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Dec 29, 2006 7:05 pm

I realize this is probably overkill and I have used the search engines.

I have two offers outstanding, one from EDJ and one from ML. From the postings I have read, EDJ isn't respected much on this website, despite the literature they distribute. Conversely, ML is respected, but the firm minimum of $15MM in AUM is nearly unattainable in two years.  I think I would prefer the autonomy of running my own branch, but conversely, the "perceived" respect the ML name brings to the table.

Despite the fact that everyone in here seems to think no-one will make it in this business as a newbie, I would like to take that risk. I'm still "young" enough to recover if I fail miserably.

My background is CPA/JD, former Big "5" audit, and small regional law firm, as well as a compliance officer role. I'm in my early thirties and quite ambitious. But, I hate auditing, compliance, and lawyering. I'm too much of a people person and hate adversarial occupations.

I don't get intimidated easily, but quite frankly I'm a bit intimidated by the naysayers out there regarding the attrition rates at ML and in the general industry.

First, if you were in my shoes, would you pick EDJ or ML? Why?

Second (and lastly), are hard work and tenacity, combined with above average interpersonal communications skills enough?

I realize the CPA and JD are unimportant in this field. I just hope they weren't a complete waste of my time.

Dec 29, 2006 7:38 pm

Take Merrill.  Win or lose you’ll have more opportunity down the road.

Dec 29, 2006 7:47 pm

[quote=FreedomLvr]Take Merrill.  Win or lose you'll have more opportunity down the road.[/quote]

I'm definitely leaning toward Mother Merrill (as I see referenced on this site). I still have a lot to learn and am intimidated by the wealth of knowledge on this board. I'm catching on to the terms VA, FA, MM, etc., etc. (I'm smart enough to know that I know nothing) But I've seen the term "haircut," and don't know what it means. I'm guessing that it means skimming from your payout. But, I could be completely off base.

Dec 29, 2006 7:52 pm

Having seen both first hand, I would take Ed J. That's because I more of a low-key golfer.

Both situations require hard work. Some people like to compete against others, some like to compete against themselves.

Ed is a first class outfit, so is Merrill. The only important thing is to make money ethically, not be associated with a hot shot firm. Do you want to sit in a bull pen and enjoy friendly telephone competition with your hungry competitors? Would you rather walk the small industrial parks and neighborhoods, inviting prospects to lunch and golf? Ed will give you a lot of support, but you will still have to compete against yourself - vigourously.

Find out as much as you can about the behavioural lifestyle of each postion, and choose from the heart.

Looking at my gross production this year, I find it hard to believe that Merrill would better prepare you for the industry, although I did complete their training program over 20 years ago.

Dec 29, 2006 8:03 pm

Thank you for your insight TenthTee! It’s refreshing to read a post about EDJ that isn’t bashing the firm. From my outsider’s perspective, they seem very respectable.

Dec 29, 2006 10:17 pm

Another idea: go learn the basics of the biz at EJ and blow them and your

new clients away with your ambition and people-person-ness. You can

always graduate to ML (or other more “upscale” firms) later if you want or

need to, but you don’t want to go the other way. ML loves to hire people

who have clients and they don’t have to train–so does everyone else.

Dec 29, 2006 10:45 pm

Take the ML offer. If, in fact, you don’t succeed there, EDJ will always hire


Dec 29, 2006 11:28 pm

"the firm minimum of $15MM in AUM is nearly unattainable in two years."

It's absolutely attainable with a confident attitude and a good name behind you.  A big part of success is believing.

"Find out as much as you can about the behavioral lifestyle of each postion, and choose from the heart."

I'll second that.  The firm that gives you the best chance is the firm that more closely matches your personality.

I came out of a CPA firm also and I think your chances are immediately increased because of your past experience and credentials.  The biggest hurdle a rookie faces is credibility with the public and you have a nice headstart over your rookie competitors.  Put your head down and work hard...I think you can succeed at either place.

Dec 30, 2006 1:21 am

CPA/JD is not by any stretch meaningless…you just have to be willing to get out and press the flesh and put that credential in front of good prospects.

Go with Merill if you’re willing to deal with the IBM White Shirt Blue Suit atmosphere, and as well understand that their bogeys are real hard to hit in the first two years.

On the other hand EdJ might be a little less oppressive, but if you succeed you will want to move on in 3-4 years to greener pastures…

Hope that helps…

Dec 30, 2006 3:53 am


“the firm minimum of $15MM in AUM is nearly unattainable in two years.”

