Best firm for female .. ML or SSB?

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moneymom's picture
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I have succeeded as a financial advisor in banks and regional firms in the past. After giving up my book to stay at home with young children, I have relocated with my family to an influential suburb of a major city. I am trying to decide between and offer from ML and SSB.
Any opinion on the best firm for a female?

Put Trader's picture
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Joined: 2005-04-08

That is an exceptionally local situation more than a corporate policy or philosophy.

Did you come back in time to avoid having to requalify?

moneymom's picture
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Yes, all my licenses are still in tact: 6,7,63, and 65. I am also a CFP
I like both branches, however the ML training program seems to be more of a sink or swim.

Put Trader's picture
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moneymom wrote:Yes, all my licenses are still in tact: 6,7,63, and 65. I am also a CFP
I like both branches, however the ML training program seems to be more of a sink or swim.

Why do you need a training program if it's been less than two years you
should be ready to hit the track running full speed ahead.

moneymom's picture
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Because I was a mutual fund wholesaler for the last five, and entering through the training program route gives me some "ramp up" time and a salary.
I have been successful in the past because I work hard and care about people, I prefer the "soft sale" approach. Do you think I can survive in the wire house environment?
Thanks for your responses, I have read many of them on the forum and they are very insightful.

Put Trader's picture
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I have felt, forever, that women have an easier time getting selling
opportunities because it's part of our collective persona to be nice to
women.

However, I also feel that once you're in front of the prospect you'll
have to be better than men because we also have the collective stereo
types regarding women and business, women and numbers, women and
money--there's a whole string of them.

I would think that seminars would be an ideal forum for a veteran wholesaler (I wonder if you're a leech too?).

If you play your hand well you should be able to intimidate the manager
into leaving you alone and letting you do it however you want.

I'd say take to make your decision on completely "stupid" reasons such
as which place is most liklely to give you a private office, a larger
share of an assistant, more automony.  Perhaps even the cutest
manager---whatever rings your chimes.  You're going to be there a
lot of hours, you might as well enjoy it.

moneymom's picture
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Thanks Put Trader, do you really live in Austria?

Put Trader's picture
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moneymom wrote:Thanks Put Trader, do you really live in Austria?

Not often enough.  My wife and I do go to Salzburg on the Saturday
following Thanksgiving and return to the states on New Year's Eve.

Salzburg is a wonderful place to be when the weather is crisp, the snow
moving in, and the churches ringing their Christmas bells.

The Christmas market is good too.

doright's picture
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Joined: 2005-05-02

moneymom, I start at ML next week. I have not been in production. However, I have 8 yrs investment experience with a large mutual fund company. A different kind a sales.

My point - I also have a CFP and ML pays CFPs with industry experience a really, really good salary (65k to 80k). The salary is good for 22 months during the POA training program.

I've been told ML's training program is the best. Not only did ML tell me this (ofcourse) but so did UBS and MS who I also had offers from. I wasn't able to get an interview with SSB.

One good thing about ML is that the Global Private Client Group generates a majority of the revenue. SSB produces only a small slice of Citi's revenue. So, ML supports it's producers as they're vital to the co. as a whole.

I also like the fact that large wirehouses favor annuitized or asset based business rather than products (i.e. insurance companies).

rightway's picture
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Moneymoon-

I am a self proclaimed ML sales banner (Ask Inquisetive!). 
However, I think the two firms are pretty comparable (other than the
market cap on their stock).  I would look at the firm that has the
best sales training support at the branch level.  At ML, ask to
spend some time with the POA coach (I am one) and the SSB equivelant,
as well as any sales managers and the like.  Also, I like the
offices that have other people in your shoes to provide some level
support.  If you join ML and need help- PM me.

Good luck!

inquisitive's picture
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Does Smith Barney still have the "boom boom room"? 

Rightway, I think the appropriate term is "shill".  Merrill Lynch
is not your friend.  Merrill Lynch is not your mother. 
Merrill Lynch is evil.  Merrill Lynch does not care one bit about
you.  Neither does any company, for that matter. 

One thing, folks:  companies that have the "best" training
programs still have people who fail and wash out of the industry. 
The biggest determinant of your success is you.  I'd focus more on
a company that fits your personality than "best" training programs or
"biggest" brand names.  There are successful people at little
regionals, too.

I don't know if there is a "best" firm for a female.  Money does
not have a gender.  Your scorecard is your level of
production--the amount of money you make.  Do well, and you will
be treated well.  If anything, the lack of successful females in
the industry will mean that you are held to lower standards.  That
is, if you don't make the production hurdle, you may not be fired as
quickly.

I don't know how many people have anti-female stereotypes.  I
don't.  Some of my best math and accounting professors in college
were female.

Oh, by the way, it helps if you wear tight-fitting clothing. 

Nah, just kidding. 

Duke#1's picture
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If it matters to you (and for many women it may not) you might check into what sort of "Women's program" each might have.  These are the types of things that at a minimum usually include access to senior women reps (perhaps some sort of "women's advisory council")who can act as mentors, but also can include special "women's symposiums" for the reps, special marketing materials to reach women investors, etc.   As you know, this is a very male dominated industry, and many women can find it helpful to have a structure where they can network with and learn from other women reps in their firm.  Because women are in such a minority, successful women reps typically are very willing to reach out to do all they can to help other women succeed.  Programs like this just help to facilitate that process.

rightway's picture
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inquisitive wrote:

Rightway, I think the appropriate term is "shill".  Merrill Lynch
is not your friend.  Merrill Lynch is not your mother. 
Merrill Lynch is evil.  Merrill Lynch does not care one bit about
you.  Neither does any company, for that matter. 

I recognoze that.  They also gave me stock that is now vested and
in the 7 figures, so I do have a certain level of appreciation...as I
work from the office in my home as I take a break and type this. 
ML is not the MAGI, just a good place to work for someone with open
eyes.

Put Trader's picture
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inquisitive wrote:

Does Smith Barney still have the "boom boom room"? 

