Broker or Life Insurance Co.

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Mac42's picture
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Background: I am a CPA that has worked at Ernst & Young and Deloitte. I left public accounting and currently work at a broker’s home office. I am interviewing with AG Edwards Branches, Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, and one small firm (To be a Financial Advisor). I am looking to make this career move
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Questions:
In your opinion, would AG Edwards carry more clout to the general investor than Northwestern Mutual?
 
Is there a drawback to NMFN’s model of starting with life insurance then selling other products second or third?
 
Any other advise about deciding between these firms would be great.

peanutbroker's picture
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AG would be far superior. Good stock research, no proprietary insurance, funds, annuities, etc. They are a brokerage firm that truly brokers investments/insurance from different companies. NWM is an insurance company first and investmnents co second. Most of the time they want to sell their own line of stuff first. From the standpoint of being able to do more for a client AG is a "no brainer" better choice compared to NWM. As far as who is better to work for, someone else will have to chime in.

maybeeeeeeee's picture
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Agreed.  AG Edwards is by far the better choice, if he wants to be a financial advisor.
But, that road is long and hard and you can starve.
Mac, do you want to sell insurance or do you have a passion for the stock market?

Indyone's picture
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Yes and yes.

TexasRep's picture
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i sold insurance for awhile- the best parts about it?
i was mentored by an insurance stud who knew the biz and was happy to show me the ropes and deal w/ rejection, objections, ect-- the insurance guys have less compliance to worry about, therefore a very aggressive sales culture- this is a great way to cut your teeth sales culture wise, if the manangement is good.
in the end-- great FA's suck selling insurance / great insurance guys suck at investment sales-
 

lostintexas's picture
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How much are you leaning towards really becoming an expert financial planner versus being primarily an investment advisor?
IMHO, if you wish to really learn how to plan, the insurance background is the better start.  Any basic plan starts with protection, and advanced strategies especially for retirees and pre-retirees usually include insurance products as part of the estate and income tax, as well as cash flow management plan.  
As a tax expert, you already may know how some of this is done; working in the insurance industry is only going to enhance your existing knowledge.   With the huge generational transfer of wealth that is just beginning to happen, there is HUGE opportunity for you to add value to your relationships AND make oodles of money.
I can remember the stock market boom of the late 90's when an awful lot of investors thought that a broker added little value and many even questioned the value of asset allocation or portfolio management.  However, those that knew advanced planning concepts still had something of value to talk about.  
Tell a rich man how he can save a bunch of money on taxes and he WILL listen.

Mac42's picture
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Mac, do you want to sell insurance or do you have a passion for the stock market?
Maybeeeeee,
I don’t necessarily want to sell insurance and I don’t have a passion for stocks. I want to be an expert financial planner that is able to put my clients in the right investment for them. If it is insurance that’s fine, if it is a diversified stock portfolio that’s fine too. I just want to serve clients and help them reach there goals.
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I also understand the road is long and hard and a majority of people don’t make it.

Mac42's picture
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How much are you leaning towards really becoming an expert financial planner versus being primarily an investment advisor?<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
lostintexas,
I am leaning towards becoming an expert financial planner. I wouldn’t mind giving investment advice though. Are you suggesting that I start at an insurance company to learn the asset protection approach? Are you saying that to be an expert financial planner you have to use the asset protection approach?

Mac42's picture
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Texasrep,
If you sold insurance for a while and now you don’t, what do you do? Are you an FA now? Do you feel that insurance companies do a better job of teaching and training like you said about your insurance stud?

Big Easy Flood's picture
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lostintexas wrote:
How much are you leaning towards really becoming an expert financial planner versus being primarily an investment advisor?
IMHO, if you wish to really learn how to plan, the insurance background is the better start.  Any basic plan starts with protection, and advanced strategies especially for retirees and pre-retirees usually include insurance products as part of the estate and income tax, as well as cash flow management plan.  
As a tax expert, you already may know how some of this is done; working in the insurance industry is only going to enhance your existing knowledge.   With the huge generational transfer of wealth that is just beginning to happen, there is HUGE opportunity for you to add value to your relationships AND make oodles of money.
I can remember the stock market boom of the late 90's when an awful lot of investors thought that a broker added little value and many even questioned the value of asset allocation or portfolio management.  However, those that knew advanced planning concepts still had something of value to talk about.  
Tell a rich man how he can save a bunch of money on taxes and he WILL listen.