It's absolutely attainable with a confident attitude and a good name behind you.  A big part of success is believing.[/quote]

This comes right out of "Death of a Salesman".

A big part of success is being realistic. A large portion of ML's sucess is hoovering the AUM gathered in by everyone who didn't pull in $15MM. I'm not saying its impossible, but the odds are very much against you.

Between EDJ and ML, I think I would look at other places as well.

Could anyone who is an EDJ'er here explain the LP/GP thing? If that works the way I think it does (you aquire LP units of EDJ), then in reality that would be the annuitization that you seek, since the cash distributions from the LP are passive income.

Dec 30, 2006 4:58 am

One of those two firms may be the right one for you.  It's really a personal decision.

However, I think that you are making a terrible mistake if you don't check out other firms as well.

The 2 year AUM hurdle at Merrill really forces you to become an asset gatherer instead of a financial advisor.   This isn't meant as a knock.  Rather, if you are going to Merrill or a similar firm, just make sure that gathering assets is what you want to be doing.

Dec 30, 2006 9:35 am

I run the POA program for our office at ML.  We graduated 9 people
in 2006, and we have seen less that 15% of our new-hires not make it
over the last 4 years.  We work hard, I basically take them
through the CFP tm modules along with every asset gathering and
propsect interviewing program out there, and we go out for dinner once
every 2 months to just chat.  It can be done, and they have some
fun dong it. 

Now these 9 are all setting on a fee based business generating about
$80,000/year in personal income after 2 years.  And the beauty of
it is the culture at ML breeds very large producers so they are just
getting started…

Dec 30, 2006 9:49 am

Rightway brings up a great point. 

1)If his numbers are honest, and we'll assume that they are, his branch of ML could be a great place to start.  Another branch could have an 85% failure rate.  The branch matters more than the company.  It is important, to increase your chance of success, to be around big producers.

You still must have the desire to, first and foremost, be an asset gatherer.

Dec 30, 2006 10:27 am


Rightway brings up a great point. 

1)If his numbers are honest, and we'll assume that they are, his branch of ML could be a great place to start.  Another branch could have an 85% failure rate.  The branch matters more than the company.  It is important, to increase your chance of success, to be around big producers.

You still must have the desire to, first and foremost, be an asset gatherer.


True.  Not to toot my horn, but the region just south of me has less than 50% success rate.  I attribute our success to good hiring and good training.
Dec 30, 2006 11:32 am

I’ve been through the ML POA, and I must tell you, it will make you a better advisor.  Being at ML does breed a sense of pride.  But is is a hard road, there is no doubt. 

Consider a firm such as AG Edwards, with virtually the same offerings, with less pressure, and a place where your background would be more unique and more appreciated within your office (and may lead to partnering).

Just my two cents.

Dec 30, 2006 2:25 pm


Based on your comments, I think you may be more well suited for EDJ to

start out. Your comments about the culture that you did not like in

previous jobs leads me to believe that you might not like the wire culture.

If that is the case, EDJ may be better suited for you. And as others have

stated, you can always move down the road. But the hurdles will be lower

at EDJ early on - but the work is just as hard.

My background is in accounting and corporate finance, and I would say

that it has been a major advantage for me. I understand taxes, personal

finance, and the economy better than most without similar backgrounds,

and that comes through with clients. I’ve met some newbies that don’t

know the difference between an S-Corp and the Peace Corp when talking

to business owners - that’s where it helps. It gives people a greater

sense of security when you can talk about your impressive background,

as opposed to telling them you used to sell shoes (not that a shoe

salesman cannot do well - it just helps in terms of “image”).

Good luck with your decision. PM me if you have questions about EDJ.

Dec 30, 2006 8:19 pm

Don't take this the wrong way, but I would question your desire to commit to this job. You've got a CPA and JD designation, both of which required a tremendous amount of focus, money, and dedication to achieve. Now, you want to do this job? Why would you throw away what you've achieved so far?

Maybe be a CPA and a lawyer and be licensed to sell securities (which rules out employment at any of the wirehouses), but at least you're building upon your past achievements.

Or with your credentials, (if I were you) I would only apply at "white shoe"-type investment firms that look for your type of qualifications-at a minimum. These "white shoe" firms cater to the ultra high-net-worth crowd.

Let's see, you work your arse-off and spend lots of money to become a CPA. Nah, that's no good. So, you work your arse-off and spend lots of money to get a law degree. Nah, that's no good. Do you see a pattern here?

