Am I a strange case?

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caml37's picture
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After reading the archives of the forum for a few hours and taking note of all the pro- and anti- Edward Jones views, I figured I should introduce myself...
 
I just got my offer this morning for the Jones FA program.  I've seen the numbers on the EDJ site, heard some others at my interview, and there were more stats in the forum.
- I am 4 credits short of my Bach. degree (should be complete before the training starts), but its nothing directly business related. 
- The closest thing to sales experience I have is fast food as a teenager for a year or two.
- While I had a steady job (8 yrs military) and a clear background check and all that, the only financial experience I had was personal investments for a few years. 
 
I know that I made good impressions on my interviews, but am I a strange case?  Is it uncommon to have been hired without a background (work or academic) in sales or business?
 
 
Nice to meet you all.  Kindly hold off on the sarcasm if you can, or at least write a disclaimer on your post so I can forward on to people who truly care about their answers. ;)
By the way, if anyone is based in S/SW Illinois, I'd love to hear from you.
 
Thanks!

anonymous's picture
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Joined: 2005-09-29

You're not a strange case.   If you are willing to be overworked and underpaid for a while, you can succeed.   Don't accept an offer from Jones without looking at other places.   That is not a slap at Jones.   I'd say that regardless of the company.
 
Also be careful about giving too much personally identifying information.

caml37's picture
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There are no other firms in my immediate area that focus on investments/finance rather than insurance (other than independent firms), and they are not hiring. 
On the second note, I didn't think I gave away information to be a problem, but maybe I am in a new ballpark these days... Thank you for the tip.

BondGuy's picture
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Are you a strange case? I don't know. What I do know is that you really don't know what you're getting yourself into. You may be smart, well educated, and driven, yet you lack sales experience. And you're right, fast food sales doesn't help. Selling a tangible product, a copy machine, cell phone, or car is hard enough for a rookie. What you are selling in this biz is intangible. You can't see it, touch it, feel it, or smell it. Which is why selling experience is a prime requirement. That doesn't mean that you'll fail. Just that you must aquire two new skills at the same time. You need to learn how to sell and you need to learn how to sell intangibles, the toughest of all sales professions. Can it be done? You are about to find out. Let us know how it goes. Good luck!
And I second the advice to interview at other firms.

Roadhard's picture
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Joined: 2007-02-23

I did well at Jones after I retired from the military--I stayed for over 15 years---I've been Indy for awhile now---most people no matter what their background can make it in this business if you are willing to pay your dues for 5 or more years.  I wish you luck, you are going to need it!
 
Jones is a good place to start but there are many other options on the table.  Jones has a great training program and they give you food stamps to eat on the first year and a half.
Just kidding Spiff!  Your going to feel like you were back in basic training again--but enjoy it and win the game!

Roadhard's picture
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PS, CAM137--we thank you for your service to your country!  The first thing I would do when you start in your community is join the American Legion and the VFW...you will be amased how quickly your name gets networked in your community as a Vet--people will talk military with you and it will move over to financial needs.  Once again Thanks!

Spaceman Spiff's picture
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Jones isn't afraid to take on someone who doesn't have any sales experience or background.  It makes us a target for people to make fun of, but it works well for our style.  I know your military experience compensated a lot for your lack of sales background.  You'll find quite a few Jones FAs who have a military background.  I think it's the sit there, shut up, dial the phone, don't ask why just do it soldier attitude that they like.  Jones can train you to sell.  You just have to be willing to do it. 
 
Actually after doorknocking this summer you might wish you were back in basic training.  It might seem easier.

Broker7's picture
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Good luck! Pleae keep us updated on your progress.

Dark Knight's picture
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Jones knows the numbers, hire 100 people and 10 will make it.  It is a cost of doing business for them.  They have no reliable way to predict who those 10 will be.  (Neither do we here on this message board.)  If you are very comfortable being a door to door salesman for the next 2-3 years you will do fine.  If not your odds of failling are nearly 100%.
 
