How much base salary should I ask for?

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Sep 21, 2005 1:15 am

How much base salary should I ask for?

Here is my situation:

I am entering the Smith Barney training program in California.  I have an MBA and two years of sales experience (not financial services related). 

I have a wife and a 1 month old baby boy - I want to ask for enough to meet our needs but I don't want to scare them off.  I really have no idea what other Smith Barney trainees in California (or anywhere else) are getting as their base salary. 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Sep 21, 2005 10:55 am

Californians also love hardworking people form the Northeast. When I interviewed with the firms, they were drooling at the fact that I was from NY and was used to working 50+ hours/ week at the minimum. Its definately laid back out here. Hell, 90% of my office is either golfing or surfing by 1:30pm everyday. I’m the phone pounding chimp that calls until 8pm Mon- Thurs… Oh well, someday I will be able to afford those same luxuries.

Sep 21, 2005 11:39 am

I believe most wirehouse training programs start at around $40-45k, however with the MBA you have some negotiating power, and could ask for more, maybe $60k or so.  If they are confident that you will succeed they will be more willing to up the salary, so it would be smart to illustrate to them all the contacts you have that will help you hit your goals

Also, something to remember, the higher the salary you have your first two years, the more assets you'll have to bring in to just maintain that salary once it drops off

Good luck.

Sep 21, 2005 12:19 pm

Sometimes the family image is good.

As an employer you know this employee needs the pay check and should be loyal.

Sep 21, 2005 1:10 pm

Good posts - all are what I have found. Be careful, you might get a higher salary in the begining, you will  be under more scrutiny, and have more income to replace, and it may not last long. I would suggest taking enough to get bye. I would rather get $40,000 per year for 2 years, than $80,000 for 1 year - it just gives you time to build. I'm not an authority - but I don't think the MBA will give you a ton of leverage going in, (If you were transferring in assetts from another firm, this would give you bargaining power). If you get into management down the road..........the MBA will be very handy.

Sep 21, 2005 2:49 pm

Good posts to all. Its refreshing to come to this site and actually read and contribute to productive and informative posts. Not like the cr$p that was being spewed around the past few months.

Sep 21, 2005 7:09 pm

Thanks for the advice  Would your answers change at all if it was Merrill that I was interviewing with and not Smith Barney?

Sep 21, 2005 7:12 pm


Sep 22, 2005 12:36 am

Start high and negotiate down.  I'm not sure what the cost of living is around there, but I would suggest asking for enough to cover your expenses incase you have another child and your wife stops working.

Sep 22, 2005 8:14 am

Merrill, sames thing. FYI regarding “negotiate” - You don’t bring a whole lot to the table (no offense). I would be humble. In there eyes, yes you have potential. But, there are a ton of very “qualified” people who have failed miserably in this job. That being said, I would’nt take the job if they did’nt offer you at least $40,000. The bottom line is, that’t really all it’s worth to a firm who is hiring a new person to the business. As I said before, if you were transferring in from AG Edwards with 50 million in assetts…different story.

Sep 23, 2005 4:10 pm

I viewed the salary question from a different angle.  I presented my risk to the ML office manager (currently in a successful job, resume without blemish, supportive wife, comfortable lifestyle) and asked for a high salary so that we could share in that risk.  

I have no financial or sales background but 14yrs of business experience and the office manager even raised my going in offer because he understood my risk.  Now the wife is thrilled we are not eating beans through the POA portion and I feel comfortable with the risk.  His expectations are high ($20M AUM in 18months) but that's OK.  I enjoy the challenge. 

Sep 23, 2005 5:02 pm

Do you really think that you can bring 20 mil in 18 months.  I don’t care what your background is, that’s very difficult. Don’t let your manager put those expectations on you.  You’ll be miserable if you’re not a fast starter.  Simply put, it’s a marathon not a sprint.  The longer you’re in the biz the better you’ll do.  The goals are there to make sure you’re working, gowing your business at a healthy rate and also to be sure you can sustain a living when you have no salary.  Not to see if you can do the impossible. 

