NEW Merrill POA

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Feb 12, 2008 2:36 pm

Everyone -

  It has come to my attention that Merrill has a new 30 month POA program.  Anyone know anything about it and if so what are the hurdles and what type of bonus and can you graduate early?
Feb 14, 2008 3:53 pm

Anyone?  I have my second interview Tue. and would love to show them I know what I’m getting into.

Feb 17, 2008 11:51 pm

I have a vague idea. It’s one TOUGH program!!! Numbers are higher than the current $15 million in 18-24 months, and if you fall behind 2 quarters in a row, you’re toast.

On a bright note, your goals will be determined based on your starting salary, the higher the salary, the higher the goals. They feel it’s unfair measure the same way a 25 year old and a 45 year old career changer. If they are paid differently, they should be measured accordingly.

PM me if you have specific questions.

Feb 18, 2008 9:34 am

It isn’t harder and the numbers aren’t higher.  It is structured to make sure when you come out you are ready to roll.  You do have hurdles.  You actually get a longer time frame to get 15 mm.  You don’t get to “graduate” early.  Currently, the program is incredibly hard.  You have to come rolling out of the gates.   Believe me, with the new way, it is going to be harder to get hired at Merrill.  They are sinking alot of $ and time into a new hire, therefore they will only hire the best.  It is also structured where your starting salary can be much higher.  This way better quality (older) people will be attracted.

Feb 18, 2008 11:02 am
Thank you for your reply.  Would love to know the range of the higher salary.  Also, I know that in 2 years 15-20 mil will not get me (or anyone else) the type of income I need with wife and 2 kids.  In my opinion it is about getting to 30-40 mil so you can at least survive and buy food!  If you have anymore specifics about the program.  Hurdles, length of salary that would be great
Feb 18, 2008 3:44 pm


Thank you for your reply.  Would love to know the range of the higher salary.  Also, I know that in 2 years 15-20 mil will not get me (or anyone else) the type of income I need with wife and 2 kids.  In my opinion it is about getting to 30-40 mil so you can at least survive and buy food!  If you have anymore specifics about the program.  Hurdles, length of salary that would be great[/quote]   I got this emailed to me from a recruiter.  I am not sure how accurate the info from the recruiter is regarding the 8MM.  Maybe he forgot a "0" .  If they are looking for an active series 7, it appears that they may only be looking for people who have been in the business, as mentioned previously.   ********** "I am looking for individuals with a valid Series 7 license. The Series 7 is required to start this position.

The company that I recruit for is Merrill Lynch. You will enter a program designed for you to concentrate in raising a 8MM book of business through networking with in the program’s length. The program's length is 36 months. They are offering a salary above 50K depending upon experience, education, location, and cost of living. On top of that, they are offering 50% payout on any products you sell while in the program.. Benefits are the best.

If you have Assets Under Management, Merrill Lynch will pay upfront money."

Feb 18, 2008 4:23 pm

Low end 40k.  High end 75k.  Right now POA is designed to have you make approx 50k or so when you get out (15 mm).  You still need to get 15 mm in the new program.  If you hit your 15 mm early…fine…  You are still in the program for 30 to 36 months (not quite sure). Just go on the interview and find out…Impress them.  If you get an offer, its up to you whether or not you want to take it.  It does take about 30 mm or so to make 100k.

Feb 18, 2008 5:03 pm

Yikes, only 50k commission when you get out after 30-36 months for the average rep?  I guess you have to be above average! 

  Does anyone know how far into the program you are really starting to get into doing prospecting?  I wonder how their production quotas work.  I am probably going to be working with products that have a longer lead time so I wouldn't anticipate starting fast but I would hopefully get larger accounts when getting into the program a bit.
Feb 20, 2008 12:18 am

I recently received an offer from Merrill for this new program.  The goals are dependent upon your salary.  I believe there are 3 groups <50k, 50k-75k, and >80k (this is an estimate, I don't remember the exact numbers).  I'm young and single so I can afford to take a salary <50k. I don't know what the figures are for someone in the higher salary groups, but if you can afford to take a low salary and build your book over 3 years it seems like a good training plan with resonable goals.

The office I'm thinking of joining is a fairly big office and is very team oriented, so my goal would be to prove that I can produce and hopefully find a team that I fit in well with.  So, for someone in my situation it seems to be a very difficult program, but it provides the chance for some great opportunities as well. 
Feb 21, 2008 1:17 am

what were the goals for the <50 bracket?

