Merrill Lynch Interview

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NYC_1's picture
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Joined: 2005-05-04

Hi guys, I'm going to have an interview with Merrill Lynch, and I have to make a business-marketing plan, (the people I'm gonna target, the way I'm gonna do it etc..
Anyone has ever done this before? Any recomendations? I have an idea what I'm gonna write but again ML is a serious company and I want to do it on %110. Or any other peculiarities about the interview.
Thanks for the input.

ColoradoGuy's picture
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Joined: 2005-05-11

Merrill is huge on two things:  1) High Net Worth;  2) Niche marketing.  Make sure your business plan includes at least two niches that sound like they would be full of people who have money (ie.  Dentists who are Harley Davidson drivers or whatever).  Then make sure you plan includes several methods to get to them.  One of those methods should be networking.  It helps if you are already ingrained in the group (I used to sell equipment to dentists from the back of my Harley)  Do leave the plan open to sell to others though.
Usually you do three interviews: One with the advisor who leads your POA group, one with the sales manager, and one with the branch manager or district manager.  Save some questions for all three interviews.  Ask the advisor questions like: what's it really like, do I have to sell specific products, etc..  As the sales manager things like:  will someone be availible if I need specialized experience (called situational teaming) also ask him about benefits.  You don't look serious unless you have at least one question.  They are looking for outgoing people who have connections that can lead to a big book of business.  Merrill knows as well as anyone that 99.9% of people can't or won't do the kind of volume it takes to cold call / walk and be sucessful, so play up any connections you have.  Be able to name at least 3 or 4 social groups that you are a key member of (board member, leader, etc...)  People who are members at the museum do not have contacts like the board members at the museum.  Only one of the groups should be something like Rotary, Lions, etc.  The others should be things like alumni associations (they love this one) museums, homeowners associations, charities, and so on.
I'm assuming you've already taken "the test" if not, its basically a personality test.  They are looking for the I make friends easily and am outgoing answers.
Hope that helps.

inquisitive's picture
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Joined: 2005-04-10

Yeah, the genius managers at Merrill are big on high net-worth
clients.  The only problem, which they in their infinite wisdom
have yet to discover, is that the supply of high net-worth clients is
very limited, and competition for them very high.

Have you looked at other firms?  You should. 

Merrill Lynch is very heavy-handed in forcing their strategy down the
throats of their financial advisors.  Also consider that if you
don't like Merrill Lynch and want to leave, that Merrill can be
difficult to take clients out of.

Merrill Lynch is not your friend.  (Somebody else said it, but I like it, so I shall use it.)

Put Trader's picture
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Joined: 2005-04-08

inquisitive wrote:Yeah, the genius managers at Merrill are big on high net-worth
clients.  The only problem, which they in their infinite wisdom
have yet to discover, is that the supply of high net-worth clients is
very limited, and competition for them very high.

Have you looked at other firms?  You should. 

Merrill Lynch is very heavy-handed in forcing their strategy down the
throats of their financial advisors.  Also consider that if you
don't like Merrill Lynch and want to leave, that Merrill can be
difficult to take clients out of.

Merrill Lynch is not your friend.  (Somebody else said it, but I like it, so I shall use it.)

The benefits to working at Merrill outweigh the disadvantages IF you intend to stay there.

It is true that clients think they've "arrived" if they have an account
at Merrill and often do not leave with brokers who do.  Moreso
than with any other firm--and very frustrating to those who want to
leave.

On the plus side is the exceptional reputation.  There is not an
investor our there who does not know--and respect--what you're doing
when you say, "Hi, I'm Freddy Phuckemfaster with Merrill Lynch....."

There is a lot to be said for not having to explain who you are, where you work, and what you're callling about.

Do not--as in NOT--worry about the negative things that Merrill got
involved with a few years ago regarding research conflicts--nobody
cares about that and the pool of potential clients is completely
unaware of it.

Anybody who can be hired by "Mother Merrill" is a fool if they don't
accept the offer.  I am not suggesting that if you're at another
world-class wirehouse you should leave--but if you're looking for a job
and Merrill asks you to dance you should not only dance you should go
home with them and spend the night doing whatever they ask.

rightway's picture
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Joined: 2004-12-02

Regardign Inquisitives comments:

Something like every 10 seconds someone turns 60.  These are the
baby boomers that represent the clients that should take us through the
rest of our career.  There are plenty of high net worth nvestors
to go around for all of us in all formats (Banks, Wires, Indy,
Insuance, Etc...). and in NO-WAY SHAPE OR FORM ARE THEY VERY
LIMITED!!  Man, if you believe that you have your head up a sheeps
ass, which is why you can't find any HNW clients.

