Got an interview at Merrill Lynch, what to expect

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Jul 4, 2014 3:55 pm

Hey all,

new to the forums. I am so thankful to have found this resource on the web. To give a background of myself, I have had experience working at an investment company and had a stint at an investment banking internship. I have a BS in finance at a big ten school and a master in finance at a regional school in the west coast. 

I actually started managing people's money on my own about 3 years ago, and subscribe to the warren buffet style of investing. My investment strategy will probably incorporate style boxing too...

After interviewing with a team in well known branch in northern california, I will be interviewing with the senior VP at another branch office. I just took the FIAT test so I hope all goes well. The team wants someone to eventually clear LOS 9 and then go over to one of the bank of america branches. It seems like a great place to get referrals, in addition to cold calling and other business development activities. 

I have not been instructed to create a business plan or anything but is it safe to assume I would need to present one? What other things should I prepare for? I didn't apply on a website or anything, just an ad off craigslist, and I think the team liked me so I now will interview with the higher up to gain approval. It seems like a meet and greet to me. 

The good things going for me is that I have some accounts to move over, but the $250k minimum would make a lot of accounts not worth moving over. So minus the smaller accounts I would be probably left with $350k to move over. 

I also have connections with the former president of a major financial services firm. I do web development on the side and he needed someone to help with his website. I am hoping to get good with him and meet his friends. Just door knocking around his ultra rich neighborhood may be worth it, although security is pretty tight around that neighborhood. 

Can anybody who received an offer from Merrill give some insight?

Jul 6, 2014 5:24 pm

First off, I’m surprised that ML is still hiring PMDs that aren’t bringing a book over from another firm or are immediately joining an established team. Here’s what you can expect:

Throw your “investment strategies” out the window. You will be given zero discretion over managing money. Your only job will be to bring in assets and let someone else manage it for you.

Take 95% of your “network” and plan on them not moving a dime to you for at least 4 years. Now, if you still think you can bring over $500k in new assets every month, then you have a shot at graduating.

If you can choose the lower Tier comp plan, take it. It’ll give you more cushion to hit your hurdles.

Don’t fall into the trap of selling A Shares and other crap with heavy PC commissions. Sure that’ll get you thru this month’s hurdle but with a 99% failure rate in the program, you will want assets you can take with you somewhere else if/when you are shown the door.

Don’t think a senior advisor is just going to hand you clients b/c he’s “nearing retirement”. That’s one of the biggest lies in the industry. If you are given a client, it’ll be one you will soon learn no one else at the firm wanted. The only way to survive is to bring in clients on your own.

Don’t expect the guy running PMD to help you. They are too busy trying to survive themselves. With a constantly evolving comp plan that tries to force our the smaller tier FA’s, it’s every man for himself.

Be prepared to sell a lot of BofA products. Credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts, etc. You aren’t a stock broker, you are a distribution channel for BofA.

If none of this deters you, then good luck. Also, read this thread thoroughly. There is a lot of accurate statements here

Jul 7, 2014 2:04 am

Hey Gekko thanks for the reply.

I sincerely hope I have a say on what the client can invest in. That is one of the reasons why I want to be a financial advisor in the first place. I don’t think #1 is what you are trying to say. I know that being an FA is sales #1 and then investments #2, so if that’s what you are trying to say then ok.

I can bring $350k from the start, I asked my clients (Ive been managing their money for 3 years and they trust me) and they said of course. Im assuming I will be part of the BFA program and so ill be at a bank branch and setting up meetings. $500k/month is doable, and I intend to use those referrals from the bank, cold calling, cold walking, using alumni connections, and hustling.

Ok, I will choose the lower tier comp to buy me some more time

Yea my main focus is annuitized production. 1% of AUM to PCs. My strategy is value investing/dividend investing coupled with style boxing and a lil international investing. As a FA, that is my job, to help clients to invest, and give them advice. Perhaps Ill find a nice little niche like variable annutities for those who are ready to retire, and a sprinkle of life insurance. I love the flexibility of this job.

I will be joining a team from the start, and I don’t know if I can fully trust them, but they have given me no indication not too. I think they would want their team members to succeed, and in the case of a PMD dropping out, yes they get their assets, but I think there is more to gain winning than there is in the fallout. One of the members told me he would give me around $1 million in assets (probably his lower production accounts), and that they are really interested in getting me through the hurdles so that they can have me at a bofa bank branch. Ill make sure whatever referrals I do bring will have a fair split. With 3 people on the team including myself, that may be 33%, 33%, 33%, or 50-50 on the two people that close the meeting. I am not too sure. The other team member has a $100M book, so he or she may or may not be as hungry.

Yea I won’t, every man for himself.

My plan is to sell myself and my expertise. I have a BS in finance, a master in finance and just took the CFA level 1. I also have a finance website with 10,000 visitors a month. I will use Merrill as a branding tool, but I won’t have the heart to push banking products. I don’t know how hard bofa will push though.

Apr 9, 2015 3:18 pm

Hey apac how did it go with your Merrill Lynch experience?

Apr 11, 2015 2:15 am

Good, month 2 in production and have $1.5MM in assets. Gotta keep on going