Interview at A.G.E. - Thoughts?

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bespel's picture
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Greetings, Everyone
Ok, I have an intervew with A.G. Edwards next week. I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts or suggestions about this firm and what to expect of the interview process.  
To be honest, I don't have a background in sales or financial services. I recently graduated from law school; I'm not sure if that's good, bad or indifferent when it comes to this industry.
I would be interested to know what to expect in terms of compensation, training and intial expenses. And, of course,  the interview process itself. Also, what any of you might know or think about the company culture.
I've read up on previous threads, but any fresh perspective would be welcome.

dude's picture
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Know the industry inside and out.  Be absolutley sure this is what you want to do.  Hopefully you're over 30 and/or have lots of wealthy contacts who trust you AND will give you assets to manage. 
The training program is pretty competitive but they offer the shortest salary out of the major players. 
Company culture is laid back, not as 'arrogant' as Wall Street firms generally.  Have at least $20k to $30k saved up for salary support. 
That being said, I think you're a little insane to jump into this business without any sales experience.  Law school is of only minor benefit to you, degrees don't bring in business.....salesmanship does.
The key to interviews is a cool confidence and complete lack of attachment to whether they hire you or not.  You must believe that you're bringing something to the table they need and if they don't recognize it their competitor will.
Bring a business plan, or at least a fairly articulate outline of how you intend to aquire clients.  Have a list of 2000 plus names and phone numbers that have a need for financial services and be able to demonstrate why they would want to do business with you (affiliations, common interests etc...).
Walk into the interview with a clear reason why they should hire you and demonstrate your initiative by articulating your understanding of what is expected and how you intend to satisfy those expectations.
Ask good questions.  Don't be desperate.  At the end of the first interview ask "based on our discussion today what do you feel is the next step?".  Be politely persistent and stay on top of the manager (but don't be a pest).

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Joined: 2006-07-18

Duuuude,
Good answer except for the part about the compensation being the shortest salary of the major players.  Earlier this year AGE revamped the newbie comp program from a 1yr declining schedule to....a 2yr declining schedule. That put's them on par with most of the other players. Oddly enough, the broker head count at AGE is down to 6600 as of last month primarily because they don't offer upfront money to vet's, most all of who choose to go with a wirehouse where they can collect 100%+ of trailing 12 months or the other route is Indy.

dude's picture
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My understanding is that most offer a two year level salary.

dude's picture
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Oh and it's dude not Duuuude.  No capital, one U.

bespel's picture
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Joined: 2006-08-25

dude wrote:
The key to interviews is a cool confidence and complete lack of attachment to whether they hire you or not.  You must believe that you're bringing something to the table they need and if they don't recognize it their competitor will.
Bring a business plan, or at least a fairly articulate outline of how you intend to aquire clients. 
Wow, these are great suggestions. I plan to spend the next few days working on the interview with these points in mind.

Shmer33's picture
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Joined: 2004-12-06

 i had a very bad experience with age!!  but they are a good firm.. 

brothaK's picture
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Joined: 2006-04-18

what was your experience with them?

Shmer33's picture
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k: <?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
YOU NEED A NEW SCREEN NAME. 
If you are interviewing with AGE there a few things you should know. 
1. The culture is great.
2. Training program is world class
3. Good management. 
4. There are very reluctant to take you on as a producer if you are below the age of 25.
Don't worry about my bad experience.  I guarantee you will not run into the same problem. 

 
 

troll's picture
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Shmer33 wrote: i had a very bad experience with age!!  but they are a good firm.. do tell...what was your bad experience?I had one....and yet I still think it is a great firm!

dude's picture
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Joined: 2005-11-15

Also be prepared to address your weaknesses or 'areas needing improvement'.  Be honest and candid.
Dress like a champion;  conservative, dark colored suit (charcoal is my favorite) and attractive conservatively patterned tie.  It must be a suit, no khaki pants etc....
Visualize the branch manager offering you a job.  Go in with complete faith that you will get an offer.
Also, this is VERY important (it sealed the deal for me at Morgan Stanley): say something to the manger along these lines "You know Mr. Branch Manager, I have researched this business extensively and feel very confident that I have a good grasp on what is required, the problem is that I've never actually seen what it is like to live a day in the life of a Financial Advisor, assuming that you are interested in exploring hiring me I'd like to shadow a broker you might like me to emulate if you were to hire me."
 

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That's much better to say than, "You seem like dead wood to me, so I'd like to see you outta here so we can get a larger payout."

Rugby's picture
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dude wrote:
Also be prepared to address your weaknesses or 'areas needing improvement'.  Be honest and candid.
Dress like a champion;  conservative, dark colored suit (charcoal is my favorite) and attractive conservatively patterned tie.  It must be a suit, no khaki pants etc....
Visualize the branch manager offering you a job.  Go in with complete faith that you will get an offer.
Also, this is VERY important (it sealed the deal for me at Morgan Stanley): say something to the manger along these lines "You know Mr. Branch Manager, I have researched this business extensively and feel very confident that I have a good grasp on what is required, the problem is that I've never actually seen what it is like to live a day in the life of a Financial Advisor, assuming that you are interested in exploring hiring me I'd like to shadow a broker you might like me to emulate if you were to hire me."

