I want to leave the ML PMD Program

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Belem148's picture
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Joined: 2012-07-13

Hello all,

Took me a while to drum up the nerve to post this. I have been in the Merrill Lynch PMD program for a few months(was licensed before I came over). Don't think the company and culture are a good fit for me. The PMD coaches seem pre-occupied with their own production, and it seems like they don't really care. They just go through the motions. The company seems to foster an elitist rich kid culture, which I absolutely abhor since I come from a blue collar roll up your sleeves background. Those kids are either on established teams or are working for a senior advisor who is carrying them while they act as glorified Client Associates. But to top it off, no one told me that $250 K is the minimum account balance while I went through the interview process. That would've been a deal breaker for me, as I turned down another opportunity before accepting ML's offer.

I'm thinking of an exit strategy and don't want to burn bridges....nor have them come after me for the training costs(Yes, I did sign that acknowledgment form before I came aboard.). If I leave, I will not pursue a job in the industry. Like I mentioned before, I had my Series 7, 66, and life & health insurance licenses before I came aboard.

Any advice? I saw a similar thread but thought my post would get lost in it, so I started a new topic.

notnotmay's picture
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Joined: 2012-06-17

Just my guess but: If you don't stay in the industry, I don't think they will come after you. It only makes sense financially for them to do that if someone takes substantial clients with them. Plus with the high turnover they don't have the time to worry about all the trainees that sink.
I don't think you should say anything to anyone there until you find a new job. At that point, as for burning bridges, how you handle the departure depends on your relationship with your direct manager (RD, whatever). If you have a good relationship, then meet with them and tell them that while you have respect for them and enjoy working with them, you just don't think ML is the right fit, and then ask them: "What do you think the best way for me to give notice is?" Maybe they will say "Let me put you on probation and then you give your notice." so that they look like they are doing their job as RD (assuming you aren't making your hurdles). Or they may say to just give notice and pack your stuff. Or maybe offer to do some marketing for them (the RD) for 2 weeks since you are leaving the industry anyway. (That's assuming they trust you to do that, and heck, almost no one in this industry trusts anyone from what i can tell but call me a cynic). I'm sure there are some other scenarios, but i think that is the best way to go if you get along with your RD and are willing to offer 2 weeks notice. As Zwingding said, you aren't the first nor the last pmd to go through this, so just find out what your RD recommends, and if it isn't disadvantageous to you, go that route. If you can't have that convo (or don't want to), then just go to them and say the company isn't a good fit. Maybe have a list of reasons why if the RD wants an exit interview or feedback, but if they don't ask, don't bother telling them because if they aren't open to improving the program they will just resent the information.
Your other option is to just do nothing. Attend "meetings" out of the office as much as possible. Wait for them to put you on probation and then give your notice. That's the most passive aggressive route but also the least likely way to have them come after you for costs or the noncompete.. i can't imagine they want a pmd who can't make any hurdles...

DTA's picture
DTA
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Joined: 2010-10-12

notnotmay wrote:
Just my guess but: If you don't stay in the industry, I don't think they will come after you. It only makes sense financially for them to do that if someone takes substantial clients with them. Plus with the high turnover they don't have the time to worry about all the trainees that sink.

notnotmay is right. I know of a few PMD's that left for other firms and Merrill has yet to go after them. They are bleeding assets since January and have bigger fish to fry than a PMD peon. As far as burning bridges, you will. This industry is highly competitive and its the nature of the business. I was a PMD trainee and I saw another PMD who our manager thought was the greatest thing since sliced bread. As soon as he left for another firm, he was deemed the enemy. His reasons for leaving were based on geography and the fact that he was only seeing his family on the weekends. I still talk to him regularly and he is a lot happier at his new firm. Are you planning on staying in the industry?

Belem148's picture
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Joined: 2012-07-13

I would like to work at a bank and have personal bankers referring business to me and calling on maturing CDs and large deposit accounts as opposed to calling from the white pages and cold walking businesses, but the banks want 3 years experience. A wirehouse is just not a good fit for me. Maybe if I had entered the biz pre-2000. But not today. But then again, I don't want to work at a Fidelity or a Schwab, either. Too many young kids chasing skirt and playing grab ass...LOL! Insurance companies seem to have a payout based on a pyramid system...and there isn't much of a salary at most companies.

I have my own personal criticsms about ML like others. Would like to have access to the B of A mortgage servicing portfolio of customers in my area to call. With rates being low, I could refi their mortgage and maybe bring in assets to manage. But no, ML employees don't have access to the B of A system even though we are supposedly the same entity. Plus, ML mortgage is affiliated with PHH mortgage. Having access to the mortgage servicing list in my area would be a better way to get started than buying telemarketing lists and cold calling people. Working smart is the key to success in this business. Anyway, I'm rambling. Thanks for your replies.

notnotmay's picture
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Joined: 2012-06-17

Belem, I know someone that did what you are looking to do. They weren't sued and they are much happier.