Rightway, I think the appropriate term is "shill".  Merrill Lynch
is not your friend.  Merrill Lynch is not your mother. 
Merrill Lynch is evil.  Merrill Lynch does not care one bit about
you.  Neither does any company, for that matter. 

One thing, folks:  companies that have the "best" training
programs still have people who fail and wash out of the industry. 
The biggest determinant of your success is you.  I'd focus more on
a company that fits your personality than "best" training programs or
"biggest" brand names.  There are successful people at little
regionals, too.

I don't know if there is a "best" firm for a female.  Money does
not have a gender.  Your scorecard is your level of
production--the amount of money you make.  Do well, and you will
be treated well.  If anything, the lack of successful females in
the industry will mean that you are held to lower standards.  That
is, if you don't make the production hurdle, you may not be fired as
quickly.

The thing that caught my eye here is the argument that Merrill doesn't care about you, but no company does.

There is a lot of truth there--so why not dance with the best looking girl at the dance if none of them care about you anyway?

+++++

The Boom Boom room also caught my eye since I was involved in a lot of
discussion about it, how to avoid it, what could be done if it did
happen and so forth.

The media really blew it out of all reality--not to excuse it.  The
reality is that it was not much more than a working world version of a
typical Saturday night at a frat house.

NOW, and any organization like them, is going to make a far bigger deal about any opening that they can find.

Something women should inquire about at Smith Barney is their policy
regarding keeping a license valid if the woman should decide to step
onto the "Mommy track" for awhile.  It is my understanding that as part
of the settlement with NOW Smith Barney asked the NASD if it would be
OK with the NASD if Smith Barney "parked" women's licenses as long as
the woman who was on leave came into the office occasionally and
attended all mandatory compliance meetings.

If that is true it's an advantage that women of child bearing age should consider.

++++

The comment that money is gender neutral is well taken and very true.

From where I sit it's best to be looking for opportunity rather than
some support network.  There should be no such thing as "Firms that are
good for women" any more than there should be "Firms that are good for
men."

Ditto for whining from minorities.

Put Trader's picture
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rightway wrote:
inquisitive wrote:

Rightway, I think the appropriate term is "shill".  Merrill Lynch
is not your friend.  Merrill Lynch is not your mother. 
Merrill Lynch is evil.  Merrill Lynch does not care one bit about
you.  Neither does any company, for that matter. 

I recognoze that.  They also gave me stock that is now vested and
in the 7 figures, so I do have a certain level of appreciation...as I
work from the office in my home as I take a break and type this. 
ML is not the MAGI, just a good place to work for someone with open
eyes.

Seven figures worth of free shares.  Just how did that happen to a broker in a branch?

rightway's picture
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Put Trader wrote:
rightway wrote:
inquisitive wrote:

Rightway, I think the appropriate term is "shill".  Merrill Lynch
is not your friend.  Merrill Lynch is not your mother. 
Merrill Lynch is evil.  Merrill Lynch does not care one bit about
you.  Neither does any company, for that matter. 

I recognoze that.  They also gave me stock that is now vested and
in the 7 figures, so I do have a certain level of appreciation...as I
work from the office in my home as I take a break and type this. 
ML is not the MAGI, just a good place to work for someone with open
eyes.

Seven figures worth of free shares.  Just how did that happen to a broker in a branch?

The fact you do not know tells many things...but I will answer:
Transition package negotiated where you for-go an up front loan check
in leu of a back end stock package vested for usually 5 or 7
years. 

inquisitive's picture
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rightway wrote:

The fact you do not know tells many things...but I will answer:
Transition package negotiated where you for-go an up front loan check
in leu of a back end stock package vested for usually 5 or 7
years. 

ML stock has appreciated just over 100% in the past 8 years.  Just
using the "rule of 72", that's not a very impressive return.

And you are bragging about your deal?

Hell, ML stock was higher during the 2001 bear market than it is now.

What percentage of your trailing 12 did you get as stock?

stanwbrown's picture
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inquisitive wrote:Does Smith Barney still have the "boom boom room"?  <?:namespace prefix = v ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" /><?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
As I recall it was actually a Shearson office on <?:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Long Island, but SB paid the fine after the buy-out.
inquisitive wrote:Rightway, I think the appropriate term is "shill".  Merrill Lynch is not your friend.  Merrill Lynch is not your mother.  Merrill Lynch is evil.  Merrill Lynch does not care one bit about you.  Neither does any company, for that matter. 

You've beat that drum before, and I'm at a loss to really understand why. Do you think there's anyone here naive enough to believe that any employer in any field doesn't have interests that diverge from that of their employees?
 
inquisitive wrote:One thing, folks:  companies that have the "best" training programs still have people who fail and wash out of the industry.  The biggest determinant of your success is you.

Again, a rock solid grasp of the obvious there....
 
 inquisitive wrote: I'd focus more on a company that fits your personality than "best" training programs or "biggest" brand names.  There are successful people at little regionals, too.
I think offices actually determine "personality" you’ll encounter more than the firm as a whole. To your second point, I'm sure there are managers working AA or AAA baseball teams that are happy campers too. Me, I'd prefer to work with the bigs, and because of that, I'll always recommend that to those that ask.
 

inquisitive's picture
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stanwbrown wrote:inquisitive wrote:Does Smith Barney still have the "boom boom room"? 
As I recall it was actually a Shearson office on Long Island, but SB paid the fine after the buy-out.

A joke, Stan...

stanwbrown wrote:

inquisitive wrote:Rightway,
I think the appropriate term is "shill".  Merrill Lynch is not
your friend.  Merrill Lynch is not your mother.  Merrill
Lynch is evil.  Merrill Lynch does not care one bit about
you.  Neither does any company, for that matter. 

You've beat that drum before, and I'm at a loss to really understand why.

One clue for you, Stan:  "mother Merrill".  Enough said.

stanwbrown wrote:
Do
you think there's anyone here naive enough to believe that any employer
in any field doesn't have interests that diverge from that of their
employees?

See above.

 
stanwbrown wrote:
inquisitive wrote:One
thing, folks:  companies that have the "best" training programs
still have people who fail and wash out of the industry.  The
biggest determinant of your success is you.

