Technology is the name of the game today. And Prudential Securities is playing the game well, according to its reps.
The firm has "put massive quantities of money into technology," says one broker. "Basically, the firm said, `We're not gonna let anyone get ahead of us in technology. So whatever it takes, we'll do.'"
In March, it formed a separate technology unit, NetCo, to transform the Prudential Securities Web site, which was to be relaunched by year-end. "Our technology and online capabilities are second to none right now," another rep says.
Technology notwithstanding, Prudential brokers say the firm's reputation remains tarnished.
"I think we're still living a little under the cloud of the partnership and insurance problem, although it has gotten dramatically better," says one producer.
But another rep is tired of the whole image discussion. "The firm is a lot better than people perceive it to be," he says. "They base [the bad rap] on things that happened 15 years ago. I wouldn't be here for 21 years if I didn't like it."
Reputation isn't the only problem. Payout is, too. "We're one of lowest paying firms," complains one respondent. Reps also say retaining people has been a problem.
At the same time, eye-popping recruitment bonuses for new hires became common this year. The ranks don't much like the message. "They don't do anything for the old-time brokers," says one veteran. "They spend a lot of money upfront to bring people in. That alienates us old guys."
"I have no complaints at all. ... This is the best place I ever worked."
"There's a lot of opportunity here to do well. We're small enough to be very comfortable. The firm cares about the financial advisers and allows us to develop an entrepreneurial spirit without restrictions."
"[The payout is] very poor compared to what I know other firms pay."
"The firm is getting ready to go public, so they sacrifice quality and hire anybody."