Anybody left Edward Jones and been sued for fees?

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Nov 9, 2009 6:37 pm

Alright, I've been planning and puzzling over this for months, and the final element in the equation is to decide:

- quit EJ and post my license with an independent (80% split, both brokerage and RIA and ability to run a hedge fund) outfit of like minded reps

or

- continue my independent, non orthodox methods of investment advice (actually having a view on macro-economic issues and being willing to state them clearly to clients, daring to do my own stock research, and horror of horrors - believing it is sometimes indicated to take a profit on a  bond sale instead of holding it to term) until such time as EJ throws me out on my ear, with corresponding negative impact on my future U4/U5 listings.

I'd rather do the non-devious thing and just submit my resignation. Just not relishing the prospect to fight to lower the training reimbursement fees from the 70K that EJ claims it should be reimbursed in such cases. PS -> EJ had spent real training money, airline fares, and particularly start up costs to pay for an office assistant, minimum first year salary of around 24K , etc which they are entitled to recoup, I feel. However from that should be subtracted all profits I've generated for the company in the interim, which is not insignificant.

So anybody been through this? I've been with EJ for 17 months now, so I'm not free from the 3 year term after which I can leave the company with no fees to pay? How much did EJ hit you for? Did you fight it legally? Or negotiate it privately? What about clients you brought to the company (not those inherited from other brokers) who want to follow you?
Finally, if you do not solicit the client base, but those clients come to you, is it possible to take on those clients without opening up a huge legal battle?

Finally, if I do have to pay full 70K, what is maximum they can zap my paycheck for each month? Is this a percentage of earnings? Surely it must be a percentage of earnings so one can support one's family.

BTW, I don't really need to be told what's best financially. My earnings now are about $3k a month. My earnings in the new setup will be comparable - and probably a bit higher - even if I assume I only bring over "my" clients (20 out of about 200). But the real bonus is on the ways and means that I'll be able to run my business from there on in.

Look forward to your comments.

Nov 9, 2009 7:03 pm

Screwing up your u4/u5 is always a good idea, do that!

 
 
Nov 9, 2009 7:15 pm

F***ING ROOGLE.

Nov 9, 2009 7:22 pm

Obviously everyones situation is different and this is a broad statement but I really think anyone that is hired and trained by Edward Jones and is looking to leave for another b/d within the first 3 years, should probably just get out of the busniss all together. 

Nov 9, 2009 7:24 pm
Baldy McGrindy:

Obviously everyones situation is different and this is a broad statement but I really think anyone that is hired and trained by Edward Jones and is looking to leave for another b/d within the first 3 years, should probably just get out of the busniss all together.





I disagree. It only took me 10 months to realize I didn't belong.

Nov 9, 2009 7:36 pm

Just wondering... Why would you have a negative comment on your U5? Are you using discretion on accts.  without permission (not permitted at EDJ from what I know)or breaking some industry rules?


Nov 9, 2009 8:20 pm

I left after 28 months and they never did a thing. I was meeting expectations, but I only took about 1 million in accounts. I have no clue why they contact some and not others. I told them I couldn't pay my mortgage and had to find employment elsewhere. They asked if I was seeking employment in the same industry and I said I didnt know. They called me the very same day on my cell phone and said that I was leaving the firm in good standing and that I was welcome back at any time.

Nov 9, 2009 10:23 pm

Damn Ron. What did you do for 28 months?!

Nov 9, 2009 10:25 pm

?

Nov 10, 2009 8:54 am

I'm curious ... did you show the new employer your old (non-compete, non-solicit) contract? How do they feel about you reneging on the old agreement?


Secondly, I highly doubt you're "recouped" any profits for EJ in 17 months - especially considering you've locked Jones into a contract to lease that office space for another X months.
 
Nov 10, 2009 10:46 am

What do you mean by "my" clients?  Did you take over an office and have only created 20 clients/households of your own?  That's my assumption from reading your comments.   


Hedge fund?  17 months into the biz with EDJ and you see a hedge fund in your future?  Interesting.
 