Again, a rock solid grasp of the obvious there....

Glad
you noticed, Stan.  Too bad more people don't, because if they
did, there would be no talk of "best training program".  Because
the best program in the world isn't going to help you succeed if you
can't make it, just as the worst one isn't going to prevent you from
making it.  Repetition--it helps people learn.

stanwbrown wrote:

 inquisitive wrote: I'd
focus more on a company that fits your personality than "best" training
programs or "biggest" brand names.  There are successful people at
little regionals, too.
I think offices actually determine "personality" you’ll encounter more than the firm as a whole.

Yeah,
sure, Stan (:rollseyes:).  And when you call the back office for
help because something is wrong, I'm sure that branch personality will
shine through...huh?  When your payout gets tinkered with, your
fees are raised, or support is cut, I'm sure all you'll have to worry
about is branch personality.  When you aren't making the cut
production-wise and are on the verge of being terminated, I'm sure that
branch personality will supersede corporate.

Some
companies are more "fend for yourself" than others.  Perhaps you
weren't aware of that.  That is what I am talking about.

You
aren't one of those "branch managers are gods" folks, are you? 
They aren't.  They're actually quite powerless.  If you want
anything done, go to regional.

stanwbrown wrote:
To
your second point, I'm sure there are managers working AA or AAA
baseball teams that are happy campers too. Me, I'd prefer to work with
the bigs, and because of that, I'll always recommend that to those that
ask.

There are no parallels between professional baseball and brokerage
firms, Stan.  Quite a pathetic attempt to make one, I might add.

I know of a $4 million producer at a little regional that most people
have never heard of.  How does your "big league" production
compare to that???

Perhaps you should just stick to the obvious. 

stanwbrown's picture
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inquisitive wrote: stanwbrown wrote: inquisitive wrote:Does Smith Barney still have the "boom boom room"?  <?:NAMESPACE PREFIX = V /><?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
As I recall it was actually a Shearson office on <?:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Long Island, but SB paid the fine after the buy-out.

A joke, Stan...

Just thought you might want to be accurate, the SB connection to the boom-boom room is often made. Shearson had the “fun”, SB had to handle the damage.
inquisitive wrote: stanwbrown wrote:inquisitive wrote:Rightway, I think the appropriate term is "shill".  Merrill Lynch is not your friend.  Merrill Lynch is not your mother.  Merrill Lynch is evil.  Merrill Lynch does not care one bit about you.  Neither does any company, for that matter. 

You've beat that drum before, and I'm at a loss to really understand why.

One clue for you, Stan:  "mother Merrill".  Enough said.

A clue for you “Ma Bell”. The nickname has to do with size, not because any rational person doesn’t see the conflicts of interest between employer and employee (which btw, even exist in sainted regionals). BTW, the “evil” stuff is just so over the top.
inquisitive wrote: stanwbrown wrote:Do you think there's anyone here naive enough to believe that any employer in any field doesn't have interests that diverge from that of their employees?
See above.
Ditto
 inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:inquisitive wrote:One thing, folks:  companies that have the "best" training programs still have people who fail and wash out of the industry.  The biggest determinant of your success is you.

Again, a rock solid grasp of the obvious there....

Glad you noticed, Stan.  Too bad more people don't, because if they did, there would be no talk of "best training program".  Because the best program in the world isn't going to help you succeed if you can't make it, just as the worst one isn't going to prevent you from making it.  Repetition--it helps people learn.

Say I want to be a pro golfer, do I want the best coach or the worst? Granted, I have to make it on my own on the course, but call me crazy, I’m going to use the best coach in the biz, if I can.
inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:  inquisitive wrote: I'd focus more on a company that fits your personality than "best" training programs or "biggest" brand names.  There are successful people at little regionals, too.
I think offices actually determine "personality" you’ll encounter more than the firm as a whole.

Yeah, sure, Stan (:rollseyes:).  And when you call the back office for help because something is wrong, I'm sure that branch personality will shine through...huh?  When your payout gets tinkered with, your fees are raised, or support is cut, I'm sure all you'll have to worry about is branch personality.  When you aren't making the cut production-wise and are on the verge of being terminated, I'm sure that branch personality will supersede corporate.

Where to begin on this silliness…… my point was to do with work environment. The environment you work in is far more dependent on your specific office than anything generated out of national HQ. It can be back-stabbing or fair, drudgery or fun competition. It’s all about the people you work with and to some extent, the attitude of the manger. As to the problems you mentioned above, I’ve never encountered any of them, anywhere.
inquisitive wrote:
You aren't one of those "branch managers are gods" folks, are you?  They aren't.  They're actually quite powerless.  If you want anything done, go to regional.

sigh, sounds like you often need “things done” and have to contend with “cut support” and payouts being reduced. I’ve never faced that. Perhaps you should tell us where you work so we could all be sure of avoiding it.
Within your manager’s limited powers is that of setting an office environment. He/She determines, for example, what if any pressure there might be on proprietary sales or if there wil be marketing funds available. He/she also divies up plums that come along. They ain’t gods, they’re often failed producers, but there are things within their control.
 
inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:To your second point, I'm sure there are managers working AA or AAA baseball teams that are happy campers too. Me, I'd prefer to work with the bigs, and because of that, I'll always recommend that to those that ask.
There are no parallels between professional baseball and brokerage firms, Stan.  Quite a pathetic attempt to make one, I might add.

 
No doubt the manager of the AAA team things he’s doing the same thing, with the same tools and the same types of players as the managers in the bigs.
 
inquisitive wrote:I know of a $4 million producer at a little regional that most people have never heard of.  How does your "big league" production compare to that???

 
Golly, he’s a massive fish, in a small pond. Some people love that sort of thing. I personally could make do as a 4 million producer anywhere.
 
At a wirehouse he might make the regional “Chairman’s Council”. OTOH, while his life is pretty good, the vast majority of his peers at his firm are doing far less than the average guy at the bigs and with less in the way of tools.
 
