The Parabrokers

I read “Introducing the Parabrokers” (October, 2003) with great interest. I work at a wirehouse for an advisor who manages $120 million in assets and generates over $900,000 in gross. I have been with her through two roller-coaster years, from promises made to promises broken, with more of the latter.

While this advisor was going through a major personal crisis (in the midst of a bear market, no less), she spent 90 percent of her time out of the office. Who ran her business in that time? I did — the registered associate or sales assistant. From “required minimums” in December to the proverbial “hand-holding call,” I handled her book well enough that other advisors come to me for advice — no kidding. All the while, I was promised better pay, along with a shot at playing a greater part in her business. Now that the market has bounced back, she has returned to active duty and is bringing her brother in to take over the business. I'll give you one guess who's soon going to be showing him the ropes.

I have been used and abused to the point where it is time to move on. But as I do, I want to offer praise to those advisors who hire, mentor and treat sales assistants with the respect they deserve. In this business, they are a rare breed indeed.
Name withheld
upon request
.

Your article on outstanding sales assistants was excellent, superb, enlightening and helpful. I have been a sales assistant for five years, and what your article did was describe my existence in this arena. This is a second career for me, but I often find myself wishing I'd chosen it much sooner, because it fits who I really am as a professional and as a person.

Thank you again for such insight into our profession and for letting the public know the value we bring. For some of the clients I serve, I have become a friend, confidant and even “family member,” and I love filling these roles. Like Kristen Pruitt (one of the sales assistants profiled in the Oct. 2003 issue), I sometimes feel like a “social worker,” but the reward of having a satisfied customer is well worth it.
Helen Alston
David A. Noyes
Chicago, Ill.

Waddell & Reed

I read with interest your recent article, “Growing Pains” (October, 2003), which focused on Waddell & Reed advisors' purported concerns and confusion regarding the company's strategic direction. In my view, the article misrepresented the company's commitment to its advisors, its strategic intentions and its communication to advisors. In addition, I believe the article also distorted advisors' sentiments regarding the company and many of its recent actions.

Yes, Waddell & Reed has been expanding its business model to increase the sales of its excellent investment products in channels beyond Waddell & Reed advisors. I believe this is a positive and healthy step for the organization, and I know that many top-producing advisors share this view.

Company management has been forthright in communicating to advisors about non-proprietary distribution and its role in the company's future. More important, in its words and its actions, the company has been unambiguous in its commitment to Waddell & Reed advisors as its core business. I will spare you a long list, but at present I know of product, systems, compensation and marketing initiatives underway on behalf of Waddell & Reed advisors that will cost the company millions of dollars.

I am very secure that the company has Waddell & Reed advisors' best interests at heart. If, while looking out for those interests, the company can move in some new and exciting directions, it will secure a bright future for Waddell & Reed clients, advisors and itself. In that scenario, everyone wins.
Ronald G. Barton
Advisor, member of president's council
Waddell & Reed