Rank the Wirehouse

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tmorris93's picture
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I would like to get some input. Which wirehouse do you think would be the best place for a rookie to get started and have the best chance to make it in this business?

Boomer's picture
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From what I have gathered thus far:

1) Merrill Lynch (supposed best training)

2) Smith Barney (somewhat exclusive)

3) UBS, Morgan, AG Edwards

*But I am a youngster also

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Never forget Wachovia--large branch network, excellent managment.

Boomer's picture
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From what I have gathered thus far:

1) Merrill Lynch (supposed best training)

2) Smith Barney (somewhat exclusive)

3) UBS, Morgan, AG Edwards

*But I am a youngster also

Boomer's picture
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sorry for the double post!

tmorris93's picture
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NASD how would you rank them and why?

opie's picture
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ML is often ranked at the top of the heap, but there are a few things to consider for newbie FAs:


  1. Now that training is almost entirely CBT-based, it's hard for ML to rank ahead of the others in this category.  Also, no more trips to Princeton for first-year FAs.

  2. If ML has the most market share in your area, some have suggested that it may be to your advantage to work for a rival, to increase the pool of eligible non-client prospects.

  3. Other firms pay commission while in training; ML does not (unless the commission would eclipse the salary for a given pay period).  For the hard workers out there, this could amount to $15k-25k in the first 12 months of production.

Mentoring is something to explore at every branch for every firm - in my region, I think ML has an advantage here. 
 

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tmorris93 wrote:NASD how would you rank them and why?
I am of the opinion that the average guy cannot be that picky, you're lucky if you get an offer from one of them--much less face a crisis having to decide which offer to take.
I also believe that the differences between the top six firms are so slight as to be irrelevant at the retail branch level.
So look for other things.  Search back and find what Jeff the recruiter posted a week or two ago about pay packages--which are pretty similar--but if I recall Smith Barney offers a pretty attractive base salary PLUS commissions where the others generally offer an attractive base but no commission payout unless your monthly income would have exceeded your base salary.
If pushed I would say that the creme of the crop is Merrill, followed very closely by Smith Barney.
I have more respect for Morgan Stanley than for UBS, mainly because of people I know who Morgan Stanley hired compared to people I know who were hired by PaineWebber, which is now UBS.  Additonally I know that there is a certain percentage of people who don't like the idea that foreign banks own our businesses--no need to fight any negatives.
As for Wachovia.  As I've said I like Wachovia because I know several of their senior people and know that they're top notch.  The bank is still trying to meld the two cultures.  It's actually an almalgamation of a lot of firms ranging from Prescott Ball and Turben from Cleveland, to Wheat First from Richmond and another firm I can't think of from Philly--all of them were out there as Wheat First Securities and Prudential Bache was out there too.  Then one day First Union Bank bought Prudential Bache and renamed it First Unioin Securities.  Then First Union bought Wheat First--which disappeared into First Union, although most of their managers came over to run First Union Securities.  Finally Wachovia, which is a pretty large Charlotte based bank, bought First Union Bank and also acquired their broker/dealer.  There's been a lot of name changes and shuffling around, closing branches and so forth--but as I said they have really good management and will become a much more powerful force in the years ahead.
Finally AG Edwards which some folks consider a "mega-regional" because they don't meet the traditional definition of having at least one branch in every state.  That may not even be true now, but in any case they're a hell of a great firm.  They have a very loyal client base and great management.
If I were advising my son or daughter and you had offers from all six I'd tell you to take the Smith Barney offer first because you can make more money in your early years, followed by Merrill, Morgan Stanley, Wachovia, AG Edwards and finally UBS.
But as those who have been reading for awhile know, I say take the first offer that comes along and be glad you got it. If you do well there for a few years you can move over to another firm and get a great bonus for having done so.
Remember too that I think this decision should be put off until you're at least 30, and 35 would be even better.  Until then you can get some great experience at a place like Mass Mutual, or Northwestern Mutual, or The Guardian, or even MetLife.  There are others too--the newly formed Jefferson Pilot/Lincoln Financial family would be a good training ground if they're in your area.
In many of your areas there is an ING agency.  They are often run by very inventive general agents who are attempting to dominate their geography.
My fans, such as Philo, will sneer something--this is not designed to be a complete list.  But as I said, if you were my kid I'd think you did good if you can land at any of those places.