 

inquisitive's picture
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stanwbrown wrote:
A
clue for you “Ma Bell”. The nickname has to do with size, not because
any rational person doesn’t see the conflicts of interest between
employer and employee (which btw, even exist in sainted regionals).
BTW, the “evil” stuff is just so over the top.

Sure, "evil" is over the top.

And "mother" Merrill--you think "mother" refers to size?  Your
mother is who gives you life.  Your mother is who nutures
you.  I took the reference to be that Merrill is the be-all,
end-all of firms.  It is not.  That "mother Merrill" sh*t
makes me want to vomit.  No firm should be looked at that way.

stanwbrown wrote:

inquisitive wrote: stanwbrown wrote:Do
you think there's anyone here naive enough to believe that any employer
in any field doesn't have interests that diverge from that of their
employees?
See above.
Ditto
 inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:inquisitive wrote:One
thing, folks:  companies that have the "best" training programs
still have people who fail and wash out of the industry.  The
biggest determinant of your success is you.

Again, a rock solid grasp of the obvious there....

Glad
you noticed, Stan.  Too bad more people don't, because if they
did, there would be no talk of "best training program".  Because
the best program in the world isn't going to help you succeed if you
can't make it, just as the worst one isn't going to prevent you from
making it.  Repetition--it helps people learn.

Say
I want to be a pro golfer, do I want the best coach or the worst?
Granted, I have to make it on my own on the course, but call me crazy,
I’m going to use the best coach in the biz, if I can.

How do you determine "the best", Stan?  Someone who has a
reputation for being the best because people pump him up with glowing
comments?  Or the person is the best because he fits your
particular situation?

There is no such thing as one best CEO.  Or golf coach. 
Or firm.  If there was, I could guarantee you Merrill would not be
it.

stanwbrown wrote:
inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:  inquisitive wrote: I'd
focus more on a company that fits your personality than "best" training
programs or "biggest" brand names.  There are successful people at
little regionals, too.
I think offices actually determine "personality" you’ll encounter more than the firm as a whole.

Yeah,
sure, Stan (:rollseyes:).  And when you call the back office for
help because something is wrong, I'm sure that branch personality will
shine through...huh?  When your payout gets tinkered with, your
fees are raised, or support is cut, I'm sure all you'll have to worry
about is branch personality.  When you aren't making the cut
production-wise and are on the verge of being terminated, I'm sure that
branch personality will supersede corporate.

Where
to begin on this silliness…… my point was to do with work environment.
The environment you work in is far more dependent on your specific
office than anything generated out of national HQ. It can be
back-stabbing or fair, drudgery or fun competition. It’s all about the
people you work with and to some extent, the attitude of the manger. As
to the problems you mentioned above, I’ve never encountered any of
them, anywhere.

No silliness at all.  How long have you been in the industry, Stan?  Talk to some people.  They'll tell you.

stanwbrown wrote:

inquisitive wrote:
You
aren't one of those "branch managers are gods" folks, are you? 
They aren't.  They're actually quite powerless.  If you want
anything done, go to regional.

sigh, sounds like you often need “things done” and have to contend with “cut support” and payouts being reduced.

Everybody needs things done from time to time.

stanwbrown wrote:
I’ve never faced that. Perhaps you should tell us where you work so we could all be sure of avoiding it.

Where I worked--past tense.

stanwbrown wrote:

Within
your manager’s limited powers is that of setting an office environment.
He/She determines, for example, what if any pressure there might be on
proprietary sales

Nope,
that pressure comes from corporate.  Those are strategic business
decisions, along the lines of deciding to have proprietary products in
the first place.

stanwbrown wrote:

or if there wil be marketing funds available.

Heavens
no!  That comes from above, too.  I know one company that cut
all client development dollars.  That decision was made in the
executive suite--not by the branch managers.

stanwbrown wrote:
He/she also divies up plums that come along.

Corporate decides if there are any plums and the size of those plums.  Branch managers don't.

stanwbrown wrote:
They ain’t gods, they’re often failed producers, but there are things within their control.

Sure, there are things under their control.  But those things are trivial. 

Branch managers don't set strategic direction, no part of it. 
They don't decide if you should push proprietary products.  They
don't set corporate policy--which is one of the biggest determinants of
culture, personality, or whatever you want to call it.  Branch
managers don't fire back office support to save a few bucks, then
scramble to replace them a year or two later.

stanwbrown wrote: 
inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:To
your second point, I'm sure there are managers working AA or AAA
baseball teams that are happy campers too. Me, I'd prefer to work with
the bigs, and because of that, I'll always recommend that to those that
ask.
There
are no parallels between professional baseball and brokerage firms,
Stan.  Quite a pathetic attempt to make one, I might add.

 
No
doubt the manager of the AAA team things he’s doing the same thing,
with the same tools and the same types of players as the managers in
the bigs.

Yes.  And that goes
for small, non-big leaguers like regionals.  They've got most of
the same tools you've got.  Maybe not all.  But most.

 
inquisitive wrote:I
know of a $4 million producer at a little regional that most people
have never heard of.  How does your "big league" production
compare to that???

 
stanwbrown wrote:
Golly,
he’s a massive fish, in a small pond. Some people love that sort of
thing. I personally could make do as a 4 million producer anywhere.
 
At
a wirehouse he might make the regional “Chairman’s Council”. OTOH,
while his life is pretty good, the vast majority of his peers at his
firm are doing far less than the average guy at the bigs and with less
in the way of tools.

Nope,
the average at his firm is the same as the average at other
firms--around $400k.  I sometimes read the annual reports.

And yes, he is a huge fish in a small pond.  And he's treated accordingly.

A $500k producer is going to be treated like something important at
a regional.  He isn't going to be treated that way at Merrill.

stanwbrown's picture
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inquisitive wrote: stanwbrown wrote: <?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
A clue for you “Ma Bell”. The nickname has to do with size, not because any rational person doesn’t see the conflicts of interest between employer and employee (which btw, even exist in sainted regionals). BTW, the “evil” stuff is just so over the top.

