Merrill Lynch PMD Trainee Program

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Mr. Sweaters's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-14

Let me start off by expressing the joy I felt when I came across this website.   I have been searching and reading through the forums for about  a month now, and it has been more informative than anything I have read previously.  There are ideas, formulas, and success stories galore out there in the book market for one reason....they sell.   No one wants to write a book detailing the horrors and griefs of the most grueling industry in the country.  There is a wealth of great information, yet a lack of honesty.  Fortunately, there is a website that provides the best of both worlds.  So for that...thank you.The purpose of this post is to help give insight to those who are entering the industry, particularly with Merrill Lynch.  It is a place for questions from people who may be considering financial services as well as thoughtful insight from veterans who want to add their two cents.  Ultimately, I want to be able to share my experience in a way that helps new and potential advisors find their way.My background:  I am not  currently in the industry, nor have I ever been.  So why am I here?  My sophmore year of undergrad I took a class called Personal Finance with one of the most captivating professors I've had.  It had me hooked.  That was 7 years ago.  Coming out of college I was pursued by Northwestern Mutual and John Hancock (just like everyone else) and thought heavily about joining both.  At that point in time I had a great fear of entering an industry that didn't provide consistency and security.   I also didn't want to sell life insurance as an investment tool.  So I took an inside sales job with a software company, and eventually moved into beer sales.  My life was progressing.  I was getting promotions and having fun (keyword: Beer) but when I really sat down and thought about it, I wasn't getting the fulfillment I needed.  Perks are great, job security is top notch, but pay is bad and personal growth is severly limited.  So I went back to school, and am currently finishing up a masters program that is very specific to the industry ( I won't say which one, for the sake of anonymity.  But if you are curious you are more than welcome to PM me).   I came across an opportunity to interview with Merrill Lynch, I did, and I was offered a PMD position.  This is my dream job.  If I could do anything for the rest of my life, I wouldn't be a doctor, I wouldn't be a lawyer, i wouldn't be the President (bad gig anyway).  I would be a financial advisor.  Is that to say that I will succeed in the PMD program and be the star of Merrill Lynch?  Absolutely not.  There is a great possibility of failure, greater than any one goal I have EVER tried to acheive.  Think about it.  In your life...how many times have you set a personal goal and had someone tell you, "There is a 90% chance you are going to fail."  What if a professor or a sales manager had told you that?  "Thanks for applying and being accepted to this prestigious university, we just want let you know that 90% of the people sitting in this classroom will have failed out by the time you graduate."  That would have put a hell of a damper on your social life!  Merrill Lynch has been gracious enough to offer me a position and wait 4 months while I finish school before taking me on.  That's four months of school to sharpen the technical aspect of my employment, and four months to research, read, learn, and progress as a salesman before I take on this challenge.  There is nothing that has helped me more in strategizing than reading this forum.  These are real people, some who put in the hard time, with valid opinions that shouldn't be taken lightly.  Outside of the posts here, there are some other materials I have found insightful and helpful thusfar.  Keep in mind, I am four months away from my start date.  I have not applied any of these readings to my future employment.1. The Intellegent Investor -  Benjamin Graham - Should be a staple for anyone in the industry.  Basic investing knowlege.  Read and make sure you understand.  You don't have to be bound by this book, but you should use it as a rough guideline when investing client's money as well as your own.2. The Million Dollar Financial Services Practice - David Mullen Jr.  - This is a very basic approach to starting a practice, written by a ML guy.  Can you solely use this book and it's advice to become successful?  No.  Does it provide a good guideline for marketing activities and niches to pursue? Yes.  If you are interviewing for a PMD position and they ask  you for a business plan, use this book to help you formulate your plan.3. The Million Dollar Financial Advisor - David Mullen Jr. - Good insight on how to manage your practice once you've made it.  While it does nothing for you as a PMD, it tells you what you can accomplish once you've got a strong foot in the industry's door.  And by strong foot I mean graduate the PMD and last another 2 years.4. The Supernova Advisor - Robert D. Knapp - If you are going to work for Merrill, well... this is the root of what they want their advisors to do.  Supernova was an actual business plan ML executives put together years ago to help convert ML to a wealth management firm rather than a transactional broker.  Take it with a grain of salt.  A lot of this stuff applies to advisors that had a book of business already.  And it's written by ML execs.  In fact, take everything you read with a grain of salt.  Perception is not reality when it comes to this industry, I am learning.5.  Questions Great Financial Advisors Ask - Alan Parisse - The biggest obstacles I think I'm going to face are A. Getting appointments, and B. Closing appointments.  This book is about understanding an individual's investment wiring, which will be very important once you actually get the appointment.  Remember, you've got to get the appointment first....6. The 500 Day War - Out of all of these readings, I am taking this one to heart.  I don't plan on following it exactly, but I'm not going to stray very far from it.  This is reality.  It's actually quite humorous to me that the above readings probably grossed a few millions dollars, and a post such as the 500 Day War presents more honesty than all of them.  My next set of books are going to be more along the lines of networking and cold calling.  Both will be essential in the first few years.  As I move through the last few months of beer selling and night school I will continue to keep you updated on my readings and revelations.  Of course, once my start date arrives, I will delve more deeply into the process, the expectations, and the reality of being a PMD.  I strongly believe that this program is highly representative of a lot of wirehouses out there.  It may be more or less competitive or vary in other ways, but in the end I think the program is a great judge of whether or not you belong and deserve to be in the industry.  Of course, what I believe and what is actually true could be two completely different things.  I wish anyone entering the industry around this time the best of luck.  It is an increasingly difficult occupation to succeed in, and hopefully this post along with those of others will help you make informed decisions.

