Edward Jones is asking its advisors to meet only virtually with new and existing clients, and is temporarily restricting client access to all of its 15,000 North American branch offices as a result of the burgeoning spread of the coronavirus in the United States, the financial services firm announced today.
The firm had already enhanced cleaning and disinfecting policies at its branches, and suspended travel for employees and cancelled any large events for branch teams. But the firm now will work only virtually until “the situation improves,” according to an announcement on the Edward Jones site.
“We have asked our financial advisors to temporarily suspend making residential face-to-face contacts,” a statement from the financial services firm read. “We are committed to serving and supporting our clients—without exception.”
The firm’s 7 million clients have a variety of options to stay in touch with advisors, according to the firm’s site. Clients could speak with advisors through web conferencing (the firm uses WebEx as its conferencing tool), along with online account access, as well as secure texting and calling.
The spread of the coronavirus has had a seismic impact on the financial services industry in a short amount of time; conferences have been delayed or canceled altogether, advisors are increasingly reliant on telework and videoconferencing to communicate with fellow advisors, support staff and clients, and regulators are reconsidering deadlines for certain compliance mandates. The shifts mirror broader changes throughout the countries, where school districts, bars, restaurants and large gathering spaces have been ordered shuttered in an attempt to halt the exponential growth of the virus.
Edward Jones is also having employees at its three headquarters locations in St. Louis, Tempe, Ariz., and Mississauga, Canada, work remotely, according to the firm.