Qu. For SB PMer's

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Greenhills's picture
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Joined: 2005-07-26

Scenerio:  Significant amount of assets in PM.  Over 70 million.  May be leaving. I am fed up. There are only two other PMers in the office. 
In this scenario what do you suppose the brain trust will do?  Divide between the two who are small producers to call my clients or spread out with other PMer's in offices nearby. 
Supposed "great" new pay package coming out.  Too late.  I'm done. 
 
 

courtside's picture
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Joined: 2006-10-10

You should not have a problem moving your pm clients.  They should be loyal to you and your service not SB.  I would position my holdings so that no transactions are needed for a few weeks and jump when the time is right.  If your clients percieve value in the management of their accounts, your in the right platform to take them all quickly.
As for as the new and improved payout stucture, I cant wait to see what changes Sally will make; she slammed Todd at the director's circle.  We should see the new plan by the end of the summer...so they say............. 20% on the first 5k what a joke........What's next are we gonna rebrand ourself again....nevermind were doing that again right now...

Greenhills's picture
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Joined: 2005-07-26

I've lost a fairly new junior guy that worked with me over this and I'm sick about it.  The stupid pay changes...lets call them what they are...cuts, didnt have much of an impact on me.  But for guys grossing 300-500k it has been a big deal and I dont blame them.  Crappy support and pay cuts don't mix. 
For me what has finally tipped me over the top is not only loosing a good guy who would have been a great asset to my team but also all the other crap.  Stupid crap that I am fed up with.  It has been a lot of years.  Over 15.  But this is it. You have me until the end of the year SB then me and my 200 million plus book will be out the door.  
Coutside you are correct.  My PM book should be very sticky however I want to do everything I can to take every last penny and avoid poachers.   

Lex123's picture
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Joined: 2006-10-26

I think management will divide all of your assets among ALL the office, whether they are PMers or not. The ones that aren't PMers will simply find some manger (small cap value, International, etc.) that has better numbers and make the pitch.  Most clients don't care where the performance comes from, as long as it comes. 
Come on, things aren't that bad. With not having to pay for errors, registrations, and my SA, as well as getting an expense account, I think I'm a net postive with the changes.

san fran broker's picture
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Joined: 2006-02-25

Lex123 wrote:
Come on, things aren't that bad. With not having to pay for errors, registrations, and my SA, as well as getting an expense account, I think I'm a net postive with the changes.

A 20% payout on all "institutional" business, the lowest payout in the industry (particularly ugly on fee-based), a 20% payout on the first $5k of gross (meaning a $12,000 pay cut across the board for every broker) is a net positive? Either you are (1) very generous to your SA, (2) prone to trade errors, (3) think that an expense account is the same as getting paid (and you're doing more than $1.5 million gross) or you should actually review the consequences of this plan.
I'm sorry - but you "think you're net positive"? As a financial advisor, don't you think that you should know what the impact is of a major change to your compensation on your finances? This sort of perpetual "always look on the bright side" crap is a bit old. There's a fine lne between accentuating the positive and being in denial and I think you may have crossed it.

NHrep's picture
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Joined: 2006-10-13

Wow, sounds like everyone is pissed at SB?

Indyone's picture
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Joined: 2005-05-31

san fran broker wrote:Lex123 wrote:Come on, things aren't that bad. With not having to pay for errors, registrations, and my SA, as well as getting an expense account, I think I'm a net postive with the changes. A 20% payout on all "institutional" business, the lowest payout in the industry (particularly ugly on fee-based), a 20% payout on the first $5k of gross (meaning a $12,000 pay cut across the board for every broker) is a net positive? Either you are (1) very generous to your SA, (2) prone to trade errors, (3) think that an expense account is the same as getting paid (and you're doing more than $1.5 million gross) or you should actually review the consequences of this plan.
I'm sorry - but you "think you're net positive"? As a financial advisor, don't you think that you should know what the impact is of a major change to your compensation on your finances? This sort of perpetual "always look on the bright side" crap is a bit old. There's a fine lne between accentuating the positive and being in denial and I think you may have crossed it.
I recall having to sit down and run the numbers on the new and "improved" comp plan at my former employer.  With the various moving parts, it took a little while to prove my suspicions that I would be working a lot harder for perhaps a little bit more compensation, but when I did, I started planning my escape.  Lex may have to get a few paychecks before the truth sinks in, but without even knowing all the details, I have my doubts that anyone other than SB will win with the new plan...that's just the way the man works...

