Northwestern Mutual, Waddell and Reed & EJ

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Searay79's picture
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Joined: 2009-04-20

So which is the best to start out at?
 
This is my first post but I have been lurking here for close to a month. If you have an ax to grind please feel free to post but I ask that you back it up with an actual experience at one of the above.
 
None of the big firms ie. UBS, Morgan Stanley, Chase... are hiring and I am a career changer.

henryhill's picture
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Joined: 2007-08-23

Icecold nailed it.  Do you want to be an insurance man who dabbles in investments (NML) or an investment man who dabbles in insurance (EDJ).  Both are good companies and can lead to high compensation and satisfaction.

SometimesNowhere's picture
Joined: 2008-12-22

Searay79 wrote:So which is the best to start out at?
 
This is my first post but I have been lurking here for close to a month. If you have an ax to grind please feel free to post but I ask that you back it up with an actual experience at one of the above.
 
None of the big firms ie. UBS, Morgan Stanley, Chase... are hiring and I am a career changer.
 
Do people around here have an ax to grind? I hadn't noticed...

Searay79's picture
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Joined: 2009-04-20

Why is Waddell and Reed considered a second class citizen?
 
 
SometimesNowhere... No, not on this forum...  After reading the posts most FA's have Very strong feelings toward the company they work for or worked for. This is a good thing. If you don't take pride in your company or what you do then why do it.

mattsrh's picture
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Joined: 2009-02-21

While both are good companies and will offer great training, I think that EDJ is a better place to start based on the way they compensate their newbies.  I think the culture is a bit more professional and their broker force is more in line with the public image of the company.  Also less conflict of interest in terms of product offering.  NML will recruit anyone with a pulse and train them very heavily on the use of permanent insurance for an accumulation vehicle, which is really only valid for a certain clientele, so you may find yourself being coerced into recommending permanent insurance to all possible prospects, when other investments are clearly more suitable.  Obviously this is due to the commission structure and their rather hardcore agency sales culture.  At EDJ you have the option to represent insurance companies in the same ballpark as NML and sell their products when appropriate, vs being in an almost oppressive all commission environment and having to push the insurance product due to pressure from the agency, higher commissions, etc.I really dont have an axe to grind, but spent 3 years at NML beginning in the internship program and then 2 years full time, and while the sales training and experience were invaluable, if I had to do it again I would have gone with a firm like EDJ.   Also, re: my comment above relating  to the retail force being in line with the firm's public image, what I meant was that NML is a premier company in the industry, but they have almost zero selection process in their agency recruiting, so you will be sitting in an agency and wondering how some of the people there were hired...something to think about in an all commission job..

cooper's picture
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Joined: 2009-04-15

Searay,
You were correct in including Waddell in your first post.  Although new to the full service broker dealer platform, they have been around since the 30's, and have good experienced people working to build a "supported independence" model that will reward you for building your business. 
 
I have 23 years of experience at various wirehouses, including Merrill and UBS. At the time, we considered anyone not working at a major wirehouse a second or third tier player, including EDJ, NML, RJ, WR...(and probably not worthy of our time).  Times have changed.
 
Payouts have gone down, as has trust in our firm's ability to help us build our business. Training, branch support, home office support, honesty, character, rewards, self-direction and fulfillment have all been sacrificed at the wire house level.
 
Waddell has a couple of models worth reviewing, both for career changers and experienced reps.  It would be a mistake to disregard them as a possibility for future employment.

Searay79's picture
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Joined: 2009-04-20

Thank you for all the info.
 
I hope to be hired by EJ but my wife is looking at a couple of the other houses. I have also talked to them but I prefer EJ's business model.

Moraen's picture
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Joined: 2009-01-22

EDJ

Still@jones's picture
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Joined: 2009-03-22

I interviewed with all 3 that you are considering and I believe EJ offers the best opportunity when it comes to the assistance you get while you are getting started and the potential to run your business the way you like. It's alot of work in the beginning and some people (like me) might have trouble with the model; but, when you look at the big picture, you can see why they run things the way they do and you'll see that EJ is the best opportunity. 

anonymous's picture
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Joined: 2005-09-29

I've got no problem with EJ and it's a good place for lots of people, but to simply say that it's the best opportunity,  isn't so.  It might be true compared to a bad agency of a good insurance company.  It also might be true for many people.   However, for many people, this simply isn't the case.
 
If you compare an EJ guy with a NorthwesternMutual guy and both do what they are supposed to do on a daily basis, the NML guy will make more money and make a bigger difference in the lives of his clients.  
 
The important key is "do what they are supposed to do on a daily basis".  That's where the rubber hits the road.  The odds of doing this are much greater at EJ. 

Searay79's picture
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Joined: 2009-04-20

Is Waddell & Reed a good place to start?
 
From what I can tell: You get to basically build your book from scratch and use most of the same funds used at the big wirehouses including fee based funds. You also would be able to keep your book if you decide to go indy or anywhere else.
 
