A.G. Edwards is not the first brokerage firm to encourage its brokers to continue their educations, but the firm has come up with a novel twist: Its continuing education classes now qualify for college credits.
Offered through the A.G. Edwards University training department, the training courses can garner students up to 29 hours of credits towards college degrees at schools that accept them. The firm cleared the classes with the American Council on Education (ACE), the Washington-based coordinating body for the nation's higher education institutions. ACE represents 1,800 accredited, degree-granting colleges and universities.
The firm is one of the first retail brokerages to have industry, professional development and management training courses recommended by the ACE for college credit. (Fidelity Investments has tried something similar in the past.)
“Not only do employees earning their college degrees benefit from the convenience, but they stay up-to-date on industry trends and developments,” said A.G. Edwards CEO Robert Bagby in a statement.
The classes range from simple Series 7 overviews to continuing-skills classes like Effective Meeting Skills. When an AGE broker (or any employee) passes a class, the firm will contact the ACE, which then submits the credits to the college or university the broker/employee is attending.
Eight hundred A.G. Edwards employees are currently enrolled in undergraduate classes. According to Renee Huss, vice president and manager of branch support and home office training, the majority of those are not reps; many are associates and office managers looking to boost their credentials.
However, she says, “The FAs have been calling like crazy. This is something your average rep is very excited about.” The most popular classes have involved employees attempting to get their Certified Financial Planner (CFP) license.
“We want to have the best educated employees in the business,” she says. “This is just a start.”