Sep 24, 2005 12:40 pm

Rain - Peacock hit the nail on the head!!! If you are gung ho on doing this, may the force be with you! But know a couple of things going in.....They probably won't make sense, till you are up to your neck in doo-doo.

It will be the biggest frkn challenge of you life.

It don't matta what sales or business you are familiar with, being a retail broker is an animal all to itself. You are not selling a product that generates 500 units per hour, and costs the same as the competition's unit that generates 200 units per hour. That would be to simple.

Before I got into this business 3 and 1/2 yrs ago, I spent 7 yrs growing and running a company- from scratch - zero - nada. I reached a strong level of sales in that time, and had about 25 employees. - why move ? - I had an opportunity to sell, and could not stand having $6 an hour employees any more - I was working 90 hours per week, makin $125,000 tops. My friends on the other hand - who are in Financial services were .......golfing alot,......out to dinner with clients weekends,...........not much work past 5:00, and making $250,000 to $400,000. They warned me pleanty.... of the difficulties today in the retail brokerage business. Both had been in there careers for fifteen years, and thought what I was doing was sell a difficult but profitable business, that I had started on my own, with more potential in the future. I look back, and a lot of what they said now makes sense. But I am here now, at the "breaking point" in the biz. I have about 16 million in assetts, that should reach 20 million in 6 months, because of new business comming in. I am mostly annuitized, enough to pay me my salary which was $50,000, I am looking to hit $60,000 to $70,000 next year, and $80,000 in 07'. I think.....This is a healthy path, and realistic performance for someone who is .......BUILDING A PRACTICE, AND NOT PUSHING PRODUCT! btw - the last 3 1/2 years in this biz - 10 times harder, than when I started my company.

There are a ton of moving parts in this Biz. The majority of the marketplace we work in, don't understand how our world really works. And as a new broker, you will find it particularly frustrating to interpret for you prospects.

1)Why the market behaves as it does      

 2) Where opportunity to profit exsists even in ugly markets    

 3)Why things that they read and hear, are wrong or right

 4) How interest rates, unemployment, foreign markets and currencies, Trends in markets, taxes and 100 other things have an impact on their investments.

5) Why working with you is such a great idea, as opposed to one of the MANY other seemingly attractive options. 

6) Be prepared to discuss and determine, client's risk tolerance, time horizons, goals & objectives, and the 15 million different ways that you can build a portfolio with  different investment products for them.

Oh by the way, as you probably understand, every prospect you talk to has a different personality and way of processing you and your service, to determine whether they just plain trust you or not. You can make your plea to one prospect, who will follow you step by step, and life is good - then present the same way to another, and they will look at you like you have 6 heads.

As far as bringing in 20 million in 18 months...... aint gonna happen without help. It's been beatin to death on this forum, and most agree. You will find that out for yourself though.

The fact that it takes 18 months to figure out the products, philosophy, how to have financial conversations with prospects, and really get a good grasp on how things work, is why that 18 month goal is so ridiculous.

This business offers opportunities you won't find elsewhere. You can build a career and life for yourself, beyond what you might be envisioning this moment. However, because of the way the industry is, for many reasons....... it takes time. Not to mention, any sales man knows, it takes an average of 7 or so contacts to make a sale.....right??? Well, you can only speed that process up so much.

I believe if your brand new in the biz, and your able to consistantly open accounts of a decent size - $100,000 plus, and in your first 18 months if you have brought in 5-7 million, you are doing ok. You have shown at this level, that you are working, and are capable of attracting clients. I don't want to discourage you from trying to hit 20 mill. Just don't be completely depressed if it does not happen. 

Sep 30, 2005 2:36 am

I ended up taking a position with AG Edwards in the greater Seattle area…thanks all for the advice.

Sep 30, 2005 11:02 am

AG is a good firm. Now start getting signatures on ACATS and you are on your way.

Sep 30, 2005 7:38 pm

[quote=newrep12]I ended up taking a position with AG Edwards in the greater Seattle area...thanks all for the advice.[/quote]

From Smith Barney to AG Edwards...what were the deciding factors for you?

Both are  great companies but serving different markets.

Just Curious.