Dude, I read that you are leaving the wirehouse... 
You seem articulate, know this retail business etc.  Have you thought about recruiting for this business?  It could be a nice fit for you as you have "inside" knowledge of wirehouses, obviously enjoy the business, sales experience etc.
Something you might want to consider.  Not sure if some of other recruiters on here have broker experience like you...Best of luck.

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Joined: 2005-08-01

dude has indicated that he enjoys the stock broker side of the business, it's a shame that he wasn't born twenty or thirty years earlier.
The stock market is still around in the trading departments. There are sell side trading desks and buy side trading desks all over the country.
I'd suggest that anybody who likes the ebb and flow of the markets explore what's available in your area.
http://www.securitytraders.org/index.shtml
Go to that site and see if there is a chapter in your area--if so see if they will let you join it, so that you can do some networking.
Also look and see what firms in your area are on their membership roster--remember that Merrill Lynch won't have traders in Omaha, but they might in Dallas, Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston.
Anyway, if you think you'd like the challenges of trying to buy low and sell high--if that's what you thought you were getting into when you took your Series 7 only to be rudely awakened to the mundane world of AUM look into trading.
There are too many facets of this business to walk away because retail broker was not what you thought, or hoped, it would be.

Rugby's picture
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NASD Newbie wrote:
dude has indicated that he enjoys the stock broker side of the business, it's a shame that he wasn't born twenty or thirty years earlier.
The stock market is still around in the trading departments. There are sell side trading desks and buy side trading desks all over the country.
I'd suggest that anybody who likes the ebb and flow of the markets explore what's available in your area.
http://www.securitytraders.org/index.shtml

Yes, could be a good option.   Will be difficult to land on a Desk without a degree.  He could his own account or look for a large non-profit in his area who invests.  I'd say say that staring at a screen all day - trading equities etc. could be boring and not stimulating enough for a young guy who is used to interacting with people, solving fin. issues etc..
Another route would be to hook up with an older, larger producer...combine your smaller book into his larger book and take a junior roll to help him grow and substain his book...For working the bottom of his book or prospecting on his team you might be able to withstand these lean years.
I'd be interested to see if MS will try and retain you and this team approach might make sense if you have a book (albeit small) and skills....You might have to find a different office...Keep us posted..
 

NASD Newbie's picture
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Rugby wrote:
Will be difficult to land on a Desk without a degree. 

A degree is rarely even considered desirable in a trader, especially in a proprietary trader.
Nerves of steel, and intuition born of experience--classic "know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em" stuff.
It's the next best thing to being a pit trader for the pure rush of riding the waves.

dude's picture
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Joined: 2005-11-15

Rugby,
I left Morgan almost 2 years ago and actually just left AG Edwards.  I think that I'm going to take it easy for a little while and focus on my family, with the intent on entering the business down the road.
Trading seems very interesting.  I'd like to know more about breaking into that field.  I'm sure I'm going to need to build some different skills to be an effective trader, it seems a world away from selling mutual fund wrap programs.

dude's picture
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Rugby,
Also, I will note that MS did try to retain me by offering to pay me a draw, which the manager would 'take care of' if after a year I still didn't have enough commissions to cover the draw.  Essentially extending my salary for a year.
There is a whole story to this, but essentially I moved out of state (had to do with my family) so I declined.  Oh well, such is life.

vbrainy's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-26

bespel wrote:
Greetings, Everyone
Ok, I have an intervew with A.G. Edwards next week. I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts or suggestions about this firm and what to expect of the interview process.  
To be honest, I don't have a background in sales or financial services. I recently graduated from law school; I'm not sure if that's good, bad or indifferent when it comes to this industry.
I would be interested to know what to expect in terms of compensation, training and intial expenses. And, of course,  the interview process itself. Also, what any of you might know or think about the company culture.
I've read up on previous threads, but any fresh perspective would be welcome.

You need to be able to answer the simple question of WHY you want to be a financial advisor and why you think you can succeed in bringing in Assets and Revenue.

NASD Newbie's picture
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Please do not sit there and say, "Because I live to help people."

Andre017's picture
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Joined: 2006-08-22

dude, I too am talking with AGE - 1.5 hour "exploratory" meeting with the local branch last week. Through a 3rd party I discovered they thought the meeting went well (interested in me). Can you provide any info on why you moved from Morgan to AGE, and why you left AGE? If it's not too personal that is...Thanks.

Andre017's picture
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Joined: 2006-08-22

BTW, when I said (interested in me) - it was in a cursory sort of way - long way to go before an offer of any kind. For the record.

dude's picture
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It is a long story but had to do with moving out of state due to family circumstances. 
As far as which firm is better, I liked them both.  Morgan had marble floors, brushed steel walls and mahogany everything as well as the ego to match it. 
AG Edwards was more humble, down home and friendly from a culture perpective.
I thought the technology platform was better at AG Edwards interestingly.

