Paul Thompson, a rep with Signal Securities, 2002 Broker/Dealer of the Year in Division I, is an officer of Town North Bank in Dallas and manages the bank’s investment program. He’s been with Signal for two years, having left his previous B/D after a three-year stint. Signal, he says, is definitely rep-focused. “For someone who wants independence,” he says, “it’s a great place.” He finds most other B/Ds to be overly focused on sales goals, constantly asking what the rep is producing. Signal, by contrast, asks “How can we help you?” Thompson says he is able to operate independently and also has “great” compliance support. One way Signal helps him do business, he explains, is by recognizing that “We [reps] understand what our client base is and what our prospect base is.”
Lynn Heiting, a Signal rep in Odessa, Texas, offers her opinion on what it feels like to be part of Signal: “It’s like a big family,” she says. “They give you the feeling that you’re important even if you don’t do a lot of business.” Heiting, who in the past has been a rep at SunAmerica and at A.G. Edwards, points out that Signal offers personalized attention, something that the bigger B/Ds have in very short supply. “There are good people [at Signal],” she says, and adds that they offer a lot of valuable information on areas or products that an individual rep may not be familiar with. Heiting’s moves from one B/D to another meant she’s investigated a number of possible business homes, including Edward Jones and Schwab. But she didn’t find that those options were quite what she was looking for. “It’s the difference in people,” she says. “It’s amazing.” And it’s been good for Heiting; she’s been at Signal for about five years now.
It’s not just one big party, though. Heiting points out that Signal is “pretty conservative; they have us do more paperwork than anybody I’ve ever been with, but it’s to cover your own tail. My clients, even after 9/11, weren’t all that worried.” And that’s saying something, given that earlier this year another broker in Heiting’s town absconded with all his clients’ money–”tons of money,” she says. But Heiting says there’s a huge difference in the amount of monitoring of reps that Signal does. “We’re pretty free to run our business the way we want to, but they make you play by the rules and regulations. I get the feeling from the people who work there that they have pretty high ethics and morals.”