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Internal Wholesaler Interview

So I have an interview for an Internal Wholesaler position at a major fund company coming up shortly. The manager told me to be prepared for a “very intense” interview where they’ll know quickly if I’m good for the job.

That caught me off guard, I’ll obviously know all the usual interview questions (strengths, weaknesses, tell me about a time when…) plus the funds they offer, competitive landscape, economic forecast blah blah.

Can anyone share their experiences on Internal Wholesaler interviews or ANY Sales interviews in general? What are some difficulties unique to sales interviews?… One of my buddies once went for an interview for a sales role at a bank, and the VP slammed an apple on the desk and said, “sell me this apple, go…”… that **** cray

I know some of you have a good grasp of this industry. Sweep The Leg, I’m looking at you, holla!

Let me be the strawman and I’ll ensure you’re hired. 

1BigStudMuffin wrote:

You cray Weezy F

Weezy F = Lil Wayne

Yeezy = Kanye West

Dont get it twisted cuz, lol

CFAvsMBA wrote:

Let me be the strawman and I’ll ensure you’re hired. 

I wish, you seem like an awesome guy to work with, no homo

Sorry, I don’t come around here often.  We really need a PM system.

The hardest part will be the roleplaying and presentation (if they ask you for one).  They’ll probably have you do a mock phone call…or they may actually put you on the phone and have you call another manager.  Don’t worry about having to know their products, they won’t expect you to.  What they’re looking for is you’re able to converse with someone without tripping over your tongue. 

Whatever they ask you to sell, start with at least 3 open ended questions, 5 is better. Honestly, if you can string together 3 open ended questions without tripping yourself up, I guarantee you’ll get the job. Most guys come in the interview and say something to the effect of “um, do you like this apple?” The manager will say “no” and end the interview. If you ask them what they had for breakfast this morning and get them talking, you’re a shoe in. If you end the mock call and the manager did more than half the talking you nailed it. The less you have to talk the better you’re doing. They’re not hiring you to talk, they’re hiring you to get the advisor to talk. Oh, and remember to end the call with some sort of next step - get a meeting for your external, offer to send them additional information, or if you’re feeling particularly awesome, ask for the sale. Just be sure to end the call strongly.

Tell them you’re not afraid to pick up the phone and call people (it’s amazing how many people are terrified of it). That you’re looking forward to building new relationships with prospects and strengthening existing relationships. And that you’ll do anything your external says…anything.

Some firms only like to hire internals that plan on going external, so no matter what you really want be sure to tell them your dream is to build your own territory and go external one day, and in the meantime you’re happy to get out and travel whenever possible.

It’s a sales job so just be sure to come off as a likable guy that’s cool with picking up the phone 40 times a day and you’ll do fine.  You probably won’t have to demonstrate too much industry or product knowledge. That’s secondary to being a good relationship person. They can train you on the product stuff.  They can’t make you likable.

Oh, and if you play golf be sure to mention that. Open ended questions, external ambition, be awesome, and play golf.  That should do it. 

It’s really a pretty good gig. The money is decent and most people get promoted off the desk in 3-5 years and start making really good money…if that’s the path you want to go down.

Good luck. Let me know if you have any questions.

Sweep the Leg wrote:

Sorry, I don’t come around here often.  We really need a PM system.

Oh, and if you play golf be sure to mention that. Open ended questions, external ambition, be awesome, and play golf.  That should do it. 

It’s really a pretty good gig. The money is decent and most people get promoted off the desk in 3-5 years and start making really good money…if that’s the path you want to go down.

Good luck. Let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you Sweep! I was hoping you would swing by this thread eventually. and Yes we def need a PM system, you listening Chad? But I guess the downside to that would be people who need this answer in the future woudnt have access to it, food for thought.

Anyways, I’ll keep your pointers in mind. As well, contrary to what you said, my few connections in the industry have told me that having industry and product knowledge are keys to the interview. I’m going to know it regardless, if they dont ask about it, I’ll just have a head start on what I need to learn.

Thanks for the insight once again!

I probably understated the importance of industry knowledge. Given that you’re a L2 candidate you’re going to have a better general understanding of finance than nearly all their current internals. Obviously they’ll ask you some questions related to mutual funds and general market stuff, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they give you the benefit of the doubt given you’ve passed L1. The CFA route isn’t common in the wholesaler role (but very useful).

Anyway, I assume you’ll nail any industry questions they throw your way. It’s the other stuff - sales stuff - that catch folks off guard.

