Advise to get into this field

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sleepwatcherrps's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-26

First off let me say I am very happy with the topics I see on this site. Even though there is some forum trolls and flamers the topics are very insightful. It is because of this that I registered with this community and hope to get some quality advise. with that said!! I enjoy researching and learning about financial careers on my own since i was not able to go to college to get a finance degree which leaves me a slight problem, how do i get into the investment career. I have sales experience and aced my mortgage brokers exam which landed me a  position at countrywide. I now have my eye set on the market because mortgages has become less of a challenge not to mention the well is pretty dry these days unless you live in Arizona or in the new england area.Any advise on how to get in with out a college degree and what companies are known for being reputable and productive would be great. No boiler room scams thanks

xbanker's picture
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Joined: 2007-01-21

Your concern about a college degree is probably not necessary. I came to the industry with a masters from another field and thought "this won't be enough." I was under the impression I'd need to have an econ background or go back and get an MBA to even be considered. Boy was this wrong! This is a SALES job and very few employers will care about your lack of degree. A few practical points about this:

-The Morgan Stanley HR materials indicate degree requirement waived for those with 5 years of sales experience. I know from a friend that the branch manager has discretion ultimately.

-If you enter the Merrill Lynch training program, in order to get your graduation bonus you will need to finish either the CFP or CFA, both of which require a college degree as a completion requirement. (You can start either before graduation.) Many companies have bonuses or incentives to complete a designation, although you will unlikely be "required" to receive one.

Bottom line is that if you can grow a large book, the firm won't care. Many firms will consider ex military as well as recent college grads, so much so that it's a separate section on the Merrill site and was back before Pain Webber was acquired as well. I'm constantly surprised by the variey of backgrounds I encounter. The education higherarchy definitely exists on the I-banking side although on the retail brokerage side it's much less of an issue.

sleepwatcherrps's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-26

that's good to hear. countrywide also asked for a degree but all they really care about is sales as well. So much so that they pick up new AE's that are totally clueless about how to structure a proper loan or even know if the person is prime or sub prime. Does Morgan Stanley or Merrill lynch show how to grow a portfolio or is it just cold calls to friends and families. ( never works) also as a large investment firm does a new adviser get inbound work. Im just wondering what a typical work day for a newbie would be. thanks for the quick response xbanker

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

If I had to choose between a college snot and a kid who puts his chair in the hallway and duct tapes the phone to his hand, college boy is out on his ear.

sleepwatcherrps's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-26

LOL very true bobby. Up to this day I was very busy with all the inbounds and self sourced deals I had. ( my conversion ratio is among the best in  my region) never actually had a real chance to sharpen my out bounding skills. I will make sure to be as good on my outbounds as everything else before I jump ship.Although our outbounds are usually internet leads or current CW clients who we cold call to ( review there financial situation with the bank) and offer better solutions. When it comes to investments how does it usually work. Im sure calling off the white pages asking for thousands or millions in investments is not a proven way. as a new adviser do you get any clients to work with to build up a referral system or is it that you are just shown a desk with a phone and asked to catch a whale with a hand rod and a worm.   I appreciate the feed back btw

xbanker's picture
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Joined: 2007-01-21

You should start building a list of potential contact NOW. Merrill and Morgan generally do not provide leads. There are some lists provided at UBS although this is sporadic. If you're already in a financial sales role of some kind, this will be more than enough for most training programs. I came from a regular banking role at Bank of America just to "get in" after being in another field. Are you in CA? just wondering if currently at CW.

12345's picture
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Joined: 2006-12-04

xbanker wrote:-If you enter the Merrill Lynch training program, in order to get your graduation bonus you will need to finish either the CFP or CFA, both of which require a college degree as a completion requirement. (You can start either before graduation.) Many companies have bonuses or incentives to complete a designation, although you will unlikely be "required" to receive one. Bottom line is that if you can grow a large book, the firm won't care. Many firms will consider ex military as well as recent college grads, so much so that it's a separate section on the Merrill site and was back before Pain Webber was acquired as well. I'm constantly surprised by the variey of backgrounds I encounter. The education higherarchy definitely exists on the I-banking side although on the retail brokerage side it's much less of an issue.
You do not need a degree for the CFA designation. You need either four years experience or four years of college or a combination of the two. You do need one for the CFP. I was recently hired by one of the wirehouses without a degree. It might take some time but it can be done. Unfortunately mortgage broker is a very common background seeking employment right now, so you will need to stand out that much more. I would be very persistent with the branch managers because more than likely you are not the only resume with "mortgage broker" on their desk. Making money selling mortgages three years ago was like fishing with dynamite, therefore on its own does not show enough sales experience. Emphasize any other sales experience you may have and maybe play down the mortgage broker position. The reason I know this is because of a close friend of mine is in the same situation as you. Hopefully for your sake you are not in Orange County ,CA. If so, good luck because there are 500 other ex mortgage brokers all going for the same job.

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

I do not have a degree of any kind.  I barely graduated high school with an "Equivalency" exam.
My financial career began as a personal banker for Wells Fargo.  About a year into it, I was offered the "Service Manager" position.  I was with Wells Fargo for about 3 years.  I couldn't STAND being in management.  (Stupid tellers can't count crap to save their jobs!)
I left Wells to pursue an investment career, and I was sponsored by American Express for my licensing.  After 4 days, I left AEFA to find a different firm to represent.
I finally found a position as an ASSISTANT to an advisor, since many of the firms I was applying with, really wanted someone with experience.  I had licenses, but no experience.  So, being an assistant gave me some time to learn the ropes.  Later on, I moved to be a junior advisor with a different advisor in the same firm.
I'm half-way completed with the ChFC coursework.  I figure if I can't have the "almighty CFP" credential, I can have the next best thing without all the headaches of the CFP board.
It is good to learn that if you have experience, you can still be hired by a wirehouse without a degree (if that's where you want to work).
Lack of degree, or lack of CFP, has not cost me a single sale.

sleepwatcherrps's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-26

Thanks for the insight guys and no i a m not in California i am in Miami Florida xbanker. Not to sure if i am better off that way because Miami has the 3rd highest foreclosure rate in the country last i head and 80% of that is within 5 min from my branch. I am not to sure if I will jump ship I can only imagine that it takes double the hours and legwork. I cant do that now with my 2nd kid  coming in a few weeks. But the feedback here is worth it's weight in gold IMHO. Btw skippy I feel you're pain I was at wachovia before i went to countrywide and there tellers can't count either. There was no end to the aggravated customers with short deposits at the call center

FreeLunch's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-16

GO FOR IT.
If you're a salesman, then see if you can sell yourself to the Branch Manager.
He'll probably ask you more questions about how you accept rejection than any kind of financial questions.
Good Luck

xbanker's picture
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Joined: 2007-01-21

Actually, come to think of it, I've NEVER been asked a finance related question in a financial advisor interview. I've interviewed in person and/or via telephone with over ten firms in the last two years. The closest thing I ever had anyone do to this was asking me "are you as interested in insurance as you are investment products?" Even this questions wasn't there to test my knowledge in any way. Almost EVERY question you'll be asked will be about how you plan to prospect and your sales experience/approach.

BullBroker's picture
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Joined: 2006-12-26

Go in with a good plan on how you will reach people with money, and give examples of the access you have to High Net Worth individuals. 

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