ocalaboy's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-10

I start my career with ML on Friday.  I will be following this thread.  Good Luck to you!

iggy j reilly's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-30

Ah yes, bright eyed and ready to eat the world.  Everything you said about the PMD is true. I'll say this, know lots of people with money that you know will give it to you---know for sure!  If not you will join the 99%.  You have a great opportunity, just be humble and don't drink the kool aid. 

karlaa's picture
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Joined: 2012-05-04

yea that s true what you just said about PMD

theranman's picture
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Joined: 2012-05-08

I'm scheduled to start my training in a few weeks...Did any of you have to sign the "agreement to repay costs of training" form?  I'm finding it a bit challenging.  If my employment ends between the 9th and 12th month they want me to pay them back $25K...

ocalaboy's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-10

yes, I also had to sign the agreement to repay costs.  It was required for employment.  From what I was told, this would only apply if you went through the program and left to go to the competition.  

theranman's picture
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Joined: 2012-05-08

My concern is that if statistically 80 -90% of the PMD applicants "FAIL".  That means they don't meet expectations in some way or another.  Regardless if I happen to be one of the few that make it with my production and meet all hurdles....I live in an 'at will' employment state which means they can end my employment with "no cause" and if that was to happen within 36 months after receiving my production #, I am required to pay them back. $15K if between 24-36 months. OK so I put up the production numbers and bring in $10,000,000 in total assets 1st yr. with a typical 1% fee to the client that puts $100K in ML pockets.  They pay me $50K and then decide that for some reason they don't want me to work for them anymore.  I now have to pay them $25K back.  After 6 months due to the non-compete, I would project, I can get 50% of them to come with me, that still makes $5mm with ML at 1%, thus another $50K in their pockets in year 2.  So in 2 yrs. ML makes $125K off 12 months of 10 hour days of my hard work.  Their training cannot be that good, that it is worth even half of the projected $125K revenue.Best of luck 'ocalaboy', I think I'm going independent.