Now if you can get a goodknight or luck into an open office your odds will go up.  If you are new new that is what you are looking at.  I just had a close friend go through all the process while thinking the whole time had it in him, passed his exams and started doorknocking.  (I thought he had a good chance as he is very sociable and outgoing.)  Half way into the first day of knocking he came into my office and said "there is no way I am going to do this for 2-3 YEARS, it is just too hard and degrading".  He quit the next day and went back to his old job. 
 
Best wishes, the odds are against you, you must be a salesman, you are NOT an advisor for at least 3 years.  

Greenbacks's picture
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Clients ask me what make me different. One of the thing I mention is I recieved my training from an experienced financial rep through a CPA firm and law firm. They trained me for five years before I was on my own with clients. And I tell them I still am learning after ten years in this feild.
I THEN TELL THEM A WIREHOUSE TRAINS THERE SALESMEN 90 DAYS AND THEN SEES IF THE PERSON CAN SELL.
And they wounder why the failure rate is so high.  
I would suggest becoming a assistant for five to ten years then become a very good rep.
 

BondGuy's picture
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Spaceman Spiff wrote:Jones isn't afraid to take on someone who doesn't have any sales experience or background.  It makes us a target for people to make fun of, but it works well for our style.  I know your military experience compensated a lot for your lack of sales background.  You'll find quite a few Jones FAs who have a military background.  I think it's the sit there, shut up, dial the phone, don't ask why just do it soldier attitude that they like.  Jones can train you to sell.  You just have to be willing to do it. 
 
Actually after doorknocking this summer you might wish you were back in basic training.  It might seem easier.
 
Just out of curiosity, how does a military background compensate for not having sales experience?
 
My thinking puts the two at opposite ends of the experience spectrum. In the miltary one follows orders. Their day is dictated by those orders. There is no room, or at least very little, for free thought, creativity, and individualism. Where as sales is all about free thought, self motivation and individual action. So how is it, outside of organzational skills, does military service compensate for lack of sales experience.
 
This guy is about to jump into the deep end of the pool. Unlike some of you, to use a military expression, I'm not blowing smoke up this guys ass. The dropout rate for new FAs is at least 70% and according to some here its 90% at Jones. The poster needs to know that his lack of any selling experience makes him a likely member of that 70 to 90%. Does that mean he will fail? No. Just that he is likely to do so. That's just an unfortunate fact. And as always, my advice to anyone coming into this business is to get some sales experience first.
 
 

imabroker's picture
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Joined: 2007-12-22

Green,  I'm guessing you haven't impressed many English/Grammar teachers...

Broker7's picture
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Edward  jones  is based on a tried and true system.
If you can take orders and direction from you RL and mentor and execute with a never say die attitude, you will make it past PDP.  I saw more organization and drive out of my military peers.  Not to sterotype..but they weren't the most personable or the most liked, but they generally got the job done.  The Morman's are the same way.

theironhorse's picture
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Jones doesn't really ask reps to use any free thought or creativity early on, so someone essentially taking orders and putting their head down works well.  and for their model i agree.  those things, while maybe important, again do not determine success in our business.  doing those things we all dislike, like cold calling, doorknocking, etc are what determines a successful rep in their system, and an ex military individual would probably attempt to think outside the box less than someone else.  work ethic and determination matter more than portfolio construction and case analysis in the first 2-3 years.  you can learn some things, but the work ethic is not very teachable.  i went through jones training with 3 former military personnel and all 3 were at the top of our class.  they didn't ask questions, just hammered out the contacts.  no idea how they will end up long-term, but they are off to a good start.

Ashland's picture
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Joined: 2007-03-06

Jones is a great place to start. Many, many people on this board were successful Jones' reps & then moved over to Indy. IMHO, they beat on Jones because it's a tough place for an experienced rep to make a living, and that's what they remember. I think of Jones very much like I think about my high school. I didn't live the benefits of my high school until I went college & was head & shoulders above my peers. I was taught how to think critically, take notes, and prepare for exams while most of my peers were not so well educated.

