Prudential Securities began rolling out its new call center program June 8. But reps aren't entirely happy about the way it's being done.
Any account with less than $25,000 in assets will be automatically shipped out to the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based National Client Center — unless the broker steps in to stop it.
“Brokers are given a two-week notice in which they are told which accounts will be migrated to the call center,” says Prudential spokesperson Susan Atran. “They're given a choice over which accounts to keep and which to let migrate.”
But one Prudential rep discovered that scores of his lower-end accounts were earmarked — with no input from him — for placement into the call center. He says he found the list on the company Intranet almost by happenstance.
“He must have missed extensive communication on the issue,” Atran says.
“I receive 20 e-mails daily from the hierarchy of the firm,” the broker counters. “There has not been one word on that. … No mention has been made to us of how to exempt accounts nor when this process is to be completed.”
The producer says clients slated for transfer are in the Private Client Data Warehouse area, on the Prudential Intranet, under the National Client Center. Reps can keep targeted accounts by reclassifying them as “householded” accounts.
Prudential brokers say accounts earmarked for transfer are under $25,000 and not part of a fee-based program or householded to larger accounts.
The firm says clients who increase their holdings will have the opportunity to return to the branch system and their brokers.
However, another rep says clients' holdings would have to reach $50,000 before reverting back. And this broker adds that the program is not really voluntary since brokers either accept a 20% payout from call-center accounts or get nothing for trades done in small accounts they keep.
“It's not unheard of to grow a $25,000 account into a $100,000 account, but we don't get that chance,” the rep says.
The call-center transition is being done in phases. As of late June, the process had been completed in nine of Prudential's 270 branches. Full implementation is expected by the end of the third quarter.