Lex123's picture
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Joined: 2006-10-26

San Fran,
1. I WAS very generous to my S.A. Now, I don't have to pay her a cent. 2. I AM prone to errors because I enter a ton of orders. (In addition, as a PMer on block trade the chance for a HUGE error always kept me up at night.) 3. I spent my own money on marketing, and now I don't have to.
Finally, with push back from the field and with Sally back, the 20% payout on the first $5K is as good as reversed.
My point is simply that ALL Smith Barney reps are not angry and also that there are some positive developments to come out of  the new pay changes.
 
 

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

Lex makes some good points. The firm screwed up, and they know it. An email actually went out today, from Sally, and among other things, it acknowledged that the firm is aware of what the new comp plan has done to morale and Sr mgmnt has among its short term goals, fixing it. I have also heard from other sources that other Sr managers have flat out stated that the new comp plan will be rolled out by summers end, and will tkae care of a lot of the crap that was created, including the 20% payout on the first 5k, which is probably the dumbest thing any wirehouse has ever done. (even tho Wachovia already has had something similiar in place for years.)There is no doubt in my mind that with Sally back, this whole situation will be fixed, and SB will be back on top sooner than many people think.

san fran broker's picture
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Joined: 2006-02-25

Lex123 wrote:
Finally, with push back from the field and with Sally back, the 20% payout on the first $5K is as good as reversed.
My point is simply that ALL Smith Barney reps are not angry and also that there are some positive developments to come out of  the new pay changes.

Yeah, I'm sorry Lex - I was being a little excessive there...
My feeling is that you're wrong about the reversal of the comp plan changes. The reality is that Sally doesn't understand our business and never will - her focus is always on the research product and she seems to find it amusing that Smith Barney is run so cheaply - 'expensive is for the Private Bank' is what I imagine the view is from 388. Smith Barney is a retail product and it doesn't much matter to her if the retail brokers are unhappy. As long as she continues to build her resume for either CEO of Citigroup (sorry - "Citi") or Treasury Secretary in the second Clinton Administration - she doesn't care. This is the problem with SB - it doesn't have any leadership - they are always looking at either other divisions or upward.
It was under her that SB compliance became so onerous. My guess is that they will try to put a few more carrots into the comp plan, but the issue is that they did it once - which means they will do it again, and again. The fact is that SB is a shadow of what it once was and they still haven't done ANYTHING to try and fix the firm or stem the tide of departures.

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

pratoman wrote:Lex makes some good points. The firm screwed up, and they know it. An email actually went out today, from Sally, and among other things, it acknowledged that the firm is aware of what the new comp plan has done to morale and Sr mgmnt has among its short term goals, fixing it. I have also heard from other sources that other Sr managers have flat out stated that the new comp plan will be rolled out by summers end, and will tkae care of a lot of the crap that was created, including the 20% payout on the first 5k, which is probably the dumbest thing any wirehouse has ever done. (even tho Wachovia already has had something similiar in place for years.)There is no doubt in my mind that with Sally back, this whole situation will be fixed, and SB will be back on top sooner than many people think.You sound like a real company man......

courtside's picture
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Joined: 2006-10-10

Speaking of departures, I hear a rumor that the Legg Funds will become portable sooner than the three years they were locked with the buyout of lmww.  This could open the gates for former leggs who stayed due to the non portability of their funds.
Also on the current pay structure, you will be paying for your SA's next year.  This was so that we could be "eased" into our pay cut.  As for as errors go, if you go over a certain amount your payout will be reduced.
I don't see Sally making big changes net to the broker with their new and improved version.
 

