Advice needed for next steps in PWM: MS/UBS/ML WM vs GS PWM as WMP?
Hey everyone! I've been a lurker in this forum for several years (especially of thebrofessor ' threads) , but figured it was time to ask for advice since I seem to be at a bit of a crossroads in my career. Would appreciate input from all backgrounds, but those from PWM would be especially helpful!
I am currently a Registered CSA in my mid-20s at a traditional warehouse branch in a major Southeastern City (think MS// ). I have about 5 years of experience under my belt between my internship and full-time role at the same WM firm. Current all-in comp is just under $70K/yr between my firm paid base, gross production %age, and discretionary bonus. Not allowed to work OT unless cleared through management (which is almost never). I started off with this firm as an Intern for a year before securing a full-time role upon completing undergrad in 2017 from a local non-target as a CSA. I got licensed with my 7 and my 66 within the year. There was projected to be a lot of growth on this team, as I worked on a team of four FAs with a Senior CSA, with two of the FAs in question retiring soon and selling their book to the ones who remained. I had a great relationship with everyone. Two of the FAs eventually retired and did sell their book to my current FAs, a transition that took about two years and grew the book to a little over $500mm AUM. The Senior CSA abruptly, retired, and it was just the two FAs and myself. Over time, my current FAs began realize how big of a disconnect there was between their business model, mainly managed accounts/discretionary, with financial plans and paying fee, vs the book they inherited, which was full of mutual funds, and buy-and-hold transactional clients that do not like the idea of paying a fee, and smaller accounts than the $1mm-$5mm they like to target. We've been able to convert some of these accounts to fee paying clients and grow the business. The CFP FA is aggressively gathering new assets and other FA on the team is 72 and getting near retirement age. All fine and dandy, right? Hypothetically, there should've plenty of opportunity. I wish that was the case. This was hinted at but hasn't come to pass the way I envisioned.
I was given 0.50% of production after getting fully licensed in 2018, and that has not increased despite being the jack-of-all trades for my team and being a resource to other CSAs, including those more Senior than me, in the office. My days are usually 50% administrative or operational tasks/50%create investment proposals since we're a small team headcount wise. I wish I knew back then that 1% was the industry standard. My FAs have said that as AUM and production grows, I will grow, and that someone needs to be hired under me to handle most of the admin work to receive a title promotion and to have the daily capacity to be more "involved" in the business. The problem is, they DO NOT want to pay for this new hire/help, and want the firm to pay for it. Understandable. But, the firm says no; they have to hit an $Xmm amount of annual production before the firm bear the cost of a new hire. My team has been very near this revenue goal, but hasn't crossed it. This tussle between team and firm has been on going for two years. I have tried to add additional value however I can, and even started studying to get insurance licensed but was told it would not help while I am in the CSA role, nor would it get me a bump in comp. I have been praised by my team and market management for being one of the best CSAs in the office, for having ambition to do more and for managing the transition of this legacy book of business as it hasn't been easy at all, but this hasn't translated to a promotion or increase in comp due to the desire to run lean.
I wasn't actively looking for a new opportunity, but was reached out to by, both looking to expand capacity in my area. Both are recruiting for new teams in the area. The role at JPM would be for a Private Banker Professional that helps service clients for multiple Private Bankers as a back-up banker and was more investment-oriented on the surface (trades and proposals). The GS role in particular would be as a Wealth Management Professional (WMP) based out of the local office GS, but serves all GS locations nationally as a floater during this rotation to help with capacity issues and to learn how different FAs run their book. After two years as a national floater for all GS offices, I could transition to a more traditional, local PWA-team oriented role. I thought this role was more Operational from my reading here, but gathered during interviews the WMP role at GS has become more of a hybrid/jack of all trades roles, and depending on the team I'd be supporting as a floater, may be more investment/trading oriented in addition to client service. This appeals to me as I still love speaking with clients. Becoming a Hybrid Associate/FA is my ultimate goal. I was recently offered the position at GS as an Associate-level WMP based on my years of experience. This came with a pay bump compared to the Analyst WMP title. Their offer was $90K/yr base, with expectations to work additionally paid OT each week and a yearly bonus. All-in comp would be easily over $100K/yr as a result. After two years in this new floater/rotational program, I could land with a team locally, potentially as a hybrid WMP or full-on FIP. I am ecstatic and gave my current team the heads-up, but they said they wanted to keep me and counter offered. They're offering to double my % of gross revenue share up to 1%, leaving me at around $80K plus discretionary bonus. They said to keep in mind the goal is to keep growing my % and the book, and they "meant to make me a 1% partner sooner", and that the older FA will soon retire and a merger will be complete sometime in the future that'll increase AUM near/up to $1B. I can bring in clients and get 50% of the revenue and have new splits set up with them so I can start handling some smaller, productive clients. But, no official title change out of the Registered CSA role will come until someone gets hired under me or until we merge and become a bigger team. I am very comfortable with my small team because it feels like family, I love my fellow co-workers, the clients etc. and I do see the opportunity for growth. I am essential to my current team since we're only three people total. But, all these plans are just that, plans with no set date as to when they'll happen (the merger has been on hold since COVID last year, older FAs retirement and all). It shouldn't be such a struggle with Management and my FAs to get a raise. If they gave me their 1% of gross offer back in December along with these general directional plans of eventually becoming a junior FA/partner working on their model portfolios, that would be enough. Everyone around me in the industry is saying to take GS PWM and run, even as a national floater WMP/part of a new desk. They think the salary and everything else that comes along with the GS PWM name is something I simply will not get at a traditional wire house branch, and that I was never going to get my raise if I never threatened to leave.
If you were in my position, would you go with the unknown? It does scare me a little bit that this GS WMP role is a rotational/floater role, and not with a specific team. But, it is also exciting to learn how PWAs both locally and around the nation service their clients and run their books. I am also making a jump in terms of the type of clientele I would be servicing- from HNW/some UHNW in my current role to exclusively UHNW families and institutions that have more complex financial needs and access to different strategies and alternative investments/Private Equity. Part of me feels bad that I would be leaving my team "high and dry" since the firm has not hired anyone under me to help. My "back up" is a full-time Senior CSA on a team equally as big as ours that we were thinking about merging with in the future (these discussions were going well but then COVID happened, and now we're more focused on AUM growth in the near term). Needless to say, my current firm runs lean. On the other hand, I have also thought that it's not my fault or my problem that they run so lean, and that they weren't prepared for me to leave, and they should've paid me more from the start. That I should take on this new journey at GS PWM in stride and get the higher paying role. Or, should I be waiting for JPM PB who's on a completely different recruiting timeline?
Any input is appreciated! I know this has been a very long read, but I needed to get this all off my chest. 5 years of frustration and lack of proper communication needs to be let out lol.