Path to Success?

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May 3, 2008 1:59 am

I have finally registered! I am still learning a ton about the industry so forgive my lack of proficiency with terminology and how the industry works. I have searched the existing forum threads and have been unable to get a clear vision of a path to success in this business. I need your help!

I am soon to graduate with a bachelors in finance. I have been interviewing with EJ, AXA, NWM, and a top local office that uses AXA.

My goal is to become independent within 10 -15 years. I have looked up in the “book of lists” the top 25 indy investment advisors in my area and have gone to their websites to research how they got to where they are. I have only been able to collect very little information on where they were before now and how they got to where they are.

Please help! I don’t want to limit my opportunities by making a poor choice about where to begin my career. There was a great thread on this forum about the divisions of the industry. (Indy, Regional, Wirehouse, Insurance)

I have heard people speak very highly of beginning at EJ for training then moving to another B/D. However, I understand that EJ keeps a tight fist around the FA’s BOB to make it very difficult to take with you when moving to another B/D?

Others have said that if you can make it in an insurance firm like AXA or NWM you can make it anywhere. But I don’t get the feeling the training/mentoring is as good as EJ or a top local office?

I haven’t even looked very hard at wirehouses because I was dissuaded from looking at them early-on. Good advice?

What have you all found as a “proven” path to independent success? What phases of career development are there? What are the best places to accelerate that development? Is there even such a path? I know there are plenty of schools of thought on this but I really need your perspective on this. Please help!

May 3, 2008 9:51 am

You owe it to yourself to look at the wirehouses. ML and SB have the best structured training programs. Although they may be hesitant to hire you just out of school. (with all due respect)

May 5, 2008 12:30 am

Thanks for your advice. I have done research on wirehouses over the weekend. I like what I see. If I can’t get into a wirehouse after graduation where do I start?

I may be taking an internship with AXA or NWM for eight months before I graduate. (Selling only life insurance) I have 4 years of part-time sales experience and 3 years of full time sales experience. I have always performed in the top 10% of any organization I have been a part of. Will this be enough to get me into a wirehouse? What if I perform in the top 10% of my intern training group? If it is not enough… where do I start? And how long do I stay there before I move on to the next level? How long should I plan to stay with a wirehouse if I go that direction? Can I go indy from a wirehouse? How well do assets transfer?

Thanks for any and all advice. Keep it coming.

May 5, 2008 12:41 am

Suspense - I appreciate your enthusiasm for the industry and a desire to map out a plan for your future.  I have hired many a newly graduated finance major for the branches I've managed, both as FA trainees and assistants.  I think you are putting the cart before the horse. 

You are concerned about getting hired into the correct platform that will allow you eventually become independent.  Instead, you should be focused on getting hired into the correct office so you suceed.  I know you don't think this will be a problem - but neither do the other 84% who won't make it.    It will be difficult for you to be hired by a wirehouse - not impossible, but very, very difficult.  Actually insurance would likely be your best avenue into the industry.  A bank would probably be the next best option.  But the actual individual branch or agency or office, really make a HUGE difference.  We can't help you with that -- you will have to do your own due diligence and try to find the best fit for you.  Good luck!    
May 25, 2008 5:31 pm

I have turned down the internship offers from NWM and AXA. I have interviewed with SB and I like what I see. I have been in dialog with a top local independent firm to find out when an associate position will become available. Should I hold out for the “sure thing” as an associate or go for a position with SB or a bank?

The associate position would be able to grow into an HNW advisory position within 3-5 years but would be more like a para-planner before then.

I don’t have much of a natural market (my family cannot handle a family/business relationship) so I can see myself having a slow start with a wirehouse or B/D as a self-starter. (?)

Should I hold out for the “sure thing” as an associate to be advisor or go for a front-lines position with SB or a bank right away?

May 26, 2008 12:14 am

Old Lady is right. Here you are, not even hired at a wirehouse, and you are asking how long you should stay before considering independent. As Old Lady said, pick the right platform to suceed. Then focus on succeeding. The rest will take care of itself. Find a wire with a good, solid, STRUCTURED, training program. Not one that hires you for their "training program" which turns out to be cold calling for a senior broker. Then drink up everything you are taught. After that, sell sell sell. Speak to 30 people every day, build a pipeline, learn to close and bring in clients and assets. After that, evverything else will take care of itself.

May 26, 2008 12:24 am

Old lady - i just PM’d you, check your inbox

May 26, 2008 12:39 pm

You can get hired at any firm you’d like.  The only question you really need to be asking is what does your social network look like?  If you can easily see 10+ million in AUM in your first year then no one will turn you away.  It will also help if your family consists mainly of professionals that will get you out of the gate strong.  Sadly, if you don’t have a foundation then no amount of cold calling will get you where you need to be.  Most wire houses are moving away from the old smile and dial anyway.  It’s who you know not what you know.