Smith barney versus Merrill Lynch

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Sep 1, 2005 1:39 pm

I would like to know if the myths are true about ML boot camp style training. I just got offers from ML and SB. FA Training program both offer $40K for 18 months the goes down every month until 25 month.

The bottom line is not being fired before time is up. Obviously you have to produce that goes with out saying, but I have heard that ML is extremly tough and most don't make it. Just would like some feed back on is it realistic to make it at ML. I have also heard they micro manage and you are not an entrepreneur.

Thank you

Sep 1, 2005 1:45 pm

Experience in a ML office may vary widely from location to location. I have been at ML for almost 2 years, and do not find a boot camp atmosphere at all. Everyone is pretty helpful, and yes,…the goals are tough to make. Nobody bothers me whatsoever. I come in early (there is perception) I leave most days for 3-4 hours to prospect and meet people, then I come back , make calls, paperwork and study for CFP course. .

Sep 1, 2005 2:13 pm

ML will have tougher requirements than SSB.  However, many thrive in that environment.  Many give the estimate of $15M in your first two years, but ML carries a such a strong name and has a great availability of products that it is very attainable.

Sep 1, 2005 3:08 pm

It can be done… There are FA’s in my branch that are killing it here everyday… I also work in a great branch/complex that has heavy hitters… Makes you work harder when you see it being done right in front of you. Makes you want to be a player as well… In my experience, Merrill makes you a producer or quickly realizes that you arent and trims the fat.

Sep 1, 2005 4:58 pm

[quote=cash0308]Fired before time is up. Obviously you have to produce
that goes with out saying, but I have heard that ML is extremly tough
and most don’t make it.


Merrill Lynch is the toughtest of all firms to make it at with respect
to their production requirements.  The fact is that most don’t
make it at all firms.  From what I’ve seen, the failure rate must
be 70% - 80% nowadays.  It used to be that you could cold call and
build your business with $20,000 accounts.  Not anymore. 
Everybody wants high net-worth.  Well, that nut is tough to crack
for a rookie.

A lot of people will say, “Merrill is the best blah blah blah.” 
ML is no stranger to growth by acquisition, and they have the highest
average production because they get rid of the lower producers that
others will take.  You’ll also find plenty of people with negative
things to say about ML.

Am I done ranting here?  All signs point to…

Sep 1, 2005 5:20 pm

I have not actually ever heard much negative about the firm. I have heard about the actions of a few people  employed by the firm.

Sep 1, 2005 5:53 pm

ML is not exactly the run of the gauntlet that some seem to think. I don't doubt that it was a less lenient place in the past. As the business has changed, so too has the firm. Stan probably has something to do with that. I can only speak of my complex, and from the conversations I have when with ML people at functions and trips.

 We have guys who have been here for 6-10 years, doing 250 - 400 gross. Maybe they would not have made the MS cuts, but they have been loyal through a very difficult period, they represent ML to the community, the firm still makes good money on their production, and most are annuitizing their books, which the firm wants. So they are not going to have huge production.

Being more annuitized as a firm, not only helps the individual advisor through the volatility in the marketplace, but also the firm. For the first two quarters this year, our profit was higher than any firm in the history of the business.(end of discussion!!)

I don't understand why it is so difficult to understand why Gross production is no longer an accurate measure of an advisors productivity (in the first stages of the career). Someone putting new assets into managed, or fee based business at 1%, is not going to show big numbers!!!! yeah.... if you are a 15 yr guy with 200 mil AUM you had better be doing over 1 million in production. But anymore, it takes 5 - 10 years to build a business. ML knows this, and encourages advisors to run their practices ethically, and profitably.

Sep 6, 2005 6:40 pm

I think it comes down to the Branch Manager.  Period

Sep 6, 2005 7:04 pm

You may have a point. The Branch, and possibly the regional director.

Sep 6, 2005 7:42 pm

Your Manager, your Director, your Associate Director, Your Coach, Your
Mentor…all of these people are objects those that fail place the
blame.  They can help to a degree, but the ones that make would
make it anywhere…period. 

If it is in you, and have the ability to get out there, open accounts,
and be an “ACATS Specialist” (tip the hat to Blarm)- then you will hit
your goals and make alot of money.  ML is a wonderful place, every
tool and resource you could ask for, but its no picnic to grow from
scratch.  I would imagine the same deal over at SB.

