Here are all of the comments RR heard from PaineWebber brokers.
"Things are OK here. The best thing about PaineWebber is the freedom and the entrepreneurial aspect that I haven’t seen at other firms."
(Training) "If anything, they offer us too much training. They have a tremendous commitment to training."
"There’s too much bureaucracy here. Too many middle mangers. Too much unnecessary costs. While the payout is good, I still rate mine as a 2 or 3. I go out and get institutional business and they want to pay me 30%. I bust my butt finding new clients. I bring them in by my own efforts and they say, ‘Sorry, those are institutional clients. We’ll only pay you 30%.’ No, pay me on the grid. But that’s the way it is. [Why?] The best way structure an organization is to provide high incentives for success. Reward people who work hard."
"The freedom is great here. No one tells you have to sell PaineWebber stocks. No one says you can’t buy something because they haven’t researched it on their own. As long as you’re doing business and doing it clean and ethically, no one bothers you. Not like at Merrill. They set guidelines. You can only sell Merrill Lynch recommended stocks. Basically, you’re a financial service robot there."
"Find out how we’re doing when UBS takes over. My clients aren’t happy. I’m listening to other offers. The firm still has entrepreneurial spirit."
(Research) "It was much better than it is now. Now it’s mediocre and that’s being generous."
(Defections) "Analysts leave more than brokers."
(Technology) "It’s nonexistent."
"The firm’s focus on affluent investors and research retail helps bring us business. I’m well satisfied. One gets frustrated with the compliance, which means slower response than you’d like."
"The firm has kept us at technology’s cutting edge. Clients can pay bills, can do research and access account online.
(Quality/quantity SAs) "The company fails to realize what that entails. Much more service intensive in retirement community."
"Our top strategist is very good. The research of individuals of industries has done a poor job. We’ve been light in banking product. That will have to improve."
"Communication, with the merger of UBS, is above average. The firm doesn’t support brokers and doesn’t get them assistants. Research is lacking."
"The firm provides entrepreneurial atmosphere better than most." (Quality/quantity SAs) "The firm cuts the budget too much in sales office. There aren’t enough assistants."
"The firm is good at allowing brokers to have entrepreneur spirit and develop business. We are like a franchise. What is lacking at the branch level is sales ideas. Support is slow in coming."
"We’re good in fixed income and institutional income. We offer innovative products. We’re poor in syndicates, investment banking. It might change with UBS. Surprisingly we’ve had good research but not investment banking. The usually go hand in hand."
"The firm supplies enormous resources, due diligence, and education."
"The firm is wonderful. I’m as happy as a clam. I spent five years in Merrill hell. I know the difference."
"Business has been great, and opportunities over the next 10 years are going to be even greater. It’s the pig through the python--boomers."
"I’ve been here for 33 years. That’s a good sign."
"In terms of ongoing training, there’s a gap between the two-year mark and the five-year mark. There’s not much training available for people in that category. And the sales ideas seem kind of obvious. I get more out of talking to wholesalers."
"It’ll be interesting to see how the merger with UBS plays out. The bank will leave the firm’s current management team in place, I believe. I hope they don’t tinker with that. One result of the merger will be that instead of covering 600 to 800 stocks, now we’ll be able to cover 4,000 stocks worldwide because UBS has analysts in place all over the world."
"We’d be much more productive if we had more sales assistants. There should be one sales assistant for every two brokers, but the firm doesn’t want to pay for that. So we end up doing more clerical work. And we can’t buy our own sales assistants. The firm won’t let us do that. The firm is counting on a new program called Edge where clients can do more of the clerical work online."
"Within the last three years, the firm has started hiring more female corporate officers. I like that. And the firm is great when it comes to fixed income and munis. I’ve never seen such quality. There’s a new department that focuses on developing and promoting partnerships and teamwork, and it’s been successful. I also feel like I can trust my fellow brokers here."
"I love the freedom to do my own thing."
(Training) "It’s on the weak side. If you know what you’re doing, then you have all the tools you need here. Everything is available to you if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then you might not know what’s available and no one makes much of an effort to explain it to you. That’s why I gave training a 4."
(Operations) "It’s a difficult job and there are always problems. I don’t know how they could change that unless they hire more people or more qualified people or both. Certainly they’d have to pay for quality people."
"We have superior products and excellent research support. I’m as happy as a bug here."
"Our name has strong recognition all across the country and we’re doing increased advertising. Our research is good and I’m very happy. Of course it would always be nice to see an improvement on the support side. Our back office is not as efficient as it could be and issues are not always resolved in a timely fashion."
(Strategic focus) "It’s strong and it’s made clear to us."
(Hiring/recruiting) "I think there’s plenty of diversity among the ones I see coming in."
"This is an old-line firm, easily recognized by my clients. They have confidence in us. No one tells us what to do. They allow us a menu of investments that allows the broker to run his own business. Operations sometimes gets a little too over loaded and things start to get slowed down."
(Research) "It’s not the best, but it’s good."