Damn Lost, you can remember all the way back to the 1990s?
As for the final sentence, about rich men and taxes.
That is true, people with money are always interested in hearing almost anything about how to save on taxes.
But there is no shortage of sources of information about that, right?
What does somebody do to make themselves appear to be better informed?  Having an MBA puts you in an exclusive club with about 80% of the competition.
Having a CFP is important--even critical--among a relatively small number of prospects.  Most of the people who know what the letters CFP mean probably already have their own CFP.  But you need it nonetheless and it should be a primary goal of anybody in the business.
I do hear talk that it's becoming less meaningful as more and more people get it, including the dishonest and unethical types. The sad reality is that if somebody encounters an unethical CFP they're going to conclude that CFP means nothing.
What you have to do to succeed in this business is be personable and never stop prospecting.
Put yourself in the shoes of a prospect.  What do you offer them that is not available elsewhere?
Basically the only answer you can come up with is, "I offer them me."
OK, you're unique just like everybody else.  What about you do you want the prospect to know?
Figure that out and you'll have the keys to the kingdom.

TexasRep's picture
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Mac42 wrote:
Texasrep,
If you sold insurance for a while and now you don’t, what do you do? Are you an FA now? Do you feel that insurance companies do a better job of teaching and training like you said about your insurance stud?

i sell some insurance and i actively make it part of my presentation-- but it's more an afterthought around my office-- why? i think most in our industry just don't want to exert the time into mastering something else-- keeping up with the investment end is challenging and beneficial enough, keeping up w/ insurance seems like a hassle-
the culture at ag edwards will not focus on insurance at all-- at least the AGE reps i know sell ZERO insurance-
the sales culture for insurance guys is very aggressive- i learned how to sell financial product in the insurance channel thru a mentorship with an absolute selling/insurance guru-- hardnosed, thickskinned, yet personable-- if you can be mentored under a pro like that for awhile, you'd be wise to do it, even if you transition later, the experience will serve you well-
concerning marketing, on our side the compliance people are all focused on what you cannot do, on the insurance side they are focused on all that you can do-
throwing in some life insurance quotes to a client is easy enough for a FA-- but mastering the Disability, LTC, Health product mix is time consuming, yet very profitable-- i try to keep up, but truthfully, my insurance marketing skills are waning and vastly inferior to the full timers-
 

lostintexas's picture
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Wow, you've gotten some great stuff put forth on this thread!
IMHO the insurance companies may place to heavy an emphasis on insurance as being the holy grail, but that aside proper insurance planning is a MUST in most, if not all, financial plans.  The insurance companies also teach selling differently.  Insurance is not a one or two phone call sale.  It has a longer selling cycle with more room for prospects to wiggle out.  A good rep has to learn how to handle and prevent that.  So I think insurance sales is going to give you all the sales "technique" of a brokerage firm AND a lot more that can be tougher to master. 
On the other hand, one insurance sale can generate a nice chunk of commission and unless you're with a schlock firm, you will also get renewals each year so it becomes easier to grow your income over time.
So yeah, for a multitude of reasons, I think someone who wants to be a good comprehensive planner will be well served to start on the insurance side.
Then as you grow professionally, you can answer all the other questions that will crop us such as fee based, commission or both, Indy or corporate.
I also think it is a lot easier to go independent as an advisor or planner than it is to leave a wirehouse.  I worked for Guardian and my book was my own and even as a captive agent I could sell almost anyone's products (insurance side..investment side is always limited by the b/d).  So I could really place the client's needs first.
 

maybeeeeeeee's picture
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TexasRep wrote:
 
i sold insurance for awhile- the best parts about it?
i was mentored by an insurance stud who knew the biz and was happy to show me the ropes and deal w/ rejection, objections, ect-- the insurance guys have less compliance to worry about, therefore a very aggressive sales culture- this is a great way to cut your teeth sales culture wise, if the manangement is good.
in the end-- great FA's suck selling insurance / great insurance guys suck at investment sales-
 

 
Spot ON!!!!!

rookiebroker's picture
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This thread got some great stuff on choosing between insurance and securities sales.  I too was leaning toward selling insurance products instead of securities/bonds and the likes. 
my question is Compensation:  What is the compensation at one of the fortune 50 insurance companies?
One of the manager at a local home office is about to make an offer.  But he was talking about a draw, which I believe that I will have to pay it back with my commission  (Is this right).  I want to go salary + bonus and commissions and then later straight commissions.  I don't really know how to negotiate, partly because I think the manager will not go for the salary.
Any advice is greatly appreciated.
 