Malcolm's picture
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Joined: 2004-12-02

Recently I was at a dinner with some larger producers from different areas of the country.  Somebody said something and before you knew it the table had erupted into angry conversation that grew louder and louder...never mind that there was management also in the same room.  Nobody at my table cared if they heard.  It was really something.
The gripes werent just about the pay. That was an issue but there was so much more.  THe 2 million dollar producer sitting next to me summarized SB as bearucratic, hierachical, arrogent. He was keeping his cool but he was one cynical guy. 
He then said, "can anyone tell me why I shouldnt take close to a two million dollar check to go somewhere else?"  We all just stared at him.  Nobody seemed to have any reason for him to stay. 
Bearucratic, hierachical, arrogent... I think that sums it up also.
 
 
 

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

courtside wrote:
Speaking of departures, I hear a rumor that the Legg Funds will become portable sooner than the three years they were locked with the buyout of lmww.  This could open the gates for former leggs who stayed due to the non portability of their funds.
Also on the current pay structure, you will be paying for your SA's next year.  This was so that we could be "eased" into our pay cut.  As for as errors go, if you go over a certain amount your payout will be reduced.
I don't see Sally making big changes net to the broker with their new and improved version.
 

That would be great - then al the other wirehouses could have access to the same mediocre money management as we do
As far as pay structure goes, you are correct, next year we pay for our SA;s they eased us into it. As far as Sally not giving us big changes with a net positive, I guess time will tell. Lets check back in here in 3 months

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

joedabrkr wrote: pratoman wrote:Lex makes some good points. The firm screwed up, and they know it. An email actually went out today, from Sally, and among other things, it acknowledged that the firm is aware of what the new comp plan has done to morale and Sr mgmnt has among its short term goals, fixing it. I have also heard from other sources that other Sr managers have flat out stated that the new comp plan will be rolled out by summers end, and will tkae care of a lot of the crap that was created, including the 20% payout on the first 5k, which is probably the dumbest thing any wirehouse has ever done. (even tho Wachovia already has had something similiar in place for years.)There is no doubt in my mind that with Sally back, this whole situation will be fixed, and SB will be back on top sooner than many people think.You sound like a real company man......
You really know how to hit below the belt.
I'm freakin devastated
 

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

pratoman wrote:joedabrkr wrote: pratoman wrote:Lex makes some good points. The firm screwed up, and they know it. An email actually went out today, from Sally, and among other things, it acknowledged that the firm is aware of what the new comp plan has done to morale and Sr mgmnt has among its short term goals, fixing it. I have also heard from other sources that other Sr managers have flat out stated that the new comp plan will be rolled out by summers end, and will tkae care of a lot of the crap that was created, including the 20% payout on the first 5k, which is probably the dumbest thing any wirehouse has ever done. (even tho Wachovia already has had something similiar in place for years.)There is no doubt in my mind that with Sally back, this whole situation will be fixed, and SB will be back on top sooner than many people think.You sound like a real company man......
You really know how to hit below the belt.
I'm freakin devastated
 I presume you're being sarcastic but can't tell.  Not meaning to take a nasty shot just making an observation.Hey look if it works for you, great.  The reality is that at ANY wirehouse you are facing a fundamentally different mindset than we face in the indy channel.  In your world management takes the view that THEY own the clients and you are an employee, and their duty is primarily to meet the goals set by upper management(because it impacts their paycheck) and secondarily to maximize profits for shareholders.  For upper management the goal is to maximize profits for shareholders-as it should be at a publicly traded company, of course.My point is that nowhere above do you see reference to them making conditions be the best they can for their advisors.  Now I'm not saying that the owners/shareholders of indy firms aren't trying to maximize their profits.  However, the 'open architecture' tends to keep them a little more honest.  My b/d knows that if they were ever to mess around with my payout(such as SB did with yours) they would risk losing LOADS of advisors because we all own our books by contract and generally operate under our own brand names.  So our businesses are pretty portable.When I was in the wire channel(for about 12 years) I always made it a point to make a significannt commitment to the firm's stock ownership program.  I always figured that was one of the best ways to protect myself against getting screwed on my payout, because if it happened then it should be good for the stock price.Just my 2 cents...

Malcolm's picture
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Joined: 2004-12-02

Theres one tiny problem with the stock ownershipt thing Joe. 
Pull up a ten year chart of C and you will see what a great job mgnt has done with increasing stock price.  Ahhh, lets see...hmmmm
It's the same as it was seven years ago.  Gosh, is that because of the good management?
 