(Branch manager) "He’s new. The jury’s still out on whether he’s good or not."
(Hiring/recruiting) "They pay way too much upfront money. It’s not just us, it’s industrywide. Not a good idea."
"We have good technology and a great brand name. The leaders have a solid vision for the firm and haven’t deviated from that path [fee-based business]. We absolutely cater to the individual investor with no pressure in terms of investment banking. We’re not pressured in terms of what to sell."
(Hiring/recruiting) "Incredible turnover because of the numbers of new brokers coming in. It’s too much, too fast. They’re not given the support they need so many don’t make it."
(Training) "We need to have more of a mentoring program along with training. A lot of capital is spent bringing people in and then they’re thrown out there with little help or guidance."
"There’s freedom to run my own business. This is a full-service firm with a lot of support. I have to pick through what’s good or not and learn to know who to believe."
(Sales Ideas) "Most of the ideas that are pitched to us are not all that good."
"We’re expanding so there’s bound to be a few glitches. I give them credit for trying."
(Quality/quantity SAs) "The quality’s good but they’re turning them over too fast, with little compensation or training."
(Ideas) "There are always a lot offered. I like their ideas and often use them."
"They leave me alone and provide me with what I need to do my job. I’m glad the firm decided not to cater to the day traders, sticking to a fee-based business instead."
(Research) "None of them are any good in my opinion. That’s why I gave them a 6."
(Hiring/recruiting) "It sucks. It’s too marginal and too poor quality."
(Image) "It’s better than it used to be."
(Quality/quantity SAs) Mine are great, but I hired them and pay them. The rest are not as good."
"The firm has always followed through, maybe not as fast as we’d like but they try. We’re very weak in investment banking. There are no new issues. What we get often isn’t what we want. There’s a lack of underwriting presence."
(Branch manager) "Our office manager is very good. He doesn’t push products. He let’s us do what needs to be done to be successful."
(Research) "We don’t have as many all stars among our analysts, but for the most part some of them are good and some aren’t. We could always use more coverage."
(Ethics) "They are always reminding us of ethics, and compliance is always watching us. They really make sure we don’t have a bad image out there."
"We have everything we need to run our business. I’ve been here a long time. I have no complaints."
(Payout) "A little better than average."
(Image) "Our name recognition is strong and our reputation is solid."
"We seem to be really excelling with managed money programs. However, payout needs to be improved. The dilemma is whether to stay with a wirehouse or go independent. Two Swiss companies have bought investment firms and now ING Barings is buying up insurance companies. I think that part of the world [Europe] will be more of a dominant force. For now the European management will let thing go as have been going. Four or five years down the road, who knows?"
"I can only speak about the branch level, but it’s head and shoulders above Merrill, where I worked before. This office is exceptional. It has the best reputation of any firm in our area. ... We do a lot of managed money. The firm lets a broker do what he does best and is encouraging fee-based compensation. They leave you alone if you’re doing things right. There are not enough fixed-income products; inventories are low since the fed is reducing their debt."
(Hiring practices) "We have older brokers who are taking on and training new people who will eventually take over their business. It makes for a smooth transition."
"The firm is doing a number of things well, like providing a good work environment, good branch locations. As far as our desktop systems are concerned, some parts are not especially user-friendly."
"The firm needs to have better strategic emphasis, better acknowledgment that retail brokerage is the engine that drives the firm forward, and that we’re the solution, not the problem."
"The firm is very forward-oriented. They keep on top of things. The research is topical, creative. They take a dramatic approach to investing and try to capture future trends. They have good economic analysis. If they’re involved in a takeover, so some things may change, but it’s a very responsive organization. Our branch is very productive. It has good contacts in New York. I’ve been through takeovers and you always lose something. You lose the old identity. They may not look at retail in a positive light. They may see us as just a dumb distribution arm. We’re not pressured to peddle products now, but that could change."
"I interviewed at three large firms. Here, the No. 1 goal was the client, No. 2 was the client and No. 3 was the client. This coincided with my own goals. At other firms, No. 1 is the client, but No. 2 was the company."
"PaineWebber’s private client group was on track to do some great things before the UBS merger. We’ll see what happens now. The firm is an excellent recruiter, but a poor trainer. They throw the new brokers a phone book and tell them to start selling. I’ve been recruited by other firms and nobody else even comes close to PaineWebber. We get a lot of support here because Mark Sutton lives in Austin. He commutes to New York every week. We have more freedom to choose the products and solutions we offer, freedom that you may not have elsewhere. If a stock is not on the recommended list at Merrill, you need special compliance approval to recommend it to your book of business. As long as I’ve done my due diligence, I can recommend any product I want to."
"This firm stays in tune with the clients. It understands the private client operation better than any other on the Street."
"Research on the equity side here is excellent. Very sharp in the technology area. They see what other firms are doing, copy them and improve upon them. The merger with UBS was really, really smart. Probably among the best mergers on the Street. We remain focused on high-net-worth individuals. We’re not catering to the online traders, so our orientation remains right on the money."