ML Vs Ameriprise

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Aug 15, 2008 12:13 am


First let me start off by giving some background on me.  I have 3 years industry experience as an assistant and I am 26.  The branch office I was employed at shut down as of today.  I found out less than two weeks ago. Unfortunalty our office was the victim of a buyout that didn't go over well with most of the brokers in the office and they have since left and taken 90% of their clientel with them.  Since I found out about the closure I have decided that I want to make the jump to be a FA (I have the 7,66).  I have met with ML and their benchmarks look tough but attainable for the market area.  They start out with a nice salary and health insurance (important as my wife is expecting in Feb).  I have also met with an idependent from Ameriprise.  They also have an associate FA position available where I would be salaried plus commision.  My job would primarily be to work with the existing book ( bottom quartile I would assume) and also bring in assets but they would not expect as much as ML.  There are a couple of drawbacks that I see right at this point; 1) no insurance (but we could make it work with hers) 2) I worked for a RJ independent and there were always promises but that was it.  Any thoughts on these 2 companies?  I have looked at others but given the time constraints these two have shown the most interest.     Thanks 
Aug 15, 2008 12:18 am

I’d go with ML.

Aug 15, 2008 12:42 am

No comparison...ML

Aug 17, 2008 12:29 am


Aug 17, 2008 10:49 am

ML over Ameriprise for sure. You may want to consider a bank. It may give you more opportunity to bring in new assets and the insurance will be the best considering the child on the way.

Aug 17, 2008 11:39 am

Not even a close call.

Aug 17, 2008 12:13 pm

Gotta go with Amerprise.

  I've heard a lot of bad things about ML in the news lately. Ameriprise has stayed pretty clean through the credit crunch,
Aug 17, 2008 12:28 pm

ML is a fine wirehouse, and far better than AMP, but it sounds to me like you think hitting the hurdles at ML will be fairly easy because of your “market area” or perhaps because you already are licensed.  That’s a big red flag. Reality check time.

You need to be brutally realistic with yourself - and your wife - about the strong odds that would be stacked against you as you begin to build your own book.  ML has a great brand but those “benchmarks” which you refer to as “tough but attainable for the market area” are minimum production requirements that the overwhelming majority of people starting new never achieve, and so never survive.  Even in your “market area.” 

Are you very clear on what the consequences are should you happen to run into a few dry months and miss your numbers?  Don’t settle for the “but that will never happen to YOU, right?” response.  Eyes wide open!  And same with your wife, because right when she’s dealing with the new baby is when you would most likely need to be putting in the longest hours to survive.  Make sure she knows that NOW, or when it happens - and it will - she may not be as supportive as you will need her to be. 

But here’s my main question: why exactly is this simply a question between these two particular b/ds?  “Time constraints” is a poor excuse for limiting such an important decision
to a couple of firms who happen to “show interest” at a given point in time.  Don’t treat this as if you are waiting to find out who will invite you to the prom.  It’s your future that is at stake.  It’s up to you to do your own due
diligence and determine which path is of the most interest to YOU, not
vice versa.  Take the time to do the right thing for the long run, not
simply the quickest thing.  Measure twice, cut once.

Good luck, and keep digging.  If it was easy everybody would do it.

Aug 17, 2008 1:00 pm

Good stuff Morphius.

Aug 17, 2008 3:13 pm

Morphius brings some important topics up that you and your wife need to discuss before jumping into a decision.

  On the outside ML is obviously way better then Ameriprise...but have you considered like EDJ to get started so you can ensure you dont miss hurdles and then transfer to ML in 2-3 years once your wife is more stable with the kid and maybe even working? Just some food for though. I'd avoid AMP just because of what I've heard but that doesn't mean you should dive in with ML blindly...they are not for the faint of heart from what people have said about production hurdles etc. Especially with a newborn baby due in the next year.
Aug 18, 2008 3:55 pm

If you are coming in Licensed to ML, and if you start as a trainee most branches will give you two months of Assesment/learning time.  You must pass these two assesments(basic sales knowledge of the industry).  Once you pass these assesments your “clock” starts, you have 7 months to hit $1.25Million in Assets, with $800,000 in “fee-based”.  If, you can make it through that you have to double your entire book, every three months for the next 17 months.  By month 13 you must have $5,000,000 and $3,200,000 “fee-based”, by month 24 you must have $15,000,000 and $10,000,000 “fee-based”.  If you miss any of these hurdles the BM has the right to fire you or they can keep you on, if you miss two in a row they don’t have a choice they have to let you go. 

  So, if you started today, by Feburary you would need to be in complete asset-gathering mode.  Not to scare you, Merrill Lynch is one of the top investment firms in the world, don't let the headlines scare you, leave that stuff for the ignorant.  While ML's investment banking is struggling, the wealth management side is still setting record revenues in the industry.  At the end of the day it's not so much about where you work, as much as it is all about who you know that will invest money with you.  Good Luck!
Aug 20, 2008 4:51 pm

wow!  Thanks for all the replies, and I do take them all very seriously and value your opinions.

  I think getting in the bank is a great way to start out and I am considering it and have applied at just about every bank in the area.   As far as jumping in too fast goes, the reason that I am so eager to get going is because of the fact the office I was at closed down so quickly.  One advisor just left town and never bothered calling any of his clients, it may not be a huge book but it is a start.  So IMO there is a short window of opportunity to maybe gain some clients.    I do realize the bench marks for ML, that is why I am considering AMP, Jones ect.  I know the odds of success are low for a newby.   I am not nieve in thinking that gathering assets in easy or even doable.  I have a friend who work for SB and he only lasted 1yr and they are not that far off from ML in benchmarks and I saw what he went through.  IMO, espesially for a newby I think in order to be successful  I have to spend twice as much time marketing myself as I do the product.  For the most part a person can buy xyz  from anywhere but they are going to want to do it through someone they trust will do the best job for them.  I know this industry is not for the weak at heart and yes I do doubt myself.   FYI, Here is what AMP just proposed.  As you know the advisor is an independent and I have met with him on several occasions.  He has offered 35k for the first year with 2 rep numbers (one for client I bring in and a joint number for his clients that I service) and he is willing to pay insurance.     Also, as far as bad press I think that should be taken with a grain of salt.  For example, in Montana, UBS has a terrible name.  Not because of the recent news but because of the mutiple fraud cases settled by UBS and former Piper Jaffery advisors (there was even a documentary done on it).  So that overshadows the credit problems any of the wire houses are having IMO.   Again I do appreciate all of the opinions- and keep them coming.       
Aug 20, 2008 5:13 pm

Go to ML, get the training, and the higher salary.

  If you washout you can always go to AMP.   Who knows you might even make it! Don't short change yourself.