Do I have a future in PWM?

Before I start, I know that most everyone looks down on PWM and sees it as a dead end in the finance world (that may be true). But what if that dead end isn't so bad?

Currently I intern at a very small independent RIA (a little less than 100 AUM) in the midwest. They've been in business for less than a year, but business is growing fast, we expect to hit 150 AUM by next year. It is entirely fee based, no one is pushing products onto people and we mostly deal with retirees who need financial planning more than anything else. 

My job is back end office stuff currently, but I've expressed desire to take the series 7, and whatever other exams needed to be a financial advisor. And they were very encouraging, it seems as though they want to invest in me and keep me on the team after I graduate. I felt very fortunate to get this internship as I started applying very late (april). And the fact that they're not trying to get me to pedal insurance to family members or expect me to bring my own business to the firm. Everyone is on a salary (though I don't know how much) and seems to live decently. 

I guess what I'm asking is how much room for growth for me is there with a firm like this? I don't expect to make half a million dollar bonuses. But I would like to make enough to live comfortably and hopefully six figures eventually. Is that likely? The work-life balance is really nice, and I find that much more appealing than the high-speed jobs in IB. I major in finance, don't go to anything close to target school, and my GPA is pretty average (3.5). Should I pursue this opportunity further? Or am I better off looking for something else? (not sure what else is out there for someone with my education) 

TLDR: I work at a very small RIA that's growing fast, potentially have a future job there (salary-based). It's a very comfy 9-5 and I like it, no selling shit to family members. What can I expect my future to look like, both position-wise and income-wise and is this a good gig for me? If not, where else should I look?

Thanks for reading, any and all advice is welcome.

Comments (14)

Jun 27, 2021 - 4:32pm
Big Swinging Chimp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I work at a major wirehouse on a large team. As far as the dead end comment.. my sr partner just retired early 50s worth $10M liquid and a high 5 year payout.. leaving behind a very comfortable work life balance. If that's dead end count me in.

As for the RIA, sounds like a great place to get your footing. You can always work on licenses (maybe CFP) while you figure out what exactly you want to do in the biz (sales/fin planning, ops, port management).

A growing RIA could be a great place to get started and a good work life balance since that's important to you.

  • 3
Jun 27, 2021 - 7:38pm
Big Swinging Chimp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sales. Branch financial planner role for around a year as I transitioned from banking. Was recruited by them and other teams bid. WM industry has major succession issues with aging advisors and teams.

Jun 28, 2021 - 1:17pm
Addinator, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I recommend you look at posts from thebrofessor across this board - that will give you plenty of insights into PWM as a career and industry. It's an underrated option that gets a bad reputation from horror stories of cold calling, gimmicky programs or sleazy annuity salesman - maybe a combination of all of them. Seems to me that there is a severe shortage of good, capable financial advisors out there - and that's just at the institutional level! 

If that's something that interests you, I see no reason why you wouldn't explore it as an option. Getting hands on experience at a quickly growing firm is a good thing, and I'd suspect you'll be involved in a little bit of everything for awhile with plenty of room to grow. Add in people who are already supportive of you - that's a great mix to have starting out. I'd also think about the skillset - you'll learn about finance, financial planning, etc. but you'll also get to see how to manage and build out a business. At worst those are all good skills to take with you to whatever you choose to do. 

Last thing - there is no inherent superiority in working at a private equity firm in NYC vs. running a successful midwestern RIA providing advice to retirees. I might even argue we need more of the latter, and less of the former. Point being that you shouldn't look at careers as having this halo around you - I for the longest time was so concerned with being seen as a 'finance' guy that it made me blind to what I was actually good at and frankly held me back my first few years out of school. Focus on getting experience, tangible skills and maximizing what you are good at along with it being of interest to you. That generally works out pretty well. 

Jun 28, 2021 - 3:26pm
thebrofessor, what's your opinion? Comment below:

thanks for the tag bro

yes OP, please read my 4 part on PWM and my "then and now" thread from last year, lots in there, happy to answer followup questions

here's my answer for anyone interested in PWM - it's the best job in the world for me, it may or may not be for you if you have an allergy to business development, but those who say it's a "bad" job just aren't informed

Most Helpful
Jun 28, 2021 - 5:05pm
rickle, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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