Retiring from Air Force/want to be a FA

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Sep 1, 2013 8:08 pm

After 24 years on active duty I will be retiring from the Air Force in March 2014. After spending quite a bit of time trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up I've decided on an FA. Most of my career has been spent in the recruiting service in sales, currently I am a sales manager/human resources guy over 80 recruiters in 2 states in the South East. I love the human interaction of sales and being able to do something meaningful. Enter becoming a FA. From what I've read this career has the opportunity to be both lucrative while satisfying my need to help others. My question is two fold. One, I have applied to Edward Jones as I believe working at one of the major firms to get training/support is a great way to break into the market. Additionally, the base salary the first 18  months makes the transition from my active duty paycheck to retired much easier to swallow. I am also contemplating applying to MSSB as well. The question is this, are there independent opportunities in smaller firms that would be similar to EJ? If so, any insight would be greatly appreciated.  Two, I currently live in South Carolina. My intention upon retirement is to relocate to either Phoenix or Las Vegas. How feasible is it to apply in SC and open an office in either of those cities? Basically a scratch office. Thank you for the assistance. 

Sep 3, 2013 12:45 pm

Align yourself with a solid name. It helps a ton when getting top clients, and the right training. Edward jones is 2nd level. MSSB is top notch. UBS, Merrill, etc…your duty counts a ton for getting into. BUT…its such a tough job market and industry. Keep this in mind…99% turnover. can you bring in assets? i think as a military vet, you can target that market. some of those vets have started good businesses…your target market.

I solute you for serving our country.

Sep 3, 2013 4:40 pm

I’m a former EJ rep that tried to do what you want to do: relocate and open an office away from where you currently are. It’s tough. Mega tough to choose the right area when you don’t know where to look. EJ is very geo-territorial, meaning the area you choose can make or break you. Jones reps get very pissy with new reps prospecting in their areas, so you’ll need to pick an area that is both affluent enough to support your business and open for a new office.

I have no idea how well EJ does in Vegas or Phoenix but their brand of door-knocking prospecting did not fly at all in the DC metro area and I’ve heard the same about other major cities. Maybe call up one of the existing Jones reps currently working there? They’re pretty friendly and willing to talk to noobs. Phone calls and more standard prospecting techniques worked much, much better. However, I’m originally from NC and Jones is huge down there.

Do you have any interest in staying in SC?

Sep 3, 2013 10:28 pm

mbaswim: That is my concern about starting from scratch in a new area. We really want to get out of the South, absolutely hate the humidity. However, we have discussed if we had to stay here we would look at Charlotte area. I know it isn’t SC but just want out of this state in particular.

Sep 4, 2013 1:56 pm

mbaswim: THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE TO YOUR COUNTRY! I, too, was in USAF-- I was a commissioned officer and served for 4 1/2 years after which I spent many years in a number of different careers to determine what I “wanted to be when I grew up” so to speak. I wanted to use my MBA and years of experience in both sales and business management. About 15 years abot, I started with MSSB (MSDW at the time) but found they were more focused on simply gathering assets as a investment broker, and not on a comprehensive approach helping clinets achieve their financial goals. After nearlly 2 years, I left MS and interviewed with Edward Jones, UBS, Payne Webber, and others, before settling on Ameripirse Financial (at the time it was known as American Express Financial Advisors). For the past 13+ years I have been fulfilling my dream of helping people make good choices about thier money in order to reach their goals and “make their dreams come true.” Perhaps the best way ot break into this industry now is to work a couple of years in a bank as an employee financial advisor, then look for opportunities to become independent, like I am. BEST OF LUCK on your pursuit.

Sep 5, 2013 9:01 pm

Thanks for your service. Your background will help you wherever you apply. The training at EJ is designed to start a practice from scratch, and yes they will let you apply for a location out of state. I almost did that. This is a very hard business and there is a reason why the industry as a whole has high turnover. What I like about EJ is the goals the first couple years are achievable. Plus, if you can consistently open 10 accounts per month, you will catch some positive attention. There are plenty of vets that would be glad to give away a part of their book in the form of a Goodknight so they can take their business to the next level and other incentives. They are just afraid of people applying on a whim and washing out.

Sep 7, 2013 9:46 pm

If you go to ML, UBS or MSSB only do it if you can get on a team and not just any team. The team would need to want YOU specifically because they want something you bring to the table such as your contacts with officers, etc. Stay away from any teaming that is really nothing more than you doing their prospecting for you.

If the team will not give you assets to help you over humps then you are just there to help them get your assets when you leave. This may seem harsh but you are about to enter a harsh reality.

If you go to Edward Jones only go if you get a commitment of either taking over an existing office or a Goodknight and, again, not just any office/Goodknight. If the assets you will be gifted or inherit are not a minimum of $10MM forget it.

It is extremely difficult to make it without some assets to start out with. The industry is scattered with people who knew they would defy the odds who did not. Yes, it gets done but it’s rare without assets.

The wirehouses are good for resumes but have minimal training. Edward Jones is not viewed as a premium place to be but they have solid training.

Thank you for your service. Keep us informed.

Sep 26, 2013 3:09 pm

As many said, thank you for your service to our country. I will comment on Edward Jones’ training, it’s very solid. Especially if they provide you the opportunity to go through the forces program, which is designed specifically for ex service members. It’s a little more lengthy than the typical training, but it’s pretty much guarenteed to be worth your while on the other end.

Now obviously that depends on location, timing, etc…market’s have been very generous leading to fewer flameouts with big offices for the taking, but they still definitely are there…and if you can’t get that, you’ll at least end up with a good knight one would assume.

They’ll let you go to SC, AZ, Vegas, wherever you want…but if they put you in a fat office, you better be ready to produce.

Sep 26, 2013 11:32 pm

USAA is hiring all levels of advisors throughout the country. You’d be an ideal fit and have a decent base salary while you learned the business.