Merrill Lynch PMD or Wells Fargo Advisors Trainee? Which is better?

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Dec 11, 2012 2:40 am
Hi everyone, I'm new to the forums but have been lurking for a while.  I am in search of advice and information so I can make an informed decision.  Given the option of joining the Merrill Lynch PMD program or the Wells Fargo Advisors Trainee program, which is program/firm is better for a Finance Major that is new to the industry?  And given the options of working alone or on a team with Wells Fargo Advisors versus the option of working with a "partner" or "mentor" with an experience Merrill Lynch FA.  So which Firm is the better choice to work for as a trainee new to the industry given the above mentioned factors and options? In terms of who offers better training, probability of success through the program? Which Firm has the opportunity for greater income? Which is the better Firm/Firm to work for in general?   Wells Fargo Advisors says that their hurdles are much lower and more realistic than Merrill Lynch's hurdles, but yet both firms say they pay the same: around 48k during training period; Average of 80k after 1 year in production; Average of 150k after 3 years of production.  This doesn't make sense to me because if you are hitting the higher hurdles of Merrill Lynch (30M in 3 years), shouldn't you be making substantially more than at Wells Fargo Advisors if it has lower hurdles? (what are WFA's hurdles? I only know of the 24 accounts in 3 months apprentice period)   So which Firm would you recommend, Wells Fargo Advisors Trainee or Merrill Lynch PMD?  I would greatly appreciate any insight and feedback.  Thank you!  
Dec 12, 2012 12:48 am

Don’t drink the kool aid. When you go to those interviews they are salesmen and I wish they would be honest because thats why the industry has such a high turnover. It is possible to make the money you mentioned but average… NO WAY, maybe the people who succeed. I am not trying to discourage you, just being honest. Merrill PMD has around a 90-93% fail rate. The training is not good either, it’s all about finding money(prospecting) to invest. You are an asset gatherer. If you have a large network in the town you are working and know many wealthy friends and family to start and get referrals from there you have a chance. People who I see that make it are former Lawyers and CPAs that are doing a second career and they know many people in the community with money. I also see family members of senior FAs that take over a book and they can do well. Everything considered it is not impossible but with the amount of assets you need to bring in most folks get let go because its extremely tough and when you get let go all the money you brought in goes to a senior FA. Last thing I wanted to say is that Merrill Lynch is a great company and their research is top notch, many FAs do right by the clients, it is probably not the best place to start though just because the expectations they have and training is not there. I do not know anything about Wells Fargo, they may offer leads because its a bank and that would be nice.

Dec 17, 2012 1:17 pm

Study on your own for 7, 66 Insurance and CFP. Fail any one and you get one more shot. Fail again and the party’s over.

Dec 17, 2012 7:49 pm

I think different areas are different. Where i"m at you get one chance at the 7 and 2 at the 66. Maybe more or less depending on how valuable they think your chance are and if your RD is willing to go to bat for you, but that’s the general policy.
It is online self study, no classroom for the exam study.

Dec 18, 2012 6:00 pm

Thank you Joeman and Notnot for your insight. I am also particularly interested in post-licenses training such as prospecting clients, speaking with clients, closing deals and so forth. Wells Fargo apparently sends you to training on two one week periods to HQ and claims to offer a lot of training in addition to getting your licenses. Does Merrill offer this kind of training as well?

Nov 5, 2013 4:50 pm

WFA beats the snot out of ML

Nov 12, 2013 6:04 am

ML only wants extremely wealthy so unless you hang w that crowd you chances of making it are slim and you mentor will thank you by keeping the few client you brought in. Contact Raymond James full service employee channel which was Morgan Keegan and see if they will train you! WFA is better than ML but is run by another bank!

Nov 12, 2013 6:06 am

WFA training is b- technology is c-

Dec 12, 2013 3:25 pm

This was copied and pasted from another site. It’s not my experience but an interesting read.

Attention all NEW financial advisors and trainees. Under no circumstances should you accept a position with Merrill Lynch. The base salary looks appealing but the fine print and ever changing compensation plan will lead you to certain failure. Merrill Lynch of Greensboro misled me into accepting a sales/Financial advisor position without describing the quarterly and yearly total asset goals needed to stay in the PMD program. They confuse new advisors with fancy acronyms such as PC credits, NNA and NNH.

I asked on several occasions what these acronyms meant and I was not provided a clear answer. I was given the impression that all was needed was approximately 8 million in new assets to be gathered in 3 years to graduate training program. The truth is that you need 27-30 million in total new investable assets to achieve your production revenue hurdles and other two criteria. This was disclosed a few months after I was registered. The sales goals are totally unreachable and unrealistic in today’s investment climate in the piedmont triad of North Carolina and would not be easy to do in Los Angeles or NY. The hiring manager will not tell you this. If you can fog a mirror you will get the job and any training you think you will get will not happen.

There is no sales training, just online tutorials. You are only to prospect $250,000 and larger households. Merrill Lynch loves structured products which almost always lead to client losses. The sales coach and resident directors are a joke and only interested in their personal client book. Trainees are left to their own devices and are considered the competition. The compliance department and resident director is like Nazi Germany. If you make a mistake or unknowingly break a policy there is no 2nd chance or verbal warning. You will be FIRED!! and permanently tarnished. All of the future broker firms you apply to will see Merrills retribution on your U5 and unlikely to hire you. FINRA will not help you.

Absolutely 0 leads from Bank of America. Absolutely 0 leads period. Good luck on prospecting the mass affluent and high networth. The only chance a trainee has is to be from a super wealthy family and network of daddies rich friends. Merrill Lynch is not the same Merrill Lynch from the 70’s and 80’s. Merrill Lynch is a bank owned product pushing organization that loves to pretend they are superior to all. The truth is they are NOT!. In the 1 in 10000 chance you do graduate from the PMD program ,your commission will be 30-35% leading to almost an immediate paycut from your 3 year salary.

The Greensboro office Resident director and compliance director wrongfully terminated me over Merrill Lynch policies that I could not have possibly been aware of. I have the Series 66 study materials to back up my actions. Regardless that my conduct was in total compliance with FINRA and the SEC. My U5 has been permanently tarnished by Merrill Lynch in regards to the reasons of termination. The only way to expunge or remove comments is to sue Merrill Lynch and pursue arbitration. This process is costly and often ineffective. God help you if you try to leave or are terminated from Merrill Lynch during the training period. They will make sure you can’t take your clients with you for at least 2 years and attempt to prevent you from obtaining future employment with a competitor firm.

In closing, if you like the following realities listed below, please by all means subject yourself to a certain doomed career as a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch.

A. Arrogant and superficial peers to work with
B. Military style compliance with 0 tolerance to any compliance mistakes
C No hands on sales training.
D Misleading or difficult to understand comp plan
E.COLD Calling every day
F. No leads
G. Unrealistic sales goals and expectations.
H. No teamwork or mentoring without giving up half of your new account.
I. Inferior and non transparent structured products to sell.
J.Possible permanent damage to your reputation if you leave or are terminated.
K. Bank of America being in the news every day.

Well that tells it all. All of the above applies to new brokers and advisors who are considering a career with Merrill Lynch. If you are a seasoned advisor with a large transferable book of business your experience will probably be much different. Be Careful what you sign. Merrill Lynch does have quality research, superior technology and innovative wealth management tools. They are probably a good fit for some Million dollar producers.

Dec 17, 2013 12:52 pm

Belem148, that quote is spot on for ML.