BAI, continued

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May 21, 2008 3:12 am

I was contemplating just writing in the other thread, but I think that most people will have skipped it b/c the thread is so long.  But I have a similar situation that I’d like to get your opinion about.

  Currently I am at a reputable wirehouse and I was approached by the market director at BAI last week.  He did the exact same song and dance people here mentioned about how great the position was.  It didn't even seem like an interview, he was just selling me on the idea of starting out working at BAC is way better vs. starting out at a wirehouse (he knew I was only 2 years in the biz.)  Actually, he was an fa at my firm for over 10 years before and he knew all our platforms and products, even staff.   So pretty much he glorified that at BAC I'd have access to all the clients and referrals from bankers and client managers.  Also said that I'd have my own assistant (like I do now.)  He didn't really tell me if I would be at one branch or several.  All that was said was that he would let me rotate around until I found some that I liked.  He also mentioned that he didn't have enough F.A.s (a bad sign?)  Told me that all of his fa's in the region have at least 450k in gross/yr (should I ask for written proof?)  He said my payout would be around 40% (probably generalizing or should I ask for the grid?)  He told me that my schedule would be super flexible and they'd give me a laptop.   Based on all he said, it sounds pretty good.  If any of you were me, what questions would you ask him and would you want him to provide proof for his answers?
May 21, 2008 8:33 am

The vultures prey on the weak and the young. You are still a pup in the business and a perfect victim (candidate) for this guy because you admittedly don’t know what questions to ask. Kudos to you for performing your due diligence.

  The bottom line is this: their value proposition (premier bank partner to generate leads and appointments) is great in theory but sucks in reality... except for a few. Those few aren't giving up their great gig any time soon so you go into a new program starting at the bottom. The constant turnover (and movement) at the premier banker/teller/branch manager level is what kills this program so you basically become an wirehouse broker in a bank generating your own leads for a crappy payout.   And you will share an assistant and receive little in the way of formal training.   But hey, things may have changed since I last spoke to my buddies still over there. That was Monday. 
May 21, 2008 9:58 am

Don’t believe a word.  As you no doubt read in the other thread and what was just posted here, you will be be promised so many things that just will not materialize.  In addition to that, you will be subjected to so many time wasting activities in the name of doing things their way, ie. client notes, financial plans, role playing with your CM (if you have one), not to mention the approvals you have to get just to do business such as break point worksheets, mutual fund switch letters, pre-approval to do a trade greater than $100m.  Just try to write an annuity ticket!  Etc, etc, etc.  You will not believe the amount of time you will spend to accomplish these things, especially if you are not in an OSJ with the administrative manager or market director to approve them then and there. 

As far as getting a laptop, you either get a laptop or a desktop and everyone chooses a laptop.  No big deal.  Which brings me to their overall technology.  It is awful.  There are so many different systems.  You have to re-login constantly through the day if you don’t use one within a short period of time.

The only type of business they really support is the managed account (either SMA or mutual funds).  If you do any individual stock business, forget it.  The research is very difficult to use.  Mutual funds are even difficult because of the aforementioned paperwork requirement.

As far as a 40% payout, don’t count on it.  The grid is very low compared to almost any wirehouse and with the holdbacks you will be lucky to have a net payout in the 20-25% range.  You get the rest based on meeting quarterly metrics in the form of an arbitrary bonus.

I will grant that there are success stories but they are few and far between.  If you were to be able to  take a candid poll of most people there, they would tell you they are not happy.

May 21, 2008 10:03 am
Assistants are normally split between FA's that combine for a $1 million in production.  So unless you're doing that, you will be sharing an assistant.    BAC, with their massive losses last quarter, is implementing a lot of budget cuts.  On the investment side, we have been asked to reduce our Fedexes, assistants are not being replaced, and expenses are not reimbursed without prior pre-approval.   If you don't have a large book, BAC can still be a great way to start. But don't count on the CM's for anything. And it's not like the traditional bank environment where you can sit around all day and roll CD's.    Lack of FA's isn't a bad thing. It could just mean that the more experienced FAs have left and there are more accounts for you to grab.  I would find it hard to believe that every single FA is grossing over $450K.  The territory can average that but you'll see higher numbers than that at many other firms.   You're happy about the laptop? I heard they'll also give you a phone.
May 21, 2008 1:05 pm
I agree with everything already said in this post and the previous topic.  I keep deleting what I'm typing because it is all repetitive. Hopefully anyone looking at this firm will realize how unhappy most people are here. Most people feel trapped  by the promissory notes they don't have the money to pay back, because they spent it while building their book back. I'm talking newer employees from the last 3-4 years.  Beyond that just take a look how many 500k plus producers have left for other reasons. I also noticed last week that I don't get paid any commissions on stock or bond trades under $90. Yet the bank decides to charge the customer and keep the money! Remember that everything here is driven to help the stock price and they will nickel and dime each department to make up for Investment Banking's stupidity in the mortgage fiasco.
May 21, 2008 3:37 pm

Thanks for your responses.  Im currently content with my situation, but the pressure is at it’s peek right now.  My BOM has been on a hacking mode and has already deleted 4 new FA’s. 

