Wirehouses v. Regionals v. Insurance v. Banks

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Apr 30, 2008 11:05 am

I’ve spent a few weeks reading through many of the threads/posts for insight as to whether this would be a good career transition and have posted one question concerning prospecting.  From what I’ve been able to gather, the various places to start in this industry can be summed up as follows.  I’ve tried to speak generally so I’m aware there will be some variance based on company/manager, but if I’m wrong in any way, please correct me:

  Wirehouse:  Biggest names with biggest platform, but with that comes biggest asset hurdles and a focus on HNW and UHNW clients.  Highest starting salary and structured training programs, but also the highest production goals/requirements.   Regionals:  Similar asset gathering and training model as wirehouse, but willing to accept lesser accounts and also may be limited in platform.  Lower salary to start and it only lasts a year v. the 2 at most wirehouses.   Insurance company:  Initial focus is on insurance products but virtually anyone with a job is a viable prospect, particularly if they have a family, and you may be able to leverage this relationship into more investment business down the line.   Banks:  Easiest to prospect but often there is no training and office politics can make your job very difficult as you may be viewed as "competition" for deposit assets.  Also, your platform may be limited.   Assuming all of this is relatively true, why wouldn't someone who has some experience in the workforce and isn't right out of school opt to try to make it at a wirehouse or regional and opt for the other 2 options if they aren't doing well gathering assets in the HNW and UHNW space?  Or does it make more sense to start at a bank or insurance company where it'll be easier to get your feet wet and then try to move to a wirehouse/regional?  Any help is greatly appreciated
Apr 30, 2008 12:02 pm

That's not a bad analysis.  What's best is an individual answer.  If one fails out of the wirehouse, they'll be able to get a job with the insurance company, but not vice versa.

However, you post seems to imply that the wirehouse is the better job than the insurance company, so one should start there if possible.   If someone agrees with that, then I agree with you. 

To each his own, but I'll give you my 2 cents as to why someone who could get hired at a wirehouse might choose to work at an insurance company instead.   Never mind.  I'll let you do it.  It will be helpful to you.  Can you name a bunch of reasons why someone who has their choices of jobs might choose the insurance company route?    
Apr 30, 2008 12:56 pm

Oh, I guess the implication that a wirehouse is a “better” job comes from whether you want to work more on investments.  In this case you’ll probably have bigger clients and a bigger platform.  I totally agree that the “best” job is an individual choice and is based on a number of factors, not purely economic reasons.

  As to why someone with a choice would choose the insurance company route, I can think of a bunch of reasons.  If you want more of a "financial planning" practice I think an insurance company can be a much better place to start.  I get the impression that insurance is somewhat ignored at the wirehouses and regionals even though it is an integral part of anyone's overall financial plan.  If your initial sale with someone is for insurance services early in their career your more likely to be their go to person as they move up in the world and start to focus on things such as retirement and college funding.    It also depends on what your network looks like.  If you have high hurdles but you haven't cultivated some contacts who can help you reach these goals you've upped the degree of difficulty significantly.  At an insurance company I think you have a greater ability to grow with your client.  If you're at a wirehouse you could be out of a job before your prospect has enough investable assets to be of any help.
Apr 30, 2008 1:01 pm

Contact me via private message , I can give you some insight on options.

Apr 30, 2008 1:11 pm


  Wirehouse: Good platfrom, not necessarily the best. Good training on a relative basis. That is, none of the trainers is, or has been successful as a financial advisor. Some are failed advisors. Yet, they can tell you how to do it? That's the paradox of the training process. Offices tend to be highly political. Not kissing up can in many places be a career decision. In some  firms  this is ingrained in the management culture. Also, generally speaking, less payout and less patience with subpar performance.   Regionals: Regionals cover a wide range of firms. Some are small and like what you picture. Most are however much like wires when it comes to platform and training salary. Look around these firms are out there. The platform differences you are seeing may apply only to certain market segments, UHNT for example, that few reps will ever access. Regional firms have a lot to offer starting with higher payouts. Better back office support, in office support, a simplified decision making process and BOMs that can actually make a decison.   Both wires and regionals require self starter types who can build a business from the ground up.   Insurance company: Another way for self starters to build a successful business. Best agents are those who stick to insurance and become a valuble resource to clients. Worst are those who are  insurance specialist one day and investment specialist the next. Best to focus on HNW and use insurance to solve their problems. Lots of money to be made and very hard to succeed.   Banks: Not a layup for the reasons you mentioned. Also not a layup because bankers think like, well, bankers. PNC for example prods its broker reps to give up their 1 mil plus accounts to the HNW division with that division giving the brokers an equal dollar amount of sub million dollar accounts. The first problem is that the bankers even think this way, the second is that the brokers never get any accounts in return. In my neck of the woods, the people in charge of the brokerage units at our area's banks have no business running anything. They are bank people who climbed the ass kissing pole. Clueless!!! Not that it's that way everywhere, but living in a major metro area i would be hard pressed to believe it's different anywhere else. On a positive note, the bank is a good place for a poor prospector, non boot strap type of person.   I won't talk about the advantages of Independents because they are for experienced reps. However, down the road another good venue to consider.
Apr 30, 2008 2:40 pm

Good stuff.  I didn’t know that some regionals offered higher payouts.  Yeah, I omitted Independents because they don’t seem like a viable entry place for most people.  As for the training at wirehouses and regionals, I didn’t think of terms of good training, rather structured training.  A lot of the issues you raised have been raised in a lot of the posts I’ve read and it seems that the branch you’re in is the great variable in terms of training/office politics. 

  I've also noticed that many people on these boards debate the pros and cons of joining established teams or partnering up with an established rep.  How does this happen?  As a trainee are you supposed to seek out a team/rep and prove yourself or do teams ask you to join after seeing how you operate and determining you'd be a good fit?
Apr 30, 2008 5:27 pm

I’m brand new so take this with a grain of salt…

One positive of working with EJ is that you may have the opportunity to not only be given a book of 5mm or 10mm through the goodknight program but to also work alongside a very successful broker whose reputation is somewhat dependent on your success.   I think you’d be hard pressed to find that situation anywhere else if you are just starting out.

Apr 30, 2008 9:52 pm

I’m on the con side of the team concept. The firms love teams because the only way the assets leave is if the senior partner leaves. That creates a huge problem for the junior partner(s) when the team thing isn’t working for them any longer. Lots of years of lots of hard work could be down the tubes.

  Nothing wrong with finding some strong mentors, but I'd recco building it as a solo. You're either going to do it or not. Team doesn't matter.
May 1, 2008 2:08 pm

Thanks.  Most of the posts I’ve seen on this subject also seem to recommend against the team idea for the reasons you’ve stated.  Does anyone know of someone who’s had a positive experience partnering with a more experienced rep?