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Edward Jones Advisor Headcount Grew 3% in 2020

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What You Need to Know

  • The firm's growth in headcount and assets under care slowed in 2020.
  • A spokesperson said the firm was "gradually restarting hiring" after pausing some hires due to the pandemic.
  • Edward Jones has invested heavily in its digital strategy.

The number of Edward Jones financial advisors grew 3% in 2020 to 19,225 from 18,704 at the end of 2019, while total client assets increased 15% to $1.5 trillion, according to a 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission by parent company The Jones Financial Cos. on Friday.

Due to the pandemic, the firm paused hiring of non-licensed financial advisors March 24 through Aug. 31, 2020.

In 2019, advisor headcount grew 6% while assets under care grew 22%.

Net new assets for 2020 grew 3% to $66 billion, while the number of client households increased 4% to 5.7 million, the company said.

Client dollars invested through buy and sell transactions declined 3% to $114 billion, but inflows and outflows of client dollars into Edward Jones advisory programs jumped 32% to $41 billion.

Net revenue increased 7% to nearly $10.1 billion in 2020. Operating expenses increased 6% to $8.8 billion, “primarily due to an increase in compensation and benefits expense,” the company said.

“Financial advisor compensation increased largely due to an increase in revenues on which commissions are earned, an increase in the number of financial advisors, and an increase in compensation related to supporting new financial advisors and trainees,” it said. Home office and branch compensation grew mainly due to higher wages, according to the company.

“Edward Jones continues to grow its impact by focusing on hiring both experienced financial advisors and non-licensed candidates and increasing the number of clients and communities it serves,” according to an Edward Jones spokesperson.

“The firm is gradually restarting hiring to enable it to prioritize support for all financial advisors, which may result in fewer financial advisors hired than historically experienced,” the spokesperson explained Friday. “Edward Jones is committed to an innovative and intentional strategy that offers a plan and resources for both current financial advisors and new hires.”

Digital Investments

The firm “continues to make investments in virtual business enablement tools to help its branch teams be successful with the ongoing limitations on in-person client prospecting and consultations,” the spokesperson said.

Edward Jones had made a $500 million investment in its overall digital strategy and that bet has been paying off, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Frank LaQuinta, principal and chief information officer at Edward Jones, had told ThinkAdvisor in a phone interview in September.

“We’re really doing the right things to create a high-quality client experience and branch experience, and we believe that our digital strategy is a differentiator and it will continue to offer us competitive advantage in the marketplace,” he said at the time.

Digital tools including the new My Priorities and Edward Jones Match were helping to keep the relationships between the firm’s financial advisors and their clients strong through the pandemic, while also helping the firm compete and more easily reach new clients, according to the firm.

Leadership Investments

Edward Jones also “continues to invest in leadership [by] adding over 100 new general partners between early 2020 and early 2021,” the spokesperson said Friday. “Nearly all of the new general partners are regional leader financial advisors. This means that all of the firm’s regional leaders are now general partners. Regional leaders lead branch teams in geographic regions across the United States and Canada helping to develop leadership readiness and capabilities while fostering an inclusive and engaging environment.”

The company’s “purpose calls us to deeper partnership with our clients and colleagues as we seek to make a positive impact in their lives and benefit our communities and society,” according to Penny Pennington, Edward Jones managing partner.

“The pandemic changed the way we work, but our focus remained human centered and so too, will our focus on growth,” Pennington said in a statement Friday. “We’ll continue intentional hiring and support for our financial advisors to enable both current financial advisors and new hires to be successful as they guide our clients to achieve financially what is most important to them.”