Can anybody give me any insight into Merrill Lynch's PMD program? I'm currently going through the interview process but not sure it is something I want to do. How much training do they really give you? What is the starting salary like while you go through the training? Are you basically just cold calling people all day long?

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Check out http://forums.registeredrep.com/and search "ML PMD"

Also read "The 500 Day War" to get an idea of how to make it as an FA. Here is the link:

Hope this helps, PM me if you have any questions.

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Grant1021, just curious if you took the position at Merrill, if so, could you give me your thoughts?




From speaking with the PMDs that were working there while I interned: the first few months, you're paid to study for your series 7/63 licenses. They have all the study materials and practices tests you need, and they expect you to ace it on the first try. Once you go through the study process and get those, it's a sales job where you are paired up with an FA as your "mentor" and start learning to cold-call. As you progress, you have various benchmarks to meet and the field thins dramatically. The full program is supposed to last 3-4 years, but only 1-3 of every 30 PMDs or so will make it. Most of your day is picking up the phone, calling someone, pitching, hanging up, and picking up the phone again.

Annualized pay is 50k and phases into commision-based over the course of the program. Someone else mentioned having a rich uncle that will give you a couple million to play with. I'd say that's very likely the only way to get through it.


Thanks for the insight. Just out of curiosity, what state did you intern in? Also, where did you ultimately start with your first job?



Best Response

The ML PMD program is just like every other training program at main wirehouse firms (MS, WFA, UBS). They all say that they are different but they aren't.

What your experience will be like has more to do with the location and culture of the branch you work at vs. the actual firm. Some locations will put you through training and then throw you into an office with a phone and say good luck and others will be more committed to helping you succeed. This might include giving you some smaller accounts that the larger producers don't want, hiring you directly onto an existing team that already has a large client base or maybe connecting you with walk in business or potential clients that contact the branch manager directly. There are many ways they can help you if they decide they want to.

As far as prospecting most branches could care less about how you bring in clients. Phone, cold walking, networking, etc...they don't care, just bring in assets and produce. If you can do this nobody will say anything which is one of the wonderful things about this business. If you are successful you can come and go as you please, run your business how you choose and work with whomever you decide to work with.

It's not to say that getting any help will make the process of growing your book of business easy but it will give you a realistic chance of success. Today most firms will pay someone with experience a salary of about 65K to 80K (this is the west coast, I have no idea in other areas) and then you can make commission on top of that. The salary is temporary and goes away in about 2 years so if you don't rapidly build up your client base you will starve once you come off salary. I would say that you are probably looking at 70K to 100K your first couple of years, a slight drop off for years 3 and 4 and then a solid 6 figure job after that. Once someone is established and has some time in the business (10 years+) you are probably looking at 200K/year on the low end and up to 1MM/year on the high end.

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  6/25/16

I just left ML and was part of the PMD program. I would second about everything that was mentioned above and add that be aware there is no training in the PMD program. There are on line videos to watch and two days of sales training but that's it. Nothing on prospecting, cold calling, setting appointments, profiling prospects, making recommendations or closing. You have to learn all this on your own and unless you are on a team, as was previously stated, you have a pretty steep uphill battle opening $250K+ accounts. There are actually ways to beat the system and fool compliance but that is another dirty little secret.
There are two salary levels with two different sets of production, $50K and $65K. Just learn what you can and get out if you don't make it, nobody cares what happens to you because the fail rate of PMD's is 92%, and that figure is clouded by the fact that most PMD's who graduate from the program are already on teams and pre-destined to succeed, the actual fail rate is more like 99%.


BTW...Forgot to mention I am an FA that has been in the business for 9 years


I interned at a similar PWM firm, who told me I needed more post-college experience before hiring me. Merrill actually called me up to talk and had me take an easy aptitude test. The recruiter told me, in her own words, that the PMD program is just straight cold calling all day, and is incredibly difficult to get through unless:

1) You know, without a doubt, that you have solid HNW connections you can bring in
2) You can get onto a team that will pass along the bottom of their book to you. This is very hard to do (most teams are usually full)

She told me to check out the program that feeds directly into the Team FA program, which only hires once a year as opposed to the year-round PMD program. This program, predictably, is pretty hard to get into. I didn't even get a call back for the Team FA program, even with an internship at a rival, and listing the recruiters name as a reference. If you really feel like this is what you want to do, and you're okay with likely failing out but hopefully getting licensed up and decent experience, then go for it. But be warned, its not for the faint of heart.

tldr; program is crazy hard, drop/failure rate is probably over 95%, hopefully you have good connections


Sounds like a brutal sales gig where you're completely expendable. I hope you're well connected.


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