Undergrad/Intern Advice?

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Aug 11, 2005 1:33 pm

First off, this is a great board, I've learned so much from reading everyone's posts.

I am currently a junior at Westmont College pursuing degrees in both Finance and Theology. I just completed a summer-long internship with AXA. It was a good experience but it was way way too much insurance for me. I'de like to get into the brokerage aspect of the business. Anyway, I am starting to think about opportunites for next summer and would GREATLY appreciate any advice from you all who are already in the business. Are internships the only way to go? I've been pounding the pavement in my hometown (Denver/Colorado Springs) going to all the brokerage houses and am having a hard time finding anything. Any ideas or comments? Thanks again.

Aug 11, 2005 2:35 pm

Hey pal.. As you will read there are challenges being young in this industry, but like anything its not impossible. The failure rate is high reguardless if you are young or old so give it a shot.

Its good that you are exploring all options to determine the best way for your future. One option that worked for me was utilizing the universities career resources. I found out who was involved with firms and talked to them. From this I was offered two positions. In the end I chose an independent associate over the firms, but different strokes for different folkes.

Personally I think there is an advantage to gaining experience and being diverse in multiple areas or industries. The more diverse you are the more people you meat and the more you have in common with these people. Another way to become diverse is to join a lot of organizations. Anything from Lions, Knights of Columbus, Republican Town Committee to business and Toastmasters clubs are great places to start.

Good luck and stay focused. Do you have sales experience? Networking experience with diverse populations? Do you have established relationships with professionals and associates?

Aug 11, 2005 10:21 pm

Where in the country are you located?

Aug 11, 2005 10:32 pm

Theophilus said:

"I've been pounding the pavement in my hometown (Denver/Colorado Springs) going to all the brokerage houses and am having a hard time finding anything. Any ideas or comments? Thanks again."


I know ya'll don't have a whole lot of smarts down there in GA, but seriously...way to make UGA proud. 

Aug 11, 2005 10:34 pm

By the way, in case you won't be able to figure this one either later this fall, Tennessee is "up" on the map from GA...see you in Neyland Stadium.

Go VOLS!!!

Aug 12, 2005 9:13 am

If you haven’t had any luck with the wirehouses in Denver try contacting the independent offices with firms like RJFS & LPL.  (You can find them on their public websites, checking their “office locators”.)  These are independent businesses that often love to have cheap (or free) intern help.  They’re often financial planning focused.  One large one with RJFS you might call is Mark Smith in Englewood, 303/768-0007.  Mark is one of the largest producers w/ RJFS &  has a large financial planning/tax planning practice (he’s also a CPA). 

Aug 12, 2005 1:24 pm

Thnaks for the advice, i'll definately look into those two firms. As far as Mark Smith, My internship at AXA was with a guy exactly like him. I'm trying to change things up a bit by looking more toward the brokerage (of which i did relatively nothing) aspect and away from Life Insurance and taxes and CPA's (my entire AXA Internship).  

Anyone else got any advice, especially dealing with the big brokerage houses? how about the investment banks in town?

Thanks Again.

Aug 12, 2005 3:01 pm

Theo, obviously do whatever you choose re Smith, but because he does financial planning & tax planning doesn’t mean he’s just an insurance salesman or anything else remotely related to AXA reps.  The vast majority of his business is investment business, mainly fee-based asset management for high net worth clients.  Now, if what you’re looking for is a traditional commission based stockbroker, then he’s not for you.

Aug 12, 2005 3:06 pm


I think you watched boiler room one to many times, that show is over

Aug 12, 2005 3:11 pm

At this point, interning really is your only option, because of the whole...Your still in college thing?? A training program at a firm would be next logical step. Jones is first choice. Wires.....Hey, if you want to go and work for Merrill or Smith Barney, find a way to get in. Be persistant, but careful. Two of the biggest brokers in our office (ML) all but begged and pleaded to get hired back 15 years ago. (hey maybe if a guy is motivated enough to get a job, he'll be as motivated to find clients).

Like Executivejock mentioned, diversity and experience is something you need to have. Your age will make it very difficult....Think about it for a second....You are going to have to find many people, not just a dozen or so, who will make a conscious decision to hand over their life savings to you, because they feel YOU are the best person they know to manage it.

Your age on the other hand...is an advantage. I'm 38, this is my 2nd career. I see guys 35 in my firm running ethical good businesses, annuitized making $300,000 - $500,000 or more. (Gone by 4:30 - no weekends!!!) They started right out of college, and found a way to survive. To just hang in there and stay employed. I know when your in college, you just assume that when your 35 your going to be making big$ (If your ambitious any way...Iknow I did). But it's not that EZ. There are 3rd generation business owners, with good solid organizations that don't make over $150,000. a year. Most lawyers and docs don't make more than $200,000 -$300,000 and these guys have tons of expensive education and loans, and that's after years of practice.(These careers are also plagued with headaches and long long hours) Outside of being an actor or athlete or landing some 1 in a million opportunity, what other career can offer you this type of opportunity.  

Aug 12, 2005 3:46 pm

BankRep, what's the Boiler Room? I'm guessing it's a show, and if it is, it probably was before my time.

Aug 12, 2005 3:51 pm

Thanks for the help moneyadvisor, i really appreciate it.

Aug 12, 2005 11:21 pm

Good concept of age can be a plus. There was a big debate that lack of diversity, experience and an extablished network all but ensures failure. Well the fact is 90% fail so to say the least this is a challenging career.

Of course there unique cases where people with little experiences enter a field and excel. This is a one in a million case.

I have been an optomist my whole life and people look as me as a success, but I spent over 10 years networking, communicating and establishing myself. During this time I also completed multiple degrees and joined and participated in a ton of organizations.

I am not saying do what I did, but my point is this drastically improved the chances of success in this challenging industry.

Reguardless... GOOD LUCK, but keep on moving forward in a diverse manner.

Aug 16, 2005 11:09 am

Boiler Room with Ben Affleck classic broker movie probably 4 or 5 years old, if thats before your time you must be 12.