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NASD Newbie wrote:
tmorris93 wrote:NASD how would you rank them and why?
I am of the opinion that the average guy cannot be that picky, you're lucky if you get an offer from one of them--much less face a crisis having to decide which offer to take.
I also believe that the differences between the top six firms are so slight as to be irrelevant at the retail branch level.
So look for other things.  Search back and find what Jeff the recruiter posted a week or two ago about pay packages--which are pretty similar--but if I recall Smith Barney offers a pretty attractive base salary PLUS commissions where the others generally offer an attractive base but no commission payout unless your monthly income would have exceeded your base salary.
If pushed I would say that the creme of the crop is Merrill, followed very closely by Smith Barney.
I have more respect for Morgan Stanley than for UBS, mainly because of people I know who Morgan Stanley hired compared to people I know who were hired by PaineWebber, which is now UBS.  Additonally I know that there is a certain percentage of people who don't like the idea that foreign banks own our businesses--no need to fight any negatives.
As for Wachovia.  As I've said I like Wachovia because I know several of their senior people and know that they're top notch.  The bank is still trying to meld the two cultures.  It's actually an almalgamation of a lot of firms ranging from Prescott Ball and Turben from Cleveland, to Wheat First from Richmond and another firm I can't think of from Philly--all of them were out there as Wheat First Securities and Prudential Bache was out there too.  Then one day First Union Bank bought Prudential Bache and renamed it First Unioin Securities.  Then First Union bought Wheat First--which disappeared into First Union, although most of their managers came over to run First Union Securities.  Finally Wachovia, which is a pretty large Charlotte based bank, bought First Union Bank and also acquired their broker/dealer.  There's been a lot of name changes and shuffling around, closing branches and so forth--but as I said they have really good management and will become a much more powerful force in the years ahead.
Finally AG Edwards which some folks consider a "mega-regional" because they don't meet the traditional definition of having at least one branch in every state.  That may not even be true now, but in any case they're a hell of a great firm.  They have a very loyal client base and great management.
If I were advising my son or daughter and you had offers from all six I'd tell you to take the Smith Barney offer first because you can make more money in your early years, followed by Merrill, Morgan Stanley, Wachovia, AG Edwards and finally UBS.
But as those who have been reading for awhile know, I say take the first offer that comes along and be glad you got it. If you do well there for a few years you can move over to another firm and get a great bonus for having done so.
Remember too that I think this decision should be put off until you're at least 30, and 35 would be even better.  Until then you can get some great experience at a place like Mass Mutual, or Northwestern Mutual, or The Guardian, or even MetLife.  There are others too--the newly formed Jefferson Pilot/Lincoln Financial family would be a good training ground if they're in your area.
In many of your areas there is an ING agency.  They are often run by very inventive general agents who are attempting to dominate their geography.
My fans, such as Philo, will sneer something--this is not designed to be a complete list.  But as I said, if you were my kid I'd think you did good if you can land at any of those places.

Major wirehouse jobs are a dime a dozen.  Why do you emphasize how 'proud you would be if that was you kid'? 

Boomer's picture
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Thanks for that analysis nasd newbie...good insight

san fran broker's picture
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Of the 5000+ broker firms:
1) Citigroup (Smith Barney) - Mainly for the capabilities of Citi. Not really for how its currently being executed. Place is so slammed with compliance now, though. Very deep pockets and very broad platform. Pitty about the top leadership, though.
2) Merrill Lynch - Only one that's really pulling it off. Credit management for making a strong commitment to training and establishing a working cross selling platform (lending). REALLY ineffective and expensive move into the UHNW space, though (PBIM). The people you recruited from boutiques don't know how to get business -- duh. 
3) Morgan Stanley - For clear commitment to substantially improving the retail division through true commitment of resources and personnel. Got their work cut out, though. Worst tech in the industry and way too focussed on products.
4) UBS - Fabulous name - terrible management. SO risk averse about everything. The Swiss are more phobic about headlines than anyone. What's happening to discretionary accounts? Beautiful offices though. Piper merger was the stupidest acquisition so far. If the markets take off, things should be quite good for them, with that swank name.
5) Wachovia - Impressive growth rate, but the brand needs serious retooling. They actually dumped Pru's tech platform - what the hell? Buzz over there, though.
There are other firms that should be on this list, but I just don't know the others that well. 
I think you'd have to be insane to train at a boutique firm right now. Nothing to sell, but your research department's stock picks - NO THANKS!
In the end, what pushes Citi to the top over ML is that the training program at Citi is handled in a much classier way. The ML program is a little less cushy.

