Edward Jones said Thursday that it could boost its recruiting target for 2012 to 2,500 after adding some 1,600 in 2011. The St. Louis-based broker-dealer also shared that last week it had been recognized for the 12th year in a row by Training magazine for its practice-management programs.
“We have about 12,600 employee advisors in the United States and Canada,” said Kevin Alm (left), general partner and the head of branch training for the St. Louis-based broker dealer, in an interview. “We added about 1,600 financial advisors last year and project that we could add 2,500 in 2012.”
While Ed Jones’ recruiting has been somewhat flat, like the rest of the industry, in the past few years, “We anticipate getting back on track in 2012,” Alm explained, “which would meaning getting back to growing our net number by 600-800 …”
The company, he says, has made its compensation and recruiting packages “more attractive.” It has 14 teams of about four people each in 14 major markets leading the recruiting effort. “And keep in mind that most of our recruits are brought in by existing advisors,” he said.
Edward Jones recently increased the base salary for recruits and lengthened time that advisors can retain some portion of the salary as they ramp up production. “This makes it more attractive to those making six figures to make the transition,” said Alm.
Edward Jones initial training lasts about four months, and the complete training program is a two-year process. The company conducts its training programs in St. Louis; Tempe, Ariz; and Toronto, Canada. It enrolls nearly 200 trainees each month.
Training magazine ranked it 15th in its 2012 Training Top 125 list and recognized its Practice Makes Perfect initiative, which emphasizes role play, with one of five Best Practice awards.
“The associates in our branches–financial advisors and branch office administrators–are key to our firm’s success. Training them to serve clients well has always been a top priority,” said Jim Weddle, managing partner of Edward Jones, in a statement. “We appreciate getting outside recognition but satisfied clients are the best confirmation that our training is the industry’s best.”
The role playing, according to Alm, takes place in a suite with 12 rooms, representing homes and businesses. “Trainee advisors move around in teams doing role-play activities in different client situations,” he shared. “They are videotaped and get the tape on a flash drive, so they can take it with them and review it later. I don’t think there is anything else like this in the industry.”
Such efforts, Alm says, contribute to both higher production and assets, as well as more households as clients and lower advisor attrition.
Only a small fraction of those hired as trainees join Edward Jones with a securities license, he notes. But a majority of the trainees will go into business with some assets that they have “inherited from other advisors.”
As for veteran reps, close to 170 teams recently completed training programs that included practice-management exercises and role play.
“What Edward Jones has done, with about 200 staff members in our training group, is make a very substantial investment in our training and support of the advisor,” Alm said. “This is very effective in taking those without experience and giving them the regulatory training, licensing and other help they need … to allow them to build a business to successfully serve clients.”