Ulairi's picture
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Joined: 2011-11-17

They don't go after you and if you get 10MM in assets you'll get another firm to pay it so you can start moving over your book.

ocalaboy's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-10

theranman wrote:My concern is that if statistically 80 -90% of the PMD applicants "FAIL".  That means they don't meet expectations in some way or another.  Regardless if I happen to be one of the few that make it with my production and meet all hurdles....I live in an 'at will' employment state which means they can end my employment with "no cause" and if that was to happen within 36 months after receiving my production #, I am required to pay them back. $15K if between 24-36 months. OK so I put up the production numbers and bring in $10,000,000 in total assets 1st yr. with a typical 1% fee to the client that puts $100K in ML pockets.  They pay me $50K and then decide that for some reason they don't want me to work for them anymore.  I now have to pay them $25K back.  After 6 months due to the non-compete, I would project, I can get 50% of them to come with me, that still makes $5mm with ML at 1%, thus another $50K in their pockets in year 2.  So in 2 yrs. ML makes $125K off 12 months of 10 hour days of my hard work.  Their training cannot be that good, that it is worth even half of the projected $125K revenue.Best of luck 'ocalaboy', I think I'm going independent.I understand, however, I don't think that most indy's will give you a salary of $50k a yr to get your licenses as well as commissions on top of that.  I also tend to believe that the name of ML alone will help you bring in more assets than some indy's, especially as a new, unproven FA.  Brand recognition, starting salary, free training and a proven business model were some of the deciding factor's for me.  I am also very familiar with ML, as my father has been an FA for the past 25yrs with ML- I am sure that also helped in the decision for me! Either way, it sounds as if you have though this through, and you certainly must know what is best for your specific situation.  Best of luck to you as well!

Mr. Sweaters's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-14

Also, I think if you were to somehow manage bringing in $10M in the first year ML would be interested in keeping you as an asset.  It's true they want to weed out the weak and gain their client base, but I find it hard to believe they are out to get their PMD employees.  To each their own, I am joining ML for the same reason as the post above.  Even if you want to go independent, a wirehouse can be a great way to make some money and get your feet wet before making that jump.  My employment is still about 2 months away.  Sitting down with my Branch Director for lunch in a few weeks to hammer down what his PMD's have done to be successful.  

Mr. Sweaters's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-14

Just an update to the original post. I am 2 months out from starting the PMD program. Met with my branch manager for lunch recently, although he didn't give me much insight into what I need to do in order to be successful. He seemed to shy away from cold calling and really pushed using my current list of contacts. The most important thing for me to do now, in his opinion, is to get my list of contacts into ACT so that they can be transferred into Merrill's contact management system. While I'm a little disappointed that he didn't give me more to build on, I somewhat expected this outcome. I have done enough research to know what I need to do once I get started, but I guess I wanted a little reassurance. Note to those who consider this program, you may not get the support that is advertised. Regardless of what you hear from the people in the office, you need to be prepared to fight for your job by yourself. I assume that every office is different, and some may have more of a support system than others. I am not sure what environment I'm walking into yet, but I am prepared for anything.

At ML, there has been a big internal push towards teaming. Combining the strengths of multiple advisors can be a great benefit to clients. If you look through the top wealth managers in your city, you will notice that almost all of them are teams at ML, GS, WF, and large RIA's. How does that relate to the PMD program? I'm not sure yet. I assume that they want you to come in and prove yourself for a year or two before they are willing to team you with others. Do not alienate yourself from the office. It is important for you to be focused and hit your numbers, but the people that surround you can literally make or break you. If anything, practice your communication around them and become well liked in the office. It can only bode well for you. I read a great book that you can apply to this profession as well as every area of your life. "How to Win Friends and Influence People" goes over the basics of great communication. It may seem like common sense, but 99% of people do not practice what is preached in this book and the material relates directly to how you should be treating prospects, clients, and coworkers.

I have been doing some preparation before my start date that has been beneficial. My goal is to build a good list of prospects, and also shake as many hands as possible before hand. If you are considering taking on this profession, it may be a beneficial to give yourself a 6 month head start to make some networking leeway. In the past 2 months, I have joined my Alumni Association and participated in events, and have also joined my local Rotary Club (service club). I am trying to plant as many seeds as I possibly can, while still entertaining my personal interests. I have also subscribed to my local business journal. This is an invaluable tool for finding leads. In my first journal, I was able to circle at least 40 leads just by reading articles that were pertinent to local businesses.