I'm a huge advocate of starting at a bank as a personal banker.
Here's what I wrote in a previous thread:

Start at a bank(negotiate keeping your licenses). That way you know where the money is. Start as a personal banker - that way you learn to talk to people with money in a nonthreatening fashion and learn to be comfortable in front of them. Create a process for asking them what's important and who's important and what they're doing to accomplish their what's & take care of their who's. Book a few loans, open a few checking accounts. Get paid by the hour for your time, and for learning about rich people(and poor people so you know the difference when it counts). Learn how to advise people how to grow their money in a nonthreatening manner(deposits are good for short-term goals. Mutual funds & annuities are good for long-term goals. Insurance advances money to you and your loved ones if something bad happens). Find a mentor to teach you about life planning & read a lot. How people move through the different stages from childhood & education to early adulthood & debt to kids & more debt and more responsibility etc. Ask your mentor how he/she built his/her business & the why's behind it. Move from the PB role to the FC or FA role & the money will follow because you already know where it is.

In the 2 - 3 year period your life will be easier because you have a base. In the 5 yr period you'll be at the same place as every other FA /FC. Let people say what they will about bank brokers... If you educate yourself, can speak simple English with your clients, are research driven, make trade offs in accepting clients that some reps wouldn't touch, and deal with the politics, you'll find and work with more money than 90% of the reps that are in the Wire or Indy worlds. Oh, and you'll be home nights to be a mommy, too.
---------------

There's 100 different ways & places to get good and rich in this business. Ultimately, though, all the successful people I know made it big with sheer will power and a bit, just a bit of luck. So, good luck!

caml37's picture
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Thank you all for the advice.  I am a questioner by nature, but I know that this is a system that I just have to work my tail off to make it work. 

While I do not have any sales experience, I did amateur financial planning for/with co-workers (though I obviously didn't make specific stock picks or anything like that).   I just showed them how they could put money away in funds or TSP rather than sit it in a 1% savings account and then showed them what it did for them in the long run.  I will take the busywork hit to get to the financial planning arena, and unlike most, I enjoyed my doorknocking exercise.  ;)
 
Ashland,
I tried to get a job as a teller or a customer service rep at every local bank in town (and we have a lot of them).  I was usually passed over for the full time positions because they promoted their part time people, and I needed (wanted) full time work (pay and benefits).
I understand where you're coming from, though.  I guess I just skipped a step by getting an offer from Jones first. ;)

Dark Knight's picture
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Trust me you don't want to be making specific stock picks.  If professional money managers can't beat the market then you and I surely cannot.  Stick with funds/sma's or whatever but don't think you can pick stocks.

Ashland's picture
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Ditto Dark Knight. You can't make money in stocks, either.

Borker Boy's picture
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Ashland wrote:IMHO, they beat on Jones because it's a tough place for an experienced rep to make a living, and that's what they remember.
 
By no means will I argue that Jones is the perfect place to work; there are obvious pros and cons to being here.
 
However, I am aware of numerous Jones FAs who are in their late 40's, work four days a week, don't do a whole lot while they're at work, make $300K per year and take two Jones-sponsored vacations each year. (Three vacations, if you count the summer regionals.)
 
I would consider that to be a pretty easy way to make a living, unless you're experience has been that other folks can put in the same amount of effort and make substantially more.

BondGuy's picture
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caml37 wrote:Thank you all for the advice.  I am a questioner by nature, but I know that this is a system that I just have to work my tail off to make it work. 
 
Unfortunately you are wrong.
 
What you are saying equates being able to ride in the Tour de France with being able to pedal a bike. " If I just pedal hard enough I can compete in the biggest bicycle race in the world." Ah, probably not. "If I just work my tail off I'll be a successful financial advisor."  That type of statement is simplistically naive to the point of being an insult to those of us who are successful in this business. If it was as simple as working long hours the dropout rate would be fraction of what it is.
 
