What happens to failed advisors?

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Ammunition's picture
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Joined: 2011-06-15

Hey guys,Been reading a lot of stuff here the last couple weeks, and it's been really helpful, so thanks to everyone who's made it a great resource for me.I'm straight out of university and also straight out of a six month internship at Merrill.  I have an offer to join there, but I was wondering if anyone had some insight as to what happens to the 90% of advisors who don't make it past three years.  What's the job market like for those guys?  I would think employers see this one of two ways: "his only training is in sales, and he isn't good at that -- not worth much, and not good for a career switch", or "he has experience at a large established company, and while that didn't work out, he has some investments knowledge and work ethic".  Obviously there will be companies on both sides there, but I want to know which side is prevailing.  Will I be screwed if I drop out after two years, or will I be okay?I don't really want to ask any of my contacts because that gives the impression that I have waivering commitment.  I wouldn't really say that's true; even if I think my odds of succeeding are three times average, there are still overwhelming odds I won't make it, and I want to make sure I know what I'm getting into.I appreciate any feedback!

BondGuy's picture
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Joined: 2006-09-21

This is an extremely tough business. It is more than likely that you will fail. Does that tag you with a Scarlet letter? Not at all. As a young pup it is assumed you will try different roads before you settle on a final career path. As long as there isn't anything negative Ie criminal in your conduct, failing is OK. In fact it's a positve in that you found something that isn't for you. That door can now close and you can search for other open doors. That said, if you fail it doesn't mean you aren't good at sales. You are starting your sales career in the hardest sales profession. Most likely you could be very good at selling something else. A friend of mine, who flunked out of this biz makes more money than I do as a jewelry salesman. He makes over a million dollars a year. Another went to become a GM of an Acura dealership. He pulls 300k a year. Another went to law school and makes less than any of us, but he's found his niche. Another went on to become a nurse (BSN), another is now a NJ State Trooper. So, not making it here doesn't equte to not making it anywhere. It only means this was not for you.

newguy44's picture
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Joined: 2008-08-29

I worked with a guy who was fired 6 months into production, went to UBS and got fired after 8 months, then went to Merrill and did 350k in production in his first year. If you want to make it then do the work and make it. Don't worry about not making it before you've even started!

willywonka's picture
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Joined: 2011-06-07

I concur with BG and Newguy44, Work your ass off for the first five years of your FA life and you will be set. When I started 18 years ago, I had the same concerns as you do now! I worked really, really hard the frist three years in the business and then decided to take it easy for the next 15 years. My best friend who continued to work hard and continues to this day to work hard is doing over 1mm in production! Just to show you how your attitude makes all the difference. My 1mm producing freind and I started in the same training class. We were neck and neck going to our fourth year of production. At four years in, I decided that I could work the book a little more and Cold call and market less. He kept his routine and cold called for another 3 or four years. My production kept rising from referrals and occasional seminars while my friends absolutely exploded over the ensuing years because he kept on prospecting and I for the most part didn't. The brokerage business is simple but it sure isn't easy. It's simple in that it is elementary, anyone can do what we do. It is hard in the sense of the disciplines that we MUST do everyday in order to be successful. Newguy44 has a great post on what he did from being close to being axed to being at the top of his traiining class. Your success will be directly determined by how disciplined you are in getting into the office and getting on the phone and calling strangers for money. Whatever decision you come to goodluck.I know this post didn't really answer your question but if you are going into the job of being a financial advisor then having the attitude at the beginning that you might fail is not helpful. Go into it with the attitude that you are going to be extremely focused and disciplined about acquiring new clients and you cannot help but be successful. ww

Who do you know's picture
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Joined: 2010-12-08

10% have their wives leave them, and within a few years are found on the street overdosed on herion.   80% get a shitty job elsewhere.  Another 10% have decent careers elsewhere.  BondGuy- Is right that some do end up successful in other types of sales, but the bottom line is failing out of any job is not going to be looked highly on in today's competitive job market.   I use that as motivation when I am having a down month.  In other words I don't have the option of pittying myself and looking for other lines of work.  Car dealerships hire anybody with a pulse and often times so do jewelry shops.  Real success at those places are even less likely as they are in this industry.  The fact of the matter is if I failed at this, my options are pretty limited even with a degree in business. More than likely I would have to go back to school to make a decent living. Best advice I can give you is DO NOT have a plan B (i.e. "if I fail everything will be alright and I can get another job real easy making six figures").     