I guess it’s different from market to market, but here in Toronto having the CFA is slowly growing in demand for mutual fund sales. I’ve seen a lot of external guys with their CFA and many internals who are in the process of attaining the charter. However that may just be because we are saturated with Charterholders here, and you pretty much need it for any finance position.

In fact, the hiring manager said my pursuit of the charter was a key factor in them calling me for an interview.

^ You now have cab drivers pursuing the CFA in Toronto.

Inducted into the AF Hall of Fame, class of ‘17

An internal role is the most mind-numbing exp i have ever went through. The monotony of work will leave you with brain atrophy and a disdain for advisors. The money is decent (esp for someone looking to get their foot in the door) but i wouldn’t recommend it for anyone looking to become an analyst.

^ Ya I have heard that point of view. From the people I know in the industry they tell me it rather depends on what territory you work in and how well your external works with you.

As for disdain for advisors, I can see that happening with the “car salesman turned advisor” advisors. But I think working with sophisticated advisors who have large clients could be quite interesting.

And yes the money is definitely decent, especially for a young guy like me. Like many others, the dream was definitely to be a buy-side analyst, but since graduating from school 1.5 years ago I’ve only landed one buy-side interview (went to the final round but lost out as the winning candidate was a better “fit” for the company). I’ll probably return to that avenue post-MBA.

Not to mention I’m quite good at sales and rather enjoy it, so we’ll see where it goes. I’m thinking on the margin, and an Inside gig is much better than my current job, so I’ll take it.

It appears you understand what you’re getting yourself into - I personally have a bad taste from that specific side of the industry and I was supposedly dealing with the sophisticated private wealth.. Best of luck - hopefully your firm will sponser you for bschool. 

Yo Sweep!

So I’m going to the final round. Only a few candidates left. Last interview will be with an experienced Wholesaler (probably the one that the winning candidate will be working under). Once again, the manager told me to be ready to “get grilled.”

Any final tips? As a Wholesaler, what questions would you ask?

Why internal wholesaler?

Inducted into the AF Hall of Fame, class of ‘17

I can break 80 easily and like to talk about breakfast… pencil me in for one of these $200k/year schmoozing jobs. I also have extensive knowledge of red wine and fine dining for client events. I’m 6’4 good looking and wear designer suits. Where do I apply?

^^You’ve been expedited to the final round. Did you grow up playing lacrosse? Do you have a penchant for useless small talk? 

I’m 6’3 and what I consider moderately good looking. I also have a pension for Valentino suits and Oliver People’s glasses.

Guess that all works in my favour.

A common question is whether you like Huey Lewis’s old (new wave) music or there more contemporary work?

When Sports came out in 83’, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear crisp sound and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost…

Love that movie.

Have you had the final round yet? Sorry, I keep forgetting this forum exists.

So you’re talking with an external for your final round? I’m sure it’s the guy/gal you’ll be working with. You probably have the job and they’re just making sure your personality gels with your external before making it official.

Don’t really have any tips for you. At this point it’s just a personality thing. Wholesalers are big self-promoters so now’s not the time to get humble. Basically, kiss his/her ass and talk about how awesome you are. This person will own you for the next few years so be sure to give them the impression you’ll do whatever it takes to make them rich(er).

Good luck man. Let me know how it goes.

^Yup, had the final round already.

And yes it was with the wholesaler I would be working with. Your other prediction was also correct, it was a pure personality test. I think it went well, I’ll keep you posted.

^ Do you send thank you letters or call them up every week to see if a decision was made?  I had an interview recently and I refuse to manipulate others through these tactics.

Inducted into the AF Hall of Fame, class of ‘17

^ I always send thank you emails after every interview; I go through the effort of individualizing them for every person I interviewed with as well. It only takes a few minutes and I see it as something that can only help you. No downside risk. I don’t really see it as manipulation, it’s a pretty standard practice and I doubt it alters the hiring decision for 95% of the cases. But I’m willing to take my chances on that 5%.

I even send “thank you for the opportunity” emails when I don’t get selected for a job and that has helped me get some phenomenal feedback from interviewers on how I can improve and make myself more competitive. 

What’s the salary for these positions like, range is fine, i’m not trying to know your specific one, I just want to know what you mean when you say the money is good. I ask because there are a couple of these open in a firm across the street from me. Thank you.