I have heard of this heavy handed talk about Merrill, but I have not
experienced it at all, although that is just my experience.  I
have never been directed to run my business in any way other than how I
saw best.  Short of a pay cut on small wrap accounts, my pay has
always gone up.

Merrill has the agreement with the other large firms that say you can
take names and phone numbers should you choose to leave...basically
giving the client an open choice.  It is up to them, and if they
choose to stay, as Inquis suggests, one would wonder why.

Merrill will want you to target larger clients, which can be tough for
people starting out and/or very young with few contacts.  This is
a fact, and a nasty one. 

Inquis is just so very wrong (although I like reading his posts). Put
makes some good points and I would add you should seek a place where
you can feel comfortable and wish to make a nice career.  If
Merrill is not it, find one that is.  Don't go into a place with
your divorce plan already drafted. 

inquisitive's picture
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Put Trader wrote:

The benefits to working at Merrill outweigh the disadvantages IF you intend to stay there.

OK.  That being said, let's look at the balance of power, shall we?

Merrill Lynch:  can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants,
including lowering your payout, putting pressures on you to do things
you don't feel are the best for your clients, or firing you.

Merrill Lynch FA:  can't do anything except leave for another
firm, unless it is too difficult to take his clients out of Merrill in
which case he is completely screwed and has to put up with whatever
Merrill chooses to do to him.

The score:
Merrill Lynch  1
Merrill Lynch FA 0

Merrill Lynch reps will lose every time.

The only power a rep has at any firm is the ability to pack up and go
to the firm across the street if things change for the worse. 
That's the only thing keeping these firms from treating people like
total crap (and they would love to do that).  And trust me, just
because payouts are high now, it doesn't mean it's going to be that way
in 5 years.

How many of you readers out there would be happy taking a $50,000 per year pay cut?

Put Trader wrote:
It is true that clients think they've "arrived" if they have an account
at Merrill and often do not leave with brokers who do.  Moreso
than with any other firm--and very frustrating to those who want to
leave.

On the plus side is the exceptional reputation.  There is not an
investor our there who does not know--and respect--what you're doing
when you say, "Hi, I'm Freddy Phuckemfaster with Merrill Lynch....."

People have heard of Merrill Lynch...yes.  But Merrill's reputation isn't as squeaky clean as they would like it to be.

Quite frankly, it blows my mind that with what their investment banking
side did to the retail clients that anyone would ever open an account
at Merrill.

If a doctor was convicted for fondling his female patients, would you send your daughter to see him?

The investment business is very dirty.  Most of dirtiness doesn't
come from the retail advisory side.  But the retail reps are the
ones who look bad because of it.

Put Trader wrote:
There is a lot to be said for not having to explain who you are, where you work, and what you're callling about.

Do not--as in NOT--worry about the negative things that Merrill got
involved with a few years ago regarding research conflicts--nobody
cares about that and the pool of potential clients is completely
unaware of it.

A few people care about it.  Which amazes me, because I think everyone should care about it. 

Merrill, and the others, have emerged largely unscathed.  That has surprised many.

Put Trader wrote:
Anybody who can be hired by "Mother Merrill" is a fool if they don't
accept the offer.  I am not suggesting that if you're at another
world-class wirehouse you should leave--but if you're looking for a job
and Merrill asks you to dance you should not only dance you should go
home with them and spend the night doing whatever they ask.

And in the old days, what Merrill would ask you to do is totally f*ck your clients to generate some production $$$.

I think most of us who work in and care about the industry hope that it
cleans up and stays clean.  The problem is what's going on behind
the scenes.  You know, the dirty stuff management does like
pressure fund companies into "revenue sharing" agreements and the like.

I never knew that the proper way for a fund company to get on the
recommended list was to make a large payment to a brokerage firm to buy
its way on...

