What do you do for a living?
I’m an investment consultant for TD Ameritrade.
How would you describe what you do?
I would say that my goal is to contact high net worth clients in regards to their investment strategies, and make sure that they’re doing everything they can as far as investment strategy goes to reach their financial goals. I basically analyze their situation, consult, and I’m not giving specific recommendations per se for stocks, bonds etc., I give them advice advice on channels that our company has available to them, and see if one of those advice channels might be fit their needs. I get them in touch with advisors who can make recommendations, or help them through our market watchers and our portfolio managers to build accounts or customize their portfolios to fit their needs.
What does your work entail?
Typically, I work eight to five Monday through Friday. The schedule is pretty flexible depending on the manager. And being a sales position, they don’t micromanage you too much, so you still kind of have that feeling like you are your own boss in a certain way. However, being a salary role, you don’t have the complete flexibility as someone who’s a commission-only worker, who can come and go as they please we do have a bonus structure, and those bonuses can be very, very large. It’s basically what you put into it is what you get out of it. I’m required on minimum standards to make 50 dials and get in touch with 15 people per day. And we have campaigns and lists and things like that that are given to us weekly, monthly, and quarterly to keep us with activity and new ideas to call on. Right now they’re trying to bump our standards up to about 75 dials and 20 contacts a day. So basically, the whole goal is just maintaining a high level of activity.
What do you like about what you do?
I get to talk finance, current events, and markets with people all over the country all day long. It’s ever changing. You’re talking to someone in New York, and someone in Florida, and someone in California. It’s different accents, different views and feelings on the market. And just basically, to hear how they feel about things, at different stages in their lives—it could be old people, young people—and it gives me the ability not to come into work every day and do the same mundane tasks. I also get a chance to see different perspectives and learn from people who have been in the market for many more years than I have.
What do you dislike?
The fact that it is still eight to five and I have to be there every single day. Because in past jobs, I had the flexibility to come and go as I please and take a vacation when I want to. I still have that desire to want to travel a lot more and take more days off and see people when I have the ability to, so I think making the change into the 40-hour week is my least favorite thing. I’d kind of like to be my own boss completely and run my own company, but I understand that that takes time to learn so that I can get to the point to be able to do that.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
It starts with a salary of $40K, and after that your bonused quarterly with a lot of annual kickers and incentives that kick in for total production throughout the year. Quarterly bonuses, I would say, can average between $5,000 and $25,000.
How much money do you make?
This year, being my first year, there’s two guaranteed bonuses in the first two quarters of $2,500 each unless you break them. This year I’m probably looking to make between $80,000 and $100,000, depending on how the actual year-end bonuses work out. Potentially, if I work hard and things go well, probably $100,000 in the first year.
What education or skills are needed to do this?
Well, you definitely have to have a high school degree and a Bachelor’s degree, preferably in finance or accounting or some type of business degree with some training in finance. There’s many examinations that are required. Just for my job there’s the Series 7 and then the Series 66. Primarily those are the two main certifications that you needs to have to get into an entry level position. But also sales experience is a must. I had a year of experience prior to this job, so that’s kind of one of the reasons why I got this job. It’s tough to get into a salaried sales role with bonus and incentives without having some kinds of sales experience.
What is most challenging about what you do?
The most challenging is something that I actually dealt with today, which is dealing with the ebbs and flows of the business cycle and the sales cycle. I started the quarter off tremendously, kicking ass and doing really well, I felt like everything was going my way, but the last couple weeks things have really slowed down. And it’s not that I’m doing anything differently, or I’ve changed my game plan or what not in the past few weeks, it’s just that sales has its cycles, there’s nothing you can do about it. Sometimes you’re on top of the world, and sometimes you feel like you’ve just lost it and you don’t know what’s going on. I think the hardest part is maintaining the consistency to know that you don’t have to change every time something starts not working or not going your way. You do have to change and adapt to different things that are happening and learning new products, but that consistency, working hard, and just putting your head down even when times are tough, I think, is the most challenging part.
What is most rewarding?
The reason that I’m in this business is to—not to say that I’m greedy—but I want to make a lot of money. The top guy doing the same job I have this year will make $220,000, and we’ll have also people who’ll make their salary and just a few bonuses and not get to $55,000 or $60,000. And so, I think that the best part about it is that you still kind of control your own destiny. There’s an opportunity in your first year to make $100,000 to $150,000, so I think the desire to be wealthy is something that really brings me to this job.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
Someone would need to have a real passion for following the market and be able to carry on a conversation with someone who has fifty or sixty million dollars in an account and someone that’s going to put in 500 bucks. Doing those two things is what I enjoy the most. Also, the ability to always be learning and always wanting to be taking higher education and continuing education to be able to keep up with the ever-changing markets.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
The biggest misconception is that we’re stock jockeys and that we are calling clients constantly trying to get them into the next big stock, or trying to push something upon them, or just the typical sales guy.
What else would you like people to know about what you do?
This is a great place to meet a lot of great people. Like I said, part of the sales roles is getting advisors—we have a network all over the country. We meet with them periodically throughout the quarter, just getting your name out there and trying to get business thrown their way. I’m meeting a lot of great people and the connections that I make through that program I feel are something that weren’t given to me at the beginning as far as the job description. I knew I’d be selling and getting clients into advisory products, but the chance to interact with these guys that are CFA’s, that went to Yale, that went to Harvard MBA programs and things of that nature, really touching base with them and getting their business cards…They can see a side of you that they probably wouldn’t be able to see if you just tried to interview with their firm, and really get you a good foothold on arriving to the next step outside of the company.