Client Associate at Merrill Lynch

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tdog1's picture
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Joined: 2005-08-06

Hey all,
I am interviewing for a Client Associate position at Merrill Lynch in NYC. Can anyone tell me a little about this position? What are the main roles and expectations from management? What is the starting salary? Is this a good entry-level position for someone who wants to do trading? Is there opportunity to move up? How should I prepare for the interview?
Thank you very much

mlmanager's picture
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Joined: 2005-07-25

The CA position is at its base, a secretarial position. That being
said, I expect CA's to get fully licensed, to know about
investments and be able to advise clients. The CA is there to
help the FA grow their business. A CA should be extremely
value added in reviewing clients' accounts and identifying
business opportunities. I interviewed a prospective CA on
Friday that I hope we can get because she is exactly what we
look for in that position. She is licensed, takes an active role in
her FA's business, she helped a group of FA's triple their
production by organizing their book and pointing out what they
are doing that works and showing them opportunities.. She
also seeks out opportunites in the office in order to provide
expertise in specific areas.

As a manager, I expect that a CA do everything and do it well. I
expect the same from FA's and from other members of the
management team.

The starting salary varies from region to region. I work in a low
paying region and a basic, non-registered CA gets little. Your
best bet is to take a salary you can live with, get licensed if
you're not already and start working. As your abilities grow,
one of two things happen. One, your FA's recognise the value
you bring and they add supplemental comp or other FA's or
management recognise your abilities and you get a new team
that is willing to pay you more. I know CA's in small market
areas that were making $80K.

It is a good area to get experince if you have none. You can
learn the way things work and how to get answers. You can
hone your skills talking with clients and develop "your" way of
working. Talk with management and your FA's and let them
know that you don't want to be a CA forever. Develop tight
relationships with clients. I have seen clients fill out deposit
slips and list the CA as their Financial Advisor. There are
always opportunities to move up. There is management, back
office, specialist and FA. It isn't unheard of for a CA to
eventually join the team as an FA.

Prepare for the interview as you would any other.

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

mlmanager wrote:The CA position is at its base, a secretarial position. That being said, I expect CA's to get fully licensed, to know about investments and be able to advise clients. The CA is there to help the FA grow their business. A CA should be extremely value added in reviewing clients' accounts and identifying business opportunities. I interviewed a prospective CA on Friday that I hope we can get because she is exactly what we look for in that position. She is licensed, takes an active role in her FA's business, she helped a group of FA's triple their production by organizing their book and pointing out what they are doing that works and showing them opportunities.. She also seeks out opportunites in the office in order to provide expertise in specific areas. As a manager, I expect that a CA do everything and do it well. I expect the same from FA's and from other members of the management team. The starting salary varies from region to region. I work in a low paying region and a basic, non-registered CA gets little. Your best bet is to take a salary you can live with, get licensed if you're not already and start working. As your abilities grow, one of two things happen. One, your FA's recognise the value you bring and they add supplemental comp or other FA's or management recognise your abilities and you get a new team that is willing to pay you more. I know CA's in small market areas that were making $80K. It is a good area to get experince if you have none. You can learn the way things work and how to get answers. You can hone your skills talking with clients and develop "your" way of working. Talk with management and your FA's and let them know that you don't want to be a CA forever. Develop tight relationships with clients. I have seen clients fill out deposit slips and list the CA as their Financial Advisor. There are always opportunities to move up. There is management, back office, specialist and FA. It isn't unheard of for a CA to eventually join the team as an FA. Prepare for the interview as you would any other.
 
Good stuff man, and well written!  Geez-this is the most impressive post I've seen about Merrill of all.  I'd 'almost' be willing to work ther if I'd not already tasted the sweet wine of Indy life!

Scorpio's picture
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Joined: 2005-05-22

mlmanager wrote:It isn't unheard of for a CA to
eventually join the team as an FA.

One of the bigger producers in my office is a woman who was formerly a
registered CA for an FA who retired, and she inherited the book and is
now running it.  She makes GOOD money and never even went to
college, just learned the biz and made the clients love her.  It
is a secretary position at first but you must have skills in order to
do it well.  Great opportunity for someone wanting to learn the
game without laying it all on the line just yet. 

tdog1's picture
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Joined: 2005-08-06

Thank you very much guys. Really good stuff. 
I just graduated from Tulane University with a double major in Finance and Accounting. However I don't have any experience in the business. Am I overqualified? Do you think I can start off making over 40K in NYC? 

tdog1's picture
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Joined: 2005-08-06

Also, mlmanager, would you recommend this position as a starting point for someone who wants to become a trader? 

inquisitive's picture
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Joined: 2005-04-10

I've always thought that being a Client Associate (sales assistant) is
an excellent training ground for one day becoming a financial
advisor.  Yes, they do inherit books.  A good CA can make
over $100k per year.

True, it is largely a secretarial position.  But you've got to walk before you can run.

Starting as a CA is a great way to get experience in the business without the pressures that are faced by a trainee.

tdog1:  A retail sales assistant is NOT a way to start a career in trading.

You'll want to try to get an internship or try to get a job as a
trading assistant (which are very hard to get.)  Also, you may
want to consider a lesser job of trading support.

tdog1's picture
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Joined: 2005-08-06

Thank you very much everyone. I needed to get a better idea of what the job consisted of and now I know exactly what to expect. Very helpful stuff. 

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