Joining SB, WS, or UBS?

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Mar 21, 2008 11:52 am


  I am new to this forum, and wanting some information:   I am applying to SB, WS, and UBS, and I would like some feedback from forum members who actually are or have been FA's for these firms.  I have been doing forum searches on each, and do not feel what has been posted provides me the information I am seeking. The location is in the Midwest, if this helps.   What I am looking for information on, is the following:   Company culture Payouts & production levels Training & development Technology (outdated, or client focused, useful etc) True variety of poducts & services (fee-based, advisory, transactional, cross-platform) Stability (are they going under, being sold off, or good to go?) All responses are welcomed.  It would be great to confidentially discuss 1-to-1 with someone.     Thank you in advance for your replies.      
Mar 21, 2008 3:28 pm


  Thanks for sharing the info on payout grids. It is useful.  I am certain very few have been with all 3 firms; If my post gave an incorrect impression, I should be more careful to word it as "any of these firms". Thanks.   Have you been an FA for any of these firms? Please share your insights, based on the information I was looking for.  I did a search for the broker dealer scorecard, but did not come up with anything for 2007, the most recent year.  But from reading previous years, I am not impressed by how data is gathered (not a big enough sample), nor by the simplified reporting which falls short, IMO, of what I am looking for.   Best wishes,
Mar 21, 2008 7:05 pm

For the most part, I can only speak for SB. I have been with them for 8 years, 6 as an FA, including 2 in the training program, and the last two as a producing Asst BOM. (maybe soon to be back to an FA, because its a much better way to live, but thats another conversation)

  Technology - I have been very happy with SB's technology, from desktop planning tools (which are not far away from a complete overhaul to something even better), to contact management, to portfolio/position management. As an Asst BOM, i have the opportunity to talk to alot of recruits at other firms, and they all tell me, after seeing our technology that its better than what they have. This iincludes recruits that have already come over, as well as friends that have left SB to go to Wachovia . I think ML is probably as good, but from what I know , we kill the two firms you are looking at with us, UBS and Wach   Culture - with all the problems and issues, (which ALL the firms have) we are still very entrepenurial in our culture   Training Program - 5 months in branch (assuming you are not yet registered), followed by 2 weeks at natl training center, followed  by 4 months in branch, followed by another week at training center, then over 2 years, I think 2 more weeks at training center. The support you get as a newbie in the branch really depends on the BOM and ABOM. Most ABOMs I know, including me, try to meet weekly or every other week one on one with each trainee, and group meetings weekly for idea exchange. I'll leave the commentary on the other two firms to others, who are more knowledgeable than I.   Payouts - see above. Keep in mind that every firm has a tax. For example, WS pays out at 50% (i think), but thats after 20% payout on the first $11k each month. SB really screwed up their comp plan in 07, but got bitchslapped by a ton of FA;s leaving, so they learned their lesson and fixed it. I think we are pretty competitive now. FA's first 5 years get a minimum 37% payout, from the first dollar. After 5 years, you need to be doing $300k or you are screwed.   Platforms - I think we;ve got everything there is to offer - Fee based where you hire outside mgrs, or where you are the mgr (discretionary), or fee for advice (non discretionary) ETF managed accounts, transactional, alternatives, open architecture mutual funds (no proprietary product whatsoever). As far as fee vs transactions, the focus is on fee based. We dont really want to even talk to recruits who are all transactional.   Stability- I have always hoped that Citi would spin us off as a separate company, or sell us to a firm less bureaucratic. But I have to say, right now, I am happy we are part of Citi with all that is going on. We wrote off $22 Bllion in equity, but its all relative. ML which is much much smaller than us, wrote off$24 Billion (65% of their shareholders equity as of 12/31, i'm not sure of UBS and WS, but right now size matters.  The CEO of Citi has stated unequivocally that we are not being sold. (these days, I gotta admit, you cant believe everything you hear.) But in terms of margins, we are the most profitable part of the co, so  I tend to believe it. I dont mean this to be a commercial for SB, its just how I see it. As I said, I havent worked for the other two, or any other firm for that matter.
Mar 22, 2008 3:03 am

Sounds like SB has got it together, and very competitive. I am a Acct Mgr now, and one thing that gets me is having to do manual & repetitive entries. Keep that stuff to a minimum.  That's what tech is about - enabling us to do our jobs better, and impress our clients. I am pretty tech minded, so I find it important to have for the back end work at the end of the day.