You don't have to believe me, just answer this statement: "I want to think about it." You'll be hearing that on a regular basis. And then there's "I want to talk it over with (fill in the blank)." You'll get that one a lot too. And of course there's "I already have an advisor, I don't have any money, the market is too low, the market is too high, interest rates are going up, interest rates are going down, my dog died, my cat's sick," and my favorite, "my haidresser thinks we should wait."
 
You can work as hard as you'd like but until you know how to bring people to a decision point and can get them to make that decision all you're doing is putting in time. Unfortunately, most of it wasted.
 
I'm not saying you are going to fail. It is my sincerest hope that you do well. Your work ethic is to be commended. Only that if you go into this thinking this is labor task, and nothing more, you will fail.
 
 

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BG - I don't think the military experience will fully replace a sales background.  But, you can learn to be a salesman to a certain extent.  You might not be the ice to eskimos kind of salesman, but you can still learn to answer questions like you asked above. 
The Jones system will focus more on teaching him how to gather prospects and then how to sell them stuff rather than how to set up a core/satellite portfolio.  So, his military discipline will get him in the door, his work ethic and attitude will get the prospects, all we have to do it teach him how to close the biz and what to do with the money after that.  I'll bet if he only does what Jones tells him to, without a lot of free thought, he'll do well. 

Dark Knight's picture
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Spaceman Spiff wrote:
I'll bet if he only does what Jones tells him to, without a lot of free thought, he'll do well. 
 
Hmm, sounds like communism.

Ashland's picture
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Dark Knight - fascism is closer to it - except you can quit, so...

Communism is a sharing of resources and the production resulting from those resources. Communism's mantra was, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." - Karl Marx.

If you're going to beat on stuff, at least know what you're talking about.

Dark Knight's picture
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I am no expert in these matters, I wasn't talking about the Theory or literal definition of communism.  I was of course referring to the general picture Americans have of the former USSR where the common man was  supposedly told what to do and how to act.

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Dark Knight wrote:
I am no expert in these matters, I wasn't talking about the Theory or literal definition of communism.  I was of course referring to the general picture Americans have of the former USSR where the common man was  supposedly told what to do and how to act.
 
With that mindset, Edward Jones has built a 10000 strong salesforce.  It dosent make it a very sophisticated salesforce...I really wished EJ's investment training was as good as EJ's sales training.. it still amazes me how many 2-6 year brokers only used A share american funds for 80-90% of their paycheck

Dark Knight's picture
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Yeah and while I'd never predict it, could you imagine if American were to blow up?  (Stranger things have happened.)

josephjones107's picture
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this job is a sales job and not really a finance job, most of the reps are started b/c they thought it was finance/investment job failed. those that came into it because they loved to sell, did really well.

BondGuy's picture
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Spaceman Spiff wrote:
BG - I don't think the military experience will fully replace a sales background.  But, you can learn to be a salesman to a certain extent.  You might not be the ice to eskimos kind of salesman, but you can still learn to answer questions like you asked above. 
The Jones system will focus more on teaching him how to gather prospects and then how to sell them stuff rather than how to set up a core/satellite portfolio.  So, his military discipline will get him in the door, his work ethic and attitude will get the prospects, all we have to do it teach him how to close the biz and what to do with the money after that.  I'll bet if he only does what Jones tells him to, without a lot of free thought, he'll do well. 
 
SS, you're not wrong here. His work ethic will help. But saying all we have to do is teach him how to close business is like saying were going to open a custom motorcycle shop and  all we have to do is learn how to build motorcycles. That's a  steep mountain to climb.

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Broker7 wrote:Dark Knight wrote:
I am no expert in these matters, I wasn't talking about the Theory or literal definition of communism.  I was of course referring to the general picture Americans have of the former USSR where the common man was  supposedly told what to do and how to act.
 