Sep 6, 2005 7:47 pm

One more item- You will accumulate stock in either firm as part of your
on-going comp.  Look at the market cap of ML vs Citigroup. 
Which stock do you want to own…if you want to get a third part about
ML, read Citigroups analysts view on ML!

Sep 7, 2005 10:51 am

"Your Manager, your Director, your Associate Director, Your Coach, Your Mentor...all of these people are objects those that fail place the blame.  They can help to a degree, but the ones that make would make it anywhere...period. "

As Right said, all these people contribute somewhat to your development and success- to a degree.. What it comes down to is you... I know, I know, thats just common sense, of course it falls on me.. But it amazes me how often I hear people complaining about management, support, endless meetings- it's all cr$p... Doesnt matter where you are- ML, LPL, MWD, etc- it comes down to your internal drive.. The firm isnt going to encourage you to cold call until 8pm ( long after the heavy hitters have left for a round of 18), or get you to come in on Sat morning ( after a long night of drinking Jack and COkes) to do paperwork from the previous week, etc, etc, etc... The frim provdes support and a salary to keep you afloat- people fail because most are unwilling to GET AFTER IT...

Sep 7, 2005 11:07 am

Yeah??? You are right…it definately comes down to the individual,…but…I do believe there can be a better fit, platform, atmosphere that will encourage a broker. example…I disagree with the Ed Jones platform - “A” share business, one broker office, I did not feel I could excel there. Moving to ML, as challenging as it is, has been a huge benefit to me, mostly psychologically.

Jan 1, 2007 3:37 pm

I have a few questions. Will ML fire a FA after two years if the FA is at 14.5 MM? If you bring in accounts less than 100k, do these accounts apply to that 15MM?


Jan 11, 2007 6:11 pm

for what I found out: 250k minimum, and yes they will fire you…at least thats what I have been told…

Jan 11, 2007 8:08 pm


I agree with what you are saying generally, but I would say that EDJ is a

good place for some people to start or stay. I agree with the A share

thing. We need more options. But a lot of us prefer the one-man-show

thing. I like opening the door every morning and locking it at night. It is

a great stepping stone to Indy if that is your choice. I do not think I

would have enjoyed or excelled in the wirehouse environment. However,

you, and many others have. Personally, I sort of ignore all of EDJ’s

production goals. I use the wirehouse’s as a benchmark. My goal is

$15mm after 2 years. I am utilizing some managed money, C-shares for

my smaller accounts (and yes, a lot of A share business), getting life

insurance on most of my clients, and I am not occupied with opening

dinky little accounts. I am trying to do it the right way. I might not knock

the ball out of the park right now, but in 5 years, I will be cruising.

So, it can be done the right way anywhere, it’s just up to the individual.

And, I have many of the people on this forum to thank for opening my

eyes a little bit to some of the options out there.

Jan 12, 2007 9:07 am


I have a few questions. Will ML fire a FA after two years if the FA is at 14.5 MM? If you bring in accounts less than 100k, do these accounts apply to that 15MM?



Find yourself a team and work for them.  That will allow you to learn to prospect instead of watching the market all day.  Under 100K accounts count, however, after you graduate, you won't get paid on less than 50,000 and I think that's moving to 100 soon.  The other cool part about a team is if you are short (the goals are 10MM annuitized, 15MM total), say you have 12MM annuitized, but only 2.5 non annuitized, they will gift you dead assets to help you pass.  In return, you are the designated biotch for 5 years.  It's a pretty fair trade though.

Jan 12, 2007 5:55 pm

entrylevel, will ML let you do accept gifts like that? I was under the impression that you need to bring it in yourself, and no gifts from colleagues…

Jan 14, 2007 6:13 pm

I am finishing up training with SB and have passed my Series 7 and 66. I cannot comment of ML, but SB has been an outstanding choice for me. The work environment is great and I have an outstanding branch manager. The other FAs are helpful and are all very nice. I could not be happier with my choice and absolutely love our platform. 

Jan 14, 2007 8:51 pm

I went through ML training ten years ago and found it tough, but the
training was great.  I left for AGE five years ago when they
instituted their small account policy and were going to force me to
give up 2/3rds of my book to the call center.  If you want great
training, ML is a fine place to start and if you cannot meet thier
minimums, but are doing decent numbers, there are several fine firms
that will welcome you.