Feb 21, 2008 9:02 pm

I’m still in the process of learning about the goals and requirements before I accept the position, but the numbers are pretty low.  I believe they distinguish between fee based business and non-fee based because your goals are dependent upon fee-based AUM, revenue, and new household above 250k.  I believe the numbers are something like 175,000 in fee-based AUM with ~4000 in revenue in your first quarter plus 1 new 250k+ household in your first year (I’m still waiting for an official copy of the goals they would want me to hit so I can’t say for sure). 

  The truth is though, you need to be bringing in a lot more than that to have a reasonable chance of staying in the business.  I think it would be hard to make it unless you can consistanly bring in at least 6-7 million/year in AUM and these ML numbers are much lower than that it seems.   I can let you know more specifically in a few weeks when I learn more. 
Feb 21, 2008 9:33 pm

The recruiter told me today that ML wanted to hire me based on my resume and the test I had to take for them.  I still need to interview with them to see if we are a good fit given my business plan and the path I want to take.  I didn’t get a good impression when I had to take a day off from work just to take a test when I thought I would actually interview.  It seems like I may have done okay on it, though.  They had some funky questions about some planning concepts that may have been bogus.  I answered that I had no experience with those concepts.  I am no expert on all these topics, so I may just be ignorant, but some of the questions may have been designed to see if you would lie or not about a concept that was truly made up.  Beware. 

  6-7 AUM (wow I feel like a real pro using the lingo) is what AG Edwards/Wachovia is telling me the "Average" rep brings in the first year so that is probably what you need to earn a decent living.  AGE has a 40% payout which seems kind of low.  Is it?   I think these are the main factors that I will use to decide on any firm not necessarily in this order:   1.  Starting Salary 2.  Availability of my target 401k vendors 3.  Realistic start up sales goals for a longer sales cycle product 4.  No non-soliciation clause (I think AGE may not have one--not sure on ML) 5.  Payout ratio  
Feb 22, 2008 6:23 am

Ok, Akkula, it has become obvious that you want us to tell you what you want to hear, so I'll do that for you.

Since a ML recruiter told you that he wanted to hire you, you are as good as gold.  He'll do everything in his power to keep his word.  You did great by not answering those trick questions.

The starting salary should be reasonable.  You can probably negotiate something in the 70-80K range.   Your 401(k) administration background gives you a huge leg up on people who just have sales skills.    Because of it, you should be able to do a phenomenal job of attracting some mega assets.

You probably have availability of all of your 401(k) vendors.    Because of the longer sales cycle of 401(k) plans, they'll be fine with the fact that you aren't bringing in assets for the first year.  You will  have to show that you are making an honest effort and things are "in the works".   When you decide to leave, as long as you've been a nice guy, they'll be easy going about you bringing your existing business with you.   The payout ratio can compete with some of the Indy shops.   Best of luck with ML!
Feb 22, 2008 8:39 pm

ML does not have a selling agreement with my current firm, so I am not sure if this will be a fit or not. 

I talked to the "director" who I suspect was one of the higher ups there because of the nicer office and the assistant.  We didn't "BS" too much.  It was kind of a quick session, which I was happy with.  At the end, he asked his assistant to setup some time for me to meet with the retirement plan guy and the "POA coaches."  I asked him about the coaches and he said they help you out during training.  I asked him if I could prospect during training if I get the job to get ahead of the game and he said "no;" I can only keep in contact with people I know to keep the relationships warm.  I asked him how long the training last and he said 6-7 months!!!  That was very shocking to me!   I cannot sell or prospect for 6-7 months?  I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing or if it is even accurate based on what I have read on this forum.  I am almost wondering if he just pulled a number out of the air.  Doesn't this sound strange?  If it is true, that is a very well developed training program, I guess.  I figured that "training" at most companies was really just code for doing a bunch of cold calls without the pressure of having sales quotas for a period of time with a little bit of role playing and product training.  These are some of the numbers he gave....

Numbers: 1 Million in production per month is what they are looking for and 5 qualified prospect $250k+ appointments per week.