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

joedabrkr wrote: pratoman wrote:
joedabrkr wrote: pratoman wrote:Lex makes some good points. The firm screwed up, and they know it. An email actually went out today, from Sally, and among other things, it acknowledged that the firm is aware of what the new comp plan has done to morale and Sr mgmnt has among its short term goals, fixing it. I have also heard from other sources that other Sr managers have flat out stated that the new comp plan will be rolled out by summers end, and will tkae care of a lot of the crap that was created, including the 20% payout on the first 5k, which is probably the dumbest thing any wirehouse has ever done. (even tho Wachovia already has had something similiar in place for years.)There is no doubt in my mind that with Sally back, this whole situation will be fixed, and SB will be back on top sooner than many people think.You sound like a real company man......
You really know how to hit below the belt.
I'm freakin devastated
 

I presume you're being sarcastic but can't tell.  Not meaning to take a nasty shot just making an observation.
Hey look if it works for you, great.  The reality is that at ANY wirehouse you are facing a fundamentally different mindset than we face in the indy channel.  In your world management takes the view that THEY own the clients and you are an employee, and their duty is primarily to meet the goals set by upper management(because it impacts their paycheck) and secondarily to maximize profits for shareholders.  For upper management the goal is to maximize profits for shareholders-as it should be at a publicly traded company, of course.
My point is that nowhere above do you see reference to them making conditions be the best they can for their advisors.  Now I'm not saying that the owners/shareholders of indy firms aren't trying to maximize their profits.  However, the 'open architecture' tends to keep them a little more honest.  My b/d knows that if they were ever to mess around with my payout(such as SB did with yours) they would risk losing LOADS of advisors because we all own our books by contract and generally operate under our own brand names.  So our businesses are pretty portable.When I was in the wire channel(for about 12 years) I always made it a point to make a significannt commitment to the firm's stock ownership program.  I always figured that was one of the best ways to protect myself against getting screwed on my payout, because if it happened then it should be good for the stock price.Just my 2 cents...
I'd rather have my own money.

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

Malcolm wrote:Theres one tiny problem with the stock ownershipt thing Joe. 
Pull up a ten year chart of C and you will see what a great job mgnt has done with increasing stock price.  Ahhh, lets see...hmmmm
It's the same as it was seven years ago.  Gosh, is that because of the good management?
 That's why I don't work at a wirehouse. 

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

Point well taken Joe. There are things I like about the firm/wirehouse environment and things I dont. I actually do think they are going to fix it. When I say fix it, I dont mean make it the latest greatest thing ever to hit the RR world. I mean get it back to where they are competitive and then some relative to the other wirehouses.
If I see something I dont like here, I voice my opinion.

BullBroker's picture
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Joined: 2006-12-26

pratoman wrote:There is no doubt in my mind that with Sally back, this whole situation will be fixed, and SB will be back on top sooner than many people think.
My question is when was Smith Barney every "on top"?  I don't think they have been anywhere close to the "top" of the industry ever.  The citigroup acquisition helped, but they were never on top or will ever be.   

blarmston's picture
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Joined: 2005-02-26

Bull- how long have you been in the business? About 6 months- maybe???

troll's picture
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BullBroker wrote:
pratoman wrote:There is no doubt in my mind that with Sally back, this whole situation will be fixed, and SB will be back on top sooner than many people think.
My question is when was Smith Barney every "on top"?  I don't think they have been anywhere close to the "top" of the industry ever.  The citigroup acquisition helped, but they were never on top or will ever be.   

