Ben Edwards Announces Retirement Plans A.G. Edwards reps like new management, but worry about possible policy changes.
A.G. Edwards announced in November that its 69-year-old chairman, CEO and president, Ben Edwards III, will retire March 1, 2001, and take the title of chairman emeritus.
The news was not particularly shocking or upsetting for most brokers at the firm.
"Everybody's pretty positive," says Norman Schrott, a broker in Alexandria, Va. "We all surmised that Ben would retire at some point. God knows he's done a hell of a job. I think he has surrounded himself in the last number of years with good people."
Robert Bagby, director of branches for the firm, will take over as chairman and CEO of both the holding company and its brokerage subsidiary. Benjamin F. "Tad" Edwards IV, Ben's son and A.G. Edwards' director of sales and marketing, was named president of both firms. All changes are effective March 1.
"The selection of Bob Bagby [in the top slot] is excellent," says an Edwards rep in the Northeast. Bagby knows the business and is responsible for much of the firm's success, he says. "And Tad has come a long way in 10 years."
Other Edwards reps are pleased as well, although some admit to apprehension over possible quotas or cost cuts under a new regime.
Bagby and Tad Edwards were authors of a February 1997 memo suggesting that veteran reps doing less than $225,000 in annual gross might ponder a different career. The firm never implemented any specific policy along those lines. And Edwards reps note the firm still tolerates low producers.
Ben Edwards has always enjoyed popularity among the broker ranks. Producers like his accessibility, his conference calls to the field sales force every other Wednesday and his focus on serving clients rather than chasing production numbers.
He joined the firm when it was a partnership back in 1956. He has served as chairman, CEO and president since 1967. In that time, the company has grown from 300 brokers in 44 offices to 6,921 brokers in 691 offices, according to the firm.