Product Knowledge

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troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

Hey guys,
 
Just out of curiousity. What are some of the ways, besides the obvious..eg, Forbes, FA Mag, Newspaper that you developed a more in depth knowledge of products and services. Since I am fairly new to the biz, I'm just looking to hone in on my specific product knowledge....and be a bit more in depth in conversation.....

gvf's picture
gvf
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Joined: 2008-07-01

Ask every wholesaler you meet/talk to, to send you a kit with their best strategies (Mutual funds, Money Managers, Fixed annuities, Living Benefits, Death Benefits, etc...).  Trust me, they would love to send you stuff.  Then comes the hard part: reading.

feebasedrep's picture
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Joined: 2008-12-31

Anybody know if they are hiring new FAs?? I am in Mid Atlantic region and Branch manager at MSSB said they we not hiring into training program...is it just his office or is it firmwide??

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

gvf wrote:Ask every wholesaler you meet/talk to, to send you a kit with their best strategies (Mutual funds, Money Managers, Fixed annuities, Living Benefits, Death Benefits, etc...).  Trust me, they would love to send you stuff.  Then comes the hard part: reading.

 
Just what the industry needs...one more FA educated by the latest American Funds brochure. 

Spaceman Spiff's picture
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Joined: 2006-08-08

That's an awfully general question that requires a somewhat specific answer.  What are you most interested in?  MPT?  How to build a portfolio?  ETF's/Indexing? 

All of your wholesalers would love to educate you on their product.  Some of them can even educate you on a more broad spectrum of investing.  Ask them to talk with you about portfolio building, as well as business building, ideas.  If your Goldman guy is as well educated as mine, you'll get  a pretty quick primer in how to build a good portfolio.  Don't hesitate to pick their brains.  Mine went over every detail of a Morningstar report with me and explained what each thing meant and how I could use it to talk to my clients about what they own.  Or don't own.   
 
Brochures from fund companies are great at selling their product to you and therefore to your clients, but the education you're looking for won't come from those brochures.  Jonesnet has a ton of info on it, but it leans more towards the sales side rather than the technical.  So, if you're so inclined, ask one of the Seg 3 or 4 guys in your region if you can borrow their AAMS books.  It's pretty basic, but a great starting point.  It covers everything from retirement planning to insurance.  Even that basic info will help you use the FAST tools better.  One you've tackled those, see if there's anyone in your region who has taken and/or passed their CFP.  You don't have to take the test to garner the knowledge the books contain.  And I'd guess that a lot of those books just sit on the shelves gathering dust after those guys pass the exam. 
 
That should be enough to keep you busy for a while. 

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

I appreciate te helpful ideas...

theironhorse's picture
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Joined: 2007-03-03

joint work with a quality advisor will teach you more than any brochure, handout, book, etc.  the more contacts you make the more you will learn, simply by running into specific scenarios....fight to gain experience everyday.

anonymous's picture
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Joined: 2005-09-29

Great reponse, theironhorse!  
Wind, question everything.  Don't believe anything that you read.  Almost everything is wrong.  You won't realize that until you have more knowledge.
Don't learn things in advance.  What I mean is that your job is to get in front of people.  They don't expect you to have all of the answers.  You need to have the right questions.  Every day you will run into situations in which you don't know the answers.  That is when you'll learn about that specific subject.

Fud Box's picture
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Joined: 2009-01-08

anonymous wrote:
Great reponse, theironhorse!  
Wind, question everything.  Don't believe anything that you read.  Almost everything is wrong.  You won't realize that until you have more knowledge.
Don't learn things in advance.  What I mean is that your job is to get in front of people.  They don't expect you to have all of the answers.  You need to have the right questions.  Every day you will run into situations in which you don't know the answers.  That is when you'll learn about that specific subject.
I'm having trouble coping with the concept of "just-in-time training". I'm kind of a boy scout...I always like to be prepared. Are you saying that a new advisor shouldn't have as much product knowledge as possible from the start? That they should, instead, pick it up as they go?
 
 

Philo Kvetch's picture
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Joined: 2005-05-17

wind3574 wrote:Hey guys,
 
Just out of curiousity. What are some of the ways, besides the obvious..eg, Forbes, FA Mag, Newspaper that you developed a more in depth knowledge of products and services. Since I am fairly new to the biz, I'm just looking to hone in on my specific product knowledge....and be a bit more in depth in conversation.....
 
Do the course work for the CFA designation.  I promise you that if you do the work, you'll know far more about how things work than most of your peers.

