We Review Merchant Careers from First Direct Financial
Quick Summary of Merchant Careers
Rating: 3 out of 5. FDF operates a legit program that turns you into a trained salesperson for a fee.
Pros: Merchant Careers seems to be a solid training program where you gain access to expert online materials and become a salesperson for a credit and debit card processor.
Cons: The training program offers no refund, and there is the possibility that the market is or will become oversaturated. Also, there is no guarantee that the training is sufficient to help you sell credit and debit card processing services.
Our Recommendation: Merchant Careers might be worth a try if you already have some sales background. Otherwise, this program seems like it would be a lot of work. You may be interested in learning about our top recommendation on how to build a business. Best of all, it's free to get started.
When you swipe your credit card at a store, restaurant or gas station, there are different systems that come together to process your transaction. There is the credit card company itself, which your merchant charges. There is also the credit card payment processor, which encrypts the transaction and enables the payment amount to be charged to the credit card company.
In exchange for these service systems, the merchant loses a percentage of your transaction amount to both the credit card company and the payment processor. This loss is called the merchant processing fee and ranges from 2%-6%. Thus, many merchants shop around for payment processors that have the lowest fees yet can accept the widest range of credit cards.
Welcome to First Direct Financial
Enter First Direct Financial (FDF), a merchant account provider (and technically, a sub-independent sales organization) that works with the direct processor, CardConnect, to enable merchants to accept credit cards from customers like you.
However, FDF doesn’t operate in a vacuum, and neither does CardConnect. In fact, there are hundreds of merchant account providers out there, as well as direct processors, vying to establish merchant accounts. After all, the credit card industry is big business, and everyone wants a cut of the billions of consumer transactions occurring on a daily basis.
In light of this fact, FDF leverages its efforts to generate merchant accounts by hiring salespeople. FDF takes a rather interesting approach to how it hires its salespeople…it actually approaches them first. This is done under the guise of a program called Merchant Careers.
My review of Merchant Careers, as presented by First Direct Financial
Earlier this week, I received an email from Merchant Careers. Within that email, it was stated that I had been selected from a broad search of area entrepreneurs on an invitation-only basis to attend a webinar. The webinar itself was going to instruct me how I could make a residual income.
I signed up for this webinar and, on the day it was scheduled, received an email and mobile text to attend it. Once I entered the site, I was introduced to two presenters, Shawn Whitson and Cary Flanders (who are shown at the bottom left of my webinar screen shots).
Shawn and Cary first discussed how credit card payments work and the basis of merchant processing fees. They then explained why the 80 or so attendees of today’s webinar had been invited:
So, what is this “great opportunity?”
At first, what Shawn and Cary offer to their attendees is the opportunity to become a sales associate (SA) with FDF. As an SA, you make a residual commission on any new merchant account you sign up to CardConnect via FDF. So, anytime the merchant swipes a credit or debit card and uses CardConnect to complete the transaction, you get a portion of the merchant processing fee. This is explained as follows:
But wait…there’s even more opportunity in store.
Because credit cards have recently been outfitted with security chips, many of the hardware systems that merchants use to process credit and debit cards are outdated. You may have noticed this already while shopping at your local grocery store or gas station- not every merchant can accept your chipped card in his processor. As a result, you’re left swiping your credit card at the terminal even if you do have a chipped card.
So, as a salesperson with FDF, you could make a commission through new merchant accounts and through equipment sales/leases.
Shawn and Cary then go into the fundamentals of how you would work within the organization. If you sign up as an SA, you get some training and a 25% commission from FGF. Once you sign up 100 new merchant accounts, you are promoted to regional account manager (RAM), where you receive much more intensive training and double your SA commission rate.
The perks of being a RAM are obvious but first require signing up 100 merchants accounts.
However, this is where Shawn and Cary surprise you. For a limited time period of roughly 3 days, you can be promoted to a RAM by paying $99/month.
It seems odd that you can just pay for a work promotion, but the justification here is that it takes money to train and provide you with all the extra items shown above in my screen shot. So…
Is FDF worth the money?
Basically, the point of this webinar is to convince you to pay FDF nearly $1,200/year in order to work as one of its salespersons. Is this monetary investment worth it?
Our motto has always been that you should never pay money for any kind of job opportunity.
Having said that, there are programs that train and educate you in a given field and which you do pay for. A college degree can be looked at as one form of training/education that costs money and promises you a job opportunity at the end. Various online job forums, affiliate programs, etc. also charge you a monthly membership fee.
To be fair, you aren’t obligated to purchase the RAM package and can start out as an SA if you wish. In fact, this is the answer I received when I mentioned being an SA during the webinar:
In light of this, I list the following benefits and risk of paying for and becoming a RAM with FDF.
The benefits of being a RAM
In exchange for that $99 monthly fee, FDF promises to provide you with additional training, sales leads, and access to a national sales director. You also gain access to the CRM software and other goodies like business cards, a corporate email account, and a tablet with presentation materials.
With credit cards switching over to EMV compliance, merchants need to update their processing equipment, which means there is an opportunity to update their accounts to a completely different processor.
FDF provides a $1,000 incentive to try CardConnect’s processing services, which makes it easier to convince merchants to try FDF.
And let’s not forget that, as a RAM. you’ll enjoy 50% commissions for every new merchant account you sign up.
The risks of being a RAM
Being a salesperson for any product or service carries certain risks that are inherent to the industry. The biggest of these risks is market oversaturation. After every merchant has switched over to EVG compliant equipment and/or is happy with her merchant account provider, you are out of a job.
According to reviews of FDF on Glassdoor, the company may be placing its salespeople too close to one another and encouraging internal competition. One salesperson complained that he went to visit a merchant and was told that someone else from FDF had already visited this merchant a few days prior.
There is also the risk of not making any sales and losing the money and time you’ve invested as a FDF salesperson. FDF explicitly states that it doesn’t do refunds.
In the end, whether or not selling merchant processing accounts and equipment is right for you will be determined by your territory, how well you can sell, and how much quality training you receive beforehand. It appears that FDF invests heavily in training and education, at least for its RAMs. It also appears that there is a generous commission structure in place for salespeople who make sales.
Merchant Careers does not appear to be a scam, but it also offers no guarantee of success. However, the company does at least seem upfront about what you’re getting into, and it does offer you the opportunity to start selling as an SA.
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