I know zip about your financial knowledge or education, but it seems strange that if you were truly that well educated you would have ended up at EDJ.  I would have guessed you would have started at a big wirehouse.  BTW, none of the "unorthodox" methods of investment advice are really all that unorthodox.  I think you'll find the longer you stick around EDJ that there are quite a few of us that aren't always marching lockstep with our FSD. 
 
When you say you're earning are $3K a month, is that what you gross or is that what you net?  At 17 months in, I'd be shocked if it were branch profitability.  Curious what that number represents. 
 
As to you leaving Jones - leave on your own, don't get fired.  Either wait another year and a half and leave without any handcuffs, or own up to the fact that you signed an agreement and live with it.  Sounds like you are, so kudos to you on that.  Negative marks on your U4/U5 aren't worth it.  If you're not satisfied with the way you are able to run your business at EDJ, then make the decision quickly and leave.  You'll be happier in the long run.  I'd send a PM to Moraen if I were you.     
Nov 10, 2009 10:53 am

Wet Blanket - maybe you can weigh in.  Doesn't the hedge fund operation have to be set up as a separate RIA (or Zach)? 

I'm confused about the "hedge fund capability".

I agree with Spiff - 20 Households in 17 months.  Are you applying for an analyst position at this new firm.  Definitely don't get fired.  The contract can be negotiated, and it steps down each year, so you'll likely be at $50k or so.  Plus, they usually negotiate.  They may not even care.

I thought about opening up a hedge fund (my method of portfolio management lends itself to it), but you better be a prospecting genius.  My guess is you are not, but that's just a guess.

I wish you the best.  Sounds like you know what you want.  I used the time I had left at Jones to plan my exit.  There is still a lot you can probably learn at Jones to be sure.  Remember, their way of managing money is pretty smart, and fairly safe.  You will find clients who are looking for that.  You should be able to have the experience to service them.

Nov 10, 2009 11:09 am

Free - I don't understand why you feel the need to leave to do a lot of the things you want to do. Anyone who knows me knows I am not a Kool-Aid drinker. Our firm has some short-comings, but it isn't the worst place to work in the world either. I am very different than most advisors in my firm in terms of management style, and I am given a lot of autonomy. If you are open with your FSD about things and tell them what you are planning on doing and why, and you are doing profitable, ethical things, you can do a lot of things that are not standard-EDJ fare.







Most advisors that are paying attention (and there are some at Jones) have macroeconomic issues. Some even sell bonds at a profit and reposition those investments (I have), and I haven't really had any issues.
 
I guess my point is that I believe that the grass may be greener elsewhere, but not for the reasons you are suggesting.
Nov 10, 2009 11:25 am
Spaceman Spiff:

What do you mean by "my" clients?  Did you take over an office and have only created 20 clients/households of your own?  That's my assumption from reading your comments.     

 
At 17 months, I don't think he has 200 clients of his own.  He probably did a GK or took over an office, and the "20 clients" are his good clients that he would want to keep.
Nov 10, 2009 3:43 pm
SometimesNowhere:
I guess my point is that I believe that the grass may be greener elsewhere, but not for the reasons you are suggesting.
 
In my neck of the woods the grass is greener on the other side because that's where the cows poop. 
Nov 10, 2009 6:16 pm

DCNew : The negative comment would be the firing itself, probably worded something like: "refuses to follow company policy and procedures". No , I'm not breaking any industry rules -- just EJ's philosophy.


Moraen you stated " I disagree. It only took me 10 months to realize I didn't belong" . Did you leave right then or
        wait for the three year period to end?


lockEDJ -  ". did you show the new employer your old (non-compete, non-solicit) contract? How do they feel about you reneging on the old agreement?"
  Yes, I did show them the contract. I also explained to them that nowhere in the contract was I told that I had
         to sell primarily mutual funds, that 80% of all investments had to be in the good old USA, and that I was
         never to recommend a stock that was not followed by EJ. On the contrary, as long as I operated in a manner that
         was "legal, profitable and ethical", I was free to run my own business.  In all of my first five interviews with EJ,
         as well as in the basic training,  I brought up the issue of product selection, and the same mantra was repeated.
 