Sure, "evil" is over the top.
And "mother" Merrill--you think "mother" refers to size?  Your mother is who gives you life.  Your mother is who nutures you.  I took the reference to be that Merrill is the be-all, end-all of firms. 

I can only assume you're too young to recall the term "Ma Bell". The "Mother Merrill" thing is said with tongue solidly in cheek. Perhaps you should work there before you have a hissy-fit about it.
inquisitive wrote:
It is not.  That "mother Merrill" sh*t makes me want to vomit.  No firm should be looked at that way.

 You're young, you'll get over it.
inquisitive wrote: stanwbrown wrote:Say I want to be a pro golfer, do I want the best coach or the worst? Granted, I have to make it on my own on the course, but call me crazy, I’m going to use the best coach in the biz, if I can.
How do you determine "the best", Stan?  Someone who has a reputation for being the best because people pump him up with glowing comments?  Or the person is the best because he fits your particular situation?
There is no such thing as one best CEO.  Or golf coach.  Or firm.  If there was, I could guarantee you Merrill would not be it.

Sounds again that your ML-rage has overcome whatever good judgment you might have. ML's training program has an industry-wide rep for being the most comprehensive and deepest. "The best", sorry if that offends you, but you'll even hear people at ML's competitors saying that. Oh, and while you might have a tough time telling "the best" from "the worst" doesn't mean others do.
inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:  inquisitive wrote: I'd focus more on a company that fits your personality than "best" training programs or "biggest" brand names.  There are successful people at little regionals, too.
I think offices actually determine "personality" you’ll encounter more than the firm as a whole.

Yeah, sure, Stan (:rollseyes:).  And when you call the back office for help because something is wrong, I'm sure that branch personality will shine through...huh?  When your payout gets tinkered with, your fees are raised, or support is cut, I'm sure all you'll have to worry about is branch personality.  When you aren't making the cut production-wise and are on the verge of being terminated, I'm sure that branch personality will supersede corporate.

Where to begin on this silliness…… my point was to do with work environment. The environment you work in is far more dependent on your specific office than anything generated out of national HQ. It can be back-stabbing or fair, drudgery or fun competition. It’s all about the people you work with and to some extent, the attitude of the manger. As to the problems you mentioned above, I’ve never encountered any of them, anywhere.
No silliness at all.  How long have you been in the industry, Stan?  Talk to some people.  They'll tell you.

15 years in the biz and I've never encountered what you're talking about. Sounds like you worked at a very sorry firm.
inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:inquisitive wrote:
You aren't one of those "branch managers are gods" folks, are you?  They aren't.  They're actually quite powerless.  If you want anything done, go to regional.

sigh, sounds like you often need “things done” and have to contend with “cut support” and payouts being reduced.
Everybody needs things done from time to time.

<?:namespace prefix = v ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" />
inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:
I’ve never faced that. Perhaps you should tell us where you work so we could all be sure of avoiding it.
Where I worked--past tense.

I'm glad for your sake it's past tense.
inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:
Within your manager’s limited powers is that of setting an office environment. He/She determines, for example, what if any pressure there might be on proprietary sales

Nope, that pressure comes from corporate.  Those are strategic business decisions, along the lines of deciding to have proprietary products in the first place.

Your manager, if he cares to, can end that "pressure" at his desk. I've seen it done. Talk to people in the same firm in different offices and see how varied their experiences are. Night and day, pal, night and day.inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:
or if there wil be marketing funds available.

Heavens no!  That comes from above, too.  I know one company that cut all client development dollars.  That decision was made in the executive suite--not by the branch managers.

I'll bet you my Series 24 license that, assuming there are funds to be had, can either spread the dollars out to people in the office, or he can choice to make his P/L sheet look better by not releasing them.
inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:
He/she also divvies up plums that come along.

Corporate decides if there are any plums and the size of those plums.  Branch managers don't.

I'm not sure what planet you're visiting from, but "plums" like redistributed accounts (which some mangers keep themselves, and others pass out) or walk-in traffic, or choice leads aren't distributed by corporate.
inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:
They ain’t gods, they’re often failed producers, but there are things within their control.
Sure, there are things under their control.  But those things are trivial. 

If you think the office environment is trivial, so be it.
inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:To your second point, I'm sure there are managers working AA or AAA baseball teams that are happy campers too. Me, I'd prefer to work with the bigs, and because of that, I'll always recommend that to those that ask.
There are no parallels between professional baseball and brokerage firms, Stan.  Quite a pathetic attempt to make one, I might add.

No doubt the manager of the AAA team things he’s doing the same thing, with the same tools and the same types of players as the managers in the bigs.

 
Yes.  And that goes for small, non-big leaguers like regionals.  They've got most of the same tools you've got.  Maybe not all.  But most.

 
Like I said, I'm sure the AAA manager thinks he's got the same as the bigs manager....
inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:inquisitive wrote:I know of a $4 million producer at a little regional that most people have never heard of.  How does your "big league" production compare to that???

Golly, he’s a massive fish, in a small pond. Some people love that sort of thing. I personally could make do as a 4 million producer anywhere.
At a wirehouse he might make the regional “Chairman’s Council”. OTOH, while his life is pretty good, the vast majority of his peers at his firm are doing far less than the average guy at the bigs and with less in the way of tools.

Nope, the average at his firm is the same as the average at other firms--around $400k.  I sometimes read the annual reports.

 
Sure, "same as other firms". Don't pretend the bigs don't have bigger average production.
inquisitive wrote: A $500k producer is going to be treated like something important at a regional.  He isn't going to be treated that way at Merrill.
Why, that's the very definition of a mid-sized fish in a small pond. Some people don't mind the other things they have to give up to be that fish. Others would prefer bigger competition....
 

inquisitive's picture
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stanwbrown wrote:I can only assume you're too young to recall the term "Ma Bell".

Nope.  Not too young.  How much competition did Ma Bell
have?  Ma Bell was where you went for phone service.  You
didn't have a whole lot of other options. 

stanwbrown wrote:
The
"Mother Merrill" thing is said with tongue solidly in cheek. Perhaps
you should work there before you have a hissy-fit about it.