  Im in the "above national average" section as far as my numbers go, but I am at the top for having a reputation for being the hardest worker.  Like anyone, I would like to have some sense of safety if there is such a thing in this business.  I was exploring this option b/c on the surface it seemed that way.   Can anyone tell me how at a bank they divide up the book?  For example, if I was the designated FA at one location, do I essentially inherit the clients at just that one branch?  How does this work?  Maybe BACFA can answer that for me.   As far as the laptop part, well I didn't mention it b/c of the "coolness" factor.  I was suprised that the market director told me that my schedule would be so flexible that I could make my own hours and do my work at a Starbucks on the laptop if I didn't feel like going in to the branch.   Lastly, people mention here that I would find out that my only clients I will have are the ones that I bring in on my own (just like a wirehouse.)  How can this be?  If that's true, it totally defeats the purpose of working as a bank broker.  It should be you inherit some book right away and get warm leads, then you bring in your own stuff.  How can it be the other way around?   Where I might be moving to is one of the biggest markets in the country.  He said plainly that any FA's that are in the region that are 5 years plus in the biz do AT LEAST 450k gross, BUT that's only his words.  Who knows if thats an average or not, but he didn't make it seem that way.  Another part I don't like at all is for me to have pressure to give loan referrals to the client managers.  Currently, I have no restrictions on how to build a business or manage one.  As long as I put up the numbers I'll have people off my back.
May 21, 2008 7:50 pm


You sound like I did when I came over from EDJ. You have a certain expectation when you come to the bank from a wirehouse.   It is by no means a gravy train of referrals at BAC. You expect that because that is what you are told and that is the expectation as a bank broker. You are entirely dependent on client managers for referrals or personal bankers at the branches. The problem is that their incentive plan gets farther and farther away from getting quarterly bonuses for referring to investments. It is actually a 2:1 deposit to investment relationship. They get twice the credit for putting money in deposits and lose money when they refer to investments. There main focus seems to be on mortgages and HELOCS now. You don't get to get on the computer and look at all the bank's clients and look at cd's coming due. We are not allowed access to those systems. If we were and weren't dependent on CM's this place would be fabulous. The bank would rather keep all those deposit assets on the bank side because the spread is so much greater for them than when it goes to investments. So essentially you're looking for money from people to bring in from outside firms. In terms of the individual branches book, most of the fa's have inherited previous fa's books which are all spread around many branches. It has nothing to do with your geographic location. Going forward you will be assigned to branches and you will be the one who gets new referrals from clients of those branches.   The laptop is nice  because you can work from home.    
May 21, 2008 9:07 pm

The availability of takeover accounts depends on your market.  If you are going into a market that has had little turnover and the manager is good at recruiting, then it is unlikely that you will inherit a good book.  Granted, there aren't too many markets like that (they're mostly in California).  And even within the same market, the inherited books will vary.  There was one new FA that joined and within a week, two existing FA's quit. He inherited their books (not sure of the amount) but $10 million of it was in wrap accounts.  Another new FA (probably started a month later) was given 300 accounts with an account value of less than $25K.  I think the manager actually used "less than $25K" as a filter.  And they were scattered about in a 60 mile radius.  His name is now on every statement and he's getting all the delightful service calls.

In most markets, you do not inherit the books that come with the branches.  BAC is moving away from that type of model (as opposed to old Fleet Bank or most other bank programs).   They want to be like a wirehouse with the extra CM bringing in the referrals.    Your schedule is flexible because the Market Director can't make you accountable for your hours.  He's too busy recruiting.   
May 21, 2008 9:38 pm

if i were you i would ask the market director for the list of the ytd production #'s for the fa’s in the market. then i would ask him how long each of the FA’s have been there and which ones are the recruits that came over in the last 2 years.  the market directors have these list of production rankings and usually break the market into quintiles.  then i would talk to 3-5of the recent reruits and ask them why there productions numbers are so low and how much revenue they were doing prior to coming over to bai. this will expose bai and convey to you how unsuccessful the majority of the recruits have been in the last few years.  oh and finally i would ask them what payout they are getting.  most will tell you they are doing about 100-200k in gross have been there for 2 years or longer and receive a net payout of about 25%.  do the math and you can figure out if this is where you want to be in1-2 years.  unless you get a killer book or some special deal, this is going to be where you will be producing.

