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30+ days ago

Branch Intern (Finance and Economics)

Scottrade Providence, RI

Interns assist branch offices with daily operations while gaining valuable work experience in the brokerage industry. • Shadow Investment… Scottrade


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Scottrade Founder, President, and CEO Rodger O. Riney
Rodger O. Riney
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  • 49 people found this helpful  

    I was a Scottrade casualty of change.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
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    Former Employee - Former Investment Consultant in Overland Park, KS
    Former Employee - Former Investment Consultant in Overland Park, KS

    I worked at Scottrade full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    I used to love going to work. I loved helping people. I loved teaching willing customers how the markets worked. I enjoyed my coworkers as we were teammates willing to step into whatever needed done. Sadly, it all changed.

    Cons

    When asset gathering became not just a buzzword, but company policy, I embraced it. I liked knowing that my efforts to bring in new money were to be rewarded. And I was rewarded. I was consistently in the top 20% in my region in new assets for the first 2 years of the new bonus structure. But as I found out, it was to be a slippery slope. During the 3rd quarter of 2014, branch administration started to change the rules as to what was considered "influenced assets." There was much debate as to the meaning of influence. After all, I'd been there for years. I had regular customers come in to make deposits just because I was "their broker." Did I influence it? Perhaps the first few times, by Scottrade standards. But the fifth, sixth, and seventh times, surely not, they'd say. They were just making deposits on their own. Deposits I shouldn't be rewarded for? Or should I? What a quandary...

    Once the incentive review team was formed, I knew I was toast. After many years of forming personal relationships with clients, and trying to service their accounts, management would always up the ante. Make your mythical 10 contacts and 2 opportunities. Whats your value per contact? I suddenly found myself morphed from human broker to a simple metric. Branch admin didn't care about my personal relationships, they wanted results. As an aside, I once asked my regional manager how they came up with 10 contacts. He said it was industry standard.

    One quarter, it was determined that half of my qualified deposits were not considered influenced. I was out a little over $1000 in bonus payout. I grew bitter. Rules that defined what was influenced had changed in the middle of the game and they controlled that game. They were the judge, jury and executioner. As I picked myself off the floor I determined to fight back. Wrong move. The next quarter I took in a check that was clearly not influenced, and doctored the CRM notes to make it look like it was influenced. It was the first time I had ever stepped on the other side of the ethical line...and I paid for it, with my job.

    Quarter after quarter of high quality performance reviews, public recognition on internal conference calls from management, my career as a broker at Scottrade was finished with one bad decision.

    As the pressure mounts to push, push, push for new assets, something changes within us. We become greedy. We think only about money as our sole motivation. After all, weekly conference calls with regional managers reinforce it with constant drilling. "Where are your outside investments held?" "Do you have an old 401k lying around somewhere?" "What will it take to get you to consolidate?" Questions I constantly asked for the sole reason of our greed. I wanted that bonus! I wanted to be recognized!

    The other day I was totaling up all the assets I brought to Scottrade in my 5 years there. I think I must've brought something close to $100 million into Scottrade. A fact that held little value when I was let go.

    I miss the place though. I miss my branch. I miss my clients. I miss the camaraderie.
    I was a good broker, but I wasn't a good enough metric.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I remember one time Matt Wilson came into my branch as he was in town over Thanksgiving. He came and sat down at my desk and we chatted for some time. I asked him some questions about upcoming products and he was visibly excited about what was to come. His excitement got me excited. He seemed like a nice enough guy. He seemed to believe what he was telling me and that was enough for me. I believed in his overall strategy to reshape the company into a more viable financial firm. For whatever reason, the execution just wasn't there.

    I only had branch experience and I can truly say that I was in the trenches with my fellow brokers on the front lines. We knew what worked and what didn't work. What was realistic and what wasn't. Unfortunately, management had a top-down approach to reshaping the firm. Management would dictate to regional managers what needed to be done, and by the time it got to us brokers, something was lost in translation. This led to cynicism within the ranks, needless conference calls, and an overall mistrust of the firm. What was a family style company culture, became dog-eat-dog mentality. Brokers stealing asset gathering opportunities from other brokers. A constant battle over what was considered influenced. In fighting amongst brokers and the back office. Regional managers with little front line experience informing me on best practices in a client facing environment.

    Had the execs been willing to speak with brokers on the front line doing the dirty work and forming a bottom-up approach as to the best course of action for the firm, I feel that I'd still be there today. Had they been willing to find out what resources it really takes to gain market share, I don't think they'd be in this mess today. But they didn't, and hopefully they'll learn from their mistakes. I know I've learned from mine.

    I'll leave you with this. You turned a motivated kid, excited about learning everything about the financial markets, one who was willing to go above and beyond for clients time and again, into a cynical, skeptical, young adult that learned the hard way. I have a Bachelors in Economics, an MBA, a Series 7 and 63 and nowhere to use them. I wished I had made better decisions, but I wished Scottrade had too. We could've been great together.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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