With that mindset, Edward Jones has built a 10000 strong salesforce.  It dosent make it a very sophisticated salesforce...I really wished EJ's investment training was as good as EJ's sales training.. it still amazes me how many 2-6 year brokers only used A share american funds for 80-90% of their paycheck
 
I agree with you on the investment training.  We sell more mutual funds than anything else, but nowhere in our training process is there a discussion of alpha, standard deviation, overlap, etc.  We have all the reports to give us that info, but not the training to go along with the reports.  If it wasn't for my Goldman Sachs wholesaler I'd be stuck trying to learn all that stuff on my own.   
 
I'll tell anyone who listens that if we could add another week of training, say 6 months after PDP, that focuses specifically on MPT, managing income, portfolio building, and portfolio review we'd be darn near unstoppable.  Imagine the best sales force in the world really knowing what they are doing.  Right now we have a bunch of new guys out there knowing how to ring doorbells and call on bonds, vets who don't sell anything other than American Funds, and probably the fewest number of CFPs of any firm in the industry.  I think that's going to change, but they needed to start it about 5 years ago. 

Broker7's picture
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Spiff,
I would push it back... say seg 3 training should be a week long intensive investment class.  At 6 month after PDP, we were still learning the system and working overtime to make sales.  I think at that point in an EJ career..it i just too overwhelming.  During my first 2 years with Jones I kept getting hammered by my mentor to stop building "complicated ' portfolios and just focus on selling caibx.

Ashland's picture
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Wow - with Bobby's gone, there's actually a chance for a reasonable discussion of Jones' strengths and weaknesses!

I just lost a $400k acct to a Jones rep. He was invested 100% in the ICA & started telling him in June that it was a good thing to take some capital gains & diversify. I had recommended that he, over two years(Dec, 2007 & Jan, 2008), put the money in a wrap acct. The Jones rep told him that 1 - The 100% ICA account was just fine & the $15K in capital gains it would take to diversify was too much to pay. 2 - That the wrap account was too expensive. The wrap acct I recommended is down 5.5% after fees since the day he transferred & ICA is down 11.43%. Most disgustingly - this client should in fact be in a 50% stock/ 50% bond portfolio as he's drawing 5 - 6% of the principal per year & he's unwilling to accept more than a 10% decline in his portfolio.

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Ashland wrote:Wow - with Bobby's gone, there's actually a chance for a reasonable discussion of Jones' strengths and weaknesses! I just lost a $400k acct to a Jones rep. He was invested 100% in the ICA & started telling him in June that it was a good thing to take some capital gains & diversify. I had recommended that he, over two years(Dec, 2007 & Jan, 2008), put the money in a wrap acct. The Jones rep told him that 1 - The 100% ICA account was just fine & the $15K in capital gains it would take to diversify was too much to pay. 2 - That the wrap account was too expensive. The wrap acct I recommended is down 5.5% after fees since the day he transferred & ICA is down 11.43%. Most disgustingly - this client should in fact be in a 50% stock/ 50% bond portfolio as he's drawing 5 - 6% of the principal per year & he's unwilling to accept more than a 10% decline in his portfolio.
 
Sounds like the Jones rep was just trying to close the deal.. Everyone here knows you need to have diversity.. Sounds to me like your old client just wanted someone to agree with him/her and they found the person with the Jones broker. Oh well, I bet the receiving broker will regret taking that client one day..
 
Miss  J 

Dark Knight's picture
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Sucker, now he's dealing with a 40-45k loss and getting paid 25bps to do it.  Sucks to be him.  (Although if he is like the Jones broker in my area, he will start telling him how great FT or some other MF is and in 6-8 months will move over 200k for the upfront payout.  I hate that lying SOB.)

MISS JONES's picture
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Dark Knight wrote:Sucker, now he's dealing with a 40-45k loss and getting paid 25bps to do it.  Sucks to be him.  (Although if he is like the Jones broker in my area, he will start telling him how great FT or some other MF is and in 6-8 months will move over 200k for the upfront payout.  I hate that lying SOB.)
 
Wow, you sure do sound passionate.. I assume there is good reason behind your distaste.. Either way.. I don't really care to know what it is just an observation.
 