If this guy was anything like some of the higher ups at my company, he may not really get too involved with the details of how everything gets done so I am not sure I really got the "scoop" on how everything truly works.  I think I will find out more, though, regarding the program soon.      
Feb 23, 2008 11:57 am

The current program is designed so you are making 50k when you get your 15 mm in assets, that means whenever you get out (you currently have 2 years to do it).  If you do it in 12 months you are making 50k if you do it in 18 months you are making 50k.  Plus they give you bonuses along the way when you hit hurdles, plus substantial bonuses when you "graduate" .  If you "graduate" in less than 12 months you receive your salary, PLUS 130 dollar bonus (30 in cash, 100 in stock).  So in the first year, you will end up making about 80k cash, plus the stock.  If you do it in 18 months, you get 20k cash, plus 75 in stock, plus another 10k in bonuses along the way. 

  The new prgram is not like this.  You have a salary that can be 50 to 75k (based on the director's what you bring to the table).  If you bring zero experience you are getting 50.  If you bring sales experience, maturity, etc... you are getting 75k.  At the end of the 3 years if you have done everything, you should be making what your salary was.  I know guys 1 year out of POA and 3 years in the biz that made 100k in commision and 75k in stock and cash bonuses.  Why do they make that right away?  Because they continued to keep the same pace that it takes to get out of POA.   It is a known fact that on average, ML FAs are the highest paid in the biz.  Period, end of discussion.  Don't give the old "independents make more..."  It's apples and oranges.  Yes, I know plenty of independents that make one hell of a living.  I'm sure lots post on the board.  But overall, ML FAs make the dough.   If you get an offer take it.  They don't hand them out, especially with the new program.
Feb 23, 2008 12:00 pm

By the way, yes, you can prospect while you train.  There is always training while you are in POA.  The 6 to 7 months he was referring to was the 4 months they give you to get licensed up, plus some pre-production months.

Feb 24, 2008 8:27 am

Thanks, for the info CCrider.

  I will think hard about your advice.    I think there may be an inverse relationship between the attractiveness of the FA program and the number of postings they put on   It seems like the firms you see advertising out there the most want to take the least amount of risk on you, with regard to training you, paying your salary, etc.  I never see ML out there advertising these jobs in my area.  It sounds like that may be because of their top notch program. 
Feb 25, 2008 10:56 am


It is a known fact that on average, ML FAs are the highest paid in the biz.  Period, end of discussion.  [/quote]

Cite your source for this "known fact."
Feb 25, 2008 11:37 am

Feb 29, 2008 8:48 pm

Talked to 3 of 4 coaches today and one other specialist.  One couldn’t make it because she was dealing with some client issue.  This is has been my third time out of work to talk to ML so I would expect that they would make some type of decision on this.  1 test, 1 meeting with the director, and meeting 4 people today should be enough interviews for ML to make a decision, I think.  I will not be too happy if they try to reschedule an interview with the person who couldn’t make the appointment before they make a decision because I was there and she wasn’t so I would think they would need to make their decision based on the other people I have alread talked to.  I have a job and I don’t need to have my time wasted unnecessarily.  Time to finalize things one way or another!

  I was overall pretty impressed.  I did some role playing and talked to some extreme "type A" young guys.  They came across a little strong, but I kind of liked talking to them because I don't deal with those types of personalities as much in my current job so it was kind of entertaining.  The one guy put me on the spot when we did some role playing but I relied on my experience and I think he was pretty impressed.  The second person was a bit less frantic in his demeanor and we chatted for a bit.  He seemed like the wise older guy in the office.  The final coach I met with was younger and he and the first guy had a very similar approach.  I think we all related to each other pretty well, which was good.  The final guy I talked to said he would recommend that ML offer me a job.  I feel pretty good about things but I am getting tired of interviewing.   If I can paraphrase one of the things that one of the coaches said to me regarding their training programs:   We have some guys that have been here for 30 years and we want to train you well because we are not interested in you going out there and tarnishing the ML name because you don't know what you are doing.   I am not sure that many of the other firms out there take this same approach.  The attitude seems to be pass the 7 and then they throw you a phone book.  This comment really stuck with me.    Also, after you have done your licensing and training, you have to do a final presentation with the Director.  If you don't pass this step, they can fire you.  They said that has happened to a few people recently.    All I have to say is that this type of emphasis on quality is very exciting to me.  Rather than being scared of the challenge, I welcome it.  I really think that they are going to prepare me well if we both decide to move forward.