Not having a hissy fit.  And if you think I'm the only person with
negative things to say about ML, you are dead wrong.  Other people
have said negative things about ML before I joined this forum in
April.  "Merrill Lynch is not your friend."

stanwbrown wrote:

inquisitive wrote:
It is not.  That "mother Merrill" sh*t makes me want to vomit.  No firm should be looked at that way.

 You're young, you'll get over it.
inquisitive wrote: stanwbrown wrote:Say
I want to be a pro golfer, do I want the best coach or the worst?
Granted, I have to make it on my own on the course, but call me crazy,
I’m going to use the best coach in the biz, if I can.
How
do you determine "the best", Stan?  Someone who has a reputation
for being the best because people pump him up with glowing
comments?  Or the person is the best because he fits your
particular situation?
There
is no such thing as one best CEO.  Or golf coach.  Or
firm.  If there was, I could guarantee you Merrill would not be it.

Sounds
again that your ML-rage has overcome whatever good judgment you might
have. ML's training program has an industry-wide rep for being the most
comprehensive and deepest. "The best", sorry if that offends you, but
you'll even hear people at ML's competitors saying that. Oh, and while
you might have a tough time telling "the best" from "the worst" doesn't
mean others do.

OK, let's say for the sake of argument that it is the best.  Do
all people who enter the ML training program succeed?  Of those
that do succeed, would those people have succeeded at companies with
less than best training programs?

stanwbrown wrote:

15 years in the biz and I've never encountered what you're talking about. Sounds like you worked at a very sorry firm.

http://www.onwallstreet.com/detail.cfm?page=/pubs/ows/200303 01015.html

inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:

Within
your manager’s limited powers is that of setting an office environment.
He/She determines, for example, what if any pressure there might be on
proprietary sales

Nope,
that pressure comes from corporate.  Those are strategic business
decisions, along the lines of deciding to have proprietary products in
the first place.

Your manager, if he cares to, can end that "pressure" at his desk.

Not once have I ever heard of a manager overriding a corporate directive.

stanwbrown wrote:

I've
seen it done. Talk to people in the same firm in different offices and
see how varied their experiences are. Night and day, pal, night and day.

So
if a ML branch manager didn't want his reps to move all their clients
to fee-based accounts--as directed from above--that would be OK with
the corporate brass?  I doubt it.

stanwbrown wrote:
inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:

or if there wil be marketing funds available.

Heavens
no!  That comes from above, too.  I know one company that cut
all client development dollars.  That decision was made in the
executive suite--not by the branch managers.

I'll
bet you my Series 24 license that, assuming there are funds to be had,
can either spread the dollars out to people in the office, or he can
choice to make his P/L sheet look better by not releasing them.

Interesting
choice of words, "assuming".  A conditional statement.  In
other words, I'm right.  Corporate sets policy regarding such
things.

stanwbrown wrote:

inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:
He/she also divvies up plums that come along.

Corporate decides if there are any plums and the size of those plums.  Branch managers don't.

I'm
not sure what planet you're visiting from, but "plums" like
redistributed accounts (which some mangers keep themselves, and others
pass out) or walk-in traffic, or choice leads aren't distributed by
corporate.

Sorry, I was mistaken regarding what you were referring to. 
Yes, branch managers do distribute accounts.  But that's their
job.  Corporate isn't going to be bothered with such things.

stanwbrown wrote:

inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:inquisitive wrote:stanwbrown wrote:
They ain’t gods, they’re often failed producers, but there are things within their control.
Sure, there are things under their control.  But those things are trivial. 

If you think the office environment is trivial, so be it.

Not trivial.  But the branch manager is largely a puppet.  I don't think they have more power than they have.

Nope,
the average at his firm is the same as the average at other
firms--around $400k.  I sometimes read the annual reports.

 
Sure, "same as other firms". Don't pretend the bigs don't have bigger average production.

That $400k figure is a few years old--back in 2002.  So I'm
sure it is higher now.  ML has the highest average
production.  But the rest of the big firms are similar to the
regionals.

Here are some averages:

http://www.onwallstreet.com/detail.cfm?page=/pubs/ows/200503 01003.html

 

rightway's picture
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Joined: 2004-12-02

I just like working at Merrill Lynch, Thats all.

stanwbrown's picture
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Joined: 2004-12-01

rightway wrote:I just like working at Merrill Lynch, Thats all.
It's a great firm and you have nothing to apologize to a rapid-ML hater about....

stanwbrown's picture
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Joined: 2004-12-01

"Not having a hissy fit.  And if you think I'm the only person with negative things to say about ML, you are dead wrong.  Other people have said negative things about ML before I joined this forum in April.  "Merrill Lynch is not your friend."
You are having the same hissy-fit you have every week or so. "evil" and "makes me want to vomit" says it all.
"OK, let's say for the sake of argument that it is the best.  Do all people who enter the ML training program succeed?"
You're trying to move the goalposts. Just because everyone who enters doesn't succeed doesn't mean it isn't the best program. I'm sorry it causes you to have fits, but ML's earned that rep. Even competing firms admit it, you should consider it.
http://www.onwallstreet.com/detail.cfm?page=/pubs/ows/200303 01015.html
Your link doesn't seem to work.
"So if a ML branch manager didn't want his reps to move all their clients to fee-based accounts--as directed from above--that would be OK with the corporate brass?  I doubt it."
I doubt any firms ever said "have your reps move all their accounts to fee-based". Like I said, take to reps in different offices of the same firm yourself and see how much the enviroments vary.
stanwbrown wrote:
I'll bet you my Series 24 license that, assuming there are funds to be had, can either spread the dollars out to people in the office, or he can choice to make his P/L sheet look better by not releasing them.
"Interesting choice of words, "assuming".  A conditional statement.  In other words, I'm right.  Corporate sets policy regarding such things."
No, IOW you're incorrect. I've seen managers withhold marketing money to make his P/L look better. I've seen other managers say it costs money to make money, and spend it.

