Although reps fault A.G. Edwards for being a bit hidebound, no one faults the integrity of the firm and the freedom it offers.
And everyone seems thrilled about the new ClientOne workstations they received this year. Brokers agree the technology upgrade wasn't a moment too soon. "It's light-years ahead of what we had," says one producer.
Nevertheless, many complain that management at the firm remains behind the times. For example, Edwards refuses to give new brokers any upfront money, preferring instead to offer higher payouts. Despite the "excellent working atmosphere," says one producer, "Edwards does not offer enough incentives to people to come here."
And the lack of a strong corporate image is still a sore spot. Brokers feel the firm should be pursuing more advertising and marketing opportunities.
"I think we won't be independent down the road unless they get a better handle on what's going on," worries one respondent.
The fact that many of the firm's branch managers are working their own books also raises some objections. "I don't believe in a manager being a producer and that's one of the problems here," another broker says.
But the firm's conservative approach has advantages. Reps point to a strong compliance record, lack of quotas or proprietary products, and the firm's genuine concern for clients.
Concludes one blissful broker, "It's so good here that I feel like I've died and gone to heaven."
"We're the fourth or fifth largest brokerage firm in the world, and there are still many people out there who do not know who we are."
"What I like is the down-home family atmosphere. Even though we are very large, it remains a family atmosphere, which comes from the chairman."
"The question is, `Who's going to buy us out?'"
"A firm that treats its employees as well as Edwards does is a firm that will attract more clients."