My basic reasons for leaving?


 
       When I started this business, a very successful cousin of mine, who has $1.3 billion in AOM with Smith Barney,
  told me there are two kinds of careers in finance: the "asset gatherers" and the "money managers". My problem is that my personality,
       interests and qualifications fit more in the second category, but family reasons prevent me from applying for
       positions in the large money centers in order to pursue the latter. So I've chosen to become what hopefully will be
       a great "money manager" and a passably mediocre "asset gatherer".


       And as an admittedly disinterested "door knocker", I need to find more efficient means of building the business.
       For me that has always been to work hard at what I like to do, to service the hell out of existing clients, and
       to rely on referrals and effective marketing to build the clientele.


       In the department of "effective marketing", EJ can be wonderful IF YOU CAN STAND BY THEIR INVESTMENT PHILOSOPHY. Their marketing
       pieces are really second to none in design, layout and timing. It's just that I don't agree with the message.  I'm a lousy
       salesman, and I can only sell what I believe in. Since I don't believe people are well served by EJ's "us-centric, broad diversification,
       hold for 10 years and inflation is not a threat over the next 10 years" philosophy, that obviously poses an ethical and practical
       dilemma.


       If I "hang on" until my contract term expires in 1 1/2 years, these issues will affect my marketing efficiency:
           - a blog and a newsletter, as well as a truly opt-in email list  are three tools for diseminating information effectively, cogently and inexpensively to existing clients and potential clients. Blogs and emails are not permitted by EJ unless every word has been pre-written by EJ. Sometimes they'll produce a piece I can really use, but more times than not I disagree with its policy recommendations.  Blogs are completely taboo.
           - the internet has to be the greatest tool in history for acquiring or disemminating intelligence. I think it's ludicrous for EJ to tell use we cannot read financial blogs while at the office, or use any of a hundred of excellent tools for managing time (like google spreadsheets).  It's ludicrous for EJ to tell me I cannot show ANY web site during a customer workshop or a seminar. 
           - Seminars and workshops allow you to communicate effectively with clients without repeating the same information to individual customers 40 or 50 times. Yet EJ will only allow you to "lipsync" pre-digested information.  Either they trust their training program to produce a professional advisor able to provide effective information without stepping into an SEC landmine, or they need to change their advertising message emphasizing the independent thinking and high qualifications of their advisors.


       Second, I'm very frustrated with the suppression of any level of independent thinking or any alternative methodologies
       Essentially, if I visit 200 EJ offices, what I will get is 200 times the very same mutual fund recommendations,
 presented with 200  times the same arguments.
       Yet none address the basic issue that when the money system failed last year - every diversified portfolio suffered
       to some large degree - except those based on shorts or those who had gotten out of the market. And as for buy and
       hold always being the best way to go, tell that to any Japanese "buying and holding" stocks and bonds in Japan
       over the last 15 years.


     I believe its the "cool aid" mentality of never challenging headquarters or going against the corporate grain that is the real danger ; that's why the accounts I took over are riddled with Lehman Brothers bonds. Got a triple AAA rating, so they must be good despite the books and WSJ articles two years prior to the bankruptcy highlighting the risks in those CDO's and CMO's
     and the outrageous leveraging at Lehman and Bear Sterns.


     I confess it, deep down, I'm a speculator or a swing trader. I've generated a 17-22% return for all clients who started with me in July 2007,
     just before the market tanked. Call me lucky but I've been doing that for myself and my family since 1998.  That strategy, paying a lot of
     attention to about 20 different investments and trading in and out of different positions, is what I like to do - and a means for differentiating myself from others to clients.
     It's grown 200K into 600K over 8 years, a decent return.


      For those who asked, the 3K+ is net, my gross is around 10k+. Yes I know that's a weak base to launch myself from,
      but I think once I remove the EJ shackles I'll stumble around just a few months and then really hit my stride.
     