I think anyone would have to be a fool to work for Merrill
Lynch.   The only power a rep has is the ability to
leave.  If you give up that power, you are a slave.  That's
not to say Merrill Lynch reps can't leave, because they do leave. 
It's just that the company is one of the hardest, if not the hardest,
to leave with your client book intact.

But that's just my opinion.  Yours may differ.

inquisitive's picture
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rightway wrote:Regardign Inquisitives comments:

Something like every 10 seconds someone turns 60.  These are the
baby boomers that represent the clients that should take us through the
rest of our career.  There are plenty of high net worth nvestors
to go around for all of us in all formats (Banks, Wires, Indy,
Insuance, Etc...). and in NO-WAY SHAPE OR FORM ARE THEY VERY
LIMITED!!  Man, if you believe that you have your head up a sheeps
ass, which is why you can't find any HNW clients.

http://www.aoa.gov/prof/Statistics/profile/2003/16.asp

"The median net worth of the
elderly households (with a householder aged 65+) in 2000 was
$108,885
as compared to $55,000 for the total population. The largest
asset type is home ownership which accounts for $85,516 or
78.5% of this net worth."

"Elderly married couple households have a median
net worth of $173,950 ($57,586 when home equity is

excluded)."

The median elderly person, the richest segment of our society, has a
net-worth, excluding a house, of $57,586.  Would that fit
Merrill's definition of "high net worth"?  No, those accounts
would be pushed off to the "service center".

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/wealth/pg2.pdf

The median net worth for a household in 2000 was $49,932--including home equity.

More stats:

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/wealth/1998_2000/wlth00-4.h tml
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/wealth/wealth.html
http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/p70-88.pdf

rightway wrote:
I have heard of this heavy handed talk about Merrill, but I have not
experienced it at all, although that is just my experience.  I
have never been directed to run my business in any way other than how I
saw best.  Short of a pay cut on small wrap accounts, my pay has
always gone up.

Merrill has the agreement with the other large firms that say you can
take names and phone numbers should you choose to leave...basically
giving the client an open choice.  It is up to them, and if they
choose to stay, as Inquis suggests, one would wonder why.

Doesn't matter why they would want to stay.  What does matter is
that if they do stay, it's money out of your pocket.  It's your
career.  If you don't have that client loyalty, you have
absolutely nothing.

Why pay Rightway so much money when they could get a salaried financial
advisor to do what he does for much less?  Oh yeah, they need YOUR
clients.

rightway wrote:
Merrill will want you to target larger clients, which can be tough for
people starting out and/or very young with few contacts.  This is
a fact, and a nasty one. 

Inquis is just so very wrong (although I like reading his posts). Put
makes some good points and I would add you should seek a place where
you can feel comfortable and wish to make a nice career.  If
Merrill is not it, find one that is.  Don't go into a place with
your divorce plan already drafted. 

Always go into a place with an exit strategy--just in CASE you need
it.  Again, the power lies with the firm.  The only power you
have is the ability to leave.

Rightway, I happen to think that long-term, that these big brokerage
houses are going to go to salaried financial advisors.  What are
your thoughts on that?

Do you think Merrill is going to keep payouts where they are at forever?  Are you that naive?

noggin's picture
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I had an appointment today with a prospect who has a Merrill account. It was sad to see what they did to this persons account. 227K in 1999, 93K today..... Next week, ACAT. No relationship with Merrill because they slipped below the 100K threshold. Is that the kind of company you want to work at???

SonnyTheBull's picture
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noggin wrote: I had an appointment today with a prospect who has a Merrill account. It was sad to see what they did to this persons account. 227K in 1999, 93K today..... Next week, ACAT. No relationship with Merrill because they slipped below the 100K threshold. Is that the kind of company you want to work at???

One cat I cold called had 100k in 1999 at Merrill, eventually went down to 3k. He said he will never invest in the market again.

noggin's picture
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Thats pretty good to take 100K to 3K, takes a great deal of talent. What was the technique?????