That is all for now. Still cranking through grad school (which is killing me) and getting more excited and nervous about starting at ML. Fear is what drives me, hopefully it's what makes me.

-Sweaters

Ulairi's picture
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Joined: 2011-11-17

Do you have your series 7 and 66? If so, the first 4 months will just be getting those and you won't hit production until after that time. Also, do not rely on your personal contacts too much because they can be the hardest sells.

Cold calling works!

Mr. Sweaters's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-14

I will be spending my first 4 months studying. So I really won't be let loose until January. Trying to do as much networking as I can between now and then. How's everything going for you?

wm1234's picture
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Joined: 2012-07-23

Hi all. How long does the base salary last?

Mr. Sweaters's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-14

Salary (based on what level you enter on...mine is around $50k) last for 3 years. However, I do not believe it stays level for those 3 years. I remember reading in my paperwork that it may decrease slightly as you pick up business.

I am about 20 days from Day 1 of the PMD program. Grad school can't be over soon enough!

ZwingDing's picture
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Joined: 2010-09-15

wm1234 wrote:
Hi all. How long does the base salary last?

It's not a salary. It's a non-recoverable draw against commissions. You will understand the difference between the two at some point because it will begin to matter. Forewarned is forearmed. The sooner you understand the difference the better off you'll be.

The non-recoverable draw begins to decline on LOS 13 (months). It declines at a steady rate every three months.

Many, maybe most, PMD's that make it through the program, and that is a minority, see a significant reduction in income when they exit the program. The change is often big enough to be a financial hardship.

As that process takes hold the newly graduated PMD's begin to wonder if they need to leave ML for another firm.

Take my word on this: the newbie program at ML is specifically designed to give the results that it gets and has been getting for generations, no matter what you will be told. ML is full of math quants. If they wanted a different result they would design a system to yield it.

Mr. Net New's picture
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Joined: 2010-04-30

+1 on what Zwing said. They know exactly what they are doing with the PMD program.

notnotmay's picture
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Joined: 2012-06-17

Years 2 and 3 it will drop. But you won't be around for even 9 months unless you can sell ice cubes to eskimos.

notnotmay's picture
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Joined: 2012-06-17

Wait, compliance actually approve something from a PMD?
:: long laugh, crying, more laughing:::

:D

Mr. Sweaters's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-14

A quick update during my study break.

I am on my 3rd day of the program and have started studying for my 7 (which is 7 weeks away). Fire Solutions is okay, but I'm definitly going to have to supplement this material. Another PMD in my office just failed his 7 yesterday and they are giving him 30 days to retake it. From what I understand, you get 2 shots at it and then you are done.

I came into this office expecting the worst, and ended up being pleasantly surprised. This branch is full of FA's that want to help in anyway they can, and PMD's that stick together and offer ideas. My mentor has stopped by my office numerous times already to check on me and answer any questions that I have. This office currently has 13 PMD's and the overall retention rate has been about 50%. The 50% that havent made it are a combination of those people that didn't pass the exams, didn't hit numbers (they work with everyone around here to give them a little more time if needed), didn't like the pay once they graduated, or left for another firm. Hurdles will be insanely difficult if not close to impossible, but at least the enviornment is positive around the office.

Ready to work hard and try to make this happen. I've been the first in the office the last 3 days (6:45-7AM) and the last to leave (6:30-7pm) and I plan to stay on that schedule indefinitely. Aside from the extra hours of prospecting and personal gain, I want to show everyone here that I'm the hardest worker in the building. Good things happen to those that put the extra effort in.

I know there is a lot of negativity concerning the PMD program, and it's probably justified in those instances. I think it helps to paint a picture from the other side as well to instill some sort of hope. If you aren't extremely positive and don't have hope in this business then you are destined to fail at a wirehouse.