Boomer's picture
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great post san fran

opie's picture
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Hey san fran: others have posted that they'd rather be accumulating MER right now rather than C.  Should this play a factor into a newbie's firm choice?

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opie wrote:Hey san fran: others have posted that they'd rather be accumulating MER right now rather than C.  Should this play a factor into a newbie's firm choice?
As I understand it, MER is better about equity compensation than C. I am generally a contrarian when it comes to stock picking, so I go with the underdog. C will eventually turn around (certainly within the next 5 years of vesting), so I would still favor C.
In my opinion, ML is a little to Sears-like for my taste. SB is a little bit better on spending money on offices and events, generally.

knucklehead's picture
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NASD Newbie wrote:
tmorris93 wrote:NASD how would you rank them and why?
I am of the opinion that the average guy cannot be that picky, you're lucky if you get an offer from one of them--much less face a crisis having to decide which offer to take.
I also believe that the differences between the top six firms are so slight as to be irrelevant at the retail branch level.
So look for other things.  Search back and find what Jeff the recruiter posted a week or two ago about pay packages--which are pretty similar--but if I recall Smith Barney offers a pretty attractive base salary PLUS commissions where the others generally offer an attractive base but no commission payout unless your monthly income would have exceeded your base salary.
If pushed I would say that the creme of the crop is Merrill, followed very closely by Smith Barney.
I have more respect for Morgan Stanley than for UBS, mainly because of people I know who Morgan Stanley hired compared to people I know who were hired by PaineWebber, which is now UBS.  Additonally I know that there is a certain percentage of people who don't like the idea that foreign banks own our businesses--no need to fight any negatives.
As for Wachovia.  As I've said I like Wachovia because I know several of their senior people and know that they're top notch.  The bank is still trying to meld the two cultures.  It's actually an almalgamation of a lot of firms ranging from Prescott Ball and Turben from Cleveland, to Wheat First from Richmond and another firm I can't think of from Philly--all of them were out there as Wheat First Securities and Prudential Bache was out there too.  Then one day First Union Bank bought Prudential Bache and renamed it First Unioin Securities.  Then First Union bought Wheat First--which disappeared into First Union, although most of their managers came over to run First Union Securities.  Finally Wachovia, which is a pretty large Charlotte based bank, bought First Union Bank and also acquired their broker/dealer.  There's been a lot of name changes and shuffling around, closing branches and so forth--but as I said they have really good management and will become a much more powerful force in the years ahead.
Finally AG Edwards which some folks consider a "mega-regional" because they don't meet the traditional definition of having at least one branch in every state.  That may not even be true now, but in any case they're a hell of a great firm.  They have a very loyal client base and great management.
If I were advising my son or daughter and you had offers from all six I'd tell you to take the Smith Barney offer first because you can make more money in your early years, followed by Merrill, Morgan Stanley, Wachovia, AG Edwards and finally UBS.
But as those who have been reading for awhile know, I say take the first offer that comes along and be glad you got it. If you do well there for a few years you can move over to another firm and get a great bonus for having done so.
Remember too that I think this decision should be put off until you're at least 30, and 35 would be even better.  Until then you can get some great experience at a place like Mass Mutual, or Northwestern Mutual, or The Guardian, or even MetLife.  There are others too--the newly formed Jefferson Pilot/Lincoln Financial family would be a good training ground if they're in your area.
In many of your areas there is an ING agency.  They are often run by very inventive general agents who are attempting to dominate their geography.
My fans, such as Philo, will sneer something--this is not designed to be a complete list.  But as I said, if you were my kid I'd think you did good if you can land at any of those places.

Butcher & Singer

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tmorris93 wrote:NASD how would you rank them and why?
Is this just another alias for NASD?  Are you once again holding conversations with yourself Put Trader?  Stop wasting this space.

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I especially like their variation of New York, New York

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NASD Newbie wrote:
tmorris93 wrote:NASD how would you rank them and why?
As for Wachovia.  As I've said I like Wachovia because I know several of their senior people and know that they're top notch.  The bank is still trying to meld the two cultures.  It's actually an almalgamation of a lot of firms ranging from Prescott Ball and Turben from Cleveland,
Wow the ol' PB&T. It's been awhile since I heard that name but that's the firm I started with years ago. Allot of the brokers went over to McDonald & Co others went over to National City since they were HQ'd just a few blocks apart on Euclid Ave...lol.

