Am I crazy or ambitious?

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runner999's picture
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Joined: 2008-05-06

I am relatively new to this site and have really enjoyed reading the posts. Most have been very insightful.

I would love to get some opinions from newbies and veterans alike on my possible "career transition."

I am currently in medical sales. I make a base salary of $85,000 a year with bonuses that add up to about $20,000. It is a good job that offers some satisfaction, but I am most definitely an "employee." I am micromanaged at times even though I have always been a strong producer. Also, my income is pretty close to being capped out where I am right now. I can get my 4% raise every year, but that is about it.

I have been thinking about your industry for a while. The things that I am looking for in a career are as follows:
1. Autonomy - I don't want to punch a clock or be told how to run my business if I run it ethically and produce. I know about the 70-80 hours the first few years, but I want to work towards control of my time.
2. Ability to increase income well past the 100k to 150k point. I don't mind that it can take years or that I may make much less at first if I know that it is absolutely realistic to make 200k and above with perseverance. In other words, is REALLY realistic to make 200k and above or is it only the extreme minority that make it to this point?
3. I want to always act with integrity and ethically. This is very important to me. I don't mind sales at all, in fact I LOVE sales. I am competitive and love the competition that sales provides. But I have to believe in the product and I have to believe that I am doing what is best for the customer. I don't want to sound like Mother Theresa here and I have no problems with profit, but I wouldn't make it if I felt "wrong" about what I was doing to earn income.

So what are your opinions? Is this potentially a good industry for me or am I crazy? The reason for the title of this thread is that I have talked to many people and about 50% say I am crazy for leaving a "good paying job with little stress" and the other 50% say to go for it.

I will be happy to add any more information about myself if asked, I just know this post is already long enough.

THANKS!!!!!

runner999's picture
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Joined: 2008-05-06

Sorry for the back to back posts (I know the first one was long enough), but I wanted to add one or two other pieces of bio information that may be important.

1. I am 37/m with a wife and no kids.
2. Wife makes about 90k a year and will support whatever I want to do as long as I am happy. We could completely live off of her salary alone if needed, but would definitely have to cut back.
3. I am getting ready to receive offers from SB and Wachovia Securities. Have no idea yet what the offers will be.

snaggletooth's picture
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Joined: 2007-07-13

It doesn't sound crazy to me.  Seems like you are aware of the challenges and hours you have to put in. 
 
You talk a lot of ethics and morals.  If you act in the best interest of the client, which has to do with ethics and morals, you will be more than fairly compensated.  
 
If you work hard and put in the time, you should do much better financially than you think.  Of the two offers you will receive, I would be more of a fan of SB.  Don't limit your interviews to just those two though.

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

You are not crazy, you are ambitious (i call it driven), if I can judge by your post.
If you come into our business, you WILL have autonomy, and you WILL have the opportunity to increase income past 100-150k - way past!!!
You will also work 80 hours a week for a while if you really want that. You will feel like an employee, the first year, till you start to blow away the numbers, then you'll be left alone. You can make a great living in this business and be ethical, and ALWAYS do the the right thing for the client.
You will have to depend on your wife's salary for a few years, but if you push it, you can get the two firms you mentioned (or at least one of them) to pay you 60k, maybe 70. You will earn commission and bonuses as well once you start production, which at SB is 4-5 months.  Your salary will last 2 years from the day you start production, and then it will decline each month till the 30th month at which time its zero. So you should be able to do ok. But stay hungry.
Word of advice - and full disclosure - I am at SB - I went thru the training program. Its tops. They give you structure, they teach you how to be a trusted advisor, not a broker, and they have a lot of ongoing training, not just in the branch but also at the trainning center.
If someone here has gone thru the Wachovia program, you may want to chime in, i'm not familiar with it, but from what I here its SB and ML as far as training, nobody else comes close
If you want more info, feel free to PM me.

Broker24's picture
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Joined: 2006-10-12

A couple of things going for you:
1. Married, no kids, and mature enough.
2. Wife makes good money and is supportive.
3. You are driven.
4. You understand you WILL make less the first few years.
 
The stuff you indicated you want is a no-brainer.  With patience and perseverance (and hard work), you will be happily rewarded.  You are in the near-perfect situation.  I say, go for it.

noggin's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-30

This may seem like a weird question, but do you have enough put away to not put any money away for the next 2-3 years?  You and your wife appear to make a good amount of income  but you make no mention of a pattern of savings or setting money aside. Going from 200K to 100K is a huge adjustment in income especially if there isn't a nest egg already there. In our industry you will average 15-20% raises yearly as you build up your client base and even more if you hit the ball out of the park. Good luck to you.

runner999's picture
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Joined: 2008-05-06

Thanks for the replies.  They really help.

runner999's picture
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Joined: 2008-05-06

noggin wrote:This may seem like a weird question, but do you have enough put away to not put any money away for the next 2-3 years?  You and your wife appear to make a good amount of income  but you make no mention of a pattern of savings or setting money aside. Going from 200K to 100K is a huge adjustment in income especially if there isn't a nest egg already there. In our industry you will average 15-20% raises yearly as you build up your client base and even more if you hit the ball out of the park. Good luck to you.
 
