Entrance Strategy: Advice for a Novice

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Aug 19, 2008 10:50 am

I have read many posts on this forum and I have found that the field of financial advisement can be both rewarding and lucrative.  However, these results are only obtained by how much work you are willing to commit.  I think it is very important to work harder (i.e. making more cold calls, knocking on doors, etc.), but it is equally important to work smarter (i.e. planning ahead by networking now, talking to CPAs and Lawyers, golfing, etc)

Without going into too much detail about my background, I am interested in entering this field and I am looking for an entrance strategy.  I am 27 with an MBA from the local state university and have 6 months sales experience (my insurance firm left the area).  I did an internship with a major wirehouse firm and the BOM told me that I needed more work experience, preferably in sales, then to give him a call.  I am realistic enough to recognize that being in my 20’s puts me at a severe disadvantage (who would feel comfortable putting their life savings with a “youngster”, even if he/she is with a major firm).  It’s funny that I still get carded, on occasion.

My area has recently had an abnormal increase in economic wealth that is predicted to produce sustained growth for decades to come.  If anyone is familiar with the Barnett, Haynesville, or Fayetteville shales, then you know what I am talking about.  There are millionaires popping up left and right signing property leases to energy companies.  I was thinking of becoming a “Landman” to research, negotiate, and sell these leases.  In the mean time networking with these wealthy individuals, as well as their lawyers and CPAs (hopefully).  I would enter the business in my early to mid 30s with contacts, knowledge, and, more importantly, maturity.

What would you think of this entrance strategy?  How did others enter given high production hurdles, your age, poor economic conditions or other limiting factors?  Your thoughts would be appreciated, as well as any other recommendations.

Aug 19, 2008 11:08 am

I would suggest that you focus on variable annuities. The guarantees will keep the clients from getting blown up, so you’re age won’t matter as much. 

Aug 19, 2008 1:54 pm

After reading your post, I am still not clear on what you are going to do.  Is a "landman" a fancy name for real estate agent?  Since you can't really broker land without your real estate license (as far as I know).  Are you going to go into investments now, or the "landman" thing now?  Then what are you doing in your "early to mid 30's?"

Aug 19, 2008 2:33 pm

Airborne- Dont worry about economic conditions as a reason whether or not to enter into the financial advisory business because that is something you cant predict. If you have a network of contacts that you can instantly develop relationships with I think you just need to find a firm that will give you solid training and some independence.

Aug 19, 2008 4:19 pm

GT Key,
Thanks for your reply.  I guess what is hard for me to discern when I will have a network of contacts that I can instantly develop (meaningful) relationships being so young.

Thanks for your explanation of what a landman does.  You got it correct.

I was referring to being a landman first and then using the network I gained from negotiating the leases as prospects or center of influences as a means to enter the financial advisement field in my 30s, when I am perceived by others as being more mature and settled.  Sorry for the confusion.  I’ve heard countless stories of people in their 20s failing miserably due to lack of networks or maturity, or a combination of both.  I know age discrimination isn’t suppose to exists; but it does, and I am trying to set a learning curve and solid foundation early.  Clients (and employers to an extent) don’t care that I was in the Army for 10 years with an extraordinary amount of responsibility, or that I graduated cum laude and got an MBA.  The first thing that would hit them after I set the appointment is how young I look.  I did fine selling LTC and Med. Sup. plans; however, taking a premium from a client for $200/month is a little different than asking for $100k to $1MM to manage.   I can smooth talk a client all day and show them benefits of doing business with me, but at the end of the day it is a tough sell.  Maybe I should have changed my name to Dougie Howser.