I started coaching youth sports at the Y, am in the process of signing up for Rotary in my area, and have networking events scheduled already in my 6 months leading up to production. Trying to make headway on the personal network before the hurdles start.

Gordon Ramsey's picture
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That certainly is nice to hear. I'm finally going to have my 1st interview next week and I'm personally expecting the worst. If I have a plan based on expecting the worst, then I can be pleasantly surprised if it's anything better than what I expect.

Good plan on jumpstarting the networking before your production hurdles begin.

ZwingDing's picture
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Mr. Sweaters wrote:
A quick update during my study break.

I am on my 3rd day of the program and have started studying for my 7 (which is 7 weeks away). Fire Solutions is okay, but I'm definitly going to have to supplement this material. Another PMD in my office just failed his 7 yesterday and they are giving him 30 days to retake it. From what I understand, you get 2 shots at it and then you are done.

I came into this office expecting the worst, and ended up being pleasantly surprised. This branch is full of FA's that want to help in anyway they can, and PMD's that stick together and offer ideas. My mentor has stopped by my office numerous times already to check on me and answer any questions that I have. This office currently has 13 PMD's and the overall retention rate has been about 50%. The 50% that havent made it are a combination of those people that didn't pass the exams, didn't hit numbers (they work with everyone around here to give them a little more time if needed), didn't like the pay once they graduated, or left for another firm. Hurdles will be insanely difficult if not close to impossible, but at least the enviornment is positive around the office.

Ready to work hard and try to make this happen. I've been the first in the office the last 3 days (6:45-7AM) and the last to leave (6:30-7pm) and I plan to stay on that schedule indefinitely. Aside from the extra hours of prospecting and personal gain, I want to show everyone here that I'm the hardest worker in the building. Good things happen to those that put the extra effort in.

I know there is a lot of negativity concerning the PMD program, and it's probably justified in those instances. I think it helps to paint a picture from the other side as well to instill some sort of hope. If you aren't extremely positive and don't have hope in this business then you are destined to fail at a wirehouse.

I started coaching youth sports at the Y, am in the process of signing up for Rotary in my area, and have networking events scheduled already in my 6 months leading up to production. Trying to make headway on the personal network before the hurdles start.

It's great to hear that the PMD program is a positive experience... three days into the program.

I do think PMD experience is variable based on the complex and office and I have spoken to some PMD's in large regional meetings that are having an experience like yours. But, in fairness, they are a small minority.

When I started out I and others got the same "...let me know if there is anything I can do to help..." When it was time to go ask for help it generally was not forthcoming or it was wrapped up in an offer to help that was heavily one sided in favor of the producing FA.

ZwingDing's picture
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Mr. Sweaters wrote:
A quick update during my study break.

I am on my 3rd day of the program and have started studying for my 7 (which is 7 weeks away). Fire Solutions is okay, but I'm definitly going to have to supplement this material. Another PMD in my office just failed his 7 yesterday and they are giving him 30 days to retake it. From what I understand, you get 2 shots at it and then you are done.

I came into this office expecting the worst, and ended up being pleasantly surprised. This branch is full of FA's that want to help in anyway they can, and PMD's that stick together and offer ideas. My mentor has stopped by my office numerous times already to check on me and answer any questions that I have. This office currently has 13 PMD's and the overall retention rate has been about 50%. The 50% that havent made it are a combination of those people that didn't pass the exams, didn't hit numbers (they work with everyone around here to give them a little more time if needed), didn't like the pay once they graduated, or left for another firm. Hurdles will be insanely difficult if not close to impossible, but at least the enviornment is positive around the office.

Ready to work hard and try to make this happen. I've been the first in the office the last 3 days (6:45-7AM) and the last to leave (6:30-7pm) and I plan to stay on that schedule indefinitely. Aside from the extra hours of prospecting and personal gain, I want to show everyone here that I'm the hardest worker in the building. Good things happen to those that put the extra effort in.

