May 27, 2010

Edward Jones Pushes to Add 1,100 FAs; A Tough Target for '10, Says Exec

At 12,743 advisors, Edward Jones is smaller than Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and Merrill Lynch in terms of the size of its advisor force but is ahead of independent giant LPL Financial.

Edward Jones headcount, as of April 30 is 12,743, including financial advisors in both the United States and Canada. It had some $540 billion in client assets under management as of the end of April, as well.

This puts the broker-dealer, which employs its financial advisors, behind the three largest wirehouses (Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and Merrill Lynch) in terms of the size of its advisor force -- but ahead of independent giant LPL Financial.

"This is up from the 12,615 we had at beginning of the year," said Dan Timm, partner of branch development for the St. Louis-based broker-dealer, in a phone interview. "In 2009, we grew by about 800. Our design this year is to grow by about 1,100."

He acknowledges that this will be a tough target to meet.

Current numeric projections based on the first few months of the year, though, put the firm on track to hire 650 or so FAs.

However, Timm says, "... we may not be perfectly on pace, but we are in the ballpark."

The aggressive growth plans for 2010 were laid out in Edward Jones five-year 2008-2012 plan, which will be tweaked somewhat later this year.

"We're updating it as we go and should be refreshing it in early 2011," said Timm, a St. Louis native who has been with the firm since 1983.

Of the 800 advisors brought on board in 2009, 100 were producing transfer advisors and 475 had a securities license.

Overall, "About 57% of those hired are referred to us by branch associates, advisors or administrators in the field," explained Timm. "Another good percentage comes to us through the Internet, a bit over 30%."

The firm employs a "rigorous hiring process that entails phone and face-to-face interviews in the field and psychometric tests," he added.

During the '08-'09 downturn, the average age and income of its recruited advisors fell slightly, Timm says. But it's now on the rise again, he notes.

"Today, we are getting more into what looks to us like the normal hiring and recruiting platform vs. the anomaly we had then," said the executive.

Still, he points out, it is a highly competitive market for veteran financial advisors. "Many people have already moved, and there are so many handcuffs being put on advisors right now that it's become more difficult to move than before. Nearly everyone is part of some kind of deal, with a retention package or a recruiting package."

Reprints Discuss this story
This is where the comments go.