May 22, 2008 3:01 am

Wow, extremely helpful everyone.  I got a call back from the director, but I wasn’t able to answer.  He actually is recommending me talk to several of his chosen FAs and will give me their phone numbers this week.  Thanks today1 for the list of questions to ask.  But do you think that by asking for proof of production rankings shows that I don’t believe in the integrity of his answers?  Obviously I think it’s a good question, but at the same time you don’t want to seem disrespectful by questioning.

  Based on the last 3 responses (and others) it seems that it's obviously not a cakewalk, but I didn't expect that it would be.  I've worked at a bank and I know that there are more politics involved.  Looking at peoples responses I guess there is no exact science on how the book is divided up and is contingent on many factors.  So as a newbie, you wouldn't inherit a portion of a book right away, but just future referrals from that point on?   If I can't call on maturing cds, then what other ways would you convert banking clients into investment clients?   I see people talking about how small the initial payout is in the beginning years and how they are lower than wirehouse payouts.  Lets say that I only make the 100-200k gross my 1st 2 years at the 25% payout plus a salary... compared to a wirehouse payout I'd make more at a wirehouse, but wouldn't be victim to the quick terminations that wirehouses routinely give out. I can't say that Im the most ambitious person out there, but in my view I'd rather SURVIVE the first few years and make less in the beginning in order to set myself to make the bigger $$$ in the long run.  After solidifying and building relationships, I could have the option to go indy or take a paycheck to a wirehouse years later.  I don't think this would be an uncommon event or do you think my statement flawed?  Is my view that banks are more tolerable of "decent to above decent" numbers correct vs. the wirehouse's intolerance of "decent to above decent" numbers?   Lastly, from all of you who are working or have worked at BAC, do you really regret the move?  Perhaps you were already seasoned and came into a place of broken promises, but if you were me (younger and hardly w/ any solid network to speak of) would this really be a bad place to consider for survival then progress into other options later on?  My college of mine had a partner that worked at BAC for 5 years (he was from China) and after building the relationships he moved to ML now with a solid business practice.  That's an option I'd like to have after a few years. 
May 23, 2008 2:38 am


So do you all think that starting out in your initial FA years at a bank like BAC is a bad thing?  Forget compensation for a sec, but is pressure to perform just as much as a wire?  I hope not, but unless someone else can say otherwise...
May 23, 2008 7:01 am

I wouldn’t waste everyone’s time here if you are set on going to BofA no matter what the feedback is. If you heeded any advice from anyone that knows anything about the place, this thread would die a quick and painless death.

May 23, 2008 1:45 pm

That made no sense

May 23, 2008 1:48 pm

Hey Rook

I sent you a pm, did you get it?  
May 23, 2008 2:18 pm

Knowing the program intimately, I would say 90% of the negative comments are right on the money. I have seen some wire house types succeed but I have also seen the same wire house types fail. It depends on the MD and it depends on on your timing. Some of the MD’s are stand up guys and will give it to you straight, some are just desperate to recruit because they have a gun to their head. 

  There is one former MD who promised the same $30 M book to 3 different guys he was trying to recruit. After 4 months one FA who took the bait had about $3M (not $30) moved under his number. The $3 M consisted of old Q&R no load a/c's with an avg balance of about $5K-and thats the good news. The bad news was that all of the clients were located 1-1.5 hours away from the territory he was recruited into.   Right place, right time--it could be a great opportunity, but DO NOT expect Premier to give you anything. Set your expectations low and you wont be disappointed.
May 24, 2008 1:58 am

Stockboy, are you still weighing your options, or did you see the light one way or the other?

May 25, 2008 6:24 pm

stockguy, and yes I did decide.

Jun 17, 2008 2:49 pm


  Sent you a private email a few weeks ago....Are you still around? Can you reply?   daytradah
Jul 2, 2008 5:09 pm


  Any updates?...
Jul 3, 2008 1:28 am

I’d like to know if this is the same story at all of the banks (Wachovia-Wells)? Just so I got this straight. They lure you in with the promise of easy leads, pay you less but at least you get a 2yr cushion before you get fired.

Where as the wire houses will chew you up, but if you survive the first yr., don’t get burnt out, or what have you, one can actually make a decent living?