I worked for ING Financial Partners in Jersey City for just about a year. Being a recent college graduate, I was eager to find a job and accepted the first opportunity that came my way. Having little experience in the working world, I accepted this job without looking into the details of the contract and instead, listened to the fabrications and lies set forth by the management, specifically the principal of the branch and head of recruiting, Frank Dougherty. Little did I know at the time, this is one of the biggest scams in the financial services industry.
A few weeks after my resume was uploaded on career builder, I got a call from the secretary of ING asking if I wanted to interview for a financial advising job at ING financial partners. I set up an interview and went for a "career preview" where Frank Dougherty (the firms manager) sat down with a group of 5 or 6 college graduates and talked about the highlights and rewards of the career. He told us that being a financial advisor was a piece of cake and all about making massive sums of money and playing golf on fridays. To quote him "its better than selling drugs". He went on to say the company gave advisors a 32,000 base salary to start off with. At the time, I believed this was a lucrative, successful financial services job that would invest in me and in turn, I could grow my own book of business with ING's resources while having a base salary to support me. I could not have been more wrong.
I chose to get my series 6, 63, and 65 licenses to get certified which took me about 3 months. During that time I had to pay a plethora of expenses including fingerprints, U-4 form, processing fees...etc. I had zero benefits and wasn't getting paid. I sat at home all day and studied for free. Pretty miserable to say the least.
Upon getting my licenses, I was surprised when the firms secretary (Meghan Johnson) asked for my credit card information. She said it was to bill me for any expenses I might incur and because once I began in the office I had to pay a $125 affiliation fee each month which covered office expenses, utility bills, etc. Are you kidding me? How cheap could this place be.
I started working in the office after getting fully licensed and on my first day a co-worker came up to me and asked "are you under the impression you're getting a salary"? I told him I was making 32k per year base salary. The whole office pretty much laughed in my face. They told me they were under the same impression when they started working, but sooner or later everyone catches on...you do not get a base salary. The "base salary" is contingent upon the employee making sales and one doesn't see a dime in their pocket from the company unless they're selling products. I was devastated. How could they trick all of us? While looking around the office I soon realized; the entire office was filled with recent college graduates...(aged from 22 to 25)...We don't have the experience and are more susceptible to lies. No experienced advisor would EVER work here because they would know what questions to ask and how atrocious the job opportunity was. Essentially this company is taking on ZERO risk when hiring its employees since there is zero salary and employees are mandated to pay all fees.
After finding out I was getting zero base pay and zero commissions, I was devastated but still had the will to keep trying. I'm a hard working individual and wanted my first job to be a success...especially since I studied for the past 3 months and paid the required licensing and processing fees. I decided to ask my secretary for a copy of my contract to look over exactly what I singed (since she completely rushed us through the contract signing process). I found out that I wasn't even an employee of ING. Nor did I even work for ING. I was an independent contractor and worked for a company called McAdam Financial. McAdam financial pays ING to use their logo ...and guess what, I was paying for that too with my $125 monthly expense. I wasn't even an ING employee? Just an outside contractor paid solely on commissions!?!? Things seemed worse and worse... still I kept trucking.
I got assigned a mentor whose primary concern was pressuring me into selling to friends and family. Every single day he would ask me things like: did you call you aunt?...did you get a hold of your uncle?. Did you set up a meeting with your parents yet?. I later found out that my mentor wanted me to sell because he got to share in the profits. The money I made got divided like this: Half immediately went to McAdam financial, then after that reduction, 20% went to the mentor, and 10% to the principal of the office. I received what was left over. Seems like a pyramid scheme to me. Additionally I found out my mentor was paid solely off commission as well. So basically if I rose up in the firm and did well, I still wouldn't have a base salary. This is probably why my mentor still lived with his parents, significant financial insecurity and an overall unsuccessful practice.
The firm did not teach me anything about finance, securities, bonds, etc. However, I did learn about two products (which are ironically the only two the company sells)...The prudential series b variable annuity and and ING global life insurance. They want you to push these products on friends and family because they are extremely lucrative for the firm and McAdam financial can make as much as possible from you considering most people don't stay longer than a year at this unsustainable scamhouse. They didn't care about managed accounts, portfolios, asset allocation, the market, ETC...which are necessary to be sustainable long-term as a financial advisor since they have residual income. The information on products was found in ING smartlinks which is a software website funded by the monthly fees I paid. Additionally, one has to bring there own laptop or computer into the office. They don't even supply you with that. You pretty much had to go into meetings blindly, trying to coerce a prospect into thinking whole life insurance or variable annuities were appropriate investments. I'm baffled FINRA hasn't investigated this firm since 99% of the products sold are a prudential series B variable annuity or a ING global life insurance policy, which are actually suitable for a very small fraction of clients.
Eventually I quit ING. I was losing a ton of money on gas, office fees, with no money coming in. How could I be expected to sell to my friends and family under the advice and recommendations of my manager/mentors when they chronically lied to me? I didn't want to ruin relationships with friends/family at my own short-term financial advancement. Choose a company that invests in you, not one where you're expected to sell expensive insurance products to family members to make the firm profitable.
My intention in writing this article is not to slander the firm, rather to inform others of the details surrounding this job...and hopefully prevent them from making the same mistake I did.