Unlocking Real Value Blog

And the Worst Job in Financial Services is ….

I saw this morning that four Morgan Stanley Smith Barney branch managers recently left the firm – two went to competitors and the fate of the other two was not known by the reporter. It got me thinking, is there a worse job in this business than being a branch manager, especially at a wirehouse?

You will know from past blogs that I am not one of the many wirehouse bashers – I have spent many years at these large firms, and despite recent difficulties, I feel that they will have their day once again. But over the past few decades, the role of branch management has changed, and not for the better.

Historically, compliance jobs were always considered the worst in the industry. Everyone hates those anti-business people in compliance and legal, don’t they? Realistically, we know that they are a necessary evil and in fact there to protect us – but it was always fun to blame them for everything bad. But now, in today’s world of transparency and full disclosure, compliance has become a friend more than a foe. In fact, almost unheard of years ago, people sometimes look for that “no” to avoid things that they really don’t want to do!

Conversely, branch management used to be a glamorous job. The branch manager was respected, helped train and mentor the rookies, held productive sales meetings and stood up for his guys when the home office was being difficult. Those days are behind us, especially at the wirehouses.

Branch managers have largely become babysitters – bringing down the hammer at the request of the home office, and often saying no to protect themselves. I have an old friend who was a branch manager. His firm asked recently him to fill-in temporarily when they were between branch managers. He did it – but only out of a sense of loyalty, and he did it kicking and screaming!

To cut costs, many branch managers have been let go in place of complex managers, pay has been cut, and I’ll bet we all know tons of former branch managers who are now producers.

So yes, I think that the worst job in financial services is definitely branch manager.

What do you think?

Leave a Reply