      SometimesNowhere, you say " I don't understand why you feel the need to leave to do a lot of the things you want
  to do. Anyone who knows me knows I am not a Kool-Aid drinker. Our firm has some short-comings, but it isn't
 the worst place to work in the world either."


      Probably, you were blessed with a more enlightened FSD than I am. I get along well with all my colleagues and the regional
      leader. In fact, I will say it's about the best collegial environment I've ever worked in. But those folks cannot
      change the fact that it is taboo to buy and sell a stock in under two months - no matter what the gains.
      Except, of couse, if the stock is followed by EJ, who change the rating from "buy" to "sell"


      Deep down, I believe, it comes down to what my FSD told me: "Our clients don't invest with us to make money. They
      just want to make sure you don't lose them any money." I don't agree with that philosophy. If I did, I would have 
      become a local banker and placed people in CD's.



Spaceman Spiff - You question the "hedge fund" due to 17 months of experience with EJ. I've got a fair share of investment
       experience, having gotten my first broker's license in 1988. I've got a master's in economics and finance and have
       taught economics on the collegiate level. I've run two successful businesses since then, and I've managed the portfolio of
       a family endowment for the last 8 years. Besides a hedge fund, I don't really see how to "put my money where my mouth is". I like the idea of not charging
       transaction fees for every trade - thus putting your incentives in line with the client's -
       and only really being rewarded if my clients are outperforming the averages. As far as I know, the RIA route
       permits the advisory fee of 1 or 2% , but does not permit a reward for outstanding performance.



Spaceman Spiff - "Some even sell bonds at a profit and reposition those investments (I have), and I haven't really had any issues. "
        Just a month ago we received a system-wide notification about the practice of selling bonds "in the short term", meaning
         under 1 year. We were strictly discouraged from doing this, and if we did, we would not be paid a commission on
         the sale. You must have received this notice.


         Presumably, you've been in this business for years, so your FSD cuts you some slack. Or again, maybe your FSD
         understands that there are circumstances in which taking a 30% profit on a bond is justified in the short term.


Spaceman Spiff - I don't have branch profitability for every month, althouth I do have it for half of my last year.
         I have always "exceeded expectations".



Spaceman - I agree. I'll file the resignation, after putting my reasons for departure in writing to headquarters.
           But if they want to demand the full 70K I'll fight it tooth and nail, because I haven't cost them anywhere
           near that amount. I'm willing to take over the office lease and hire my BOA, who would follow, so that really
           only leaves build out costs and training fees.



So I'll get off my soapbox for a second, and repost my two main concerns:
- if a client contacts me from my EJ days - because I know a lot of them will - is is possible to move the account over?
- funny about the u4 / u5. I agree with the guys who says I'd be crazy to besmirch the records with a firing. Yet I talked
   to five indies who all say they would not hold that against me in hiring me due to the reason for the firing: researching
   stocks on my own and presenting these to customers even when not followed by EJ , and trading multiple times within
   the year on these stocks if the profits warrant it. The way I see it though, if I ever do get really successful at this
   activity, I'll run into the careful large institutional client who will look at the u4. So better to pay the 70K over time
   and not suffer down the road.



Nov 10, 2009 6:20 pm

Free - I waited. Left one month after my three years was up.

Nov 10, 2009 9:20 pm

if a client contacts you?

Clients are free to go where they want. They cannot be obligated to do business with Edward Jones nor prevented from doing business with you.



[edit] ... Jones will not fire you for buying and selling stocks based on your own research.



Nov 10, 2009 10:25 pm
free2bgr8t:

DCNew : The negative comment would be the firing itself, probably worded something like: "refuses to follow company policy and procedures". No , I'm not breaking any industry rules -- just EJ's philosophy.