Prediction, if you become a stockbroker: It's 4 months from now, it's 8:15PM, and you're getting slammed for the umpteenth time on cold calls. You haven't opened enough accounts or gathered enough AUM and office rumors are spreading about whether you'll make it. You look up at the wall that displays your framed CPA degree and law degree and you're wondering why the hell you're putting up with this cr*p.

Dec 30, 2006 8:45 pm

Wow! Excellent posts! I can't believe NASD Newbie hasn't posted anything defamatory/pejorative yet.

I'm going to ask the ML Branch Manager what the attrition rate at his branch is for the POA program. If it's fairly low, 30% or less, I think I'll go with ML. I'm leaning towards ML anyway. I think the attrition rate will be indicative of the support this branch has for it's newbies.

Broker 24-- I liked that line about the S-corp and the Peace Corp. I really do like the business model of EDJ over ML, but if I go into this industry, it will be to make as much money as I can. I'm not sure if EDJ would agree with my limiting my clients to 100k and above.

Doberman-- You made some VERY good points! I can almost see your prediction in the future as well. It's hard for me to rest on my laurels. The fact is, I didn't finish in the top half of my law school (it was first tier but not top 50) and didn't make that much money as an attorney (60k). I didn't see potential for significant raises and I hated what I was doing (I'll never chase an ambulance).  In this industry, it seems that you are only limited by your ambition and persuasiveness (or lack thereof). I like the idea of virtually unlimited income. The short and long term goal setting, as I feel a great sense of accomplishment achieving those goals. I also like the idea of only working on a referral basis (well, for the most part) 10 years from now. For the record, I was in the Military too, and hated that as well. Yes, I see a pattern!

What is a "What Shoes" firm? Can you name one that I could look up?

Dec 30, 2006 8:54 pm

“white shoes”  – My bad!

Dec 30, 2006 10:24 pm

Go_Pios, I’m a fairly young guy who is a new new with EDJ. I just went

through all of the training and i’m basically only cheating myself right

now by wasting time on this website (i should be writing thank you

notes)… ANYWAYS… Getting to the point… I read the Jones bashing that

goes on and I understand the appeal and pride that goes with a

household name like ML.

Allow me to say this in favor of Jones though. I’ve put up with 6 years

prior to this job of military training, which I hated as well (supposedly the

best training in the world bla bla bla). After going through Jones training

the military pales in comparison. I can honestly say ED J has an

outstanding training program that would absolutely, beyond doubt,

prepare you for success in this industry.

If you want to be that outgoing self-described people person you may

want to reconsider. Talking on a phone for 10 hours a day as opposed to

walking around talking to people and trying to establish relationships

doesn’t sound like a fit to how you described yourself. ED J is more about

meeting people and establishing comfort with them so they cement

themselves with you and your office. ED J wants you to know about client

birthdays and how they and their spouse take their coffee. (Of course i’m

using those two details as an example to describe how Jones wants you to

build a comfortable business.)

The J.D. Power study which came out this year showed ED J clients, out of

all the big firms, have the lowest percentage of clients who leave for

another firm. That’s testament to what I’ve just said.

Of course I can’t speak for ML because I have almost zero knowledge of

their inner circles.

Also, keep in mind that while ED J preaches door knocking as the bread

and butter of building your business, who says you can’t blitz with

seminars and focus heavily on business owners? I’ve had moderate (at

best) success with door knocking. Majority of the battles i’ve won came

from phone calls to business owners where I swapped biz cards and

eventually trickled my magically delicious charm on them. You win

business by earning trust, confidence and you keep business by having

clients that like you on both a personal and professional business.

Someone may argue that but it’s what i’ve found as truth in my area.

In the beginning I don’t think i’d be choosy either of how much someone

had to invest, there’s usually more money that follows down the road

from first time nervous and testing clients.

Just ask yourself before any new prospecting campaign “Is the juice worth

the squeeze?” More than anything, time is money in this business.

Choose a firm that more closely resembles your personal style. Above

anything else it is crucial you understand exactly what you’ll be doing. It’s

"cool" when you tell Aunt Foofie and Uncle Elmer at family gatherings

what you do but being able to brag among colleagues about success

comes from an immense amount of effort and countless late nights.

Remember i’m a young broker in my twenties with just a smidge of

experience against some of the vets in here.

Just my $0.02 take it for what it’s worth!