Career Change

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Jul 22, 2010 11:11 pm

I'm new to RR but have been reading many posts.  I could use some good advice on several issues.  First, a little info about me.  I've been in sales for 10 years, the last 6 in pharmaceuticals.  I have my Series 65 via a sponsorship from a family friend.  I am contemplating a career change and want to know if I should try to get started with Morgan Stanley or a firm like Waddell and Reed.  To be honest, the caliber of the individual seems to be much higher with ML and MSSB.  I have been interviewing with Waddell but they don't seem as sophisticated as ML or MSSB.  I am used to working with a huge company (Fortune 100) that has very high hiring standards.  I didn't get the feeling that Waddell is as selective as the wirehouses.  So, is Waddell a joke?  Should I try to start at a wirehouse?  

Jul 23, 2010 12:08 am


No one can offer you good advice (but many may offer you bad advice) without understanding why you are changing careers.  Is it just to make more money, or is it to have more freedom or to do something more fulfilling?

My sense of "sophisticated" for many in this business is that it is just a code word for "ability to take money from naive people."  ML and MSSB and all the wirehouses will certainly teach you that!

If what you really want is to do well by doing well for others, then I suggest RIA.  If it's anything else, I can't help you because you are in unfamiliar territory to me.

Jul 23, 2010 10:09 am

I wouldn't even compare Waddell to ML & MSSB. If you can get into ML or MSSB, I would go that route. They have much more credibility and offerings. The work will be more demanding but worth it. Of course, the ultimate goal would be to gain experience and go Indy when you are ready.

Waddell will hire anyone and everyone. Your instincts are usually correct. Stick with them and don't look back. Good Luck. 

Jul 23, 2010 1:09 pm

I imagine you are contemplating leaving pharma because the "writing is on the wall" over long term downsizing. You will get a lot of interest from the likes of MSSB, UBS, ML because they want your warm market, in other words, your doctors that you have been calling on. Those relationships usually don't bring in much business since your doctors will usually not translate your pharma expertise to financial expertice. Avoid WR, a schlock house. Be prepared to make less money for several years and to work 50-60 hours a week cold calling for at least 3 years. No vacations. And after an initial salary period, straight commission. If you are sharp and work hard cold calling, you will be making VP type of money.

Jul 23, 2010 3:39 pm


My reasons are threefold.  First, I have been interested in the field for 3-5 years.  Considered making the move several years ago but my wife was really concerned about the crisis.  Reason two, I want to make more money and have an opportunity to have a great lifestyle.  Reason three, my current field, pharmaceuticals, has been going through contractions for the last 3 years and the future doesn't look any brighter as more doctors are closing their doors to rep.'s.  This will only accelerate as doctors continue to be paid less for doing the same amount of work.  So, I think my motivation for making the career change is good and reasonable.   As far as sophisticated, I used that word because the Principal at my local Waddell and Reed office acknowledged that he doesn't know half the crap he recites to clients...he's basically regurgitating whatever the analysts are saying.  I know that happens at times but I have a true interest in economic theory and an interest to understand things from a macro perspective.  Not to mention, he was the epitome of the "used car salesman" mentality.  You're an advocate of the RIA model, which I am as well, but can I make a decent living doing that in the near term.  I currently make around 80,000/year plus car.  Also, I'm assuming that it could be more difficult attracting clients without the name recognition of a big firm even if the merits of the RIA are better for the client.  My thinking for the big firm is that name recognition will get me the appointment and I can still build my practice around the fee based model.  What do you think?

Jul 23, 2010 3:48 pm

I'm in the exact same situation as you and also planning on making the jump from pharma to this.  You should read this article regarding Waddell.
Jul 23, 2010 4:40 pm


That's an interesting article.  Basically, it looks like Waddell is a bottom feeder firm.  Thanks for the article.  What firms are you looking at?

Jul 23, 2010 4:47 pm

Navet and llcoolj

Thanks for the advice.  One last thing.  I'm fairly honest about my abilities.  I have a good personality, am articulate, but I don't consider myself a "rainmaker".  When I'm at a cocktail party, I'm not the center of attention but I am outgoing and try to meet new people.  I normally spend a lot of time asking questions about other people and what they do for a living.  So, I'm not going to be the guy slinging one liners around and just attracting people because I'm so fun or cool.  Furthermore, I don't have any false expectations about turning my contacts from the pharma world into clients.  With all this being said, can I build a book of business by cold-calling, networking with center's of influence, and calling on small business owners?  Lastly, can this be done in 12-18 months time?  Thanks for any advice or insight.

Jul 23, 2010 5:02 pm



That's an interesting article.  Basically, it looks like Waddell is a bottom feeder firm.  Thanks for the article.  What firms are you looking at?


I have offers on the table with Waddell & Reed and Edward Jones. 

I'm going with Jones.  I would have gone with them even if  I hadn't read that article about Waddell.  Jones takes a more vested interest in their people when they first start out and, the home study they have us do is similar to what we are used to as reps.   Personally, I like their business model and wouldn't want to work at a wirehouse like MSSB.

Jul 24, 2010 1:23 am

You are obviously very thoughtful.  I think if you believe in yourself and the value you can offer clients, you can overcome the near term disadvantage of going RIA and be very successful in a couple of years - more successful and certainly more fulfilled than working for a wirehouse or affiliated with a B/D.  I am biased in that I have worked 20 years in corporate finance and have savings to support a multi-year investment in building my advisory business.  If you don't have that minor luxury, then choose the B/D whose values seem to align best with yours.  Assuming you have some, and I think you do, that will be no easy task.  I considered for many years getting into the business in a way that would offer limited financial risk, but I never could find an option with which I felt ethically comfortable.  I guess in my career I've come to know these firms too well.  Ignorance is bliss (but dangerous).  Good luck.

Oct 17, 2010 6:24 am

As long as you are happy with your work and you really need to work there is no reason to change your career.

Apr 20, 2011 3:35 am

I'm in the exact same situation as you and also planning on making the jump from pharma to this.