"Not trivial.  But the branch manager is largely a puppet.  I don't think they have more power than they have."
You're either deeply confused, you've never watched management or you've never compared notes with anyone in your firm from another office.

 
"That $400k figure is a few years old--back in 2002.  So I'm sure it is higher now.  ML has the highest average production.  But the rest of the big firms are similar to the regionals.
Here are some averages:
http://www.onwallstreet.com/detail.cfm?page=/pubs/ows/200503 01003.html"
Again, your link doesn't seem to work.

inquisitive's picture
Offline
Joined: 2005-04-10

stanwbrown wrote:You're trying to move the goalposts. Just because
everyone who enters doesn't succeed doesn't mean it isn't the best
program. I'm sorry it causes you to have fits, but ML's earned that
rep. Even competing firms admit it, you should consider it.
http://www.onwallstreet.com/detail.cfm?page=/pubs/ows/200303 01015.html
Your link doesn't seem to work.

Stan, you should know by now that this forum puts spaces in longer links.  Here is another, just for you.

http://tinyurl.com/bxmj4

No, I'm not moving goalposts.  "The best" doesn't indicate how
much better the training program is than others.  Slightly
better?  Leaps and bounds better?  It means nothing. 

Are there any statistics on rookie washout rates at companies? 
If ML has the "best" training program, then we'd expect them to have
the lowest washout rate, right?  Significantly lower?  Or
just slightly lower?  Of course, we may have to adjust for their
higher production standards to equalize the playing field.

stanwbrown wrote:"So
if a ML branch manager didn't want his reps to move all their clients
to fee-based accounts--as directed from above--that would be OK with
the corporate brass?  I doubt it."
I
doubt any firms ever said "have your reps move all their accounts to
fee-based". Like I said, take to reps in different offices of the same
firm yourself and see how much the enviroments vary.

I wonder if you are on the same planet even...

Transitioning
to fee-based accounts was an executive decision.  Period. 
Branch managers have no say in it at all.  Further, not only did
senior management issue that directive, they were also the ones who
reworked comp to punish transaction-oriented business.

One
branch manager I spoke with a few years ago told me that he couldn't
even talk to any potential recruits unless they had at least 25% of
their business fee-based.  Who do you think mandated that
policy?  Him?  Nooooo.  He wasn't happy about it at the
time as it severely limited who he could and could not hire.  And
he was powerless to change it, Stan.

stanwbrown wrote:
I'll
bet you my Series 24 license that, assuming there are funds to be had,
can either spread the dollars out to people in the office, or he can
choice to make his P/L sheet look better by not releasing them.
stanwbrown wrote:

"Interesting
choice of words, "assuming".  A conditional statement.  In
other words, I'm right.  Corporate sets policy regarding such
things."
No,
IOW you're incorrect. I've seen managers withhold marketing money to
make his P/L look better. I've seen other managers say it costs money
to make money, and spend it.

Stan,
any levels of marketing money are first determined by senior
management.  Period.  It's going to be part of the overall
corporate budget.  Sure, a branch manager can withhold it. 
But he CANNOT give it out if he doesn't first get it from above. 
Make sense?  Somehow I still don't think you'll grasp it.

Besides,
any manager would be foolish to give people marketing money unless he
thinks he can earn a sufficient return on that investment.
stanwbrown wrote:
"Not trivial.  But the branch manager is largely a puppet.  I don't think they have more power than they have."

You're either deeply confused, you've never watched management or
you've never compared notes with anyone in your firm from another
office.

Well, Stan, I know people at pretty much every well-known
company.  I also know guys who hate their branch managers. 
In your world branch managers are loved and adored by their underlings,
aren't they?  Ah, how sweet...

stanwbrown wrote:

"That $400k figure is a few years old--back in 2002.  So I'm
sure it is higher now.  ML has the highest average
production.  But the rest of the big firms are similar to the
regionals.
Here are some averages:
http://www.onwallstreet.com/detail.cfm?page=/pubs/ows/200503 01003.html"
Again, your link doesn't seem to work.

Here is another link for you:

http://tinyurl.com/9v42a

Let me reiterate previous points:

Branch management exists to implement the policies set forth by senior
management.  Branch management has little power to challenge
corporate directives.

Independents who have relationships with clearing firms, according to
what I know, have lower switching costs than their wirehouse
counterparts and are better able to switch if things take a turn for a
worse, thus reducing the power of the clearing firms and limiting their
ability to jerk independents around (raise fees).  Make sense?

In addition, the lower switching costs enable independents to keep
competition high in the independent clearing industry, thus helping to
keep fees down.

A mental exercise for you Stan:

Let's say for the sake of this extreme argument that brokers
industry-wide are going to take a severe financial hit if they leave
the firm because of deferred comp.  And I mean severe--to the
point that nobody wants to leave.  Let's also say that the big
firms are able to extend their brands, create strong relationships with
the clients through branding and products that tie the clients to the
firms, enabling the firms to keep 50% or more of the clients when a rep
jumps firms.

What happens at that point?  Why is your firm going to pay you so
much when you can't leave?  You can't go anywhere without losing a
ton of cash.  And if you did go, half your book would be gone.

Everything happens in stages.  Many people feel that deferred comp
is starting to make leaving your firm difficult to do (starting, not
there yet).  Many people are also beginning to believe that
clients are becoming more loyal to the firm.  "Deferred comp helps
us build wealth..."  First and foremost, deferred comp is a
strategic tool to bind you to the firm.

Are you the only one in your branch that can recommend outside money managers to your clients?

I am NOT the only person around here who doesn't think that Merrill is
the best!  So stop pretending that I am.  Other people, whose
posts I read before I even joined the forum, said similar things.

I read a consumer report on skillets a few months ago.  All-Clad
is one of the "best", or so everyone says.  Guess what, the cheapo
$14 skillet scored higher in the things the researchers measured than
the $120 All-Clad did. 