Am I mistaken on the above?
 
P.S. IMO training/knowledge depends on what you are willing to take the time and learn.

anonymous's picture
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Joined: 2005-09-29

Searay79, if all of the information that read is negative, don't you think that there must be a reason?

Searay79's picture
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Joined: 2009-04-20

anonymous wrote:Searay79, if all of the information that read is negative, don't you think that there must be a reason?

Negative... If I believed/followed every post that was negative on this site then I wouldn't even attempt to enter this field. I was hoping for something specific, recent activity, proving W&R is not a good firm to start out at. So far the only thing specific offered is Stephen Sawtell. Everything else posted is opinion and opinions are like a$$holes, everyone's got one.

Again I thank everyone that has posted, whether it be positive or negative.

anonymous's picture
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Joined: 2005-09-29

Searay, you are missing the point.  It's not about believing/following the negative stuff.   It's about the fact if the stuff that you hear is overwhelmingly negative, there is probably a pretty good reason for it.
 
I know very few specifics concerning W&R.  This is what I know since you don't want opinions.
 
1) Stephen Sawtelle
2) I've never had competition come from a W&R rep.
3) When I've called on somebody who had a W&R rep, they were never a client that I would care about having.
 
Just do your homework.

Searay79's picture
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Joined: 2009-04-20

Thanks anonymous for the info, its appreciated.

norcalstoppy's picture
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Joined: 2008-12-11

I was at EDJ and left for a couple of reasons. You can see my other post for that.
To put in my two cents, I think EDJ has the best support system for new new's, period. When I say new new, I mean new to sales, new to industry. If you follow EDJ's recipe, even a total idiot can make a decent living. They pay for training, pay you living allowance/base salary, offer good training in both sales and products, AND best of all, lowest of sales goals of all brokerage firms out there. You gotta generate $2250 net commission in 17 weeks following your can-sell date. They don't count the time you spent prospecting in that period.  Most other firms will require double the amount in the same period and it starts from day 0.
 
Now that being said, if you come from a sales background, but are new to the industry, you might have better options. If you ask any of the experienced FAs, what company they would choose to start their career with, if they were to start over again, a lot of them will say a mutual insurance company, like NYL or NWM. I scratched my head when I heard this, but as I went through the interview process with some of them, I began to understand why.
 
Every sale means a lot more money in your pocket and you start building your residual income right away. For example, take a look at NYL(working out of big regional offices, not an agency), they pay you 55% of the first year premium as your commission. On top of that, they will match up to 80% of your commission as a bonus, up to $2390. 
 
To compare, in order to make $60k your first year:
1. NYL - Sell 4 x $100/mo premium WL policy = $2640 commission + $2376 bonus = $5016/mo + monthly expense account bonus
2. EDJ - Base $2000/mo + sell $131k of Mutual Fund A shares at 5.75% = $5016/mo + new account bonus
 
Now, gathering $131k worth of assets for someone that's been in the business for a few years, should be a piece of cake. For someone that's new to the industry, not so much. And above model is assuming that you gathered all $131k by selling mutual fund A shares at 5.75%, at 40% payout. In real world, you'll be selling mostly muni bonds and some mutual fund shares. Muni's pay on the average 1%-2%. Also your payout is more like 35%, not 40%. 
 
New Model:
EDJ(selling just Munis at 2%, with 35% payout) - $2000 base + sell $430k of muni's@2% gross with 35% payout = $5016 + new account bonus
 
Now there's new account bonus with EDJ, that will be very considerable if you can sell $430k worth of muni's to multiple new households, but that's unlikely. For someone new to gather this much assets, would be awesome, but unlikely.
 
Also what I found out is that, if you start producing big bucks, these mutual insurance companies will allow you to set up your own shop. Just like you would have it at Jones.
 
If you want to equally concentrate on investments as well as insurance products, I think it's best to go with an agency of an insurance company, that also has their own B/D set up. This way you can have the benefits of being a career agent(new agent bonus and financing) and the flexibility of a Indy B/D.
 
 

jamesbond's picture
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Joined: 2005-03-21

I see you said your wife is looking at "other houses". Is she making the decision or you? Also, i hope you have some money saved up for the lean months where you make very little.

army13A's picture
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Joined: 2009-03-22

Searay79 wrote:anonymous wrote:Searay79, if all of the information that read is negative, don't you think that there must be a reason?

Negative... If I believed/followed every post that was negative on this site then I wouldn't even attempt to enter this field. I was hoping for something specific, recent activity, proving W&R is not a good firm to start out at. So far the only thing specific offered is Stephen Sawtell. Everything else posted is opinion and opinions are like a$$holes, everyone's got one.

Again I thank everyone that has posted, whether it be positive or negative.

 
Seeray, here is my background and then I'll give you my opinion.  I was an Army Officer and after four years, I got tired of deploying and never being home and I decided to leave; I left as a Captain.  So, I have different experiences and background. 
 