Soothsayer's picture
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I totally disagree with the idea that Merrill has the reputation of being the lead dog where clients can only hope that they'll one day be admitted and deemed as being worthy.  They have a sh*tty reputation in my market. The number of brokers has gone from 40+ to 17.  They have turned over a branch manager a year for the last 5 years.  The biggest producer retired, his book was split up, and the ingrate recipients promptly headed for Morgan, Barney, and AG.  They have gone from using three floors in a downtown office building to one.  It is well known in the local brokerage community, and to some extent by the general public, that there is no synergy whatsoever in the office.  Everybody hates everybody, and no one can stand the new branch manager.  I don't live in NYC or LA, but I do live in a fairly good sized market.  Everyone in the cities thinks the rest of America should follow their lead, and that what goes on there is representative of the rest of America.  Ever heard of the red states and the blue states.  Merrill ain't sh*t out here in the red states.  Nobody gives a rat's ass about their bigtime reputation in the Northeast or in California.  We all think there's something wrong with you people anyway.  By the way, explain to me again how more than half of you thought that Hillary Clinton made a good choice for a US Senator.  That's the same brainwashed herd (no pun intended) that thinks Mother Merrill's sh*t doesn't stink.   

NYC_1's picture
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Thank you guys very much for sharing your opinions and experiences.
Thank you Coloradoguy, your post was very helpful. Should I mention which investment vehicles I'm gonna push?
Thank you inquisitive, I heard that ML wants only high net-worth clients, and I know it's not that easy to get them. That's sad that if you won't make above their requirement - you get fired. On the other hand its name and reputation is strong which would make most potential clients more comfortable doing business. I do look at other companies, because I want to other doors open in case I dont get the job. I went to MS web page but never found where to apply for FA position. Which companies would you recommend?
Thank you Put trader: I'm trying to "dance on my head" as they asked, I agree that when you say who you are with ML, he wouldn't need further explanation.
Thank you rightaway, Yes Im just starting and I know it's a tough business, but I'm willing to put myself into it and do the best I can.
Noggin and SonnyTheBull, WOW I'm surprised with the investments those guys had with ML. Kind of hard to believe, was it the FA's fault?
Thank you Sooth, I'll take it into consideration, I see more negative statements about ML. What do you think about GS, MS, UBS ?

SonnyTheBull's picture
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Soothsayer wrote:Merrill ain't sh*t out here in the red states. Nobody gives a rat's ass about their bigtime reputation in the Northeast or in California.
I think nobody with real $$$ gives a rat's ass about any firm's reputation. People with big bucks want to know what you can do for them. Anyways, in my opinion Merrill ain't the place to learn cold prospecting for the rookie because it's run by people who have never cold called anyone. They prefer people who know HNW prospects.
NYC1, if you want to learn cold calling, I would suggest SmithBarney because they acquired Lehman's retail operation. Lehman Brothers' Marty Shafiroff institutionalised cold calling for brokers.

Broker Fee's picture
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On the plus side is the exceptional reputation.  There is not an investor our there who does not know--and respect--what you're doing when you say, "Hi, I'm Freddy Phuckemfaster with Merrill Lynch....."
Don't you think it would be impossible to succeed cold calling anybody with a name like "Freddy Phuckemfaster". 

Put Trader's picture
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Soothsayer wrote:Merrill ain't sh*t out here in the red states. Nobody
gives a rat's ass about their bigtime reputation in the Northeast or in
California.
A statement that is awe inspiring in its essential stupidity.

Surveys have been done all over the country where people are asked to
name a brokerage firm--the percent that name Merrill is huge. 
Monsterous in fact.

Why do you think clients are reluctant to leave Merrill if it is so unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

Merrill is to stock brokering what Walgreens is to drug stores. 
Those who deny it are simply whistling past the grave yard or are so
young that they don't know anything.

That, by the way, is the falacy of this forum--it's driven by kids who
have exactly zero experience and are caught up in the moment, they're
rookies at places other than the best houses and they're trying to be
as optimistic as possible.

A good analogy would be that they're playing for a state championship
winning high school football team that keeps telling themselves, "We
can do it--go team go--those NFL teams can be beaten."

They're right, a high school team can beat an NFL team.  Right after frogs fly.