Moraen you stated " I disagree. It only took me 10 months to realize I didn't belong" . Did you leave right then or
        wait for the three year period to end?


lockEDJ -  ". did you show the new employer your old (non-compete, non-solicit) contract? How do they feel about you reneging on the old agreement?"
  Yes, I did show them the contract. I also explained to them that nowhere in the contract was I told that I had
         to sell primarily mutual funds, that 80% of all investments had to be in the good old USA, and that I was
         never to recommend a stock that was not followed by EJ. On the contrary, as long as I operated in a manner that
         was "legal, profitable and ethical", I was free to run my own business.  In all of my first five interviews with EJ,
         as well as in the basic training,  I brought up the issue of product selection, and the same mantra was repeated.
 


My basic reasons for leaving?


 
       When I started this business, a very successful cousin of mine, who has $1.3 billion in AOM with Smith Barney,
  told me there are two kinds of careers in finance: the "asset gatherers" and the "money managers". My problem is that my personality,
       interests and qualifications fit more in the second category, but family reasons prevent me from applying for
       positions in the large money centers in order to pursue the latter. So I've chosen to become what hopefully will be
       a great "money manager" and a passably mediocre "asset gatherer".


       And as an admittedly disinterested "door knocker", I need to find more efficient means of building the business.
       For me that has always been to work hard at what I like to do, to service the hell out of existing clients, and
       to rely on referrals and effective marketing to build the clientele.


       In the department of "effective marketing", EJ can be wonderful IF YOU CAN STAND BY THEIR INVESTMENT PHILOSOPHY. Their marketing
       pieces are really second to none in design, layout and timing. It's just that I don't agree with the message.  I'm a lousy
       salesman, and I can only sell what I believe in. Since I don't believe people are well served by EJ's "us-centric, broad diversification,
       hold for 10 years and inflation is not a threat over the next 10 years" philosophy, that obviously poses an ethical and practical
       dilemma.


       If I "hang on" until my contract term expires in 1 1/2 years, these issues will affect my marketing efficiency:
           - a blog and a newsletter, as well as a truly opt-in email list  are three tools for diseminating information effectively, cogently and inexpensively to existing clients and potential clients. Blogs and emails are not permitted by EJ unless every word has been pre-written by EJ. Sometimes they'll produce a piece I can really use, but more times than not I disagree with its policy recommendations.  Blogs are completely taboo.
           - the internet has to be the greatest tool in history for acquiring or disemminating intelligence. I think it's ludicrous for EJ to tell use we cannot read financial blogs while at the office, or use any of a hundred of excellent tools for managing time (like google spreadsheets).  It's ludicrous for EJ to tell me I cannot show ANY web site during a customer workshop or a seminar. 
           - Seminars and workshops allow you to communicate effectively with clients without repeating the same information to individual customers 40 or 50 times. Yet EJ will only allow you to "lipsync" pre-digested information.  Either they trust their training program to produce a professional advisor able to provide effective information without stepping into an SEC landmine, or they need to change their advertising message emphasizing the independent thinking and high qualifications of their advisors.


       Second, I'm very frustrated with the suppression of any level of independent thinking or any alternative methodologies
       Essentially, if I visit 200 EJ offices, what I will get is 200 times the very same mutual fund recommendations,
 presented with 200  times the same arguments.
       Yet none address the basic issue that when the money system failed last year - every diversified portfolio suffered
       to some large degree - except those based on shorts or those who had gotten out of the market. And as for buy and
       hold always being the best way to go, tell that to any Japanese "buying and holding" stocks and bonds in Japan
       over the last 15 years.


     I believe its the "cool aid" mentality of never challenging headquarters or going against the corporate grain that is the real danger ; that's why the accounts I took over are riddled with Lehman Brothers bonds. Got a triple AAA rating, so they must be good despite the books and WSJ articles two years prior to the bankruptcy highlighting the risks in those CDO's and CMO's
     and the outrageous leveraging at Lehman and Bear Sterns.


     I confess it, deep down, I'm a speculator or a swing trader. I've generated a 17-22% return for all clients who started with me in July 2007,
     just before the market tanked. Call me lucky but I've been doing that for myself and my family since 1998.  That strategy, paying a lot of
     attention to about 20 different investments and trading in and out of different positions, is what I like to do - and a means for differentiating myself from others to clients.
     It's grown 200K into 600K over 8 years, a decent return.


