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Dec 18, 2005 5:07 pm

I was hoping to get some advice from people with lots of experience here

in the business. I am comparing Ameriprise & Edward Jones.

1) Which FA opportunity of the two is better?

2) Would either of these opportnities weaken my B-school application

compared with my current occuption at a consulting firm? If I “miss” at

either of these co’s, is this career suicide for one 2 years removed from


3) Will working on these small accounts and then getting an MBA provide

me any edge in landing a spot with a SSB, Merrill, UBS, JP Morgan Private

Client Services groups versus just getting my MBA at a good school first?

4) Does hard work just not cut it to live rather comfortably in this

industry, ie. if you lack country club pals or aren’t a natural born

salesman from the start, is this the wrong biz for one who really would

like to perform this job function long-term but isn’t sold on prospects for

my immediate success?

5) Any information on how one transitions from the small accounts I’d be

managing at these 2 shops to the Private Client Services, Private Banking

routes at other shops? Can I take some accounts with me from either of

these shops? What’s all this business about EDJ lawsuits for training


6) Do I need to transfer all my assets to any financial services firm I work

for due to my possession of the 7? Can you negotiate any reimbursment if

there’s significant financial consequences?

7) People talk a lot bout expenses at EDJ? Do you get railed on this? Do

they exaggerate the benefits of their assistance on these expenses? Am I

going to have to invest lots of capital in the business everywhere or at

these 2 firms in particular? Or is it just allocating enough money to get

you by on low commissions in the "early months-2 years?

8) If I’m fairly comfortable now financially and rather staisfied with my

pay, is there reason to pursue either of these just because they’re the only

players with interest in me right now after other submissions?

9) Are you guys familiar with the payout structure at Ameriprise?

Comments? If you aren’t I can address-just ask, cuz I have questions it

sounds strange.

10) Can I negotiate salary at all if I’m making more at present job and

would make more than expected 1st year salary+ commissions for a


Any and all realism much appreciated. Please, no bias.

Dec 18, 2005 6:46 pm

I went to Jones after 5 years in another profession, but also applied and was accepted to a top-20 type MBA program (710 GMAT)...basically I decided I'd be better off building the business for those 2 years instead of going to school, THEN starting something like this.  But the high net worth stuff you mention is a different ballgame in many respects from starting at EJ or Amerprise (or ML, SB, MS for that matter).

3)  My sense is that you'd be better off going to school ASAP and networking/working/interviewing your way into private wealth/ p. banking....I don't think being a retail, every day broker will help too much--but I could be wrong.  If you're at a a decent consulting firm I think that'd help w/getting into b-school.

4)  Depends...if you have the personality and do the job right, people will move with you (I left EJ for a bigger name and that went smoothly); it's hard, but you CAN build successful relationships without knowing tons of people w/money--but you have to be smart, good, and sometimes lucky.  I found EJ training to be a good complement to using my previous skills + common sense + trial and error

5)  Good thing is you could learn the ropes w/smaller accounts and relationships....HNW folks have more complicated situations, but most are just regular people, so you gain confidence as you move up the wealth spectrum--experience is valuable even if it's on the low end to begin with.  Training lawsuits from EJ training wouldn't be a decision factor in my mind unless you knew for sure you'd be there less than 3 yrs.

6)  Usually and I doubt it....but never hurts to ask

7)  I think mostly overblown here--you can make a living, but not a great one, the first couple years; expenses were just an annoyance to me

8)  Maybe not--only benefit is that you'd gain some sales/biz development experience in the industry

9)  Don't need to hear the story, but I don't hear too much positive stuff about the firm's training--sounds extremely low-class to me.  And that last thing you need when you're new is a confusing payout grid...EJ's seemed simple and fair even though they dinged you other ways--but when you're new you got nothing to offer but potential, so every firm seems to be in the same ballpark.

10)  At EJ, probably not--one reason I don't think they attract top notch talent; I took a shot and did OK, but now that I look back I wonder why I took the risk...I guess arrogant and naive to "know" that I would make it.

Another avenue to p-banking/p-wealth would be to just grow into it from a straight retail career...but if you can get into a top b-school, that's probably a better route for probability of success.  However, you build "equity" in retail with the relationships you build...I left EJ and was paid handsomely to do so--lots of guys have made nice $ moving their "business" from one firm to another.  I didn't realize that when I started but if I was a manager or recruiter, I'd make sure people knew that was the flip side of the turnover/washout rate.  Anyway, I'm happy to discuss the ins and outs from my brief time in the you can tell I have no shortage of opinions....hope that helps.

Dec 18, 2005 10:27 pm

1.)  Ameriprise sucks, just that simple.  They sell "plans", then they sell "life insurance".  Maybe later in the process they get around to putting some investments in place.

EdJ, while looked down upon by some on these boards, is a far better place to start, in my opinion-I've never worked there, but have observed from within the biz for 15 yrs.  That being said, it's hardly private banking or wealth management.

2.)  Getting an MBA might help you get hired at SSB, Merrill, UBS, but it damn sure isn't going to help you succeed as a broker/financial advisor.  BTW, for what it's worth, unless you bring some accounts over with you, you'll probably be sucking it up and dealing with smaller accounts as a rookie at a wirehouse, too.  You take what you can get to make your goals.

