Help OP with a job interview

Bros, need some guidance here.

I won’t say any names, but I’m interviewing at a firm that rhymes with “Shmorgam Shmanley” next week. More specifically, it’s with an advisor who has almost 1b AUM at Morgan Stanley.

The role is called portfolio manager associate. I don’t really think it’s equivalent to being a PM of some large cap value fund/SMA and probably has a fair bit of operational/rebalance work, but the gal I spoke with initially was really nice and I want to go work with actual clients in some regard (mind you I currently sell passive factor based SMA’s and make proposals for advisors on our platform (biggest fin tech platform out there).

Just wondering if any of you can shed light on what it’s like to work in this sort of role? What questions should I ask? Am I even an employee of Morgan Stanley, or am I an employee of the guy who has the book? What if he leaves? Is there a chance I could buy the book when he retires? He focuses on UHNW/HNW clients from what I gather. Any help, or perspective you guys can share is highly valued.

I mean, you’re a financial advisor in this role, pure and simple. You are an employee of Morgan Stanley, however, and would participate in their benefits, corporate resources, etc. And depending on how close you get to the guy, sure, of course there’s a possibility you could take over his book.

You may enjoy this role, but if you are looking to advance your career in “institutional investment management” in the long run, then this role is not for you. You could pigeonhole yourself as a retail FA guy, and that might be fine, but you need to be aware of what you’re getting involved in. Have they talked comp structure yet? Would you essentially be eating what you kill here?

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Only information I have is that I did a college internship at Merrill Lynch for a broker who made stock selections like a PM. $1B AUM is roughly what we had and that seemed to be a very good amount of AUM to generate attractive salaries, but of course most of that flows to the person who gathered / supports the AUM.

I would ask questions about what the actual job will entail, why did the prior person leave, what is the career progression of people in this role, etc. How much time will be spent talking to clients who are calling about what Tucker Carlson said about the stock market last night vs. more interesting financial stuff.

DOW is correct that doing this job could impact how your resume reads to future employers. I don’t know how different this would be from your current job, but I believe people view sales people as more “finance” than brokers. Financial advisors are the used car salesmen of the industry :smiley: There is also a lot of regulation / changes in the industry, so I’d expect pay is trending downward. I wouldn’t use your boss’s situation as the expectation for your career if you succeed.

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Very thankful for your replies guys. I copy/pasted the responsibilities and pay structure. I’m curious to know if this is competitive? They mentioned to me that they understand they’d have to “pay up for someone with a CFA” (win…).

[quote] pay:

Base Pay
– Bonus aligned with AUM growth of total portfolio
(and any other Financial Advisors
with AUM in team)
– A % of net new year over year revenue growth on
the quarter. For example, the difference between
Q1 2020 and Q1 2021
– Not capped
– Paid quarterly
– Discretionary bonus based on individual, team and
firm performance
– Anticipated at 10 – 15% of base pay
– Paid annually


DOW - I think you have a great point. I don’t really know if I’m looking to advance in Institutional investment management anymore though. I didn’t come from a target school, and I just genuinely am no black_swan. If I really cared about advancing in this field I feel like I would have naturally spent the last 2/3 years actually learning python, figuring out my bloomberg terminal inside & out, and trying to interview/network in that field. I’ve done literally none of that. So if I’m not cut out for it, then with me it’s fine, because I really feel like there’s a lot else I am cut out for (especially, rubbing elbows with the wealthy). Personally, I’d rather just go work with the end client at this point.

RawRaw - He is a 1 man shop at this point that needs help due to an expanding book. Essentially I’d be the liason between all of the worlds fund managers wholesalers, and the end client. Sort of feel like with a book approaching 1 billion, that he’s gotta be a huge target for all of those guys, and I’d rather be taken to lunch, than to take people to lunch.

I’d also have to do the 7/66… but like… I should be able to do that… just a hunch.

I used to work as a retail FA at a firm…let’s call it Morgan Merrill Jones. I have also prepared plenty of tax returns for “advisors” at Morgan Merrill Jones. Here’s my takeaway:

  1. You are an employee of MMJ. They sign your paycheck and you follow their rules.
  2. You are part of a “group”, which is pretty normal at firms like MMJ. Basically, all the people in the group have access to the same clients and can service all the “group’s” accounts. (You will NOT have access to other clients. Only the ones in the “group”.) This guy may be the “leader” of the group, but he is NOT your employer.
  3. This is probably a path to “senior advisor”. There’s probably a lot of grunt work in the early years, but if you’re good at it, you can probably make some good coin.