Miss J

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Miss J - I hope you're right. I actually know the receiving broker. I trained w/ him when I was at Jones a while back. I'm fearful he just broke out his ICA guide & showed him a 6% withdrawal rate during the best possible period & went on with his business. I inherited the client when I joined the bank so I'm not too sad about losing him. I certainly pushed him hard to change because I felt change was going to happen to him... Got another phone call to make!

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Ash - Do I understand correctly that the guy had $400k in ICA before he went to Jones?  I can't imagine our FSDs letting something like that slide.  It's an OK fund, but not unless the guy is worth about $4 mil.  I'd guess Miss J is correct.  The FA probably just agreed with the guy to get the assets on the books.  

 
B7 - You're right.  6 months after PDP is probably too soon.  But how much easier would your sales process have been if you had been taught something basic about portfolio reviews in some sort of formal setting.  Cause if you were like me, it was like the dog that caught the car once someone said here's my statement.  Maybe MPT is more of a Seg 3 class, but I still think there needs to be some sort of training not just on how to sell a bond, but why it belongs in a portfolio. 
 
Miss J - I think you're probably the newest Jones girl here that is actually in production.  Would a class like we've been talking about be a benefit to you or at this point or just another source of confusion?

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Spaceman Spiff wrote:
 
Miss J - I think you're probably the newest Jones girl here that is actually in production.  Would a class like we've been talking about be a benefit to you or at this point or just another source of confusion?
 
I just made Seg 3.. So I would agree that the investment training should occur more around the time you reach Seg 2. At that point they tell you to be more client focused and less activity focused.. That was kind of old news to me.. I have never run my business activity focused. That is the difference between people with sales experience and people that come to the firm to learn how to sell (?!?) So for me knowing more about investment placement and best practices would be more beneficial.. I had to learn it on my own or through someone in my region. The bottom line is at Jones there just isnt much training on investments! That is why we are laughed at by other firms.. You have all these licensed people that dont know what the hell they are doing. I am training this new girl and she has the heart for it but I can already see the writing on the wall.. There is no way she is going to make it.. She can't do an effective presentation AND doesn't know what she is doing.. Why her field Trainer let her go back to EVAL/Grad is beyond me! She didn't even know how bond rating went ?!?
 
Oh well.. I still love Jones but I really get frustrated with them at times.
 
Miss J

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Spaceman Spiff wrote: Ash - Do I understand correctly that the guy had $400k in ICA before he went to Jones?  I can't imagine our FSDs letting something like that slide.  It's an OK fund, but not unless the guy is worth about $4 mil.  I'd guess Miss J is correct.  The FA probably just agreed with the guy to get the assets on the books.  

 
B7 - You're right.  6 months after PDP is probably too soon.  But how much easier would your sales process have been if you had been taught something basic about portfolio reviews in some sort of formal setting.  Cause if you were like me, it was like the dog that caught the car once someone said here's my statement.  Maybe MPT is more of a Seg 3 class, but I still think there needs to be some sort of training not just on how to sell a bond, but why it belongs in a portfolio. 
 
Miss J - I think you're probably the newest Jones girl here that is actually in production.  Would a class like we've been talking about be a benefit to you or at this point or just another source of confusion?

Spiff - yeah - I inherited him. He's been here for a while & started w/ about $300K in ICA a few years back. It's grown to $400K & I was suggesting to take the $100K gain & diversify. We may not have had as tough compliance review policies when someone allowed a rep to put $300k into one fund. Also, he does have a net worth certainly north of $5MM. It's all in real estate & a good amount of that in non-income producing property.

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Miss J,
  I know what you mean.  A newbie I trained came back from eval grad and was proud he knew how to pitch GE, ICA, and a 4% tax free bond, but he didn't understand why he was sellling them, other than for the commission.  Needless to say, he never made it to PDP.   When I went to new IR-seg 2 training, I would see 1-3 new faces every month and then never see them again 1/2 the time.   Lots and lots of newbie turnover.  I guess it is a very tough industry for most people.

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