Edward Jones continues to shine in surveys of both investors and advisors at full-service firms, according to J.D. Power and Associates. But will that appeal be enough to help the firm nearly double in size to about 20,000 advisors by 2020?
Managing Partner Jim Weddle discusses how the broker-dealer aims to hit this target, its hiring of former military officers and other developments.
What prompted Edward Jones to aim for 20,000 FAs by 2020?
This goal is part of our longer-term vision. In larger organizations like ours, it’s important to have an identified, longer-term set of goals. It tells everyone the direction of the firm, it helps to get everyone pulling in the same direction, and it facilitates each associate’s being able to link their work to the overall success of the firm. It creates an alignment of purpose.
The 20,000 financial-advisor goal is not the endpoint for our growth; it simply puts a good start in place toward building our ability to meet the needs of millions of serious, long-term individual investors who we believe look like our best clients and who would appreciate our high level of individualized service.
How is Edward Jones doing in terms of its 2012 hiring goal? And what is its 2013 goal?
Our recruiting and hiring pipelines haven’t been this strong in terms of both quality and quantity in several years. We completed the rollout of our new FA talent-acquisition organization, recruitment strategies and additional hiring screens in the first quarter of the year.
Early results are very encouraging. Retention is higher and performance is better among our beginners, and we believe we will grow by a net 300-400 this year. Growing from where we are to 20,000 FAs in 2020 will require 5% growth each year in the U.S., and 10% growth each year in Canada.
Does the weak economy help the firm achieve its hiring/recruiting goals?
The weak economy isn’t helping our recruitment, because we don’t actively recruit unemployed people. We are targeting career changers who are employed, doing well, but have a burning desire to be in our business.
We are also very excited about our Forces recruitment program that targets primarily junior officers who are leaving the military. Our training and compensation program dovetails with G.I. benefits and often allows those joining us to receive an income supplement for a year based on their military service.
We have increased the size of our FA career—development program, which targets top graduates from B.A. and M.A. programs, and provides them with up to a year of specialized training to prepare them to enter our FA training program and eventually become financial advisors.
The last piece is our industry recruiting, where we look for quality advisors who are with a competitor, but who share our values and appreciate our business model.
How do economic conditions impact advisors’ recruiting of new clients?
Today’s economic concerns certainly weigh on investors’ confidence and their willingness to invest. However, fundamental investor goals have not changed: Individual investors still want to pay for education, retire and live with dignity, or leave a legacy to their children and grandchildren.
At the same time, discussions about reducing government spending create awareness that, longer term, entitlement programs could be reduced. As a result, investors will have to take more responsibility for preparing to support themselves in retirement.
In this economic environment, many investors realize they cannot do it all themselves. All of this creates a need for trustworthy financial advice.
The need for our personal service has never been greater, and we believe by understanding individual needs and providing tailored solutions we can help individual investors achieve their financial goals. We can make a significant difference in their lives. The many individual investors who could benefit from—and appreciate—our service is the reason we grow.