Put Trader's picture
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Soothsayer wrote:I totally disagree with the idea that Merrill has the
reputation of being the lead dog where clients can only hope that
they'll one day be admitted and deemed as being worthy.  They have
a sh*tty reputation in my market. The number of brokers has gone from
40+ to 17.  They have turned over a branch manager a year for the
last 5 years.  The biggest producer retired, his book was split
up, and the ingrate recipients promptly headed for Morgan, Barney, and
AG.  They have gone from using three floors in a downtown office
building to one.  It is well known in the local brokerage
community, and to some extent by the general public, that there is no
synergy whatsoever in the office.  Everybody hates everybody, and
no one can stand the new branch manager.  I don't live in
NYC or LA, but I do live in a fairly good sized market. 
Everyone in the cities thinks the rest of America should follow
their lead, and that what goes on there is representative of the rest
of America.  Ever heard of the red states and the blue
states.  Merrill ain't sh*t out here in the red states. 
Nobody gives a rat's ass about their bigtime reputation in the
Northeast or in California.  We all think there's something wrong
with you people anyway.  By the way, explain to me again how
more than half of you thought that Hillary Clinton made a good
choice for a US Senator.  That's the same brainwashed herd (no pun
intended) that thinks Mother Merrill's sh*t doesn't stink. 
 

This is typical of a guy grasping at things--when I read it I
immediately thought that he must have just lost a big client to Merrill.

The fact that there is turmoil at the local office--or in every
office--is a sideshow.  Clients do NOT sense it, nor does it
matter to them.

Brokers have a "game face" that they turn on and off at will.  He
or she could be sitting around bitching about the manager and when the
phone rings their entire demeanor changes.

Granted the "mood" of an office can affect young brokers--but people
who are being productive have very little time to bitch and moan.

If a branch is going through managers there is a thought that the
problem is not the manager but the team--that the sales force has
dwindled from 40 to 17 is quite likely because low prorducers,
malcontents, and other undesireables are being "encouraged" to leave.

Just as a recently burned forest comes back stronger than ever look for
that Merrill branch to do the same thing.  You can bet that the
manager has been given a lot of flexibility and a large budget to
recruit the best talent from the nearby competition.

Regardless--the essential reality of the retail side of the stock
market is that Merrill Lynch is the lead dog and they've dismissed
countless pretenders to the throne.

All other firms--every one of them--is an also ran.  Some are damn
good places to work but only a broker at Merrill Lynch NEVER has to
explain that his employer is a stock brokerage house.

There used to be others, "Thank you PaineWebber" was once a catchword
in this society and "When EF Hutton speaks people listen" was once so
interlaced in the society that their brokers were kings.

Today the ad that involves a guy being told by his doctor to make an
incision in his chest is very catchy.  I think it's AG Edwards,
but I'm not sure and I've been around forever.  If I cannot
rermember the name of the firm, the ad is not as effective as it should
be.

stanwbrown's picture
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Soothsayer wrote: Merrill ain't sh*t out here in the red states.  Nobody gives a rat's ass about their bigtime reputation in the Northeast or in California.  We all think there's something wrong with you people anyway.  By the way, explain to me again how more than half of you thought that Hillary Clinton made a good choice for a US Senator.  That's the same brainwashed herd (no pun intended) that thinks Mother Merrill's sh*t doesn't stink.   
I hate to agree with Puttrader, but the above is just silly. I'm in a red state, I'm not with ML, and aside from whatever problem there might be (assuming you have the details right) in your local branch, ML is the 800 lbs gorilla. Nobody's perfect, but claiming ML "ain't sh*t" is like claiming Lexus isn't a bigtime player in luxury cars.

Soothsayer's picture
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I recently lost a big a client to Merrill?  Are you kidding?  I have never lost a client to Merrill Lynch in my entire career.  Ever.  Not one.  Quite the opposite.  I have sent them a steady diet of ACATs for the last 5 years.  Sent another one off last Friday--$1.1 million.
The manager surely must have a big budget for recruiting.  My phone has been ringing for the last four years.  As has several other brokers in the immediate trade area.  But, for the reasons I mentioned above, no one is taking.  They have made one successful hire of a new broker during the time I have been in the business--a guy who used to be involved in insurance brokerage who had many contacts through his work in brokering commercial lines.  (Also a really, really good guy.)  Maybe they're reputation where you live is sterling.  But obviously, all of of us live in differenct places.  Just accept the fact that maybe ML has 4 or 6 or 13 offices in the country that are not the leader of the pack in their respective community.  My community just happens to be one of them.  By the way Put Trader, save all of your jealousy BS and any other reason you can come up with why I am writing this to rest now.  I could be working at the local branch on Monday morning if I wanted to.  I would only need to respond to the call I have not yet returned from this Monday from the newest branch manager.  I'm sure he saw the $1.1 million ACAT come across.  I have no interest in working in the branch in my town.  Period.  End of story. 
Another fact.  My mother-in-law is a Merrill client in California (blue state).  The gentleman there does a fine job, and I speak with him on the phone 3 to 4 times a year to information share on her account there and the one that I manage.  I would be the first to agree that they are a leader in her market, after she had a bad experience with Wedbush Morgan and what I believe to be an experience worhty of license pulling from Morgan Stanley. 

