Edward Jones has 16,000 financial advisors nationwide, more than any other firm. Meet the company’s No. 1 FA, who, with more than $1 billion in AUM, manages more client assets than any other rep it employs. A Gen X Texas native who began as a trainee 18 years ago, Edward Jones’ top advisor happens, by the way, to be a woman.
Jennifer Marcontell, 47, unassuming, warm, yet cool-headed, has made financial planning the prime focus of her practice since joining the firm in 2000. Having started from scratch, she now serves about 400 mostly high-net-worth families locally and across the country.
All Jones advisors are solo practitioners, the vast majority of whom are assisted by a single support person. But Marcontell’s practice, in Houston’s Baytown and centered on retirement income and distribution, is so large she has six branch office administrators to help.
The Houston native, reared north of Dallas in Mount Pleasant, has built her book almost exclusively upon referrals. A number of clients are chemical engineers — some of them business owners — who work in Houston’s big petrochemical industry.
ThinkAdvisor recently held a phone interview with Marcontell, who finds diversion at her and husband Wade’s ranch in Montana, where hiking mountains and fly fishing top the top advisor’s leisure-time pursuits.
THINKADVISOR: Tell me about fly fishing for trout in the rivers of Montana.
JENNIFER MARCONTELL: It’s a sort of art because you need to have a technique with the fly rod. One time, when I was just about to walk out of the water, my husband, jokingly, said, “I don’t know if David Letterman is going to let you walk there. This is his land.”
What did you do?
I walked out of the river. [Letterman] lives in the next valley over from us. Most people that have a place [in the area] really enjoy the outdoors, and it’s something they want to share even though the property belongs to the owners, while the waterways are public domain.
What’s the secret to your success as an advisor?
The way I’ve approached investing is that everything we do has a logical reason. That has resonated with my clients. During those discussions, you uncover a lot more assets, too. When I started 18 years ago, advisors weren’t doing a lot of financial planning or talking about goals and purposes for clients’ assets — where they wanted to be in the future. They were talking more about individual investments and trading.
What have been your approach’s main benefits to clients?
By helping a lot of people plan, they have a lot more assets today than they would have without my helping to make sure they made the right decisions — including career decisions.
Why did you decide to be a financial advisor?
I discovered there was a real need for people to understand the power of investing their money. I felt I could do something that would have an impact on both the people I knew and that I would meet.
What prompted you to become aware of that need?