Aug 19, 2008 5:47 pm


  I don't know if you have THAT much reason to delay.  I'm 27 as well, and age hasn't been an issue for me.  It's all in how you carry yourself, look, act, etc.  Don't discount your military experience or your education.  I put "MBA" on my business card - not because it's that relevant, but because it gives you some credibility, and perhaps makes people think they have low-balled your age.  Also, the military experience - perhaps this a good network for your to prospect, but in addition...for whatever reason, firms in this industry LOVE to hire ex-military, ESPECIALLY Merrill.  Probably because they figure that after (potentially) getting shot at, being hung up on won't really phase you...plus you are obviously disciplined.    Whatever path you choose, start positioning yourself as an expert and a professional NOW.   You can't "always be closing," (lol) right now, but you can "always be prospecting" and growing your "warm" market.     As far as being a "Landman" goes...I wouldn't do it for prospecting purposes.  These guys don't sit on the same side of the table as the landowners, their CPAs, or their lawyers.  They are trying to get property owners to sign leases for LESS money (because they make their profit on the "spread" between the lease amount and the rights sale to the actual exploration company).  You want a job that doesn't make you the opposition, if networking is your goal.
However, with your experience so far, I'd probably go ahead with a career as an FA now.  You aren't some 22 year old right out of frat life.    If you are afraid that you look like you are 22...put MBA on your business card, that makes you (in most cases) at least 24 or 25...if you are really concerned about it, get gray highlights to make yourself looks older.  Get a conservative haircut, a nice watch, get a nice, classy suit (NOT a trendy suit), and jump in man.  Hell, if you have to get a fake wedding ring to look older, then do it...I think you'll be fine though.[/quote]   What kind of watch do you wear, ice?   I've always been a watch nut, just never had the income to pursue that interest. (Still don't. )
Aug 19, 2008 7:06 pm

<span id=“userPro104492” =“showDropDown’userPro104492’, ‘proMenu104492’, 160, 0;” =“msgSidePro” title=“View Drop Down”>iceco1d ,
I appreciate your response.  I guess my internship with one of the major wires prompts me to be more cautious than I probably should be.  Many, if not all, of the FAs there were 50+ years old, some with their CFA charter.   I talked to one of the FAs and he told me he had never heard of anyone with little “relevant” experience making it in the industry.  I doubted him at first, still believing I could overcome any challenge.  Yet, as I looked around I noticed the only people that were my age were the support staff (2 out of 15 my age).
Merrill is definitely a firm I am interested in.  The production hurdles do seem daunting.  I guess all the economic hype surrounding my area, millionaires appearing almost daily and FAs in the area licking their chops prompted me to examine my current path.  I appreciate your comments about Landmen being on the opposite end of the table and prospecting a “warm” market.  Your valid and humorous comments require me to re-evaluate my position.   I don’t have to get the fake ring, however.  I already have a real one, as well as a 3 yr old. 

Aug 19, 2008 9:35 pm


I forgot to inform you that most people have mixed feelings about certain landmen in my area.  Some people love them because the landmen a brokering leases for energy companies for huge amounts of bonuses and royalties for landowners.  Some people don’t care so much for them because the energy companies were buying mineral rights on the cheap and not informing anyone about the energy below the property.  It wasn’t until the energy company(ies) had to release to the public what was underneath that they started cutting big checks and, by then, they had already leased a substantial amount of property. Landmen in my area are not vilified in my opinion because 1)  there are so,so,so many, 2) they are the go to “guru” to make fast easy money to lease your mineral rights for a substantial profit, 3) some landman firms have been contracted to do business with one energy company exclusively (acting only on that energy companies behalf) while some are independent- accepting bids that may not be the best offer to the landowner.

A possible lead in to a prospect could be " Hey Mrs. Jones this is Airborne, How are the kids?  Great, well I really enjoyed doing business with you from the first day I met you and now I oversee the personal finances of a select few families in our area.  I’d like to know what would it take for me to do business with you again?  Would Thursday at 9 am or Friday at 11 am be a good time to discuses that?"

Maybe my lack of confidence stems from the fact that I am unaware of the training involved.  I have heard ML, UBS, MS, and SB all have great training, yet most people still don’t make it.  I remember the BOM in my internship saying it is the “law of numbers” the more people you contact the more you will sell.  Prospects and family only go so far, at the end of the day its about cold calling.

Aug 19, 2008 11:21 pm

I work for a major wirehouse and my BOM also manages the location over the hanesville shale. If you want some contact info for an interview, PM me.

Aug 20, 2008 10:39 am


Thank you for never ceasing to amuse me.  However, I do take your comments seriously and I will take them into consideration.

I think it is important to note, from other posts I have seen, that ML and other firms could make you pay back training costs.  So, it is not always necessarily free.   If anyone could shed more light on this matter, it would be appreciated.

I appreciate your motivation, ice01d; however, I don't want this thread to be "The Little Engine That Could" thread with meaningless banter of "no I can't, yes you can, no I can't, yes you can".

I am not intimidated by a prospect objection to my age.  I know how I might handle it:

Mrs Jones: "How old are you, Airborne?"

Me: "27, Mrs Jones."

Mrs Jones: "Wow that’s young, huh?"