Put Trader's picture
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Soothsayer wrote:I recently lost a big a client to Merrill? 
Are you kidding?  I have never lost a client to Merrill Lynch in
my entire career.  Ever.  Not one.  Quite the
opposite.  I have sent them a steady diet of ACATs for the last 5
years.  Sent another one off last Friday--$1.1 million.
The manager surely must have a big budget for recruiting.  My
phone has been ringing for the last four years.  As has several
other brokers in the immediate trade area.  But, for the reasons I
mentioned above, no one is taking.  They have made one successful
hire of a new broker during the time I have been in the
business--a guy who used to be involved in insurance brokerage who had
many contacts through his work in brokering commercial lines. 
(Also a really, really good guy.)  Maybe they're reputation where
you live is sterling.  But obviously, all of of us live in
differenct places.  Just accept the fact that maybe ML has 4 or 6
or 13 offices in the country that are not the leader of the pack in
their respective community.  My community just happens to be one
of them.  By the way Put Trader, save all of your jealousy BS and
any other reason you can come up with why I am writing this to rest
now.  I could be working at the local branch on Monday morning if
I wanted to.  I would only need to respond to the call I have not
yet returned from this Monday from the newest branch manager.  I'm
sure he saw the $1.1 million ACAT come across.  I have no interest
in working in the branch in my town.  Period.  End of
story. 
Another fact.  My mother-in-law is a Merrill client in
California (blue state).  The gentleman there does a fine job, and
I speak with him on the phone 3 to 4 times a year to information share
on her account there and the one that I manage.  I would be the
first to agree that they are a leader in her market, after she had a
bad experience with Wedbush Morgan and what I believe to be an
experience worhty of license pulling from Morgan Stanley. 

A guy who is so good that he sucks 1.1 million out of Merrill in a single account is not good enough for his own mother in law?

You know what, common courtesy and business professionalism dictates that you return all phone calls--even in Bumphuck, Iowa.

Soothsayer's picture
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I insist on not managing 100% of any relative's money.  I don't even do 100% of my own parents' account.  I took this advice to heart from a very sage veteran when I got into the business.  He told me that, "You don't ever want to have reservations about showing up to a family event or Thanksgiving dinner based on the short-term performance of the financial markets.  Let them have another experience elsewhere to contrast their experience with you."  I have remained steadfast in maintaining this policy, and would pass along this advice to anyone entering the business.
I'll return the phone call when I have time to talk.  Hasn't been the case this week.  You see, I'm simultaneously working towards my CFP, a masters degree, and was recently asked to run for a public office which I am seriously considering.  I'm also leaving to go to Europe with my wife tomorrow moring.  So, I'd say I've been just a little bit busy. 

es four's picture
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"Today the ad that involves a guy being told by his doctor to make an incision in his chest is very catchy.  I think it's AG Edwards, but I'm not sure and I've been around forever.  If I cannot rermember the name of the firm, the ad is not as effective as it should be."
Edward Jones.
 
AG Edwards' commercials have people caring for their nest egg.

inquisitive's picture
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NYC_1 wrote:Thank you inquisitive, I heard that ML wants only high
net-worth clients, and I know it's not that easy to get them. That's
sad that if you won't make above their requirement - you get
fired. On the other hand its name and reputation is strong which
would make most potential clients more comfortable doing business. I do
look at other companies, because I want to other doors open in case I
dont get the job. I went to MS web page but never found where to apply
for FA position. Which companies would you recommend?

As far as Morgan Stanley, call your local branch and see if they are hiring trainees.

I would recommend that you find a firm that's right for you.  It
is quite possible that none of the big wirehouses will be right for
you.  Don't limit yourself to just the big wirehouses.  You
may fit in better at a smaller regional, a very small regional, or even
a local financial planning firm.  Maybe even a bank branch.

