A Gateway of Entry into the World of Managing Wealth

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Racing for a job

As some sectors within financial services contract, others beckon. One sector that’s hiring is wealth management and private banking, and you don’t even need any experience to gain entrance.

What you will need is a lot of luck, access to wealthy people and a charming, honest and empathetic personality. Plus, your chances of acceptance are slimmer than trying to get into Harvard Business School.

According to Reuters, Merrill Lynch plans to accept 2,500 trainees into its Financial Advisor Training Program this year, but the odds of being chosen are less than 7 percent. The Harvard Business School accepts 12 percent of its applicants, says Poets and Quants.

On the positive side, you get to start from scratch, go through nearly four years of training and if you complete the program, find yourself partnered with one or more experienced wealth managers who will act as mentors as you build up your own book of business. If that book is big enough, one of the other big banks with large wealth management operations may even try to recruit you.

Six out of 10 washout

On the downside, 60 percent of those accepted washout before completing the program.

For decades now, Merrill Lynch has been known as the firm that trains Wall Street. Even today, its training program is larger than the combined programs at all three of its main competitors, Morgan Stanley, UBS and Wells Fargo, according to Reuters.

Riding herd

Merrill has been having a tough time of late riding herd over its 16,000 plus army of brokers. According to Reuters’ data, nearly 100 of Merrill’s biggest producers have jumped ship, taking $17 billion in client assets with them.

Two of Merrill’s chief competitors have former heads of Merrill Wealth Management in senior positions. James Gorman is CEO of Morgan Stanley and Bob McCann is the head of UBS Americas and both had loyal followers when they headed Wealth Management at Merrill.

Wells Fargo and UBS

Wells Fargo Advisors, which bought A.G. Edwards five years ago, reportedly plans to hire about 800 trainees a year, including Gen-Xers, women and minorities. UBS, on the other hand, would rather recruit experienced advisors. It plans to only hire about 200 rookies, according to Reuters.

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