      For those who asked, the 3K+ is net, my gross is around 10k+. Yes I know that's a weak base to launch myself from,
      but I think once I remove the EJ shackles I'll stumble around just a few months and then really hit my stride.
     


      SometimesNowhere, you say " I don't understand why you feel the need to leave to do a lot of the things you want
  to do. Anyone who knows me knows I am not a Kool-Aid drinker. Our firm has some short-comings, but it isn't
 the worst place to work in the world either."


      Probably, you were blessed with a more enlightened FSD than I am. I get along well with all my colleagues and the regional
      leader. In fact, I will say it's about the best collegial environment I've ever worked in. But those folks cannot
      change the fact that it is taboo to buy and sell a stock in under two months - no matter what the gains.
      Except, of couse, if the stock is followed by EJ, who change the rating from "buy" to "sell"


      Deep down, I believe, it comes down to what my FSD told me: "Our clients don't invest with us to make money. They
      just want to make sure you don't lose them any money." I don't agree with that philosophy. If I did, I would have 
      become a local banker and placed people in CD's.



Spaceman Spiff - You question the "hedge fund" due to 17 months of experience with EJ. I've got a fair share of investment
       experience, having gotten my first broker's license in 1988. I've got a master's in economics and finance and have
       taught economics on the collegiate level. I've run two successful businesses since then, and I've managed the portfolio of
       a family endowment for the last 8 years. Besides a hedge fund, I don't really see how to "put my money where my mouth is". I like the idea of not charging
       transaction fees for every trade - thus putting your incentives in line with the client's -
       and only really being rewarded if my clients are outperforming the averages. As far as I know, the RIA route
       permits the advisory fee of 1 or 2% , but does not permit a reward for outstanding performance.



Spaceman Spiff - "Some even sell bonds at a profit and reposition those investments (I have), and I haven't really had any issues. "
        Just a month ago we received a system-wide notification about the practice of selling bonds "in the short term", meaning
         under 1 year. We were strictly discouraged from doing this, and if we did, we would not be paid a commission on
         the sale. You must have received this notice.


         Presumably, you've been in this business for years, so your FSD cuts you some slack. Or again, maybe your FSD
         understands that there are circumstances in which taking a 30% profit on a bond is justified in the short term.


Spaceman Spiff - I don't have branch profitability for every month, althouth I do have it for half of my last year.
         I have always "exceeded expectations".



Spaceman - I agree. I'll file the resignation, after putting my reasons for departure in writing to headquarters.
           But if they want to demand the full 70K I'll fight it tooth and nail, because I haven't cost them anywhere
           near that amount. I'm willing to take over the office lease and hire my BOA, who would follow, so that really
           only leaves build out costs and training fees.



So I'll get off my soapbox for a second, and repost my two main concerns:
- if a client contacts me from my EJ days - because I know a lot of them will - is is possible to move the account over?
- funny about the u4 / u5. I agree with the guys who says I'd be crazy to besmirch the records with a firing. Yet I talked
   to five indies who all say they would not hold that against me in hiring me due to the reason for the firing: researching
   stocks on my own and presenting these to customers even when not followed by EJ , and trading multiple times within
   the year on these stocks if the profits warrant it. The way I see it though, if I ever do get really successful at this
   activity, I'll run into the careful large institutional client who will look at the u4. So better to pay the 70K over time
   and not suffer down the road.



Holy f***!!!! The time you spent composing that message is the equivalent of one day of prospecting time
Nov 10, 2009 10:27 pm

Tell EJ to kis* your as*.  What a weak company.  They wanted you to fail so they could take over your accounts and make more in the long run.  They have the by far the weakest advisors in the business.  You've done your clients a great service.  Find a way to sue EJ if you lose pay it back it's that simple.  You did right thing.  If you lose tell investors how much of a scam A shares pushed by EJ is.