InsuranceRookie

Big Easy Flood's picture
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Life insurance is something people know they need, and they need it from a very early age.  It is a far easier sell, it also allows you to form a relationship with people who are not financially able to be investors.
You, and your client base, mature together--and at some point, when you're all in your late 30s or even 40s it makes great sense to add securities.
It's nonsensical for a young person to not become very comfortable and skilled with the many different variations of life insurance.  Learn the pros and cons of each.
It is not true that good securities salespeople are not good at insurance and vice versa--a good salesperson can sell ice to eskimos.
What happens is you become comfortable with your own area of expertise, and tend to focus on it. The idea of being a "specialist."
There is also a bit of a caste system within the financial services industry--with the traditional stock brokerage firms being thought to be superior to insurance companies.
The idea of a caste system has been in place for so long that it is accepted as fact, when it really isn't true.  There are some really professional men and women working for insurance companies that have just as much "silk stocking" image as Goldman Sachs.
Generally speaking you can make more money, quicker, in insurance sales.  If you buy a life insurance policy that costs, say, $100 per month it's not uncommon for the salesman to earn a commission equal to more than 100% of your entire first year's premiums.  Plus, with most policies, as the years go by the salesman continues to collect a portion of whatever your monthly premium is.
With investments there is the same potential for trailing commissions and so forth--the elusive "annuitized book."  Which is more likely to remain intact?  A guy's insurance policy or his investment portfolio.
Virtually everybody needs an insurance policy, and virtually nobody lets it lapse.  That is not true with their portfolio of mutual funds.
Life insurance is sold by Merrill, and mutual funds are sold by John Hancock.  When you're in your twenties you'll never know the difference.
Put yourself in a client's shoes.  If it's true that they deal with you rather than the firm, why should they care if they buy their insurance and mutual funds from a guy at John Hancock instead of a guy at Merrill.  Both firms have great name recognition.
Another "issue" to be dealt with is this.  While you're selling the guy an insurance policy he says, "Oh, I almost forgot.  I've got 25 shares of General Electric that I've had for years.  I've decided to sell it."
If you work at Merrill you simply say you'll take care of it.  If you work at John Hancock you may not be able to do it for him.  It's a matter of your licenses.  You've got to have a Series 7 to handle that transaction and an awful lot of insurance company reps do not have it.
It is almost criminal what happens in the hiring process at a lot of insurance companies--and banks too, by the way.
Because Series 6 is all that's needed to do what they want you to do--sell funds and annuities--that is what a rookie is steered into.  The glad you're with us, welcome, handshake is folllowed by a discussion of tests and Series 6 books are given to the rookie.
Series 6 is going to present questions about the topics that it tests that are a lot more difficult than Series 7 will present about those same topics--but the information being tested is very limited.
Regardless, what happens is you end up with what they call "Six and Sixty-three."  You're good to go at their shop, but when Mr. Jones wants to sell his 25 GE you're going to have to tell him something.
Some firms will have you tell your manager about the situation and your manager will sell the GE stock for Mr. Jones, becasue your manager is a Series 7 licensed salesman.  THAT IS ILLEGAL.  It's done all the time, but if  you get caught you can be permanently barred from the industry, along with your manager.  Not worth the risk.
Some firms will go out of their way to discourage you from obtaining a Series 7 because they're afraid you will leave them if you do.  Many do, but not all--and in any case, what kind of attitude is that for an employer to take?  Restricting your mobility by refusing to allow you to better yourself.
ANY MEMBER OF THE NASD CAN SPONSOR YOU FOR THE SERIES 7 EXAM.  In other words, if the person interviewing you says they cannot sponsor you for a Series 7 that person is lying, or uninformed.
But what can you do as a rookie, you can't buck the system.  That's true to a degree, and there are a lot of insurance and bank types floating around who feel like a eagle who wants to fly but is tied down by a rope around his left leg.
What can you do?  The truth is not much, and as the years go by you'll become more and more comfortable with your place in the heirarchy.  There's "tons" of old guys and gals who have enjoyed very productive careers who have no idea what a bull spread is.
How do they handle those stock sales?  How about asking a friend if he will take care of those occasional trades and not try to steal their insurance business from you?  How good are your friends?  Tricky but it works well when it works.
How about this?  Tell the prospect that you'll meet them at a local discount broker to "help" them.  Dealing with a place like Schwab can be "down and dirty."  The client goes in, signs the back of their stock certificate, has it sold, and comes back in three days to get the check.
There are no NASD rules that say he has to sign anything, but the brokerage firms doesn't have to do business with him if he won't.  My point is this--you're going to have to introduce your client to a competitor, but make it a competitor like Ameritrade or Schwab instead of Merrill or Smith Barney.
You're a fool if you think that a broker at Merrill is going to allow a guy to open an account without asking questions like, "So, who do you use for your life insurance?"
i could have typed this in all lower case letters or i could have typed it without commas periods and question marks but if i did it would not appear to be well written and i would appear to be a moron there is no reason why i would want to do that even though so many people do