I was 25 years old and I joined a pseudo "financial planning" company but 95% of the revenue was from life insurance sales.  I only had my Series 6 at first.  I did really well selling limited products but after 2 years, I decided I want to have more products available to sell and not be limited and the clients were not mine, as they had a huge non-compete agreement.  I joined a big bank's training program and got my Series 7, as going to a bank was a step up from where I was at before.  After about a month, I wasn't really happy b/c where I was at, it was really focused completely on the opposite spectrum, as guys didn't know anything about insurance and wanted nothing to do with it.  I was looking to leave to an indy shop or a mutual insurance firm like NYL, NWM or Mass Mutual but I still had this contract that said if I left b4 30 months, I'd have to pay back some crazy amount of money.  Eventually, they laid off all rookie advisors anyway and I jumped to a local indy OSJ and I love it now. 
 
So b4 I joined the indy firm, I interviewed at the above 3 mutual insurance companies and Waddell & Reed.  Here is my opinion on all 4:
 
NYL is a great company with a great reputation.  Their payouts are extremely high on the insurance side (I think 85% of first years premium) and their trails, I think, are the highest amongst the mutual insurance companies.  Nice looking offices, you have minimal expenses  a month ($300) which covers E&O, computer, phones, etc.  At the office I interviewed with, I didn't see a lot of support as in helping you get started.  At that office, it was pretty much, we'll give you these high payouts but you're on your own.  Now, they said they would go out on cases with you and not have to split anything with anybody but I had the feeling I was pretty much on my own.  Now, every office is going to be different and you have to judge it for your own. 
 
NWM is a great company as well with a great reputation.  Their first year commissions aren't as high as NYL but again, great products.  In the office, I interviewed with, I was really alone there as there was hardly anyone else in the office.  Plus, after a year or so in that office, they were going to start charging me for office space (didn't ask how much).  From what I heard, NWM really nickel and dime their reps but I can't verify that.  I didn't go with them b/c I really didn't see a lot of support there. 
 
Mass Mutual, again, great company.  Payouts similar to NWM but at the local office where I was at, AWESOME SUPPORT and assistance.  They actually have a financing program for new reps to the insurance industry where you can get enhanced commissions, salary or a hybrid of both.  I couldn't partake in that b/c of my insurance commissions for the 3 years prior.  Plus, they were willing to give me a lot of the "house" accounts that weren't being serviced, insurance and investments.  The office I was interviewing with, they didn't have a lot of Series 7 guys (maybe 3 or 4 out of 30), so they said they would have given me a majority of the investment house accounts and try to generate whatever business I could from them.  On top of that, they said they would have teamed me up with some of the senior reps that were working on some cases and try to help out in any way I can to help in closing the case and they would write me in on the case so I could get some quick commissions.  I really liked the local Mass office that I interviewed with and went back for a couple of more interviews.  If I didn't get the position from the indy office, I would have went to Mass.  The General Agent of that local office looked so loaded with money, it was not even funny.  Her office was ridiculous and she just oozed of money.  She had on these huge pearl earrings and necklaces and you could just tell she had so much money, it was crazy.  She was doing well for herself. 
 
I had a Waddell & Reed interview as well as I figured, what the hell, let me just listen to what they have to say.  I went in with a lot of caution b/c of their reputation on these forums.  This is what I found out about the local office that I spoke with.  The office was pretty nice when I walked in.  They don't just do mutual funds anymore, as guys said here before.  They have a full brokerage platform but I'm pretty sure that a majority of their business is mutual funds.  Their payouts are high (a little higher than NWM & Mass), they give a salary for the first year without reducing your payouts (can range from 24K to 45K, depending upon experience) and the local sales manager said he would have given me a book of about 7 million, where I would have already been earning 12b-1's and residual.  I'm pretty sure that if they would have given you clients, you can't take them if you would leave.  What I didn't like about them was their proprietary mutual funds (Ivy and Waddell & Reed funds) and even though the manager said you can sell anything, I'm pretty sure once you're there, if you're selling other stuff, they would give you beef.  I didn't see the support structure that I saw at Mass.  Other than that, I really didn't know what else everybody was talking about on these forums.  It didn't look bad at all and honestly, whatever happened with that Stephen Sawtelle was years ago.  Which firm hasn't been drug through the mud in the media and has a spotless record? It wasn't for me b/c I really wanted to be at an indy firm (even though financial planning magazine considers W&R indy) or a mutual insurance company like Mass. 
 
The local indy OSJ was perfect for me; complete freedom to do what I want w/o the compliance headaches that I dealt with before, nice support structure, good payouts and not being an insurance guy or investment guy, just a financial planner.  If I was starting from scratch w/o any experience, I probably would have gone with Mass Mutual b/c the mutual ins companies have awesome training programs.  I hope that helps. 
 

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