I stand corrected - I suppose the phrase "on top" can have many meanings, so let me rephrase/explain what I meant. I believe, by many (maybe not all, but I think by many) metrics, SB just a few years ago was the firm of choice among THOSE WHO CHOSE THE WIREHOUSE ROUTE" Thats not the case any more, but I believe it will revert at some point in the not too distant future.
Just my humble opinion, I dont like to argue, just conversation (unless of course, I am arguing with the idiot FreedomAdvocate/parachute/etc.)

san fran broker's picture
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Joined: 2006-02-25

Salomon Smith Barney (pre Chuck Prince) was an outstanding and very entrepreneurial firm. It was regularly ranked top by registered rep in terms of broker satisfaction and average production. That all started to change in 2002, when the scandal-ridden CEO of Citigroup, Sandy Weill, was essentially forced into retirement and the firm became embroiled in several scandals - namely Worldcom. The result has been a steady slide since then, culminating in the most recent crisis situation.<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The investment banking scandals that emerged in 2001-2003 revealed a high level of corruption and self-dealing at the highest levels of the company and the result was an overreaction by the senior management and board of Citigroup. Despite some efforts by Weil, he never really found a successor and in the very end, chose to put his attorney out as his heir apparent in the twilight of his rule. Prince had no significant leadership experience and had worked for Weill since the late 70s. He was woefully unprepared to handle the job and his attorney background made him very risk averse. Add to this his lack of personal charisma and the fact that two very obvious replacements for his job (Robert Rubin and Sally Krawchek) have always been waiting in the wings and this created an atmosphere where there was competition in the executive suite, despite Weill's patronage of Prince. As a consequence, there was competititon in the wake of scandal to be seen as the most tough on "threats to the brand" and "ethics". By 2003, it became clear that the only specific goal across Citi was "best compliance in the industry".
Weil had always been a cheap CEO and the joke was always that Citigroup was a great stock to own, but a terrible company to work for. Weil built his reputation and Citi on a foundation of acquisition of distressed (or merely weak) companies that he would then take over, cut expenses and foster an environment in which is was easy to make money. Products were supported, and brokers were to be rewarded based on their productivity. This worked quite nicely, actually, as the people who were the most productive were drawn to Citigroup’s various divisions - intrigued by a productive culture and the perception of boundless possibilities in the first truly global financial services company. This fostered an entrepreneurial atmosphere that was widely respected by other firms. Brokers generally liked and admired Weil. The feeling of the firm in 2000 was one of excellence and success. Even as late as 2003, SB was described by Deutsche Bank’s analysts as the industry model and the most desirable firm for brokers.
Smith Barney suffered as much from the scandals of worldcom as it did from neglect; Prince correctly saw Citigroup’s best investments as being in foreign (particularly emerging markets) and by and large has wanted to direct most of his attention on his international strategy, not a domestic operation like Smith Barney. So, when Prince took over, he was compelled to seek a simple and uncomplicated approach to the Smith Barney business; He kept the culture of cheapness, but attempted to implement a much more compliant (and thus theoretically less complicated) regime. In all fairness, it wasn’t just Chuck - regulator mandates, a lack of investment in technology, combined with pressures to reduce expenses, didn’t help.
This led to an environment where administrative personnel, compliance and management all saw their workload increase dramatically, as did their stress level – without the tools to properly address the issues they were supposed to monitor. (Citi even attempted to have BOMs at Smith Barney bear the cost of litigation expenses at one point.) Prince’s lack of attention to SB resulted in a lack of clarity by managers on what the strategic goals of the company were and what kind of policies should be implemented. Add that to the increased workload, and widespread departures from management occurred and an accelerated rise in young managers, who lacked the experience or ability to properly do their vastly expanded jobs. With a lack of direction, they accepted the only two clear mandates that came out of <?:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />New York – be profitable and don’t get in any trouble. Managers advanced based on only those two directives. This naturally fostered an environment characterized by dictatorial management styles and a cover you’re a** mindset.
In the last few years, widespread departures from the firm were largely concealed by the Legg Mason acquisition, the aggressive recruitment of brokers from Morgan Stanley and the fact that Smith Barney, at 5-7% of revenues, (while technically a separately reporting entity) is buried in the income statement of Citi. A Bear Market allowed cover for poor management, and as long as branches remained profitable, even through cost controls, rather than new business development, management was satisfied.
The “compliance culture” created by the Prince regime (and lets not forget Mr. Spitzer either), and the accelerated advancement of inexperienced managers didn’t just damage morale, it severely stifled entrepreneurship, as this new crop of managers were encouraged to be very conservative by nature. “If I keep my nose clean, and the branch continues to make money – people will retire or leave above me and I’ll be advanced by default” must be in the minds of many SB managers – and they’d be right to think so. Accordingly the management at SB effectively became anti-new business. Branches first focus was not opening new accounts, but rather compliance. Lawsuits cost money you have - if you're not sure how or with whom to develop your business, your approach is going to be very cautious.
Which brings us to the most recent lawsuit on overtime, trade errors and assistant pay; What is fairly apparent is that the upper levels of Citi management were unwilling to allow significant expenses to be incurred by this lawsuit. Accordingly, a decision was made to pass the cost as much as possible on to the FAs. What emerged is a compensation plan that effectively reduces most brokers’ pay, while largely impacting those whom the firm cares least about (lower producers). It was probably seen as the most palatable of a lousy set of options. The real flaw to it is that it will probably force out significant numbers of producers at the middle level – what you should be trying to turn into the million dollar producers of tomorrow.
And for that reason, it is a bad plan. It satisfies short term preferences (i.e. don’t cost money, don’t offend your biggest producers), but it’s eating your seed corn. My guess is that the level of departures in the $300-750k range is going to be the highest. The 80/20 rule applies here – it really is the small upper class in your branch that pays most of the bills - so management will not see their branch numbers decline dramatically and it will be tolerable to senior management – as they won’t see aggregate profitability decline (at least too much). So they will eventually decide that it was OK to cut broker pay in a significant way. I suspect that if there is a reversal, and if there are any new changes to the comp plan – they will simply be the transfer of the pay hit from one place to another. My guess is that forcing the brokers to bear the cost of the settlement’s provisions will prove acceptable to management and they won’t hesitate to do it again (and again).
But the long-term result for the company will be that there will be far fewer “up and comers” and thus eventually less new million dollar producers. The effect is one of continued, but gradual decline – the same one that took Salomon Smith Barney from its status as number one to a level of perception that was evidenced by BullBroker’s derogatory comments about Smith Barney.