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I can't speak for the states out west, but in the south in my opinion its

1- ML
2-SSB
3-MS
4-UBS

This is just on reputation around here.

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rook4123 wrote:I can't speak for the states out west, but in the south in my opinion its1- ML2-SSB3-MS4-UBSThis is just on reputation around here.
In the South you must never forget about Wachovia--Pretending that Prudential Bache was a non-entity is a terrible mistake.
Also, don't forget AG Edwards, they too are a big presence in the south.
And so is Ray Jay--especially in Florida, but they have big branches in Atlanta and Charlotte.

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NASD Newbie wrote:
rook4123 wrote:I can't speak for the states out west, but in the south in my opinion its1- ML2-SSB3-MS4-UBSThis is just on reputation around here.
In the South you must never forget about Wachovia--Pretending that Prudential Bache was a non-entity is a terrible mistake.
Also, don't forget AG Edwards, they too are a big presence in the south.
And so is Ray Jay--especially in Florida, but they have big branches in Atlanta and Charlotte.

 
Good thing we have the old fart to remind us who the players are .... boy how forgetful we can be ....... NOT.

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compliancejerk wrote:
Good thing we have the old fart to remind us who the players are .... boy how forgetful we can be ....... NOT.

There are a lot of kids reading this forum who are looking for information about the industry.
What do you think is more benefical to them, having a retired senior excutive discuss what's out there, or a clerk earning $18 per hour sneering something like you did above?
Why don't you only chime in when you KNOW that what  you have to say will be interesting to a 22 year old who is about to go on an interview or who is using Google to turn up opportunities in his home area?
Actually, why don't you just go back to work.  Are you sure you have all the appropriate forms signed for that latest new account?  Did you get Mr. Jone's executor's signature on everything?  Don't forget the affadavit of domicle, it's such a bummer when you do.
It's curious that you have not been flamed by Joeboy--he likes to pretend that the only job necessary in a broker/dealer is the producer.  I'm sure he has great respect for a compliance clerk.

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nice input

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NASD Newbie wrote:compliancejerk wrote:
Good thing we have the old fart to remind us who the players are .... boy how forgetful we can be ....... NOT.

There are a lot of kids reading this forum who are looking for information about the industry.
What do you think is more benefical to them, having a retired senior excutive discuss what's out there, or a clerk earning $18 per hour sneering something like you did above?
Why don't you only chime in when you KNOW that what  you have to say will be interesting to a 22 year old who is about to go on an interview or who is using Google to turn up opportunities in his home area?
Actually, why don't you just go back to work.  Are you sure you have all the appropriate forms signed for that latest new account?  Did you get Mr. Jone's executor's signature on everything?  Don't forget the affadavit of domicle, it's such a bummer when you do.
It's curious that you have not been flamed by Joeboy--he likes to pretend that the only job necessary in a broker/dealer is the producer.  I'm sure he has great respect for a compliance clerk.In reality I would say the comliance clerk, while annoying at times, is FAR more important than the BOM or the Vice President of Paperclip Procurement(such as yourself).You, Newbie, are the one who is in the habit of flaming folks.  I merely point out the truth when I see it!  Because it challenges your one-dimensional world view, you see it as 'flaming'.  I think not!!

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Joeboy, you know darn well that a constant theme of  yours is "overbearing compliance"--which certainly affects you more than somebody on the administration side who you never even met.
Do you think that UBS should try to operate without an individual to oversee several hundred branches and all that goes into making them run smoothly?  Is that what you're saying?

xej1984's picture
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NASD Newbie wrote:
Joeboy, you know darn well that a constant theme of  yours is "overbearing compliance"--which certainly affects you more than somebody on the administration side who you never even met.
Do you think that UBS should try to operate without an individual to oversee several hundred branches and all that goes into making them run smoothly?  Is that what you're saying?

nasd oldster
seems you are the one that got flamed
this appears to be a common theme with you oldster. please leave us producers alone and go back to your canoe, dog and wife ... if they'll have you.

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1. SB (I work for them)
2. ML
3. UBS (the only one of the top 5 that did not make me an offer/turned me down)
4. AG Edwards (really impressed with the local office)
5. Morgan
6. Wachovia
 

troll's picture
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NASD Newbie wrote:Joeboy, you know darn well that a constant theme of  yours is "overbearing compliance"--which certainly affects you more than somebody on the administration side who you never even met.
Do you think that UBS should try to operate without an individual to oversee several hundred branches and all that goes into making them run smoothly?  Is that what you're saying?No I do NOT know darn well that it is a constant theme of mine.  Show me one post where I express that thought, much less use the term "overbearing compliance".No actually, compliance is important.  Frustrating at times, perhaps, but a very necessary evil.Actually I think the recurring theme has been 'over bearing expensive branch managers (and sales managers).  Such as what you -occasionally- used to do on an interim basis.