Ramos4rm, CFA, CAIA

From my exp internals were between 80-120 (NYC) and externals were from 200-1mm. 

^ That seems pretty accurate for NYC. Just remember Ramos4rm that the work you do and compensation you get can vary wildly depending on if your firm is already a street player or a new boy on the street.

Your base salary can also fluctuate depending on the amount of experience you have. For a relatively low experienced candidate like me, industry standard in Toronto will be $50 +/-5 Base + Bonus/Commission of 20-100. I’ve been told that even on a crap year you’re looking at a bare minimum of 70. My numbers are for internals only.

As you can see, compensation can vary a lot, and often it’s out of your control. It just depends on what territory you work in. 

whatsyourgovt wrote:

From my exp internals were between 80-120 (NYC) and externals were from 200-1mm. 

It varies a lot by firm and how they use internals. $80k would be pretty low, but if you’re a rookie and your territory has a bad year that could happen.  Over a three year sales cycle you’re looking at $100-140k with some more room to the upside if you have some good years.

Externals make way more money and location doesn’t matter. Aside from some (very) small cost of living perks all externals get paid a certain amount of basis points on gross sales and/or net investment. If an external is making less than $300k a year, they’ll be fired before long. They should be pulling down $400-600k easy, and on good years their upside is limitless. It’s not at all uncommon for the top 1-3 wholesalers to pull down seven figures. Being an external in a low cost of living territory is a highly sought after job.

Anyway, whatsyourgovt is basically correct. I just wanted to add some additional color around it.

Edit: Just to clarify - $70-90k isn’t uncommon for an off year, but you shouldn’t be averaging that over a 3-5 year timespan. There are definitely firms out there that only pay that much, but that’s not where anyone wants to end up.

There are plenty of career internals. If you work for a good firm and have a good external it’s a fairly low stress job that pays well. Most want to go external, but there are also a fair number of people happy to pull down $130k a year and have a job with a nice work/life balance. 

Got the phone call I was hoping for! Got the job! Woooo

“Ok, we poppin champagne like we won a championship game” - Birdman

Shout out to Sweep for sharing his wisdom. Over multiple rounds of interviews I got all the curveball questions (Mock phone call, sell me this pen etc.)

Any additional insight into how I can dominate the job and go external as fast as possible would be appreciated. I’m not losing focus here, I know I have to focus on the Inside role first; I just want to know what would make me stand out.

Congrats b

Ramos4rm, CFA, CAIA

Congrats buddy!  Nicely done.

The golden rule is to keep you external happy. Be sure to do any follow up or tasks he/she gives you immediately. Nothing pisses off externals like promising something to a client then having an internal fail to deliver. It’ll probably take about six months for your external to trust you, but if you do everything they ask eventually you’ll get some autonomy.

To keep your manager happy just hit your goals. It’s a results driven business so while being the first one in and last to leave is nice - particularly for your first few months - it’s really your activity level that they pay attention to. If you’re suppose to average 30 calls a day make 40. If you can do that and leave at 4:00 no one will care.

Pay attention to the call coaching you’ll receive. When your manager gives you a “suggestion” for a calling campaign or a way to approach a product be sure to weave it in to a few calls. They appreciate you at least trying.  You do all this and you’ll be golden.

Going external is a little different. For that you need to play politics a bit. Get to know the external managers as quickly and as well as possible. Let them know right away you aspire to go external. Whenever they’re in the office be sure to look good. They have to be able to invision you in front of a client. Whenever you have the opportunity to go out drinking with them do so. Also, golf. Practice your public speaking and take any opportunity to get in front of your peers to present. Generally just be awesome.

Pay attention to which managers like to promote off the desk and which tend to hire outside externals. Kiss ass accordingly. Depending on the size of the external sales force at your firm you could make it off the desk in 2-3 years, but I’d say be prepared to put in >5. But, for most people the external position is the end of the line. Having to wait five years for your last job, and one that pays so well, isn’t that bad.

As you get ramped up let me know if you have any questions.  

Congrats - I would add attitude is key. Always spin off anything (reorg in the firm, a new manager, a new external, switching terrs) as an opportunity. You’ll have frustrating days where sales are low or your external had a bad meeting in which he/she may vent on you - always realize this is only business and never let your emotions get in the way of performing your job. Finally, surround yourself with those who are viewed positively by the firm. Every firm has their disgruntled employees - try to disassociate yourself from that group because it will help you maintain the right mindset while building your image among the rising stars. Remember, consistency is king…