BondGuy's picture
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Joined: 2006-09-21

Who do you knowYou should only post when you know what you are talking about.

Who do you know's picture
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Joined: 2010-12-08

BondguyPlease enlighten me on where I went wrong.  You have heck of a lot more experience than I do in this business, so I'll take your jab in stride.  But the vast majority of people I have seen fail out of this job take a long time to pick themselves back up.  It might have been different back in the day when the economy was pumping, but getting canned for a performanced based job into today's job market isn't going to exactly win you to many job interviews.   I started in 08 and have had a lot of classmates and friends that didn't make it, and I can't think of one that is doing anything other than entry level employment. My main message to the guy is that if your going to go into this job, you can't view failure as exceptable, because you will most definitely fail.  If anything use it as motivation.   

newguy44's picture
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Joined: 2008-08-29

Lots of sensitivity!

Ammunition's picture
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Joined: 2011-06-15

Thanks for all of the sound advice.  I definitely would not go into any job planning to fail, but I think it would be naive to go into one (especially with such a high fail rate) without knowing what happens to the unsuccessful advisors. And by all means, if anyone else has some insight, please continue posting.  :]

BondGuy's picture
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Joined: 2006-09-21

Who do you know wrote:BondguyPlease enlighten me on where I went wrong.  You have heck of a lot more experience than I do in this business, so I'll take your jab in stride.  But the vast majority of people I have seen fail out of this job take a long time to pick themselves back up.  It might have been different back in the day when the economy was pumping, but getting canned for a performanced based job into today's job market isn't going to exactly win you to many job interviews.   I started in 08 and have had a lot of classmates and friends that didn't make it, and I can't think of one that is doing anything other than entry level employment. My main message to the guy is that if your going to go into this job, you can't view failure as exceptable, because you will most definitely fail.  If anything use it as motivation.    You have the right attitude, no plan B.You are wrong about the future of failed trainees. There is no shame in failing. There is only shame in not trying.As a failed trainee you don't have to dress in  a Baby Blue suit wearing an I failed at ML sign around your neck. In fact, no one is going to know you failed unless you tell them. Employers can't release performance information. To avoid paying unemployment claims most employers will encourage those who have been deselected to resign. This also gives the employer leverage in that they have a contract they can enforce if the trainee wants to put up a fight. All that said, bottom line? You resigned because after giving it all you've got YOU decided it wasn't for you. How well you did while employed in the industry is up to your imagination and the size of your balls. Regardless, it wasn't what you thought it was going to be and the farm machinery biz excites you. Or, what ever the company you are applying to does excites you. If you work for heartless bastards who just walk in and chop people on the bottom, leave before they call your name and apply the above. You are also wrong about the job easy to get attitude you have towards thecar sales biz and jewlry biz. I would be willing to bet you couldn't get hired by most high end luxo car dealerships, let alone get hired as a GM. Don't be insulted, I couldn't get hired by these dealerships either. They want heavy duty experience. My friend had that before he came here. And, so you know i know guys selling everyday cars pulling 200k a year. Not an easy gig, the rep of the biz is brutal as are the hours and the disrespect. Which you've neatly demonstrated in your post.Lastly, how do i know that failing isn't the end? Because it happened to me. It was a total blow out. I failed miserably in an Aviation business after making millions in a home contracting business. Outta dough i needed something with and unlimited top end without a capital investment cause capital was one thing i didn't have 30 years ago. Viola!!!! This biz saved me and remade me. There is no shame in failing.

Kankle J's picture
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Joined: 2010-10-02

Nice bondguy.  Nothing but hard work, and balls and imagination.  very motivating, unlimited top end sounds nice too.  hardly any capital investment?  sounds nice.  your own biz built from scratch?  sounds even nicer.  no plan b. is probably the only good plan to have.

