Merrill Lynch PMD Program

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?

merrill lynch pmd Overview

Here's a quote from a senior investment manager. It provides an honest look at the program and the type of work that is typical of an intern in wealth management.
from certified user @sfbroker"

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.


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Comments (14)

Jan 16, 2013 - 7:54pm

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.

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Best Response
Jan 26, 2013 - 7:57pm

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's picture
  • Anonymous Monkey
  • Rank: Chimp
Jun 25, 2016 - 5:01pm

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%.

Jun 28, 2016 - 2:46pm

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
and/or
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

Jun 28, 2016 - 2:47pm

Merrill Lynch PMD Program: more insight? (Originally Posted: 02/11/2012)

Can someone give me some insight on the program? I did some research online and am familiar with its high turnover, as well as the competitive nature of the program. What I would like to know is whether or not the job will present good exit opportunities, and whether or not having the experience on your resume is good enough to be considered as a candidate for a top 20 MBA school.

Thanks!

Feb 3, 2018 - 4:53pm

Thought I would revive this thread for the benefit of upcoming grads. For anyone out there considering this avenue (PMD FA), be very leery unless you are incredibly well-connected.

I'm not on here to bash the company or the program, but I want all of you young people, just getting ready to graduate, to consider this to be among the last of the options you should pursue. You may go back up through the thread to see the main issues. They have not changed nor have they gotten any better since the original post. I find it ironic how this post is 1.5 years old, yet everything sounds identical.

The primary reason I am posting this is because I know there is a current press for new people to come into the program. The starting salary is not bad for a new person out of college. However, what you will soon realize is that your compensation will eventually be much more associated with your AUM versus any base salary. What you will hear is: If you want a raise, just work harder and bring in more clients. That translates to: No raises, In fact, your base salary will be reduced as time goes by, if you stay that long.

I'm in a unique situation in that I have been afforded the luxury of being able to pursue other career paths in my second half of life, as the fruits of my labor from my first career have paid off. I wanted less stress in a new career, the opportunity for advancement, and insurance. I have insurance!

Cold, hard fact of the matter is, if you can't average bringing in $850k/month for 3 years, you cannot pass the program. Either that, or get on a team. Getting on a team either requires you to have an inside track or to be extremely lucky. I've seen most try to go the BTFA, BFA or FSA route after 6 months or so as a PMD FA. Even then, you get trained on the banking side, but you still have monthly asset requirements. When I say monthly, from what I understand, they literally reset every month. So, even this position is not truly safe. No job security after a period of time unless/until you make it to full FA status. At that point, you have your own book of business in which you could take anywhere. Not impossible, just nearly impossible.

This is MUCH more a sales/marketing position than it is Financial Advisor position. You are required to pass the Series 7, Series 66 securities licenses and you are required to have your insurance license. One good part of the program is that they will pay you to study for these certifications.

They will pay you for months. And, if you fail the first time, they will continue to pay you to study for another month so you can retake the exam. I've seen it happen firsthand, so I know it's true. And, they will pay for you to take the exam, as well as for the exam study material. All you will be required to do all day during your first 3-4 months is to study and pass your exams, view compliance videos and watch several weekly videos from market analysts on various topics to be aware of.

I was interested to see how this side of the financial world works, and thought it would suit my meticulous nature. I now know that this is very loosely tied to the financial industry. Yes, I have my brokers license. If I can't bring in my own clients, what good does it do!? Question asked rhetorically.

Done now. Hope any of you considering this path do your homework and have a very clear picture of what it is you're getting into. The one thing I will say is, if you are unbelievably lucky and you are able to get through the program, you have it made. There are senior FAs there who haven't worked more than 35 hours/week since I've been there. That's 10 - 15 years after building your book, though.

Sorry for the long post, but wanted to get it all out and answer as many questions as possible in the OP.

Best wishes to you all on your journey. If you're just graduating college here within the next 6 months to couple of years, work hard, prove yourself, pursue your passion and keep your eyes on the prize.

Don't want to get too cliche', but as I tell my three sons, "Do good work all the time. Be your own worst critic. Demand more from yourself than others demand from you. Practice the art of delayed gratification. Love your family. Keep your friends close. Don't sweat the small stuff; and by the way, it's all small stuff!"

Good luck out there people.

  • 6
Jun 28, 2016 - 2:49pm

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