One thing you want to be aware of is that there are some dirty,
disgusting companies out there.  The big wirehouses are more
widely discussed.  Information about them is easier to find.

You're just going to have to identify some companies and talk to
people.  Try to talk to some people working at the company doing
what you want to do.  Management isn't going to say, "we are a
terrible company to work for."  But some people already working
there might...

If you know anyone personally who has a financial advisor, ask them if
they are happy with the person and company.  Then call that
advisor and see if he or she will talk to you.  It can't hurt.

rightway's picture
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Joined: 2004-12-02

"Rightway, I happen to think that long-term, that these big brokerage
houses are going to go to salaried financial advisors.  What are
your thoughts on that?

Do you think Merrill is going to keep payouts where they are at forever?  Are you that naive?"

I have heard this since I got in the business in 1992.  I think it
could happen, but the banks programs will take the lead in this, not
the wires.  It is a concern, but not the one at the top of my
list.  I asked an LOS 31 about this today and he said they were
talking about 30 years ago.  I think in my career lifetime they
will continue to squeeze the lower end, juice up the higher end, and
let the middle fester.  You will see a focus on growth, not just
stagnant annuitized revenue.  Low Salaried replacements
though?  Not for a long time.

Greenbacks's picture
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Joined: 2004-12-21

 
  Salaried financial advisor's right or wrong I do not know, but  I have seen my billable hours going up for the last couple of years. People also do not seem to mind paying them as they did several years ago! Times are changing! I am glad I am an independent CFP so I can go what ever direction the consumer needs to go be it commissions or fees or hourly.  
 

Soothsayer's picture
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Joined: 2005-02-24

Hey Put and Stan--
Sent them another $1.4 million dollar ACAT on Friday.  That makes my career to date score something like:  Soothsayer $8 million, Mother Merrill $0.  Oh, and you should see the account I'm bring over.  The broker is damn lucky he still has his license.  He'd get eaten alive in arbitration if the client were the vindictive type. 

Put Trader's picture
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Joined: 2005-04-08

Soothsayer wrote:Hey Put and Stan--
Sent them another $1.4 million dollar ACAT on Friday.  That
makes my career to date score something like:  Soothsayer $8
million, Mother Merrill $0.  Oh, and you should
see the account I'm bring over.  The broker is damn lucky he still
has his license.  He'd get eaten alive in arbitration if the
client were the vindictive type. 

Ah a client to stupid to know when he's being manhandled.  Makes sense that they'd ACAT out.

I'm sure Merrill is very concerned.

How come nobody ever ACATs a $150,000 account.   I think the
chances of you ACATing 1.4 million are akin to the stories of getting
95% on Series 7 after thirty minutes studying.

Why tell the truth when a lie will do?

Soothsayer's picture
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Joined: 2005-02-24

Okay, okay, Put.  I also transferred a 78K fixed annuity from TransAmerica, and ACATed a 110K account from Piper Jaffray in the last couple of weeks.  I think Merrill will be concerned enough to step up their recruiting effort with me.  I feel like I should somhow feel bad for the losing broker, but I don't.  When your work sucks this bad, you deserve to lose accounts.  I always hear about all of these slick tools, platforms, technology, etc. available at Merrill.  My message to this dumbass, "FEEL FREE TO USE JUST ONE OF THEM!" 
BTW, I did post an "A" score on my 7, but I have to admit to studying my ass off for it.

Soothsayer's picture
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Joined: 2005-02-24

Hey Put--
I looked at an account today from Smith Barney.  740K.  Inception date of the account was July of 2000.  1.75% wrap fee.  Statement was 21 pages long.  Care to guess the "total performance" and the "net of fee performance" over the last 5 years?  I keep hearing that these guys and Merrill are the gold standard, but every single time I actually get my hands on one their "high net worth" client's statements, I just laugh my ass off.  Are these guys for real?  Daddy smells another ACAT........

Roger Thornhill's picture
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Joined: 2005-07-06

Soothsayer wrote:
Hey Put--
I looked at an account today from Smith Barney.  740K.  Inception date of the account was July of 2000.  1.75% wrap fee.  Statement was 21 pages long.  Care to guess the "total performance" and the "net of fee performance" over the last 5 years?  I keep hearing that these guys and Merrill are the gold standard, but every single time I actually get my hands on one their "high net worth" client's statements, I just laugh my ass off.  Are these guys for real?  Daddy smells another ACAT........