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

Well I won't add as lengthy a post as SF broker's...don't get me wrong it is chock full of information and largely on target.I can say this-when I was first getting started in the business in the early 90's(and boy that makes me feel old to post that), I remember going to visit a friend of a friend at the Smith Barney Harris Upham office in the Pan Am Building in Manhattan(now the MetLife Building at 200 Park Ave.).  This guy was about 3 years in, doing 350, which was good at the time.  He had a tiny cube in the bullpen, and the whole place was ROCKIN!  He had his own cold caller wedged into one corner of his cube, and so did almost everyone else.  These guys and gals were working their asses off bringing in major bank.  The atmosphere was friggin ELECTRIC with energy.  It was very cool.....

Malcolm's picture
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Joined: 2004-12-02

San Fran broker-  That was a very impressive post.  I wonder if Greenhill is still reading and what his response will be. 

maverick/goose's picture
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Joined: 2007-05-27

Greenhills,
With $70mm in PM assets...why in the world would you not go to the independent channel?  Assuming your track record is good, you will easily be able to port your book of business and the net payout is significantly higher.
I am with a major wirehouse, but considering going indy.  If I were in your shoes....it is a no brainer.

maverick/goose's picture
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Joined: 2007-05-27

For what it is worth...the comment above about SB being "electric" back in the 90's is dead accurate.  It was the best place to be.  Not so much now.  The moral has seriously dropped and the "cover the firm's ass" mentality is finally beating the brokers down.

Greenhills's picture
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Joined: 2005-07-26

Maverick/goose - yep...Nothing but a bunch of horses asses running the place nowdays.  I'd surely love to get into the many many specific operation bull that has sent me over the top but best not.  The place has sure changed and this ol boy is fed up.    
S.F. broker had a lot of accurate information.  Very informed person you are.  I just can't believe how stupid management is.  They don't have feet to shoot off any more because they done shot them all.
I wont have a second thought about leaving six figures worth of stock when I leave.  They've cost me plenty more than that over the last short bit of time.  I've said my peace now.  See you all in 2008 when I am somewhere else.  
And would you recruiters leave my ass alone on the PM.  I already know exactly what I'm gonna do.  It's done.    

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