Registered Rep's picture
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Dude between MS & AGE which one do you believe had the better payout? Also interested in what your thoughts are on the fee based choices at both firms.

dude's picture
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AGE has the better payout across the board....basically a flat 40% (with exceptions of course) plus bonus and awesome 401(k) contributions.  Go to onw*llstre*t.com (you figure out the asterisks) to see payout grids from the major firms.
I liked AGE's fee based platform better.  I thought it offered more choices.  Their only downfall is that they were a little behind Morgan in the implementation of a 'unified' type account combining SMA's, mutual funds and ETF's etc...  Never the less I liked their options better.

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Thanks for info update dude.

Andre017's picture
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Joined: 2006-08-22

Yes, thanks dude - much appreciated.

dude's picture
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You're welcome.

bespel's picture
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Had the interview today. I thought it went well - and I am sure that following dude's suggestions was a factor. Having a written business plan, which showed research and preparation, helped a lot. (Of course I don't have the job yet, but having a good interview is always a nice first step!) Next step is to take an aptitude test for the series 7 on Friday. Anyone ever done this before?
Thanks again, dude.

Mac42's picture
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Joined: 2006-06-14

I have recently taken the apptitude test at ML, SB, MS, and UBS. They are all the same. Know how to do multiplication and division of integers and fractions. Know how to calculate simple rates of return etc.
Good Luck.

Registered Rep's picture
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I think it's a timed test that you take at one of their office workstations. It's basic math consisting of some fractions, rations, basic addition and some algebra.  Last I heard, you cannot use a calculator. The nice part is there is no waiting, you'll know if you passed right after you complete the test because they will pull the results down from home office.
 
 

NASD Newbie's picture
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When you get to the ratons portion be sure to mention "Meals Ready To Eat," they like that a lot.

Registered Rep's picture
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replace "ratio's" with "rations". My error.
You would know about those tasty MRE's eh nasd?

NASD Newbie's picture
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Registered Rep wrote:
replace "ratio's" with "rations". My error.
You would know about those tasty MRE's eh nasd?

Er, did you fix the error?

Andre017's picture
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Joined: 2006-08-22

bespel - I'm in this same process - a step or two behind where are. Curious
what you covered in your business plan, and how you went about develping
your plan... care to share?

bespel's picture
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Joined: 2006-08-25

Andre017 wrote:bespel - I'm in this same process - a step or two behind where are. Curious what you covered in your business plan, and how you went about develping your plan... care to share?
If you have any background whatsoever in business, you could make a better plan than mine. Asking dude would probably be more helpful, but for what it's worth I simply made an outline of my professional and social network. I included other resources I thought would be useful in locating prospects. I used tables and bullet points, but nothing fancy.  It was only three pages long.

Andre017's picture
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Thanks - appreciate your feedback!

dude's picture
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bespel wrote:
Andre017 wrote:bespel - I'm in this same process - a step or two behind where are. Curious what you covered in your business plan, and how you went about develping your plan... care to share?
If you have any background whatsoever in business, you could make a better plan than mine. Asking dude would probably be more helpful, but for what it's worth I simply made an outline of my professional and social network. I included other resources I thought would be useful in locating prospects. I used tables and bullet points, but nothing fancy.  It was only three pages long.

Great job.....brief, concise.  Perfect for a first interview.  You should expect to develop a more comprehensive and detailed "business plan" before they hire you.  This plan should include a detail of your asset gathering goals, daily, weekly and monthly activities as well as some thought to your "value proposition".  You should try a website called horsesmo*th.  They have an excellent business plan template and I think they give a free trial of their website.  If you are a new or aspiring broker you must sign up for this site, it is the most comprehensive and poignant site for learning the business in my opinion.

Andre017's picture
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Thanks dude. Appreciated.

bespel's picture
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Joined: 2006-08-25

Well, I "passed" the aptitude test, and now have a telephone interview set up for next week. That gives me about five days to prepare. I think I have a pretty good "telephone voice," but I'm not sure what the format is going to be. Anyone here been through it?

dude's picture
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Joined: 2005-11-15

Your telephone interview could be one of two things (or both).  It could be a cold call aptitude assesment or just a interview with one of their people in St. Louis.
In either case I'd read up on cold calling techniques.  I wish I could help you more on this but cold calling is mostly a skill that is developed by doing it a lot.  Just remember to ask the right questions that guide the conversation to a decision.  I'm sure there are some examples in the prospecting and marketing thread.  Also, I recall writing a very extensive post on my approach quite a while ago, so you might want to search some of my old posts.
 

bespel's picture
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Joined: 2006-08-25

I have a third interview with A.G. Edwards next week, much delayed due to the manager being out of town. He wants to talk about prospecting. (No offer, yet).
In the meantime, I got rejected by Edward Jones via form letter. I wasn't that interested in EJ because I have a few other things brewing, but their recruiter was really persistent so I was a bit surprised. I'm not sure what the problem was. I don't have bankruptcies or criminal convictions. I think my references were pretty good, etc.
Ah, well...

Indyone's picture
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Wow...rejected by Edward Jones?  Maybe they were afraid of your law degree.

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