Is this industry really that bad?

12 replies [Last post]
the_optimist's picture
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Joined: 2005-10-23

Hello all,
My story is a familar one here as I've been in financial product marketing for over 10 years and looking to make a change. Since it seemed that most providers do not accept newbies, I applied for Edward Jones and was recently accepted.
Although my background is more so "behind-the-scenes" I did previously work in sales and did fairly well for myself. I'm also quite comfortable speaking in public forums and networking with others.
I've read quite a bit about EDJ here and realize this industry is quite difficult to break into. I also don't feel that those I've interviewed with at EDJ have been dishonest about this either. Both of the reps I've spoken to have said this is a very difficult position. One even questioned why I would want to leave my $82k/year position to pursue this career.
When I ask myself the same question the reason why is because profession is one that I've been wanting to break into but have never been in a position to be able to. Now I'm a bit more comfortable and wish to pursue this path in life. Basically this means I can pay off all of my debts before beginning and *should* be able to live off of what Jones claims I can make the first year.  
The way I see it, with the EDJ opportunity I am still an employee but to get myself started I would treat it as if I had just opened my own small business. In other words marketing, advertising, and networking would help to get the word out about my services. Sure there will be intense competition and some limitations on what I can do since I am still employed by a firm, but wouldn't relentless prospecting fill up the pipeline with enough suitable prospects to at least make a decent living? Or is there something else here I am missing?
I sense a very negative outlook from this board from anyone looking to make a career shift into this industry? I can understand the concern that when joining EDJ in particular you must continue to look out for oneself but is this business that impossible to survive in the beginning? Or am I already dillusional and about to embark on a big mistake? 
Thanks to all who reply!

bluehorseshoe's picture
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Joined: 2005-07-19

Optomist - I've been in the business for about two years now and don't discount the obstacles you face getting your career started.  However, this career is totally what you make of it.  There are lots of people who make it sound impossible and those are probably the ones that won't be around a year from now, but just know that if you do the deal honestly and ethically you'll do fine.  From all the people I've seen go through the first couple years of the business I can tell you that the eternal optimists grow the fastest and reap the biggest paychecks.  Think of three ways you're going to get clients, put your head down and don't worry about what anyone else says or does...If you do you'll be kicking yourself in three years for ever taking 82k in salary.  Good luck!

Scorpio's picture
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Joined: 2005-05-22

The choice is yours.  If you feel its appropriate to leave an 82k
job for a 20-30% chance of making it as a broker, do it.  Many
would argue that's not logical, but I'm sure those people said the same
thing to Bill Gates when he dropped out of college.   

executivejock's picture
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Joined: 2005-06-29

Optomist... Yeah at times we state how challenging life as a broker/financial advisor can be, but it is what you make it. If it were easy to make over 100k everyone would do it.
I like your attitude of starting a new business (espically if you have experience doing this). You have to have that live or die and never quit attitude. Alot of people say an established network, strong communication skills and a diverse background help alot. I completely agree. If you are a people person who is self motivated you could succeed in this business.
Either way the risk reward is worth the shot! There is no other corporate opportunities to make this kind of money. During good and bad economic times people need guidance and advice. There is and always will be money in America!
 
 

Indyone's picture
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Joined: 2005-05-31

I believe the reason so many investment reps fail is that they are ill-equipped for the job to begin with.  This is not a job for the lazy and/or stupid, and those who enter in search of the pot at the end of the rainbow are likely to be disappointed.  If you are intelligent (not just average intelligence), ambitious and very outgoing, odds are, you'll be successful if you work at it.
On the other hand, if everyone could do it, we'd all be making about $25,000/year.  This is a survival of the fittest industry.  If you're not good at it, you'll likely know pretty quickly, and weed yourself out.  If you're bad and can't figure it out, your clients (or lack thereof) will tell you.
Ask yourself some honest questions about your natural abilities.  If you are honestly confident about your natural abilities, go for it.  If you're a middle of the pack type, save yourself the heartburn and disappointment and stay with your current job.  The blue shoe makes a very good point...those that are excessively negative about this field, are negative usually for good reason and probably won't be with us for long.
I'm having so much fun, I hope to be doing this when I'm 80...

noggin's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-30

Optimist- Good luck to you. Your attitude is a good one to have. I hope you realize that your first 3-5 years will be very tough. There were 12 in my original training class at a Midwestern Brokerage firm 3 yrs ago, there are 3 of us now. That's called attrition and that's why so many are negative about getting into the industry....

moneyadvisor's picture
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Joined: 2005-08-02

Opt - It definately is a good choice if, you want to be a financial advisor. The industry has always attracted guys because of it's large income potential. The business is very different today than 15 years ago. IT IS NOT WALL STREET (the movie). It's like being an accountant or lawyer only on the investment side (meaining the only way you are going to make big coin, is to bring in lot of accounts). Because of the current image of the investment world & environment we are in, 9/11, tech bubble bursting, spitzer stuff, transparency(years ago, clients did not have much education or resources to investigate investments - now they are "know it alls"), do not call lists, not to mention - anyone with any money has been hammered forever by investment guys....it's very difficult to win business. Yeah it's still possible, it just takes along time to reach a strong comfortable income......and it's a painful trip. If you would be content making $150,000 per year,......I would say there are softer rocks to pound your head against  - than choosing this career........If you won't rest until you are dragging in $400,000 +, This is one of few opportunities to do that.
On the upside, there are not many careers that you can make a comfy living at, working a reasonable schedule, having autonomy, you don't ever have to retire, no employees, and you can sell your business if you want to get out. Thought: I have a family member - stellar real estate agent( also worked 90 hours a week) , averages $300,000 per year, 61 years old, retiring = can't sell the business, can't make money unless they want to show houses in their area. ..........We have a couple of guys at my firm who are 60, made big coin for years, have teamed with other FA's, love the business, and still get paid good money to work a leisure schedule - Half the year in Hilton Head SC, half the year at home -NICE!
People outside the business do not understand the complexities of client behavior, interpreting the markets, sifting through product, the politics of firms, creating a consistant paycheck for ones self. You have to taste the soup yourself.