Mac42's picture
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Big Easy Flood wrote:
Life insurance is something people know they need, and they need it from a very early age.  It is a far easier sell, it also allows you to form a relationship with people who are not financially able to be investors.

Thanks for the advice. Your last post was extremely informative.
Do you know if Merrill Lynch, Smith Barny, and Morgan Stanly are as hard to get into as these message boards make it sound? I did well in college, I have around 4 years of public accounting experience and I am a CPA. Would a resume like this be rejected without an MBA? and which of these three firms do you think leans more toward financial planning instead of just a broker?
 

Big Easy Flood's picture
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Mac42 wrote:Big Easy Flood wrote:
Life insurance is something people know they need, and they need it from a very early age.  It is a far easier sell, it also allows you to form a relationship with people who are not financially able to be investors.

Thanks for the advice. Your last post was extremely informative.
Do you know if Merrill Lynch, Smith Barny, and Morgan Stanly are as hard to get into as these message boards make it sound? I did well in college, I have around 4 years of public accounting experience and I am a CPA. Would a resume like this be rejected without an MBA? and which of these three firms do you think leans more toward financial planning instead of just a broker?

Morgan Stanley fired 500 trainees the other day.  They don't seem to be much of a candidate for a soon to be scheduled training class.
I have no real insight into what is going on inside of most firms--and only second hand insight into my former employer at this point.
However I do keep my ear to the ground and pay attention to what is going on.  Storm clouds are still very much around.  The street contracts when the markets drop, and there hasn't been a real washout correction--causing fear to overcome greed--in a long time.
If I were already employed outside of the interest I'd hide and watch for a while.  If the market goes into a nose dive you can count on hiriing freezes and all the other things that job seekers don't want to hear about or even consider.
But a day will come, the darkness before the sunrise, when only the foolhardy are applying for jobs at the brokeage houses.  Desks are empty because the legendary washing out will have occured, even guys who were minor stars a year or two earlier will be thinking of "getting a job."
You'll be welcomed with open arms.
When is that going to occur?  Who the hell knows, could be that it's already started.  Nobody rings a bell.

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If I were already employed outside of the interest
 
INDUSTRY....where the hell did interest come from?  I'm telling you it's gremlins.

rookiebroker's picture
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Big Easy Flood,
I am new to the securities industry and besides learning as much as I can from my securities friends, I read these forums.  Here, I found Big Easy Flood's postings are extremely informative, including many of his past postings.  All the kudos to Big Easy.  And no, don't worry about the commas and apostrophes, all the niceties and the dangling modifiers.  Thus far, at least from my reading of all the postings in the limited time I have joined the forum, your English and grammar has been by far the best, not to say that the writings here are bad.  Trust me, I have seen more atrocious writings.  All the rookies and the securities wannabes like me have much to learn from Big Easy Flood.
Rookie broker. 