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1)  Smith Barney: broad platform, less restrictions on who you can do business with, very classy firm
2)  Merrill Lynch: Biggest player, most recognized, excellent platform
3)  Morgan Stanley: If they can pull it all together with Gorman, this might jump to #2 for me.  I say #3 mostly because of Gorman, without Gorman I'd place these guys last.
4)  AG Edwards:  Great company with a nice, laid back culture and fantastic platform.  Not the place you want to be if you want to be around a lot of big producers though, they have a lot of smaller to midsize producers than the above 3
5)  UBS:  I don't know much about these guys from personal experience, but they are a big player with a sophisticated platform.
 

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agree dude!

opie's picture
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dude wrote:Smith Barney: less restrictions on who you can do business with... I've read this before, but I don't know what it means. Is this due to less in-branch competition?  Less private banking competition?

dude's picture
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Essentially it means that they don't reduce payouts (as far as I'm aware) for smaller accounts eg: <$50,000 or <$100,000 like Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch do. 

azmalu's picture
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Although I didnt start the thread I must say thanks for the info and reaffirming my choice in SB.

rightway's picture
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One bit on SB, however small it may be.  Should you want to switch
offices for whatever reason (say from the east side of town to the west
side of town) good luck.  The offices are very proprietary and
moving is not something they do.

WealthManager's picture
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tmorris93 wrote:I would like to get some input. Which wirehouse do you think would be the best place for a rookie to get started and have the best chance to make it in this business?
 
While these rankings should be helpful to you, I strongly recommend that you put more emphasis on the individual branches.  You chances of success will be increased if you choose a branch that has a good work environment.<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
 
Another thing you may also want to consider is the saturation of a particular wirehouse in your area.  I came into this business (only two months ago) with a very large network of high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals.  I have since discovered that at least 80% of those people already have accounts with my firm.  Since there are strict guidelines about soliciting accounts already with the company, this means that my list of potential clients has been decimated.  Should I have been with another branch I would have at least had the opportunity to bring those accounts over.  With that said, I’m not sure if I would have been better off having full access to acquire clients from my network or if I am better off being at a branch where I can assist entrenched FAs who have many people from my network as clients.  I’m guessing the latter is the best option since it would have been extremely difficult to have people leave a relationship that they have had for many years to take a chance on a newbie.
 
I hope this helps.
 
--WM
 

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Excellent post, WM.Yes, the local situation is very important.dude wrote:Essentially it means that they don't reduce payouts (as far as I'm aware) for smaller accounts eg: <$50,000 or <$100,000 like Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch do. Correct.  But they do penalize you for discounting.There are web sites out there that give more in-depth analysis.  We can't link to them from here, unfortunately.There are a ton of variables in the payout grids.  Each firm has its advantages and disadvantages.  And payout is secondary to practice development for most advisors (more AUM trumps payout %).

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JCadieux wrote:Excellent post, WM.Yes, the local situation is very important.dude wrote:
Essentially it means that they don't reduce payouts (as far as I'm aware) for smaller accounts eg: <$50,000 or <$100,000 like Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch do. 
Correct.  But they do penalize you for discounting.There are web sites out there that give more in-depth analysis.  We can't link to them from here, unfortunately.There are a ton of variables in the payout grids.  Each firm has its advantages and disadvantages.  And payout is secondary to practice development for most advisors (more AUM trumps payout %).
I think every firm penalizes you for discounting.....right?

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According to the OWS report on compensation policies published last March, SB is the only wirehouse with a Payout Penalty for "Discounting penalty/sharing".The guide is best known for the payout grids, but the "what lies beneath" section details penalties and bonuses for different situations.If you're just looking at average payout percentage, then you're ignoring some big numbers.  Your compensation will vary from firm to firm depending on their policies.  Some compensation plans reward or penalize FAs on factors such as annuitized business, new growth, LOS, ticket charges, small household penalties or low overall production.I'm not saying that one firm is better than another.  ALL of these firms are either clients of mine or potential clients.  I am saying that each firm is different.

peanutbroker's picture
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NASD, Why didn't you list Jones on your list?

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