maybeeeeeeee's picture
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Joined: 2005-02-24

bluehorseshoe wrote:Optomist - I've been in the business for about two years now and don't discount the obstacles you face getting your career started.  However, this career is totally what you make of it.  There are lots of people who make it sound impossible and those are probably the ones that won't be around a year from now, but just know that if you do the deal honestly and ethically you'll do fine.  From all the people I've seen go through the first couple years of the business I can tell you that the eternal optimists grow the fastest and reap the biggest paychecks.  Think of three ways you're going to get clients, put your head down and don't worry about what anyone else says or does...If you do you'll be kicking yourself in three years for ever taking 82k in salary.  Good luck!
 
Right on.  Look you are starting your own business.  Of course there is going to be a high failure rate.  The people who moan the most are the people who don't prospect.
If you have a good business plan (bringing in at least $4M) your first year and you are at a great company like RayJay your future can be very bright.  Good luck

ThinkingAboutIt's picture
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Joined: 2005-10-10

I am doing the exact same thing as you, leaving an 80K job behind to be a rep. I have my first interview this week. Anyway, try to take the negative you read with a grain of salt. There are lots of positive too. I think you feel like me, you can't take the corporate world, the way your job is today for the rest of your life, you want a challange and a chance to really make it for yourself. Any you can always go back and get back into Corp America if you absolutely have to. But you and I both know working for the man is monotinus and unchallangeing and a chance to be on the front lines is what you are looking for. I am also planning to go to work at EJ.

moneyadvisor's picture
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Joined: 2005-08-02

There is a HUGGGGGGE difference between being negative, and being realistic!

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

ThinkingAboutIt wrote:I am doing the exact same thing as you, leaving an 80K job behind to be a rep. I have my first interview this week. Anyway, try to take the negative you read with a grain of salt. There are lots of positive too. I think you feel like me, you can't take the corporate world, the way your job is today for the rest of your life, you want a challange and a chance to really make it for yourself. Any you can always go back and get back into Corp America if you absolutely have to. But you and I both know working for the man is monotinus and unchallangeing and a chance to be on the front lines is what you are looking for. I am also planning to go to work at EJ.
 
Depending upon where you're going, aren't going to be getting too far away from the "corporate life" that you hate.  Any of the big wires are plenty particular, and from what I hear/read EJ has it's own unique set of 'political' issues.  Food for thought!
Then again, if you produce firms tend to leave you alone!

ThinkingAboutIt's picture
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Joined: 2005-10-10

Money - You are absolutley right. There is a big diff between negative and realistic. I think you do a good job of keeping ppl aware of the realistic based on your past posts. I think some go overboard on the negative, that was more what I was referring too. But you have an excellent point - there are many unglamorous and negative parts to the job.
Joe- I guess I am hoping that being in the field, I can avoid a lot of politics that I have to deal with in the office. Also I, and I think others leaving corporate jobs, are looking for a way to be compensated based on how hard you work. Right now I work for a consuting firm where your compensation does not always reflect work effort.

the_optimist's picture
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Joined: 2005-10-23

Hello everyone,
Thank you all for your responses and candid discussion on my questions/comments.
Yes I completely realize I'll probably be considered crazy if I do proceed with this career move. But I also have to look at it this way, you must take calculated risks to be successful. In the past when I have taken these risks they have payed off well for me. Of course I don't jump into anything blindly but I try to minimize my risk by researching as much as I can and keeping my eyes and ears open.
If worse comes to worse, I am only in my early 30s so I can crawl back to my native industry and try to continue my career path as I would have without this diversion. But I don't plan on looking back and keeping this option open as a safety net, after all by thinking that way I've already assumed I am going to fail. As it stands right now, I'm looking forward to the challenge and potential rewards of an advisor career. 
ThinkingAboutIt wrote:I am doing the exact same thing as you, leaving an 80K job behind to be a rep. I have my first interview this week. Anyway, try to take the negative you read with a grain of salt. There are lots of positive too. I think you feel like me, you can't take the corporate world, the way your job is today for the rest of your life, you want a challange and a chance to really make it for yourself. Any you can always go back and get back into Corp America if you absolutely have to. But you and I both know working for the man is monotinus and unchallangeing and a chance to be on the front lines is what you are looking for. I am also planning to go to work at EJ.
You've hit the nail on the head! I basically fell into my career and have made the most of it. But I do not have a passion for what I do and have basically mastered all of the required skills. In other words I can now perform all of my daily functions and not ever have to leave my comfort zone to continue to earn my salary and a modest raise every year.
That may work for most of the American population but for me I feel stagnate and unmotivated. I also feel that when I do go above and beyond my accomplishments are either overshadowed by management or another team that takes credit for what I've done. Any financial compensation is dictated by a team that doesn't fully realize my potential or is reduced because of budgeting constraints that are out of my control. I almost *need* a career that allows me to directly impact my "bottom line" to not feel like I am just walking through life in a coma-like state.

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