Right now, we have just over 100k in our 401ks combined.  We have no debt other than a 1700 mortgage and 800 car payments.  No credit card or equity line debt.  We also have about 150k equity in our home.  I know these aren't liquid, but you asked about our "nest egg." 
 
I have some savings/brokerage accounts that value about 25k and are very liquid. 
 
And no question is a weird question because I know you all are the experts because you have been in the trenches.  I really am looking for advice and opinions.

runner999's picture
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Joined: 2008-05-06

icedco1d, Thanks for the response.  It seems like my situations lines up perfectly with wanting to make a transition.
 
I do have one other piece of information about my personality that I would like to share so that I can get some feedback from some of you.
 
I read a biography about David Letterman that states that even today, he constantly worries that he is going to be fired.  This fear is a personality trait that has lead to much of his success.  One common thread among many successful people is that they are "worriers."  It is what keeps them one step ahead of the game. 
 
I too am a "worrier" and it is probably the biggest concern I have about joining this industry.  See, I am worrying right now. LOL!  This trait has served me well overall in my career.  I am an employers fantasy because I am NEVER ever late, I am extremely organized, have exceptional follow up skills, and, most importantly, I would never want to be seen as someone that isn't doing a great job.  That would drive me crazy.
 
The flip side of that is that I can worry too much at times.  For example, right now, the thought of making a career change is absolutely consuming me.  I am spending hours on hours talking to people, reading every book I can get my hands on, and spending almost every waking moment thinking about this move. 
 
So do some of you have similar personalities?  If so, how do you keep it in check in an industry where you are relying on a market that you can't control?
 
Or would you say that my personality is simply not a good one for this profession?
 
My guess is, however, that some of you have similar traits since it is very common among successful people.  But at the end of the day, I want to happy and wealthy.  Not just wealthy. 

runner999's picture
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Joined: 2008-05-06

Thanks icedco1d,
 
Also, I didn't mean that your jobs depended on the market. It may have read that way though.  I know, like you said, that it would take an absolute financial collapse for that to happen.
 
What I meant was more about keeping your individual sanity in a career where you don't control the market.  I was talking about the stories of the wall street advisors that jump off of the 36th floor when the market drops like a rock and all of their clients are on them.  Supposedly, advisors have a much higher clinical depression rate than other professions (and this study was done using only successful wall street advisors).  Yes, I read all of this from articles on registered rep. 
 
I know that is the extreme and my personality is not that extreme by any means. I would just walk away before I let that happen.  But I do have some "worrier" in me so I just wanted some good opinions.  Thanks for yours.

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

If you're a guy that jumps out a window because the market drops like a rock, then you arent stable in the first place (i dont mean you runner, i mean anyone who does that). If you didjnt commit suicide because of the market, you would have commited suicide because your friend looked at you funny or some other idiotic reason.
I am exactly like you, see my PM in reply to your PM. 9 years ago when I left a well paying job, business that I owned to take a trainee position at age 48, for a $45k salary, I was obsessed, I was online all night, I actually sought out people online who worked for SB and Merrill and asked a million questions. I actually am friends with one person whom I met that way, to this day, and we help each other. Its ok to do your due dillegence. Just keep it in perspective. Its a way to make a great living. Its about what you do, not who you are. You will be immersed in the business, and if thats the case, you will do well. Ice is right, being scared is a good thing.

snaggletooth's picture
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Joined: 2007-07-13

pratoman wrote:
You will be immersed in the business, and if thats the case, you will do well.
Isn't that the truth.  This is not a 9-5 job.  This is a lifestyle.  People who are not in this industry can not understand why we spend weekends on these forums, why we collect Wall Street things, why we buy certain books.  You get so consumed in this business that it can become all you think about 24/7.  Every situation you're in can present an opportunity.  Your friends and family will have no idea why you can't come home and "turn off" or separate business from home.  At least for me, they literally become one.

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

snaggletooth wrote:pratoman wrote:
You will be immersed in the business, and if thats the case, you will do well.
Isn't that the truth.  This is not a 9-5 job.  This is a lifestyle.  People who are not in this industry can not understand why we spend weekends on these forums, why we collect Wall Street things, why we buy certain books.  You get so consumed in this business that it can become all you think about 24/7.  Every situation you're in can present an opportunity.  Your friends and family will have no idea why you can't come home and "turn off" or separate business from home.  At least for me, they literally become one.
 
In my past career, 25 years in the textile business, I truly did not like the business. But I was successful, and so I stayed in it for the money. I did well, and that made my decision to leave it for a 45k salary very tough. I was actually able to do it for money, not enjoy it, and make a good living.
I really believe this business that we are in is unique, in that you have to really enjoy it, love the business, love to learn, love the markets, and enjoy the people side of it, to succeed. If you dont have those interests, i think it is very difficult to succeed.

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