However–be not confused–this is a “financial advisor” role. It is not “portfolio management” or “financial analysis” or “corporate valuation” or anything else. You will basically be a glorified salesman. You work for MMJ, and your job is to sell MMJ products. (Let’s not argue the semantics behind “provide advice” or “sell”.) Not saying this is good or bad–but it is a sales job. (I have written extensively about my opinion on most retail “financial advisors”.)

Greenman - thanks for the reply. I totally understand it’s not a PM role, in any regard. I just want to get paid though.

I would technically be a fiduciary to almost a billion dollars though. Which does sound like there’s embedded income growth potential anyway you look at it.

I felt compelled to give you some numbers here. For one guy who was the head of a “group” made $2.2m. His “junior” made $650k. Most retail FA’s earn between $150-250k at Morgan Merrill Jones. (based on their tax returns–which I prepared.) Note that this is only the 5% who “survived”.

Oh yeah–your CFA Charter will be of virtually no benefit to you. Not in this role. Put away any delusions of grandeur that clients will flock to you like moths to flame simply because you’re a CFA. Won’t happen.

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You misunderstood my comment. The FA i’m interviewing with values the CFA is what I was saying. Not that the client will care…

but yes, I’d like the $250k option please. Thanks.

If it is a billion dollar single advisor there must be some large accounts, or it would not be scalable. I actually think most here have it wrong. You will be bringing investment and portfolio construction ideas to him and, pending his approval, to his clients. You will help construct portfolios and will be responsible for the tax location of the assets (like, HY bond funds in IRAs, etc.).

You will also probably have to do some trading and reconciling brokerage accounts to the clients’ models/stated investment strategies. I believe that while you may be brought along to sales pitches and client reviews, you will not have a book and will not be expected to pitch for new assets. This may be a path to that, if you find that you would enjoy it.

Basically, you handle the actual implementation or client portfolios and bringing ideas to enhance them and whatever else your boss asks you to do.

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Sign me up for that. The more I learn about the role, the more I want it honestly.

Did you find out what their personal trading policy is? It may put the serious kibosh on your YOLO portfolio.

Wait really? What part of being a fiduciary means I can’t put almost a billy into a 3x beta portfolio?

I’d stop yolo trading the second I started earning a respectable salary somewhere.

I’m not so sure why I shouldn’t time dogecoin either though. What if I bought 20k chunks of doge every time it fell 10%??..

I kid DOW → I just wanna make the money before it makes me.

During the interview, don’t forget to ask them about the ping pong table. It’s basically required to attract the millennial crowd and I would never work anywhere without one. Not because I like ping pong, but because it signals a hip, fun work environment, especially if working from home. Ask about whether flipflops are in the dress code as well.

wfh mandatory.

They want to talk to me about next steps.

Cheesing from cheek to cheek bros.

Just don’t reveal your AF identity. Could be an instant deal-killer. Good luck man.

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Curious why you can’t earn that salary in your current sales job? Are you just hoping this sales is easier?

You seem like a personable guy with a face for TV. Probably have a decent shot at doing well. But I do wonder why you aren’t currently crushing it in the current sales role. I don’t know the sales landscape very well, so perhaps I think you are a different type of sales person than you actually are.

Another thing that you may want to ask is what you are actually allowed to do with the client money. Different firms have different rules on what you can buy etc. But I don’t think brain is wrong about what you’ll do. The question is what percent of your day will be that vs other stuff. At Merrill, we had large accounts to have that much AUM as well. So that meant it wasn’t a ton of strategy. It wasn’t like they changed their allocations weekly

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Are you saying that, in your professional opinion, this would be a dead-end job and that CEO could likely do better if he simply looked harder?

No, just don’t understand why he’d need to go this route for money. I know a couple guys who do this sort of work. If you are good at it, seems quite good in terms of quality of life with high pay.

Considerable headwinds. 1. Toxic management. 2. I don’t even kno how I’m paid. Dude, I’ve been doing this for over two years now and my boss just says “We have a complicated comp structure” every time I ask about comp. 3. I’m just super disengaged from the sales aspect of my job. This new role there’s zero sales pressure. All I’m responsible for is managing money, rebalancing portfolios, and helping out with clients in any way shape or form asked. There’sno sales pressure the guy interviewing me said.

I’m no rockstar stock picking portfolio manager though. And I told the guy over the phone that if he was looking for a guy to come in and on day 1 start producing 20% quarter over quarter growth for his clients, then I’m probably not what he’s looking for. But if he is looking for a guy to manage money according to some firms capital market assumptions and recommended asset allocations, then I would have no problem doing just that. He said we do have the ability to make any “bet” we essentially want though in his discretionary AUM book. He’s a one man band right now.

He needs help so he can go grow the biz through making new clients.