I know there is a lot of negativity concerning the PMD program, and it's probably justified in those instances. I think it helps to paint a picture from the other side as well to instill some sort of hope. If you aren't extremely positive and don't have hope in this business then you are destined to fail at a wirehouse.

I started coaching youth sports at the Y, am in the process of signing up for Rotary in my area, and have networking events scheduled already in my 6 months leading up to production. Trying to make headway on the personal network before the hurdles start.

I realized after I posted on this this morning that it is routine for all the PMD's to greet new hires like this:

You made the right choice. This is an awesome company and the right place to start your career. This is an awesome branch and we will help you.

Ditto for everyone else in the branch.

In truth anyone who has been a PMD for a year or so is hoping this person washes out in the hopes that they can inherit some of the assets. I know for a fact that some of the FA's who are not PMD's who have smaller books are thinking the same thing.

I hope it is different in your branch. Maybe my branch is an exception.

Mr. Sweaters's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-14

Been a few months, figured I would chime in with an update. First off I am in a great office. It is not cutthroat, and everyone is pleasant. After having a few meetings in the other offices around town, I realize that I am lucky. The other offices present a very cold atmosphere that is much like what I've heard on the boards. We have management that cares thankfully. They take us out for drinks every now and then, share their experiences, and give us timely advice. They are not going to put money in our pockets, but at least they are helpful.

I am done with my 7, working on the 66, and building my lists currently. Been getting into the office around 6:00-6:30am and leaving close to 7pm unless I have a networking event. I am the first one in, and the last one out most days, even though I am just studying. It does not go unnoticed, I promise you that. I have seen two PMD's let go in my 2 months here, which doesn't surprise me, it actually motivates me on a daily basis.

Almost time to put my head down and get to the real work. How is everyone else holding on? ZwingDing, Ulairi?

Ulairi's picture
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Joined: 2011-11-17

Mr. Sweaters wrote:
Been a few months, figured I would chime in with an update. First off I am in a great office. It is not cutthroat, and everyone is pleasant. After having a few meetings in the other offices around town, I realize that I am lucky. The other offices present a very cold atmosphere that is much like what I've heard on the boards. We have management that cares thankfully. They take us out for drinks every now and then, share their experiences, and give us timely advice. They are not going to put money in our pockets, but at least they are helpful.

I am done with my 7, working on the 66, and building my lists currently. Been getting into the office around 6:00-6:30am and leaving close to 7pm unless I have a networking event. I am the first one in, and the last one out most days, even though I am just studying. It does not go unnoticed, I promise you that. I have seen two PMD's let go in my 2 months here, which doesn't surprise me, it actually motivates me on a daily basis.

Almost time to put my head down and get to the real work. How is everyone else holding on? ZwingDing, Ulairi?

By the end of next month, I'll be through my first year's tarets. Which means I have 5 full months next year to get a jump start on year 2. I'm going to be doing a seminar every month for the next year, calling on that, calling on muni bonds and trying to get assets into my equity portfolio. I am having the best month of my career this month.

Mr. Sweaters's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-14

That is great for you. Calling and leading with product, then transferring that business over to fee-based? Have you been pulling in vendors to help with seminars, or are you going at it alone with the ML marketing materials?

Keep up the good work

Ulairi's picture
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Mr. Sweaters wrote:
That is great for you. Calling and leading with product, then transferring that business over to fee-based? Have you been pulling in vendors to help with seminars, or are you going at it alone with the ML marketing materials?

Keep up the good work

I refuse to allow wholesalers to pay for anything (and that includes buying me lunch or giving me anything). I do partner with people in the commercial banking side, PBIG, and my complex has offered to pay for seminars as long as I can bring in money.

adamstracee's picture
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Joined: 2012-12-18

I have read the full transcripts of this post. I have learned a lot and gain great insights about the ML PMD traning program.
I am in the interviewing process and have yet to be offered a opportunity to join the ML team. I will take all of the comments posted here on this forum in mind.
Thank You!

Mr. Sweaters's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-14

So let me bring this back to the top, seeing as it's been over a year since I started with Merrill and I have received a number of messages over that time period.

