New to WSO. Any older monkeys making a transition?

Chebyshev's picture
Chebyshev - Certified Professional
Rank: Chimp | banana points 12

Hi, I just joined WSO as I research my next career move and try to focus my networking and skills. I look forward to reading a lot of posts and checking out the website, and interacting with others.

I have a diverse background which unfortunately "evolved" more than resulted in long-term planning. It includes insurance (claims, Actuary, business analyst), M&A for a private corporation, Finance Manager, Analytics, and most recently I started a small hedge fund with friends and family - which I recently closed. I had tremendous investing success when managing my own money but underperformed for partners while being patient and setting up for a correction for too long (which happened days after I liquidated). But i digress.

Being in my mid 40's and not pursuing finance immediately after college graduation (also have an MBA), I feel it's just too late to join a large Asset Management firm. I have had 0 luck getting an interview even with an employee referral. I have looked into being a financial advisor which I think would align nicely with my skills and would be rewarding, but I am not into the sales aspect of it.

Has anyone with a diverse background made a mid-career transition into a financial advisor position or investment management position at a firm that works as a team? In a situation like that I could contribute with portfolio management, working with clients, performance analysis and computation, etc without having to cold call or chat up relatives for their money. I'm more of a math/analytics/research person (have a CFA exam, mba finance, econ undergrad, some actuary exams)

Sorry for the long post and for not using all of the acronyms, and THANK YOU for any input, suggestions, advice you can provide from your journey.

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Comments (6)

Best Response
Feb 17, 2016

Something in wealth management is probably your best shot. You should look into an investments role at a private bank. You won't be primarily responsible for finding clients and are part of a team. Your age is an asset in wealth management.

However, in all of these roles there will be an expectation for you to sell. Nobody wants to hire someone who just sits behind a desk thinking grand ideas for imaginary clients. You need to sell and you need to tell these prospective employers that you enjoy selling. In those roles you're generally selling yourself and your process. Frankly, if you don't believe in what you're selling enough to ask your friends and acquaintances for money, then you will probably fail.

If you don't know who the sucker is at the table, it's you.

    • 3
Feb 17, 2016

Thank you for the reply and input. I expect to be selling myself and the process, and the products. I just wouldnt want to go through a 3 year program at Merrill, for example, and then not hit a sales quota and be let go. I would have done that 20 years ago, but not now. I DID ask my friend and acquintances for money for the hedge fund... because I believed in myself and my product. I just don't want sales to be my focus.

Can you give an example of private bank? Regional?
thank you!

Feb 17, 2016

JP Morgan Private Bank
Citibank Private Bank
U.S. Trust
Wells Fargo Private Bank
Northern Trust
BNY Mellon


Pretty sure sales will be the focus at all of these places. That's what you would be measured on at least.

If you don't know who the sucker is at the table, it's you.

Feb 17, 2016

@thebrofessor could give you a better idea about PWM specifically because he's in it and I know you've said you don't want sales to be your focus but it's your best bet to be honest. I'm around your age and it's going to be tough to break into most other types of finance jobs simply because the people who have the types of jobs you want have been doing it since they were in their 20's (and I'll fully admit that it sucks when you realize something like that in any aspect of your life in your 40's).

Maybe you could join a team that would allow you to mix up portfolio management and bringing assets in because the people who bring in the money are the most valuable and therefore make the most by far, and perhaps you could kind of sidestep the 3 year program (although I know nothing about that specifically). I know you said you would have gone that route 20 years ago but I'd have to imagine that it would be really tough to ask randoms for money when you're 25 compared to having a pre-established network of people who have money when you're 45, in addition to the simple fact that you're 45 and people take you more seriously if you need to ask randoms and use your network to reach semi-randoms. You may also want to look beyond the wire houses and hit up RIA's and independent FA's.

But like I said, brofessor can give you a much more accurate picture than I.

    • 2
Feb 18, 2016

click on my profile, read my blog, I did a 4 part series on PWM as an industry. this should answer a lot of your questions.

also, the role you're talking about will NOT be in high demand at any of the major wirehouses, because (this will be hard to hear) you're a dime a dozen. for every one person who can make rain (sell), there are hundreds who are good at math. Now you say you're successful with your own investments, but not with others, that's not a good sign. it takes a certain temperament to handle others' money. the thing most people don't get about PWM is that it's not about beating your index, it's about helping clients achieve their goals with the lowest possible risk (volatility matters when you're in the distribution phase).

if you cannot get over the sales aspect of the industry, then I would argue it's not for you. the reason is this: at a major firm (I'm at one of the biggest 3 in PWM), we have access to the best money managers in the country. I have access to oaktree, Blackstone, starboard, and in the liquid space a plethora of separately managed accounts that can be had for an extremely low cost. for example, a good size practice would have $200mm in assets and generate 1.5mm in fees.

let's say that they have 25% of their money with one separate account manager handling their equities business, at my firm that will be 30-35bps going to that PM, so $175,000 per year. that money manager never gets sick, never has to go home early to see their family, and I'd argue could have at least the same performance as you. that's your competition. for bonds, it's even cheaper. for mutual funds & ETFs (if they don't do SMAs), the cost to the broker is $0, it's all paid by the client.

also, any good broker is going to know how to allocate assets, most clients will want a portfolio that provides the income they need and feels comfortable (40/60, 50/50, 60/40 something like that, maybe plus some alternative investments like RE, PE, HF, etc.). it doesn't take a mathematical genius to allocate assets, and any successful broker will already know how to do that.

what I'm saying is that what you want just isn't economical for PWM. they can get it cheaper and likely better elsewhere. some teams will have advisors who do have some sales duties but primarily do PM, but make no mistake about it, it's a sales culture, so you won't be huddled up with numbers all day long. I don't get the sense that you've made it this far in life while being a social pariah, so I'm betting it's not the interaction with people that scares you, it's the high pressure sales trajectory, and I don't blame you. before I tell you how I'd go about looking, be warned: you're fighting an uphill battle. if you come to a broker with the idea to help with portfolio management and don't intend on adding value in any other way, expect the cold shoulder. bear in mind that your salary is paid from fees the broker generates, rather than the firm, so if you get a job on a team, in essence the team is taking a pay cut to bring you on, so they need to have complete confidence that you'll add more value than you'll cost (in my experience, it's not likely).

what I'd do is reach out to branch managers at the major wirehouses and RIAs in your area. for wires, look at ms, ML, and UBS. for RIAs hightower and commonwealth (probably more, I'm not as familiar with this space). network with them, tell your story, say you want to learn more about the firm. they'll know if there's demand, but they'll likely try to sell you on the idea of becoming a rookie broker.

for private banks, the process is more structured. someone already mentioned all of the major private banks, and since I don't know how their recruiting works, I'd probably do the same thing, cold call the managers (probably a lot of contact info on website, after all it's a sales job) and learn more about the firm, maybe an interview comes out of it.

all of that said, I'm biased because I think the sales aspect, while frustrating at times, is infinitely more exciting than Asset Management. I love investing and love learning and researching, but it's so much more rewarding when you help a family materially improve their situation, win a large pool of assets from a prospect, or get a great referral from a satisfied client.

    • 2
Feb 29, 2016