What was their performance? I'm just curious.

Put Trader's picture
Offline
Joined: 2005-04-08

Roger Thornhill wrote:Soothsayer wrote:
Hey Put--
I looked at an account today from Smith Barney.  740K. 
Inception date of the account was July of 2000.  1.75% wrap
fee.  Statement was 21 pages long.  Care to guess the "total
performance" and the "net of fee performance" over the last 5
years?  I keep hearing that these guys and Merrill are the gold
standard, but every single time I actually get my hands on one their
"high net worth" client's statements, I just laugh my ass off. 
Are these guys for real?  Daddy smells another ACAT........

What was their performance? I'm just curious.

Here we have personna B asking Personna A to flesh out a story that is
such a lie that Personna A failed to mention the key factor.

Watch for Soothsayer to refer to Stan Brown as "Browneye."  Isn't
that childish humor just the funniest thing you've ever read--browneye,
anus, get it?  Huh, pretty funny, right?

rightway's picture
Offline
Joined: 2004-12-02

Soothsayer wrote:Hey Put--
I looked at an account today from Smith Barney.  740K. 
Inception date of the account was July of 2000.  1.75% wrap
fee.  Statement was 21 pages long.  Care to guess the "total
performance" and the "net of fee performance" over the last 5
years?  I keep hearing that these guys and Merrill are the gold
standard, but every single time I actually get my hands on one their
"high net worth" client's statements, I just laugh my ass off. 
Are these guys for real?  Daddy smells another ACAT........

We get a report of our entire
book performance as a whole, gross, customized indexed, and overall
asset allocation breakdown, and a ream of other data.  Our
management team then sits with us and goes over it with my team (we
request this meeting).  We identify where we are underweighted (
ex.-low correlated investments) and overweighted (ex-large cap
value).  They take their findings and supply us with research,
both internal and external, to think about changes (ex.- reduce high
yield debt exposure, look at tax free debt, etc...).  We leave
that meeting with new idea's and research to back it up.  I have
had a couple of managers with my tenure at ML, and this is the first
time I have had a manager supply us with such valuable reporting and
thought (managemet team has a CFA, CFP, and CIMA).   Performance
matters.  As a result, we have made some very effective moves with
client portfolios and obtained a great deal of new business. 

Sooth's post is a valuable one, despite not posting what the
performance figure is.  If you are going to charge an on-going
fee, you had better deliver. 

Soothsayer's picture
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Joined: 2005-02-24

To set the record straight, I have never called Stanbrown "Browneye".  I very much respect Stan as a member of the forum, and do not attack and deliver disparaging remarks about others unless I am attacked first.

Put Trader's picture
Offline
Joined: 2005-04-08

Soothsayer wrote:To set the record straight, I have never called
Stanbrown "Browneye".  I very much respect Stan as a member of the
forum, and do not attack and deliver disparaging remarks about others
unless I am attacked first.

What I said was for the boys and girls to watch for you to do it, not that you had done it yet.

Soothsayer's picture
Offline
Joined: 2005-02-24

Rightway--
You nailed it.  SMAs and fee-based business are all fine and good, but sooner or later you had better deliver the groceries.  BTW, 0.64% before fees (5-year annualized), and -1.37% net of fees (5-year annualized) ain't gonna cut the mustard.  Sounds like you are doing a much better job with your clients, and I commend you for that.  I won't feel bad when I transfer this account.  I can't remember who it is that always asks, "Where are the clients yachts?"  In this case that I mention, the client provided all of the capital, took all of the risk, and came away $50K lighter.  The broker told some bullsh*t asset allocation story and came away $65K to the better.  Is this type of arrangement, or at least this kink of outcome, the next target of regulators?

rightway's picture
Offline
Joined: 2004-12-02

That perormance is so poor, and perhaps the SB rep is to blame, but
clients need to take a little responsibility as well- as it is, they
did by seeing you.  But along the way if an investor is going to
be a strategic allocation type, they should AT MINIMUM get performance
reports back to the respective weighted indexes.  I realize most
firms and reps don't supply it, but we do.  It keeps us
honest.  Congrats on the new client.

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