Belem148's picture
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Joined: 2012-07-13

Thanks again for your reply.

wm1234's picture
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Joined: 2012-07-23

so... say you're in need of a job because you're unemployed and you want to minimize the gap on your resume. say you have an opportunity to enter the PMD program.

to those who know about the PMD program, the attrition rate, and the recent typical treatment of defectors: what do you think about entering the PMD program with the full intention of seeking other jobs while you're working there? how about planning to exit ML ASAP after getting the licenses?

i'm curious because based on some of the posts it seems like ML isn't really going after people for $ if they leave, and i would have to expect it to be less common the earlier you leave (the smaller their investment). it also seems like it might not be as much of an ethical debate based on the way people talk about how PMDs are treated/exploited.

any and all thoughts appreciated.

ZwingDing's picture
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Joined: 2010-09-15

wm1234 wrote:
so... say you're in need of a job because you're unemployed and you want to minimize the gap on your resume. say you have an opportunity to enter the PMD program.

to those who know about the PMD program, the attrition rate, and the recent typical treatment of defectors: what do you think about entering the PMD program with the full intention of seeking other jobs while you're working there? how about planning to exit ML ASAP after getting the licenses?

i'm curious because based on some of the posts it seems like ML isn't really going after people for $ if they leave, and i would have to expect it to be less common the earlier you leave (the smaller their investment). it also seems like it might not be as much of an ethical debate based on the way people talk about how PMDs are treated/exploited.

any and all thoughts appreciated.

I don't know anyone who has gone into it with the specific plan of leaving once licensed so my answer is based on no real data.

IMO what you suggest is not a good idea and might awaken ML to pursue you to make a point. Quitting once you get your license is pretty obviously bad faith IMO.

If you are going to ML just to get them to pay you an income while you study that is poor ethics.

You asked for feedback/opinions. I strongly suggest you not do it.

Ulairi's picture
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Joined: 2011-11-17

Why not get a job with ML work your butt off and if it works, great. If it doesn't you have other options if you want to stay in the business?

TheMachine's picture
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Joined: 2011-06-30

Agree with Ulairi. Work hard and see what happens. Build a book even if it means opening up accounts below $250,000 to start. You'll still be compensated well if you beat the hurdles.

bacaw's picture
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Joined: 2012-07-30

I don't see what the harm is if you want to use the program to gain your licenses and go somewhere else. Sure, maybe it's unethical, but isn't a program that recruits people to bring in business, put them up against unrealistic expectations, then drive them out and distribute their accounts unethical too?

As long as you are fulfilling your end of your employment terms (which when you start is to stay on schedule, get your licenses, and complete some training courses) if you decide to leave and do something else it's your choice. You're employed "at will". And assuming it's not go on to a competing wirehouse then don't worry about being sought after for training reimbursement. Obviously just don't let anyone know your intentions!

Ulairi's picture
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Joined: 2011-11-17

bacaw wrote:
I don't see what the harm is if you want to use the program to gain your licenses and go somewhere else. Sure, maybe it's unethical, but isn't a program that recruits people to bring in business, put them up against unrealistic expectations, then drive them out and distribute their accounts unethical too?

As long as you are fulfilling your end of your employment terms (which when you start is to stay on schedule, get your licenses, and complete some training courses) if you decide to leave and do something else it's your choice. You're employed "at will". And assuming it's not go on to a competing wirehouse then don't worry about being sought after for training reimbursement. Obviously just don't let anyone know your intentions!

That may all be true but why not give it your best shot? You'll get a salary, you'll get some training, you'll get the costs paid for you. Any business you earn, if you switch go after it at the new place (and be ahead over there) and just try your best. I think going into a job and not wanting to try your best is never a good way to act.

I'm trying my best at a wirehouse and I'll most likely fail but I know that I'm going to keep trying at my next place and I'll make it. It's the whole fail, learn and improve and do better.

bacaw's picture
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Joined: 2012-07-30

Oh - I totally agree that if wm1234 looking to be an FA, then give the PMD program your all and see where it takes you.

I was talking based upon what sounded almost like he has a different career path in mind after obtaining the licenses. In which case I personally don't see any harm in using the program as a stepping stone.

If you're unemployed then it's survival mode so take that salary, gain knowledge/experience/licensing and go where your career takes you.

mtnman321's picture
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Joined: 2011-06-29

I've seen it all so far in the program. People gaming the system like you would not believe, staying one step ahead of management and still drawing a check. Then Ive seen honest people give it their best shot, hit the wall and then try to tap out gracefully, only to be threatened with their training costs. Ive also even seen people be asked to leave, and denied a release.

It seems to me, they can mark up your U4 anyway they want, unless you succeed. But im not surprised that a company which feeds idiot son's all the distribution accounts, and then holds them up on a pedestal, would ever lose gracefully.

There is a serious reckoning coming to that place. The corners will thank them by leaving one day, and the independents and regional's will be sipping away managements bonuses the next 10 yrs.

You just can't worry too much about the absurdity of such a place. Work hard, be ethical and let the cards fall where they may. I also agree 100% on going to a bank is a better start.

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