B24's picture
B24
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Joined: 2008-07-08

Read the annual and semi-annual reports and other "insights" (not just client sales literature) for some of the best money managers out there. And regardless of whether or not you stick with our Preferred Funds, please educate yourself on other fund companies and their strategies. There is a lot to learn out there, and there are lots of talented managers out there. I would suggest looking at the strategies at First Eagle, IVY Asset Strategy, Blackrock, PIMCO/Allianz, American Funds, the Mutual Series managers at Franklin, Goldman Sachs(though I don't like/use their funds, I like to read their asset allocation reports), Berkshire Hathaway (OK, not really a fund, but some real good market insight), and then there are a lot of private equity and private money managers out there that are really good. I am partial to the insight and strategies of "total return" or "absolute return" managers, as they tend to focus both on upside and downside protection ("capture"). I think it takes more skill to protect on the downside versus smokin' during a bull market (i.e. Ja*** in the 90's, etc.).

One word of caution (and little known fact among Jones newbies): the preferred fund (and insurance/annuity) wholesalers have "Jones only" literature that they show you. They also only present "Jones approved" ideas. So bascially most everything you get from the preferred fund companies was either suggested, mandated, or vetted by Edward Jones. NOT that this is necessarily bad, since we get a consistent message. But I find that I rarely get a unique idea from one of our wholesalers.

I have found that my knowledge has come as follows:
15% from Edward Jones (formal training, mentors, etc.)
10% from ideas suggested on this website (thast I followed up on)
75% from various websites, fund companies, private managers, books, etc.

noggin's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-30

I read everything that Jim Cramer puts out. That's really all you need....

B24's picture
B24
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Joined: 2008-07-08

OK, just saw my post. Apparently the fund company that was well-regarded in the 90's for their roaring tech funds cannot be used on this site, as it sounds like one's rear-end (Jan*s). So they edited it out.

ytrewq's picture
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Joined: 2008-08-02

iceco1d wrote:gvf wrote:Ask every wholesaler you meet/talk to, to send you a kit with their best strategies (Mutual funds, Money Managers, Fixed annuities, Living Benefits, Death Benefits, etc...).  Trust me, they would love to send you stuff.  Then comes the hard part: reading.

 
Just what the industry needs...one more FA educated by the latest American Funds brochure. 

Ow!  This market getting to you Ice?  Getting to me too.  A few of my posts have ben a bit angry after a bad day.  This too will pass.
 

Philo Kvetch's picture
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Joined: 2005-05-17

noggin wrote: I read everything that Jim Cramer puts out. That's really all you need....

Hey Noggin!

How've you been keepin'? Everything all right?

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

Thanks guys. I really appreciate it all. I doing plenty of the door knocking and stuff....As my numbers show...I'm just not one to only learn as I go. Clients want someone with answers....not questions.... so i would like to smooth out the edges.....

anonymous's picture
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Joined: 2005-09-29

wind3574 wrote:Thanks guys. I really appreciate it all. I doing plenty of the door knocking and stuff....As my numbers show...I'm just not one to only learn as I go. Clients want someone with answers....not questions.... so i would like to smooth out the edges.....
 
Clients want someone who can get the answers.  You'll only be able to get the answers if you learn to ask the right questions.  You will never know the answers.  The more that you learn, the more that you'll realize that you don't know.

OS's picture
OS
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Joined: 2008-11-03

You're firm should put out tons of reports on just about anything you can thing of that's investment related. Find out how to access that info and you'll have more than you can handle. Also the WSJ is a good source of info and news.

buyandhold's picture
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Joined: 2008-09-23

Don't get too caught up in learning about money managers. Start with insurance, including annuities. Also business retirement accounts. Those were the toughest for me to get confident with. .... Taxes are a huge issue for many clients, so become conversant in the basics. ... I've found that CPAs and estate attorneys can help you sound authoritative. ... The prospect doesn't care what you know about style boxes and MPT; but they will be impressed if you can speak about defined benefit accounts and SEPs; and why they should see an estate attorney.

noggin's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-30

Philo Kvetch wrote: noggin wrote: I read everything that Jim Cramer puts out. That's really all you need....

Hey Noggin!

How've you been keepin'? Everything all right?I'm doing okay these days, definitely better than I would have been at the EDJ. Dropped about 230K in Fixed annuity premium today.

MinimumVariance's picture
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Joined: 2008-08-20

serious reply: you should get and read Investments, by Bodie,Kane, et al. This is probably the most rigorous and well written advanced academic text book on a whole range of topics, one of which are the different investment products (bankers acceptances anyone?). This book is required reading for the CFA III and the CAIA I exams. It also has a web site where there are Excel models of just about every theoretical problem in finance reduced to real world operational examples. You will find yourself referring  it over and over again.

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