The Differences

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Mar 5, 2010 1:47 pm

What are the diferences in starting as a FA in wirehouses like MSSB, merrill lynch, etc and Northwestern mutual, new york life, mass mutual, and places like waddell and reed, and AXA Avisors?

Mar 5, 2010 2:11 pm

beats me pal

Mar 5, 2010 2:15 pm

Night and Day…

Mar 5, 2010 3:27 pm

Mercedes, Honda, and a Moped.

Mar 5, 2010 3:34 pm

So b24. I’m assuming the mercedes is wirehouses?

Mar 5, 2010 3:48 pm

Brian,  I’m not an FA at any of these but I am in the hiring process and I’ll share what I have experienced so far.
First, MSSB and Merril may have the best name recognition among the wirehouses.  They have a training program that includes a ‘honeymoon’ salary.  Edward Jones also has good name recognition, but many (not necessarily me) view it as a step down. 
If you want to be an FA, don’t look at NY life…their products are proprietary, and you will always be considered an insurance salesman.  Northwestern has better financial products, but your still pushing insurance as your main business.
Waddell has been trashed extensively in these forums, but I have not had any experience with them. 
Each branch of each company is going to be different.  I approached a few FA’s from different companies and asked to sit down and talk to them about the business.  They were all receptive and were very candid about the business and the companies that they work for.
Bottom line is you need to do your homework and find the best fit for you.

Mar 16, 2010 12:39 pm

why would you want to work for ML ..they are almost criminal???

I turned down SB and ML and chose to start at a company that wasnt focused on gathering assests, yes it was part insurance co.

in 3 years i have built my assets enough where i am seeing a decent stream of income( just over 8million). I also sell insurance products to small business owners and work with estate planning attorneys to put insurance in place for many investment clients.

I can offer stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds...whatever ...and it can me from anyhwere...same with insurance, i an sellover 20 comapnaies depending on the product. A good company doesnt  tie you to just their products.

Selling insurance to business owners helped me afford to stay in this game while i tried to build assets....i hit over 6 figures in each of the past 2 years on insurance alone.....dont let asset chasers sway you from working at a firm that focuses on all ends of financial planning not just gathering ML Brokers have become a joke here in the Northeast based on how tainted their brand is

Mar 22, 2010 1:54 pm

5more, which company do you work for? 

Mar 22, 2010 7:40 pm


Thanks for sharing.  I'm currently with an insurance company and need to move soon to an area where I will know only a dozen people.  None of them have millions let alone $500k to open an account with me.  I have two offers: mssb and a life company.  I want to utlimately be a holistic FA with my CFP, but need training on assets and risk management.  Could someone comment on two conflicting concerns:

1) HItting the ground running.  I need a minimum positive cash flow which means hitting the ground running.  My wife's income is sufficient for us to not starve.  I'm thinking the life company would be easier for me with my experience to prospect business owners in the area and slowly gather assets.  We can go twelve months without much income from me. 

2) I like SMMB for their professional environment, immediate licensing, and hopefully a bit easier time opening doors when saying I'm an FA with MS as opposed to a RegRep with (insurance) company.  Not really sure of the last part, but am imagining that at a dinner party if I said I was an FA at MSSB vs. Agent with X Ins Co., I might get a better response from the first.  Of course, they might all just run away with either one.

Mar 22, 2010 8:23 pm

More likely to get a salary in the first 1-3 years from a wire.  Sales are easier in the beginning for life insurance and that could be why the wires pay you a salary plus commission.

There are companies out there, for example, WFA, MER and Raymond James all offer a salary.  Guardian does as well and they look impressive at first from a financial planner perspective, however, when I dug around it is mostly an insurance company with a little investment company icing on the cake.

If you are with an insurance company that could make it easier to stick with that as the lead, but it sounds like you want to make a change and lead with investments.

Doubtful you will get any salary at AXA or Waddell. 

I would ask about the pass rate.  Jones is over 90% and you get one chance at the 7.  AXA is 50% and probably more than one try, but not sure and they start you off with a series 6.  Not sure on anyone else.

Call or interview everyone and ask questions. 

Good luck.

Mar 23, 2010 9:09 am

Principal Financial Group

We focus on asset management, business owner and executive benefits, insurance, financial planning, 401k,employee resources and financial planning

I mostly prospect small biz owners for succession planning this usually leads to them seeing the need for investing ( stocks/bonds/funds whatever) + protecting their key employees/Executives through insurance and of course 401k management ....Depending on the case,I may use Principal, if another company or investment firm has better solutions, then I offer those solutions...

I have only done business with a handful of people i know so dont worry about not knowing anyone. Develop a pitch to small biz owners that wont bunch you in with 401ksales people, benefit sales people or asset gatherers and you can do biz anywhere...Join local chambers, golf clubs or charity boards...these 3 groups have been my greatest resource for new clients outside of cold calling biz owners.....Indiviual business will come out of the biz cases, validation is key and not being a money grabber will get you a lot further ......most biz owners I deal with are turned off by asset gatherers and firms like ML, MSSB, UBS, WFW and it has made it easier to grow my practice by not just trying to grab their money for management, but help them develop a plan that highlights safety

Mar 23, 2010 9:13 am

plus on the asset side we start out 45 bps and you can get all the way to 85 bps the more assets you have, Insurance side is 50% + AEA of 40-60% on top of that depending on your experience.

You get transition $ from $16-$20k, this depends on where you also can start at up 65 bps on assets if you manage a specific amount

Mar 23, 2010 3:57 pm

Sounds interesting 5more.  I checked Principal's website and they are not hiring in my area.  sending pm later.

Mar 23, 2010 5:37 pm

Wow...great info.   Thanks, 5More. 

I meet new people on the golf course all the time and would love to incorporate that passion into my practice.  Was also thinking about charity/volunteer orgs where there's a sincere interest and involvement in the cause.  No one chimed in on the side of asset gathering or MSSB.   

The insurance company, among others, I'm looking at is Guardian and their GA has been in town for multiple decades.  Not the same environment as MSSB which there are pros/cons. 

Would you mind sharing your pitch for small biz owners or could I PM you?


Mar 23, 2010 6:04 pm

I'm active in a number of charities and civic organizations. The idea of turning these memberships into business relationships is fraught with peril. The minute you look like you are pimping for business, you will get a reputation that will be impossible to live down. Tread carefully there. The only reason to join an organization is an honest desire to be of service. You will eventually get business from those relationships, but not quickly. I would be interested in hearing from some people who have benefited from such memberships, and how long it took.

Mar 24, 2010 9:59 am

Navet, I agree..

I work on the board of 2 charities..almost all members are biz owners...i never pitch them outside or inside our meetings.. I let my passion and effort of the charity validate me and then the natural discussions began and have led some great relationships and businesss... The first piece of biz took almost a year and i never asked for it.