Edward Jones announced Thursday that it was recruiting financial advisors from among military veterans with a new program, FORCES. Under the program, military veterans can receive training, mentoring and a structured compensation package to help veterans transition from military duty to a civilian career.
“Edward Jones has a rich history with advisors with a military background,” Matt Doran, principal at Edward Jones and one of the creators of the FORCES program, told AdvisorOne. He noted that 11% of advisors currently working with Edward Jones, about 1,300 advisors, have military experience, which is “significantly more than the industry average.” That experience led the firm to pursue recruiting from among servicemembers to utilize that highly trained and talented population.
“The competence fostered in the military matches our business model,” Doran says. “Edward Jones’ branch system needs advisors who can work independently, and who are committed to results, who can plan and organize, and who can lead and follow.” To that end, the firm has found a “deep talent pool” among veterans.
Veterans’ job prospects are not encouraging after separating from active duty. In March, the Bureau of Labor statistics reported that the unemployment rate for any veteran who served after September 2001 was 12.1% in 2011. For veterans of any war, the unemployment rate was closer to the national rate at 8.3%. Young male veterans were especially hard hit, with an unemployment rate above 29%. The BLS found that in 2011, 21.6 million Americans were veterans.
“It’s important to note that today’s military is better educated and more compensated than 80% of their nonmilitary peers,” Doran says. “More than ever before, people are leaving the military with a degree in hand,” either because they completed a degree program while in service or because they already had one when they joined. As a consequence, veterans may not use their GI bill tuition benefits, preferring instead to take advantage of job training benefits.
As part of the Apprenticeship/On-The-Job Training Program under the G.I. Bill, eligible veterans can receive monthly income for training they receive from their employer, in addition to the salary they earn. They can also be reimbursed for books and supplies.
The FORCES program is available to veterans in all states, but as of May 18, only Missouri has approved the program for veterans to receive on-the-job training benefits from the G.I. Bill, Doran says. He notes that in most cases, a candidate must be hired before a state’s approving agency will approve the program. The reason, Doran says, is the agency must approve the site from which the veteran will be working.
The FORCES program is designed specifically for people without a background in financial services, but is not limited to veterans exclusively. In addition to veterans and dependents with G.I. Bill entitlement and OJT benefits, civilians with advanced degrees and less than three years of professional experience are also eligible. This exception came about based on guidance from the Missouri State Approving Agency which noted that in building a program for on-the-job training, limiting eligibility to veterans could be discriminatory. The firm felt advanced degree holders with limited professional experience could also benefit from the program, even without the G.I Bill’s OJT benefits.
An April survey conducted by ORC International on behalf of Edward Jones found 75% of individuals would like to work with a financial advisor who had served in the military. That preference wasn’t simply a matter of gratitude for veterans’ service to their country. While 61% of respondents did say working with a veteran was an attractive prospect because they wanted to thank former servicemembers, more common attractions were veterans’ integrity (72%), discipline (77%) and goal orientation (73%).
An earlier version of this article misquoted Matt Doran as saying, “It’s important to note that today’s military is better educated and more competent than 80% of their nonmilitary peers.”