4.)  Yes hard work makes a difference.  I've seen plenty of hard workers succeed where folks with MBA's from good schools did not, because they didn't put in the time and effort.

re 6.)  A NASD member firm is responsible for supervising your personal trading to ensure that you are not breaking certain rules regarding insider information and trading against your clients, or illegally purchasing 'hot' IPO's.  Thus at a minimum you will be required to provide them with duplicate statemenets, although more likely they will simply require you carry your accounts there as a condition of employment.

Dec 19, 2005 9:51 am

Ameriprise is a very captive firm.  They have a decent training program due to its focus on an entrepreneur-based business.  Most reps feel very "bent over" when they try to leave the firm.

Jones lacks the fee-based platform, but will provide strong training.  It is a great breeding ground to move on to more sophisticated platforms.  You will also see higher net worth clients within Jones than AMP.

Dec 20, 2005 6:22 pm

AMEXSUX.COM You won't need any further information.  They are the lowest rung on the ladder and will treat you HORRIBLY after they hire you.  YOU WILL NEVER be able to leave cause they haunt you like a bad ghost.  Besides, they convinced you to sell your friends and family crappy AXP mutual funds and over priced VUL's how could you leave AMEX and leave them hanging.

Go to a firm where you own your book from day one.  Where you get great training and there is great management.  I am at Raymond James and it is a great firm.

good luck.

Dec 20, 2005 8:18 pm

I am an EDJ broker for 5 years.  I have a MBA from a Big Ten Univerisity.  No one cares.  I think EDJ is a great firm and am very happy here, I think people can be successful at many firms.  My only insight to Ameriprise is when you try to transfer a clients assets OUT of there, it takes an act of GOD.  If that is how they treat their clients, I can only imagine how they treat their brokers.

Jan 9, 2006 2:44 pm


AMEXSUX.COM You won’t need any further information. They are the lowest rung on the ladder and will treat you HORRIBLY after they hire you. YOU WILL NEVER be able to leave cause they haunt you like a bad ghost. Besides, they convinced you to sell your friends and family crappy AXP mutual funds and over priced VUL’s how could you leave AMEX and leave them hanging.

Go to a firm where you own your book from day one. Where you get great training and there is great management. I am at Raymond James and it is a great firm.

good luck.

Jan 9, 2006 3:09 pm

Guys, thanks for all your responses. I had a couple questions on them:

What makes Ameriprise impossible to leave, will other firms never hire

you because it is a weak name?

What makes them so successful at preventing you from moving assets

away from there? Will their customers pay huge fees or something?

Ameriprise sounds like they let you loose to gather your own clients. Is

this such a bad thing? I can’t imagine a phone list of people I’ve never met

being that helpful in generating business in my early years anyway.

Has Ameriprise changed its investment philosophy since spinning off

from American Express? I don’t believe they just focus on insurance, but

creating a complete financial plan. Has the move to a new name changed

the influence of investments in client portfolios at their firm? My interview

was almost completely focused around the establishment of investment

accounts? Was I mislead, or force-fed koolaid?

Ameriprise offers a fee-based platform, while EdJ does not. I believe that

the fee-based platform is important in generating recurring revenue

streams in this business, and I also believe that until one grows way too

large, delivery of service to justify the recurring fee is manageable. I think

the recurring fee provides for client-advisor alignment of interests. And

finally, as one who takes investing quite seriously, I believe that

permanent loss of capital is exactly what an advisor should prevent in his

clients portfolios, with a secondary but nearly equally important goal of

beating the crap out of inflation. I see high expense ratios as unjustifiable

unless a manager is like Bill Miller. And I would shy away from any fund

that charged a load of 5% unless it was managed by Bob Rodriguez. I see

delivering a permanent loss of capital of 5% right off the bat as a great

way of increasing the chances that the investor not even break even in his

investment over a 5 year period. And, as I always like to point out, he will

need to return more than 5% to get back to break-even. I agree 5 yrs is

small as a horizon, but plans can and do change for investors…All this

rambling has a point, my views obviously caused me to discontinue the

process with EdJ.

So now I’m left to ponder whether to accept the Ameriprise offer I

received. My broker friend at Merrill tells me he knows a woman who just

came to Merrill after a few years with Ameriprise, and she had a good

experience there- 2 items that give me optimism…But he stresses that I

need to hold out and join the BIG name. He thinks the best way to make it

in this biz is to join the Groups that Merrill is moving towards, make a

salary a couple years and prospect for the successful guys, learn, allow

them to manage their clients accounts with the extra time you provide

them, and set goals and an ownership schedule as well as get in their

good graces so you can take over accounts when they retire and ear %'s of

the comissions after your 2 year prospecting period. Are you all familiar

with this track, or are you in agreement this is the ideal way to play?

Thanks again for your responses!

Jan 9, 2006 6:39 pm

You can join a GROUP at almost any firm and start out as salary for awhile.

I have a buddy at AMP. Indy platform. I think after all these lawsuits at ALL firms the bad stuff has been flushed out of the system.

Bottom line; Your success in this business at any firm is highly correlated to the effort you put in.

Jan 10, 2006 12:15 pm

stop.  get off of Ameriprise.  do some research for goodness sake.  you don’t need to jump at the first offer you get.