Me: “Yes it is Mrs. Jones, but I haven't been doing this since yesterday.  I have a master degree of business administration and I have experience in insurance.  That is a value-added benefit for you WHEN, and not if, you run into insurance concerns.  I am also knowledgeable of your lease contract with [energy company's name], and that is where a substantial amount of your wealth originated (if this is true).  You get the full power of [B/D's name] to use at YOUR discretion and achieve the goals you told me earlier; and, Mrs Jones, I'm not retiring ANYTIME soon.  I want to be your partner in the beginning........the middle......and the end of my career and your venture with [B/D’s name]”. Close thereafter.  Comments would be appreciated.   

I am not intimidated by others or the statistics of those that fail.  I have always felt that statistics are meaningless to the individual.  Chance favors the prepared I have taken that sentiment seriously my whole life.  

Aug 20, 2008 10:54 am

Ice?..You put your degree’s on your business card? Thats actually a really good idea for us younguns’. But how did you do it so it doesn’t look cheesy? lol. That could come off as arrogant, but i can tell ya, i am only 25 and beginning my career. I have a B.A and an M.B.A. It would definitly help me to have it on there…

Aug 20, 2008 11:20 am

Jones only allows designations on sales material (including business cards) that deal directly with the financial services business.

MBA, CPA and JD are all prohibited from being used.
Aug 20, 2008 12:05 pm

You can however add the AAMS or Accredited Asset Management Specialist to your card even though it is a complete joke of a test and I am now embarrassed that I ever used it. In this industry it should be CFP or Zero.

Aug 20, 2008 12:32 pm

You can also use ChFC, CRPS, CRPC at Jones.

  Is the AAMS a STL thing?  The only people I know that get them are at Jones and (former) AGE.  I think Jones wants people to get it more for the actual training than the designation.  I started the process, and the training materials are pretty good.  It gives you broad exposure to some high-level planning concepts you might not have picked up on your first few years.  I think it is pretty good for the FA's that have focused on transactions and have not really gotten into the planning aspect of what we can do.  But for those of us that are planning-focused, 75% of it has already been picked up through our own research, wholesalers, etc.   But it is pretty good free training.  It's not like one of those BS "senior specialist" designations.
Aug 20, 2008 12:35 pm

You figure they would atleast let you add your MBA. It is pretty relevant…

Aug 20, 2008 12:51 pm

Respectfully , I would suggest that perhaps too much concern being spent on ie. Designations on Business Cards etc. , the important part of the position is to meet , qualify prospects , evaluate and sell the client. One of the staff I hired ( a retired Civil Servant ) wanted all his designations on his Business Card including his Masters ( Public Administration ) and almost everyone in the city knows …the only person that uses the degree are Civil Servants. He beleived it was IMPORTANT and created a stir in the office and also became a bit of a laughing stock in the office.

I had to advise him that he was hired to SELL not laud his designations over people. Just a thought for your review.
Aug 20, 2008 2:05 pm

My only comment on designations…

  An MBA is a nice degree (and respected), but they have sort of become a dime-a-dozen because so many people get them now.  Older people are not that impressed by it.  It also doesn't really express any real expertise, other than that you took a few extra years of college (and many of your clients will have them too).  The other designations (JD, CPA, CFP, CFA, PhD) shows some specialization, and very few of your clients will have these designations.   Personally, when I see "MBA" on someone's card (in any industry), I sort of say "so what?".  I know you can't earn your CPA license at U of Phoenix online.   But as a youngin', maybe it at least shows a little credibility.
Aug 20, 2008 2:11 pm

Ditto B24 - my point exactly. Law Degree from WHERE My Academic Qualifications mean in most part to my clients very little.

Aug 20, 2008 2:16 pm

Ice?..You put your degree’s on your business card? Thats actually a really good idea for us younguns’. But how did you do it so it doesn’t look cheesy? lol. That could come off as arrogant, but i can tell ya, i am only 25 and beginning my career. I have a B.A and an M.B.A. It would definitly help me to have it on there…

  I didn't think you are allowed to put MBA  or BA designations on your business card for compliance reasons.  At least at my firm it is prohibited.  Check with your own compliance depts.    CFP   CFA and a bunch of others are allowed but for some reason CPA is not.
Aug 20, 2008 2:20 pm

You figure they would atleast let you add your MBA. It is pretty relevant…

  So an MBA in Computer Science is relevant?  MBA in Sports Management?  MBA in Education?  MBA in Hospitality Management?  MBA in Human Resources?  MBA in Media? These all exist, and plenty of people get these diplomas.  Not sure how it relates to what we do.  All of those other designations or degrees state "I have some knowledge that can improve my service to you".   OK maybe an MBA in Finance or Accounting or Economics helps a little, but c'mon.