Big Easy Flood's picture
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rookiebroker wrote:
Big Easy Flood,
I am new to the securities industry and besides learning as much as I can from my securities friends, I read these forums.  Here, I found Big Easy Flood's postings are extremely informative, including many of his past postings.  All the kudos to Big Easy.  And no, don't worry about the commas and apostrophes, all the niceties and the dangling modifiers.  Thus far, at least from my reading of all the postings in the limited time I have joined the forum, your English and grammar has been by far the best, not to say that the writings here are bad.  Trust me, I have seen more atrocious writings.  All the rookies and the securities wannabes like me have much to learn from Big Easy Flood.
Rookie broker. 

Thanks, I appreciate the vote of confidence.

Rugby's picture
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Morgan Stanley fired 500 trainees the other day.  They don't seem to be much of a candidate for a soon to be scheduled training class.
BEF-  Can you elaborate a little on the above?  It appears they have started up training program again and are hiring trainees....
Rugby

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Big Easy Flood wrote:rookiebroker wrote:
Big Easy Flood,
I am new to the securities industry and besides learning as much as I can from my securities friends, I read these forums.  Here, I found Big Easy Flood's postings are extremely informative, including many of his past postings.  All the kudos to Big Easy.  And no, don't worry about the commas and apostrophes, all the niceties and the dangling modifiers.  Thus far, at least from my reading of all the postings in the limited time I have joined the forum, your English and grammar has been by far the best, not to say that the writings here are bad.  Trust me, I have seen more atrocious writings.  All the rookies and the securities wannabes like me have much to learn from Big Easy Flood.
Rookie broker. 

Thanks, I appreciate the vote of confidence.

You are my hero, too, BEF.  And I'm a real person, not someone you made up, so you should appreciate my vote of confidence even more. 

Big Easy Flood's picture
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lawsucks wrote:
You are my hero, too, BEF.  And I'm a real person, not someone you made up, so you should appreciate my vote of confidence even more. 

Law,the world needs those of your ilk like it needs a dose of clap.

maybeeeeeeee's picture
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Mac42 wrote:
Mac, do you want to sell insurance or do you have a passion for the stock market?
Maybeeeeee,
I don’t necessarily want to sell insurance and I don’t have a passion for stocks. I want to be an expert financial planner that is able to put my clients in the right investment for them. If it is insurance that’s fine, if it is a diversified stock portfolio that’s fine too. I just want to serve clients and help them reach there goals.
<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /> 
I also understand the road is long and hard and a majority of people don’t make it.

Well . . .This is a sales job.  You get comissions for products, not planning.  Plain and simple.  You have to be able to ASK PEOPLE FOR THEIR MONEY. 
Planning is important--have you considered some type of wholesale or research job?

Big Easy Flood's picture
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maybeeeeeeee wrote:
Well . . .This is a sales job.  You get comissions for products, not planning.  Plain and simple.  You have to be able to ASK PEOPLE FOR THEIR MONEY. 
Planning is important--have you considered some type of wholesale or research job?

What a remarkable approach.  Sell things to clients without regard to their suitability.
Planning is unimportant for a finanical advisor because planning does not generate commissions?
Any old timers see a compliance problem waiting to happen in that attitude?

Big Easy Flood's picture
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maybeeeeeeee wrote:
You have to be able to ASK PEOPLE FOR THEIR MONEY. 

Right out of "The Boiler Room."  Screw the client, get their money!  Let's put some lipstick on this pig and sell it!

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Big Easy Flood wrote:
maybeeeeeeee wrote:
Well . . .This is a sales job.  You get comissions for products, not planning.  Plain and simple.  You have to be able to ASK PEOPLE FOR THEIR MONEY. 
Planning is important--have you considered some type of wholesale or research job?

What a remarkable approach.  Sell things to clients without regard to their suitability.
Planning is unimportant for a finanical advisor because planning does not generate commissions?
Any old timers see a compliance problem waiting to happen in that attitude?