What about any "pseudo" advisor planning tools, such as Monte Carlo sims, cash flows, or balance sheets? these can be useful in helping to see the whole picture, and better enabling us to be our prospects most trusted advisor.  I took the personal initiative to begin the CFP courses, and enjoying it greatly (my company wouldn't pay for it). 

Platforms - I definitely am shooting for the fee-based &/or advisory business, and am curious as to bringing in client loans as well (referrals for certain loans).

Training - when can trainees begin production? and what are the typical hurdles within the first 2-3 years? The way I see it, the first 2 years are the most critical to getting your book established, and to continue to grow from there.

Marketing/Prospecting - I do enjoy participating in various community groups, and getting to know people. To me this is key to relationship building, and bringing myself to the same or higher level with my peers in the group. In doing so, this gains their trust in me as an advisor.  What is SB's stance on networking? I think it's a good way to warm up to a prospect prior to calling on them.

My apologies if my questions are long winded. It is getting very late, and just trying to cover a lot of ground.

Have a good weekend!

Mar 22, 2008 8:05 am

Tools - yes we havee Monte Carlo sym. We have tools for retirement planning, asset alloc analysis, education planning, modeling for stock options, estate planning

  Loans - done thru Citi   production - after the 2 weeks of training at natl training center - about 5 months after you start, assuming you start out not being registered   Networking is good, and you are right - good for relationship building Remember it takes a long time to get results. Thats why you need to cold call, because the clock ticks from day one. I dont recall the hurdles, have them at the office, will try to remember to get them, if you want to PM me, thats fine.
Mar 24, 2008 7:31 pm


  You can find all types of payout information in various Registered Rep Mag, Investment News, and On Wall Street articles (for free, online).  Just Google something like "Wirehouse Payouts" or "Wirehouse Payout Grids" etc.  Those articles will give you formally researched answers to your question regarding payout.
It's unlikely that anyone on this forum has worked for all 3 firms in question to give you accurate details about their grids (at least, worked at all 3 firms, recently enough to provide accurate information).    Nevermind, I actually decided to get this (re: payouts):[/quote]

I'm confused, and I think rightfully so, from the looks of those charts it seems that Regional RIA's and Indys offer way better payouts.


Then why the big flock to wirehouses?
Mar 25, 2008 12:59 pm

Prato, you comment above that you will not consider transactional recruits; your requirement or SB’s? I ask because I know transactional SB advisors, in fact top quintile producers. I wonder why, if they were on the outside looking in, you would not consider them worthy?

Mar 25, 2008 8:06 pm

Thus far, I have a response about SB. Now if someone could reply concerning WS and UBS, that would be great.  If you think I am pulling anyone’s chain…think again.  I do post this in earnest.

Mar 25, 2008 9:07 pm

Prato, you comment above that you will not consider transactional recruits; your requirement or SB’s? I ask because I know transactional SB advisors, in fact top quintile producers. I wonder why, if they were on the outside looking in, you would not consider them worthy?

  Bond guy, Good point, and I need to correct myself. Fee based is considered more desirable than all transactional. It doesnt mean we wont look at a transactional broker. I actually met recently with a $1MM producer who is totally transactions. It depends on the region as well. Some RD's dont even want to consider it, others will, and others still, will consider a transactional guy but only if he / she expresses interest in converting when he comes.   As a BOM (which I am not) i'd be thinking that revenue is revenue, and if the FA is profitable, and runs a clean business, then I'd take it.   I do have to say tho, that I guess we have had different experiences, because the only truly all transactional SB brokers I;ve seen are the legacy guys, 25-30 years LOS, on the downslope. I do know plenty of FA;s who are 30% fee b ased and very successful, but not 90-100% fee based. 
Mar 25, 2008 9:09 pm

UBS is focused on developing fee based recruits - not transactional.  It’s safer, recurring and part of a repeatable process.

For experienced recruits - guys w/ books - the firm will take producers and coach them about fee based products (which are good for everyone).  That said, if someone comes in w/ a book, it’s pretty much up to them how they run it.

No data on Ws.

My two cents…