Where I am:
-LOS 12 Mo.
-$7M in Assets, $4.5M fee based
-On track with hurdles, fee based business has carried me.
-Starting the BFA program soon.

What I've done:
I'm younger, so I did not have a natural market that would carry me in this business. It has been a combined effort of cold calling, cold walking, and networking. The first two suck, the last one is fun. CC/CW starts every relationship on a business first basis. It is not fun, but it has been the best use of my time and the most direct way to do business. I sucked at it for the first few months, had to pump myself up every morning (still do) and suck it up and make the first dial. I know my stats (60 dials/hr, 179 dials/25 contacts, 25 contacts = 5.2 information leads = .75 meetings). Networking has been successful only in the sense that I have met numerous CPA's and attorney whom I have given and received referrals from. Outside of that it has largely been a waste of time. My goal is to bring in $500K per month, preferably in fee based business.

Where I'm going:
I have officially joined a team for the purpose of the BFA program. If you are on track after LOS 9 mo, you have the opportunity to move your personal office to a BOA branch and build your pipeline through that clientele. You become a dual employee, your goals don't change, and you split all qualified business ($250k+) 50/50 with your team. Most guys I know that have been in the branch for the last few months have built pipelines in the $6M-14M range, and are starting to close the business with their teams.

What I've Learned:
Despite what anyone will tell you, my best guess is the retention rate is about 20%. Are the other 80% bad advisors, were they just not the right fit? No, they just didn't work hard...flat out. Almost every person that I know here that is working 60-70hrs and prospecting like hell is making it. Trust me, even if you are having some trouble, there is a team out there that's going to see what your doing and they are going to want some of that. I've seen 4-5 guys leave my office in 1.5 years and I can't tell you that they gave it their all. Just work hard. Unfortunately, people don't get that concept anymore. There are plenty of other routes you can go to get into this business. This may not even be the best route for me personally, but I have made it work thus far.

What has been beneficial to me:
-I am in a great office
-I have fit into the enviornment here and benefitted from it by joining a team
-I read...a lot. On the weekends and early in the morning. I'd say 30% of my reading is business based (local Business journal, internal reports, product fact sheets) and the other 70% is motivational/spiritual reading to keep my mind right and focused. I really stress to you, that if you want to make it through the downs and the tough moments, you need to be mentally healthy and really know what makes you tick.

My Schedule (will change in BFA):
M-F: Gym at 5am. I meditate or listen to a motivational podcast in the parking lot before I walk into the office at 7am. I organize/read, set my schedule for the day. Cold Call/Cold walk from 8-12. From 1pm-5pm I do follow up calls, send emails to those that responded positively that morning, write letters, do some practice management, and clear up any paperwork that I have outstanding. 2 days a week I order in dinner and me and another guy stay and make 120 residential calls.

Saturday: I work 2 Saturdays a month. 10am-2pm making phone calls in the morning and doing weekly planning in the afternoon.

Sunday: I do all my reading. During the week I print all relevant reports and staple them and file them in my briefcase. I'll hit a coffee shop with some headphones and knock all those out in addition to whatever book I'm reading at the moment.

This has worked for me mainly because while I'm in a relationship, I am not married and I have no kids. And let me tell you, if you are in a relationship you better make sure your significant other is willing to support you and invest in you or it AIN'T gonna work. They have to understand the hours involved in starting your business, and you need to be able to lean on them to help you role-play and to support you when things suck.

In the end, I am still here. I expect to get through this program at the end of the day. All of you thinking about joining can make it too, you just have to grow some balls and WORK.

gekko the great's picture
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Joined: 2013-11-08

Thanks for the update Sweaters. Your work ethic, organization and dedication are truly what have set you apart from the crowd. Looks like you are well on your way.