BondGuy's picture
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Joined: 2006-09-21

Built from scratch thru cold calling. In the beginning no cap investment because i didn't have it to invest. That said, in the interest of full disclosure i managed to hang onto one asset thru the flying fiasco, an illiquid piece of RE. That would play a big role years later, but didn't enter into the picture when i started. Even with that,  I owe my net worth to this biz. This still works. How bad do you want it? A belly flop into the shallow end will make you want it bad. That's what happened to me. I had never failed before. It was a very dark time in my life. I was one of those smart assed young guys who, because he had made so much so young, beleived he couldn't fail. You couldn't tell me anything. i knew it all. There were plenty of people who rubbed my face in it when i did fail, and truthfully for some of those, I had it coming. Still, I was determined not to fail again. Fourteen hour days, no problem. Dialing 500 plus numbers a day, bring it!  Asking total strangers for obscene amounts of money, done!!! Just tell me this is gonna work!!!! And, it did! Nothing motivates like fear. Fear of poverty. Fear of failure. Fear that the person who stares back from the mirror isn't good enough.

TimesSeven's picture
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Joined: 2011-03-16

Beware the wily veteran.

Otane's picture
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Joined: 2008-08-04

A better way to do this business is to join an independant, and get a job at night to support yourself. Build your book getting 80% instead of of the paltry 40%. The B/D don't have a clue on how to build a business. If they did, they would stop paying the multi-milliion dollars fees for exisitng books. Another downturn in the markets will cure that strategy. Learning to cold call, meeting with clients, and closing the deal takes time to learn. Being under the clock is just insane.  

PushForward's picture
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Joined: 2011-04-07

I'll second that it takes time and that being under the clock is hard.But my opinion differs a little from Otane's. I don't think its sustainable to work as an FA (which is a 60+ hour week a job in itself), work a part time job doing something else (evening/part time jobs are basically going to limit your options to waiting, bar tending, pizza delivery or gigajoing).Let alone any time for sleep.In my opinion you need to devote as much time to this as possible, thats why you need a firm that will take care of you financially starting out. Spend your time prospecting. -PF

Stig's picture
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Joined: 2010-12-17

You guys talkin about car salesmen reminded me of this article I read:http://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/confessions-of-a-car-salesman.htmlEntertaining. If nothing else, it might help you negotiate next time you trade.

BondGuy's picture
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Joined: 2006-09-21

Stig wrote:You guys talkin about car salesmen reminded me of this article I read:http://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/confessions-of-a-car-salesman.htmlEntertaining. If nothing else, it might help you negotiate next time you trade.Read that a couple years ago. Interesting stuff. Say what you will about car salesman, they earn their money!

Stig's picture
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Joined: 2010-12-17

BondGuy wrote:Stig wrote:You guys talkin about car salesmen reminded me of this article I read:http://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/confessions-of-a-car-salesman.htmlEntertaining. If nothing else, it might help you negotiate next time you trade.Read that a couple years ago. Interesting stuff. Say what you will about car salesman, they earn their money! I agree. Those guys have to hustle if they want to eat.The article sheds a lot of light on their world.

RWM's picture
RWM
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Joined: 2010-06-08

Team up with an older advisor who smokes daily, drinks heavily, is overweight, with high blood pressure.  Become his junior partner/sales assistant.  Shut up and listen to what he says and wait for the stroke. Also make sure he doesn't have any trust fund kids who washed out of law school, nursing, or car sales to take over his book at the last minute.Sorry just having some fun....I am serious though. Some people find it easier to FIND a metor and or partner like Bondguy up there.  Shut up and listen to them.  See how they deal with clients. Copy his/her actions and work ethic.  Fine tune there actions and efforts using todays products, technology, compliance.   If that does not work become a wholesaler or branch manager at ML.         

randomguy123's picture
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Joined: 2011-06-13

RWM wrote:Team up with an older advisor who smokes daily, drinks heavily, is overweight, with high blood pressure.  Become his junior partner/sales assistant.  Shut up and listen to what he says and wait for the stroke. Also make sure he doesn't have any trust fund kids who washed out of law school, nursing, or car sales to take over his book at the last minute.Sorry just having some fun....I am serious though. Some people find it easier to FIND a metor and or partner like Bondguy up there.  Shut up and listen to them.  See how they deal with clients. Copy his/her actions and work ethic.  Fine tune there actions and efforts using todays products, technology, compliance.  That works great until your "mentor" steals your contacts and uses you for your network and forces you out of the business.

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