management.”

Q

“Firm is loyal if you produce. I’ve had some major tragedies in the past year and the support from my branch has been incredible. That’s why I’m here.”

R

“I set my owns sales quotas. I do a lot of my own management and they pay me 50% to do that. Pru Advisor accounts are outstanding.”

S

“They let me run my own day. I'm a CFP, and if I need to study for continuing education classes, they're helpful in enabling me reach higher levels. I just passed a test this morning that I took through on-line training. Their estate planning and insurance areas are very advanced. Also, we're very high-tech. They're upgrading the quote and information system again in October.”

T

“We just cut out our investment banking group, which had been a conflict of interest, but now that's gone. And our research must indicate if the analyst making the recommendation has a position in the stock. It's not that the research is wrong necessarily; it's just that the RR has to know when to use it.”

U

“Out technology and our database, along with our computer support, is tops in the industry. They've won awards.”

V

“These days, clients are getting hit for fees on everything. There's no free checking anymore. It's like saying to more modest clients, ‘if you don't have at least $50,000, go away.’ It's always a problem to have to tell a client there's now going to be a $150 security fee on your accounts. The client thinks the broker is getting a piece of that as a commission, but we get nothing from it, except an unhappy client.”

W

“We're a mutual company, which basically means the company is run like a dictatorship and senior management can't get fired. A mutual company is owned by the policyholders of the insurance company, who are all unaware of that fact. How many times do you as a policyholder ever see anything in the mail about who's running the company? But we'll be a public company within the next few months, and that will increase our benefits, which right now are poor.”

X

“The firm spends too much time and effort to run off the smaller accounts, ignoring the fact that baby boomers with these modest accounts will someday inherit money from their parents and become large accounts. So in effect we're training the boomers in how to do e-trading by running them off, and basically forcing them to do their own investing. It's the result of following Merrill Lynch's strategy [to blow off smaller accounts]. We're all going down the same blind alley. A lot of times, I'll pay my clients' fees for them. There's more and more pressure to ship accounts under $25,000 out to a service center in Arizona.”

Y

“The firm's management has changed from entrepreneurs into accountants. Our firm is being run by people who've never been brokers. They have no clue at all.”

Z

“No one has a better payout than we do. And the only part of the benefits package we haven't had is stock options. That's being addressed with the IPO in the fall. The firm's Master Share program is a version of a stock option program. In essence, the firm puts money in if we put money in, and it grows over time in a vesting program. But you lose it if you leave. It's a golden handcuffs thing.”

AA

“I don't rely on the firm to support me from a sales standpoint. You are your business. I'm comfortable where I'm at, the people are OK, an entrepreneur couldn't have a better place to work in. Also, they switched their system from ADP to Reuter's recently, and it's a top system, it's great. There's a huge product mix here, and lots of resources available online. But there are too many client fees. It's a hurdle no one wants to have.”

AB

“When it comes to the firm's strategic direction, one question is whether we can leverage the firm's name. It has an insurance connotation. People get a picture of insurance in their heads when they see our heads or hear our name.”

AC

“I'm pretty happy with the firm.”

AD

“Excellent branch manager.”

AE

(Hiring and recruiting): “The firm has spent too much to hire brokers from other firms, and now to make up for that, they're cutting the compensation of other brokers and cutting back in other areas. (Strategic focus, ethics): “I'm not pleased with the focus of the firm. I feel as though I have to screen the firm from our clients. In particular, the firm is no longer interested in the clients with $100,000 or less. This is a policy which, I believe in time, will certainly undermine the firm's success.”

AF

(Hiring and recruiting): “Very good. They're very aggressive about bringing in new people.” (Benefits): “We're competitive now that we have Master Share, which is unique to our firm. It is a real plus. The firm buys an index fund for us at a discount. We have a 401(k) as well.”

AG

“Fixed income pricing is a pretty touchy subject.”

AH

“The firm needs better leadership. It's lead by young accountant types who are too inexperienced and have no concept of what happens when the broker talks to the client.”

AI

“A great place to work, a family type atmosphere. It's easy to solve problems. Management really listens to us.”

AJ

“What the firm is best at is communicating with clients, providing timely information about markets. The firm's long-term goals are very good. We want to be money managers, financial advisers. We want to have an overall relationship with all of the clients' financial needs.”

AK

“Starting October 1st, they're cutting our payout.”

AL

“There’s a sense of reality here as to what’s doable in this market. The firm seems to be based on a client focus. Yeah, we can try to shove a bunch of products down the client’s throats, but we realize in this market it’s not to the client’s advantage, nor to our long term advantage as we look to the future.”

AM

“The entrepreneurial factor is what I like best about working here. The firm is reinventing itself. Our technology is outstanding. We’ve had 11 new brokers come in during the last 12 months and they’ve been raving about our technology, saying it’s far superior to what they’re accustomed to at [such firms as] Merrill, First Union. The freedom from proprietary pressure is also reason I like it here. You’re ever bothered, you’re never forced to sell a particular product. I can’t imagine a broker having that pressure. Whoever has to work under those conditions is foolish to stick around. It’s not worth it-to them and their clients.”

AN

“I’m happy here. Why? The freedom. There’s no sales pressure. We can be entrepreneurs. The problem is I don’t where the company is going. They’re making all these changes with top management. I’m puzzled by that. I’m a senior producer, and been here seven years. Not a long time but long enough, and I don’t know where we’re going. Of course, it’s a tough time in the cycle, but there’s the public offering coming, they’re doing this and doing that. I’d just like see a more seasoned group at the helm right now. The compensation is fair. I haven’t seen a ding in our compensation in years. I remember when they used to whack us year after year after year. Now I have no complaints.”

AO

“What I like about Pru is that they leave me alone and let me do my business. I was with PaineWebber before and they were the same way. Our benefits aren’t good, but once the company rolls over and becomes public, it’ll be straightened out.”

AP

“I rate benefits a 10 because the 401(k) allows brokers to put aside up to 25% of their income, and the firm will match it. A broker with $400,000 can contribute up to $100,000, and the firm will match that.”

AQ

“Pru’s insurance licensing department is the worst on the street. I can't tell you how poor it is. It will take a broker a month or two to get licensed to sell something to a client. The licensing department is a bunch of morons."

AR

“We have a very talented group of FAs who are being held back because the firm needs to be much stronger in research. I anxious to see the public offering happen. It's going to be a good one. Pru stock should be a great stock. Pru is a great old name, and from the whole IPO thing, they can regain the prestige of a great old name like a Goldman or a Morgan."

AS

“Quote and information system is very good."

AT

“Over the last 15 years, at Pru and other firms, payouts have gone straight down, one way or the other. In general, that’s relative to the rest of the brokerage firms. Pru's payout is still pretty good. Pru is paying brokers an extra 5% on the grid for fee-based business. I applaud the asset-based approach.”

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