You mention you are at your hurdle thru LOS 12, does that mean you generated 30,000 pcs in that first year? Some things I've seen pmds fail to pay attention to are their year 2 projected PC run rate because by Los 18 the hurdles jump up dramatically. This is one do the gripes many pmds that say the "program is set up for failure" complain about. 12 months is enough time for you to bring in low hanging fruit but to make it 36 months you have to land some $1mm clients.

Also it can never be too soon to look at book affluence. 80% of your pcs should be coming from accounts over $250k. I've seen pmds try so hard to make it thru the program only to see their income drop by 50% in year 5 because they don't have many affluent households.

Keep at it and I know you'll do well. Keep us posted too

Mr. Sweaters's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-14

Gekko,

Through 12 months I have generated PC's in excess of 30k. I've calcuated my run rate and if I let my fee based run as-is and do nothing else, it would take me through LOS 25. Outside of my current flows, my goal is to add another 100k in revenue by December, which would come close to garunteeing graduation. I'd like to have 13K in rolling annuitized business a year from now, which means adding a significant amount more fee-based assets.

I've definitely got to clean up some smaller accounts, but I'll probably wait until closer to graduation to do that. I want to milk those relationships for referral business until then.

gekko the great's picture
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Joined: 2013-11-08

Having 12 months of "running room" next year while you build our your fee-based book is great. That will allow you to focus more on the big picture vs the "eat what you kill" scenario.

out of curiosity since you've been at ML for about a total of 2 yrs, has any other non-teamed PMD made it through the program in your complex? (PMDs that came over from other firms w/ existing book not included).

In my experience we only saw 1 PMD make it from start to finish on his own in a 4 year span. Everyone else failed out or quit.

Gm09dema's picture
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Joined: 2014-03-27

This is the most honest and informative thread about the business I have ever come across. Everyone should apply this to their own practices in some way.

Mr. Sweaters's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-14

gekko the great wrote:
Having 12 months of "running room" next year while you build our your fee-based book is great. That will allow you to focus more on the big picture vs the "eat what you kill" scenario.

out of curiosity since you've been at ML for about a total of 2 yrs, has any other non-teamed PMD made it through the program in your complex? (PMDs that came over from other firms w/ existing book not included).

In my experience we only saw 1 PMD make it from start to finish on his own in a 4 year span. Everyone else failed out or quit.

2 Guys have made it here from scratch within the past 5 years. One had an unbelievable network and already has $100M in assets after 4 years. The other made it from nothing. No idea how many didn't make it, but I'm sure its at least 10-15.

mryan's picture
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Joined: 2014-03-31

Gm09dema wrote:
This is the most honest and informative thread about the business I have ever come across. Everyone should apply this to their own practices in some way.

Thank you for the feedback, Gm09dema. If you have any ideas for future threads, or ideas for how to make this thread even better, let us know!

-Mike, WealthManagement.com

Neetdude's picture
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Joined: 2013-12-16

Sweaters experience is unique. Don't make a mistake or they will can you and bloody your U5, and NO ONE will hire you. All your hard work for nothing. Mother Merrill is a bitch, and this program is meant to tap your network and steal your assets for senior advisors. Hope your new BFA team doesn't hang you out to dry when you try to come back to the branch....but they probably will. I have seen it happen to friends all over the country. They had to go to other firms. You actually think they formed an ACTUAL team for you? HA HA HA. One word to summarize my advice to Sweaters at this point...RUN!

gekko the great's picture
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Joined: 2013-11-08

Sweaters experience is unique in that he's made it thru LOS 12 on his own. The % that make it thru LOS 24 drops off significantly. Anyone that can't make it thru LOS 9 shouldn't be in the business period.

Of course they want access to your network. They are paying you a salary to learn the biz. But trainees need to reailze they aren't advisors. They are salespeople. Merrill won't let you be a real advisor until you are $1mm in production. Until then, you are a salesperson for them.

MikeD29's picture
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Joined: 2014-08-18

Did they drug test for this position? I don't do anything crazy just smoke once and a while and I wanted to see if they drug tested. Thanks!

Smoko's picture
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Joined: 2013-07-25

Great thread

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