So much for the "best".

stanwbrown's picture
Offline
Joined: 2004-12-01

"Stan, you should know by now that this forum puts spaces in longer links.  Here is another, just for you.<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
http://tinyurl.com/bxmj4"
Why golly, thanks so much. How dare I not know the forum policy on links? A thousand pardons.
 Now just which of your incorrect assertions is this link supposed to support? Is the t "cutting payout" argument? If so, could you show us where in the article there was a cut aside from the small ticket/household change?
"No, I'm not moving goalposts.  "The best" doesn't indicate how much better the training program is than others.  Slightly better?  Leaps and bounds better?  It means nothing. "
Fine, if it "means nothing" that even ML's competitors routinely say ML has the industry's best training program, so be it. It’s a boring argument that can’t defeat your “little brother” syndrome.
>> "So if a ML branch manager didn't want his reps to move all their clients to fee-based accounts--as directed from above--that would be OK with the corporate brass?  I doubt it."
>I doubt any firms ever said "have your reps move all their accounts to fee-based". Like I said, take to reps in different offices of the same firm yourself and see how much the environments vary.
"Transitioning to fee-based accounts was an executive decision.  Period.  Branch managers have no say in it at all.  Further, not only did senior management issue that directive, they were also the ones who reworked comp to punish transaction-oriented business."
Yes, the industry is moving to a fee based platform. Now, tell us the name of the firm that ever said to managers, as you alleged, "have your reps move all their accounts to fee-based".
 
"One branch manager I spoke with a few years ago told me that he couldn't even talk to any potential recruits unless they had at least 25% of their business fee-based.  Who do you think mandated that policy?  Him?  Nooooo.  He wasn't happy about it at the time as it severely limited who he could and could not hire.  And he was powerless to change it, Stan."
Two things. First, name that firm. Second, my point about managers was never that they supersede the firm's strategic directives, but that they go a long way in determining the atmosphere, the "personality" of the office you're in. Again, if you don't believe me, talk to people in different branches of the same firm and see how much their experiences differ. Your introduction of this side issue does nothing to change that fact.
"Stan, any levels of marketing money are first determined by senior management.  Period.  It's going to be part of the overall corporate budget.  Sure, a branch manager can withhold it.  But he CANNOT give it out if he doesn't first get it from above.  Make sense?  Somehow I still don't think you'll grasp it."
So managers can withhold marketing money to make their P/L look better. Sounds like what I've been saying all along. Now, if you can name a firm that doesn't have a marketing budget, we'd all be interested in hearing about it.
"Well, Stan, I know people at pretty much every well-known company.  I also know guys who hate their branch managers.  In your world branch managers are loved and adored by their underlings, aren't they?  Ah, how sweet..."
Check that reading comprehension problem again. I've never said anything remotely like that last line. In fact, I've made it pretty clear that some offices have managers the reps hate, and other offices have managers the reps like. THAT'S why the environment between offices of the same firm can be so different.
Please do try to keep up.
"Here is another link for you:http://tinyurl.com/9v42a"
And this is supposed to be the link where you prove that, aside from ML, regionals and the bigs have the same production levels? Really? Just where does it say that?
“Let me reiterate previous points:Branch management exists to implement the policies set forth by senior management.  Branch management has little power to challenge corporate directives.”
 
A nice change of your original claim, and true as far as it goes. OTOH, I’ve known branch managers who choose not to press brokers in the office on, say, proprietary mutual fund sales. They simply decide that on all the measures they’re judged by their superiors, this is going to be an area in which they don’t excel. I’ve seen it. “Independents who have relationships with clearing firms, according to what I know, have lower switching costs than their wirehouse counterparts and are better able to switch if things take a turn for a worse, thus reducing the power of the clearing firms and limiting their ability to jerk independents around (raise fees).  Make sense?”
 
<?:namespace prefix = u1 /><?:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Indies can switch, but it isn’t painless and there’s only so many firms they can clear through. You may have noticed that you have plenty of gas stations to chose from, but they usually seem to move their prices in lockstep. Pressures to profit on one clearing house apply to all and they can adjust their costs to reps. Just as brokerages can move their cost structure to produce better profits.
 
It’s silly to argue, as you have, that business fundamentals apply to one channel of the business and not to the other.
“Let's say for the sake of this extreme argument that brokers industry-wide are going to take a severe financial hit if they leave the firm because of deferred comp.  And I mean severe--to the point that nobody wants to leave.  Let's also say that the big firms are able to extend their brands, create strong relationships with the clients through branding and products that tie the clients to the firms, enabling the firms to keep 50% or more of the clients when a rep jumps firms.What happens at that point?  Why is your firm going to pay you so much when you can't leave?  You can't go anywhere without losing a ton of cash.  And if you did go, half your book would be gone.”
 
What you seem to ignore is that fact that recruiting brokerages will respond by offering MORE incentives to get brokers to leave behind the deferred comp money. Also, your assertion that firm INCREASE, rather than DECREASE their “ties” to clients via SMAs is just laughable. Access to these SAME MANAGERS are available at most every wirehouse. If anything that makes the business MORE portable, not less.
 
Your entire theory that firms are increasing their power of reps by making it harder to move is misguided. Firms ONCE did have that power when they held brokers in place by having them sell large amounts of proprietary funds that couldn’t be moved because they weren’t networked and couldn’t be held anywhere else. You had to have your client sell their funds, perhaps with CDSC charges involved, in order to keep their business. You ALSO had to explain why your old firm’s proprietary fund was a great thing for them to buy THEN, and a bad idea now.
 
With SMAs you can say “Mr and Mrs Client, I suggest we keep your XYZ managed account, we simply move it, without costing you a dime and causing no purchases or sales, to my new firm”.
 
That’s much, much easier, it lessens the power of firms, it makes brokers more mobile, and therefore lessens the firm’s ability to slash payouts and offend “kept” brokers.
“re you the only one in your branch that can recommend outside money managers to your clients?”
 
Of course not. Just what does that question mean in this discussion?
 
“I am not the only around here who doesn't think that Merrill is the best!  So stop pretending that I am.”
 
How did we get from your hysteria about ML every time the name comes up and your blind refusal to admit the rep ML’s training program has achieved  to the above? When did I or anyone else make the blanket proclamation that  “Merrill is the best”?
 

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