Without having read the entire thread, because you guys are repeating yourselves and boring me, I have to (gulp...) agree with BEF.  
Planning, whether you formally get paid for it or not, is the keystone of gaining clients' confidence.  If all they think you are doing is schlepping products at them with no rhyme or reason, you will not keep the client for very long. If you cannot show that the recommendations you make to your client are not predicated on some sort of strategy you are asking for compliance and possibly litigation issues.
Insurance AND investments are both appropriate components of an overall financial plan.  If you are qualified to compile a plan, then you will be able to charge.   There is no excuse for not obtaining the information that would be required by a "planner" just because you are not getting paid.  

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babbling looney wrote:
Without having read the entire thread, because you guys are repeating yourselves and boring me, I have to (gulp...) agree with BEF. 

Why on earth would you "gulp" because you agree with what is correct?

babbling looney's picture
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Because now I am likely to be involved in the ongoing food fight that seems to revolve around you.  (insert smiley here)

Big Easy Flood's picture
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babbling looney wrote:Because now I am likely to be involved in the ongoing food fight that seems to revolve around you.  (insert smiley here)
Food fight?  What do you have against food fights?

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babbling looney wrote:Because now I am likely to be involved in the ongoing food fight that seems to revolve around you.  (insert smiley here)Is it just me, or does everybody else read BEF's posts with Rex Reed's voice?

Mac42's picture
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Rugby wrote:
Morgan Stanley fired 500 trainees the other day.  They don't seem to be much of a candidate for a soon to be scheduled training class.
BEF-  Can you elaborate a little on the above?  It appears they have started up training program again and are hiring trainees....
Rugby

BEF or anyone else, <?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Can someone elaborate on the Morgan Stanley training situation? I read somewhere; their new program will be more comprehensive.
Bueller, Bueller, Bueller………

troll's picture
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babbling looney wrote:Because now I am likely to be involved in the ongoing food fight that seems to revolve around you.  (insert smiley here)
 
You don't have to get involved in the fight, BL. We saved a seat for you with us in the bleachers. 

troll's picture
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Slim2None wrote: babbling looney wrote:Because now I am likely to be involved in the ongoing food fight that seems to revolve around you.  (insert smiley here)Is it just me, or does everybody else read BEF's posts with Rex Reed's voice?
Rex Reed? No, more like Truman Capote or Paul Lynde  

troll's picture
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mikebutler222 wrote:babbling looney wrote:Because now I am likely to be involved in the ongoing food fight that seems to revolve around you.  (insert smiley here)
 
You don't have to get involved in the fight, BL. We saved a seat for you with us in the bleachers.  good one!  Be careful or you'll find yourself out of the bleachers!

troll's picture
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joedabrkr wrote: mikebutler222 wrote:
babbling looney wrote:Because now I am likely to be involved in the ongoing food fight that seems to revolve around you.  (insert smiley here)
 
You don't have to get involved in the fight, BL. We saved a seat for you with us in the bleachers. 
good one!  Be careful or you'll find yourself out of the bleachers!
 
You (well, you, being one of the good guys, wouldn't even try) can't force me into a food fight. I've had my time-wasting share. From now on, should one arise, I'm going straight into the  fetal position and playing dead.<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
That is unless I have a synapse collapse and don't

 

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I wanna get in on the bleacher seats......Joe Da Man, Mikey B ,and the crew... we all can sit back and chuckle at the scene.....

troll's picture
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blarmston wrote:I wanna get in on the bleacher seats......Joe Da Man, Mikey B ,and the crew... we all can sit back and chuckle at the scene.....
Here, Blarmy my boy, have a beer. We knew you'd be here eventually
 

troll's picture
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mikebutler222 wrote:blarmston wrote:I wanna get in on the bleacher seats......Joe Da Man, Mikey B ,and the crew... we all can sit back and chuckle at the scene.....
Here, Blarmy my boy, have a beer. We knew you'd be here eventually
 You guys have beer up there?  Man....I wanna sit in the bleachers too!!!

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mikebutler222 wrote:Slim2None wrote: babbling looney wrote:Because now I am likely to be involved in the ongoing food fight that seems to revolve around you.  (insert smiley here)Is it just me, or does everybody else read BEF's posts with Rex Reed's voice?
Rex Reed? No, more like Truman Capote or Paul Lynde  

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