MSSB vs Merrill

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Sep 3, 2009 9:07 pm

I am looking at both firms, and wanted any members’ take on it:

Merrill guys said the bank side (BOA) will eventually make them stronger by eventually offering traditional bank products. They seem to say it would be a one stop shop place.

With MSSB, I am wondering on the mix of 2 different cultures, and whether that will make them stronger/weaker.

Sep 3, 2009 9:52 pm

Those are government owned firms, right?

Sep 4, 2009 12:13 am

I have never seen a bank and brokerage work out (Citi-Smith Barney, UBS-payne webber, wachovia),

Sep 4, 2009 1:42 am

I have never seen a bank and brokerage work out (Citi-Smith Barney, UBS-payne webber, wachovia),

Good point. But, Merrill didn't have a choice. And probably neither did MS with SB.

Sep 4, 2009 3:31 pm

Talked to ML today after MS yesterday. Completely different vibe.

Sep 4, 2009 3:58 pm

and the vibes were different how?

  I am starting at MSSB on 9/14.  Never talked to ML
Sep 4, 2009 4:01 pm

More positive and upbeat, and didn’t bad mouth the competition(not sure if that is just my area)… They have revamped their program and seemed to be more focused on people making it long term vs blowing out in two years… Felt like a member of a larger team, where as at MSSB I felt like a c***roach. Someone to prospect for them for 2 years and then let me go.

Sep 4, 2009 4:11 pm

I didn’t get that vibe from my branch.  My BOM said there are goals, and I need to him them, but he is willing to work with me on tons of stuff.  Even wants to let me try to build my business around retirement plans with the understanding that they take a bit longer to close and hit the grid.  We will see how it goes though.

Sep 4, 2009 4:53 pm

The BM at my local Merrill office is a producer, as well as being in the business for 30+ years as opposed to the MSSB BM.

I got a very comprehensive plan when I visited Merrill,and what was expected of me. I did not get a piece of paper illustrating that at MSSB. In fact, I still don’t have a clue of their plan for new hires, but I am sure it is similar to Merrill’s.

I just get the gut feeling that the mix between MS and SB could get ugly. I already heard about how SB controls the west coast and the MS has the east coast. One of the managers at MS was weary of the mix, and kind of gave me a heads up of the change.

As far as banks not mixing with brokers…all the major b/d are banks now with the exception of the independents.

Sep 4, 2009 4:58 pm

The MS plan is completely different than the ML plan.

Sep 4, 2009 5:02 pm

I dunno why MSSB didn’t give you the plan.  I got 2-3 separate papers explaining in detail both the compensation/bonus structure as well as stated goals for 3 different tiers.  My BOM is a producer (for the past 7 years) with portfolio management experience previous to that.  Sounds like the MSSB you interviewed with wasn’t a good branch.

  Note:  Not defending MSSB, as I haven't even started working there yet.  I know things can be very different once the job starts.  Just giving you my impression and thought's on the process I went through.
Sep 4, 2009 5:46 pm

I agree with workinhard’s analysis - the problem is the BOM. You need to look at a couple of different branches, unless you spoke to the RM. Then, you just need to talk to the different BOMs that he/she refer you to.

Sep 4, 2009 6:16 pm

I agree with him also… The bom seemed to not be interested in hiring new people(not sure why he called). I am sure each area is different as is every office and its make up.

Sep 4, 2009 6:33 pm

What is the performance hurdles at MSSB?

Also, what is the training program at MSSB like? At Merrill, it is 36 months.

Sep 4, 2009 7:25 pm

36 months at MSSB.

  The top tier goes by quarterly goals.  I'll give you first year by quarter.  You have to hit 2 out of 3 to be in the top tier.   By month 3--- 2M in assets/1M fee based/15k gross commissions By month 6--- 4M in assets/2M fee based/35k gross commissions By month 9--- 7M in assets/3M fee based/55k gross commissions By month 12--- 10M in assets/4M fee based/75k gross commissions   According to my BOM and one of the other associates I shadowed... If you can hit these goals, you are making yourself a great candidate for an extremely strong career.  There is bonuses quarterly if you hit the goals, plus a restricted stock award if you hit the end of year goal.   Hope that helps
Sep 4, 2009 7:33 pm
san fran broker:

I agree with workinhard’s analysis - the problem is the BOM. You need to look at a couple of different branches, unless you spoke to the RM. Then, you just need to talk to the different BOMs that he/she refer you to.

Looking to get into this business and would really appreciate your advice. What approach would you take for this? Doesn’t it look bad to other BOM’s if you are applying to multiple branches within the same brokerage?

Sep 4, 2009 9:30 pm

The branch (firm) that you want to train in is one that’s going to encourage you to develop your business. If they’re ANY good, the manager should be very receptive to aggressively cold calling and showing up at the office. Quite simply, anything that wouldn’t get you arrested should be acceptable to a manager and will, if that manager is not an idiot, probably get you a trainee position. If you don’t have a college degree, that should be the only impediment - and, even then, probably not. Don’t stalk, but go as far as possible. Don’t worry about your dignity. Losing it is part of making it in this business. They should be ok, and even amused by your efforts. You probably will end up getting a better base salary offer if you really work hard at getting through the door, anyway.

As for training - IMHO, you should pick whatever branch offices you would most  like to work in and then try to get a job at one of those. There are people who would disagree with me, but I think the training programs for all of the firms are worthless. Instead, take the investments class at a local university extension’s CFP program and I’d also recommend entering into a sales training program, if you can afford it, during your 4 months of training. Make sure the sales training is held in your area, by people in your area. Your firm’s will be a joke. The sales training you buy won’t be much better.

Sep 4, 2009 10:14 pm

Otane are you at ML?

Sep 4, 2009 11:45 pm

No not yet.

The Merrill BOM didn’t like scripts and aggressive cold calling - what he called boiler room tactics. I will be interested what he has to say. He does have a 100 million plus book, so I will have an open mind.

Sep 5, 2009 2:09 am

Ok. How many successful trainees does this ML BOM have to his credit?