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Edward Jones 2001 Complete Broker Comments

A (Hiring/recruiting) “We’re very discerning. We get good people and put them through a number of steps before putting them into production.” (Payout) “They use payout to steer you in certain directions. They use slightly reduced payout for B share pricing and even more reduced payout for C share pricing. It’s one of my few beefs. Unlike a lot of places, there’s this disincentive in certain pricing

(Hiring/recruiting) “We’re very discerning. We get good people and put them through a number of steps before putting them into production.” (Payout) “They use payout to steer you in certain directions. They use slightly reduced payout for B share pricing and even more reduced payout for C share pricing. It’s one of my few beefs. Unlike a lot of places, there’s this disincentive in certain pricing structures.” (Benefits) “I have to pay a lot for my heath coverage compared to other employers, like Michigan State University or General Motors. I know it’s not an apples to apples comparison, but if I would improve anything about my job it would be benefits.” (Quantity SAs) “I have a one-to-one relationship here. I don’t need any more than that.” (Sales ideas) “It’s good. I’m sure there are other ideas at other firms that would be attractive that I don’t hear about, but what I get here is actually quite good.” (Training) “Training is constantly available. As much as we want to take advantage of.” (Quote/info system) “Occasional problems with my computer and technology, but it’s firm wide. The problem is that we have so many offices at Jones that some things that are not an issue with other firms are with us because of the sheer size and number of offices.” (Operations) “Still room for improvement. Basically the firm makes every effort to get everything right and smooth.” (Account statements) “I know that other firms have statements that are equally unintelligible. We make a good effort to improve them, but I have clients who cannot interpret their statements.” (Research) “I think they do a pretty good job.” (Quality of products) “We didn’t go after Internet stocks or do a lot of IPOs. We’ve very selective about what we are allowed to offer Jones clients.” (Focus) “We’re trying to do what we do best and not be all things to everybody. Warts and all, we know what we’re trying to do.” (Ethics) “We’ve always focused in on what’s best for our clients. When they opposed fee based stuff, it’s arguable as to whether that's the right thing to do or not, but we know they are thinking in terms of what’s best for the client.” (Image) “Those who know us like us or at least respect us.” “Our strength is that we focus on one to one advisor/client relationships. We focus on doing the right thing for the clients. Sometimes we have issues due to the growth of the company, issues like technology.”

(Benefits) “Very comprehensive package. What they provide us with is a total package and I’m very happy with it.” ”As long as you’re honest, profitable and ethical, you can run your own business the way you see fit. We get all the support we need, the products are there, tons to choose from and no one tells you what products to sell. You can truly run your own business with the support of a major firm behind you. When the market is down and times are bad, I would like to see some more communication from management. The way it is now, it is easy for a broker to get lost emotionally in a bear market. We are spread out so far and with only one broker in each branch, there is very little emotional support.”

(Freedom) “I really can do anything I want as long as it’s in the client’s best interest and it’s legal.” (Hiring/recruiting) “Outstanding, they really are bringing in very good people. (Payout) “It’s irrelevant when you’re with a firm like this.” (Benefits) “Better than any other firm out there and I’ve been here 43 years.” (Quality/sales assistants) “We get to hire and fire our own.” (Quantity/sales assistants) “We pay for them so it’s whatever or how many we need.” (Sales ideas) “Mostly we get to figure out our own ideas instead of the home office calling it to our attention, have to sniff it out on our own.” (Training) “We have a lot of continuing education. I just don’t take advantage of most of it or pay much attention to it in general.” (Account statements) “It’s confusing for clients, but then again clients are always confused.” (Strategic focus) “Extraordinary. To build long-term relationships with individual investors. Identify people’s financial needs and help them map out a strategy to accomplish that.” (Ethics) “Very high. If we don’t do it right we get told. There are enough of us around to keep things on a high ethical level.” (Image) “Not a real well known firm. That’s not necessarily negative, but we’re not as well known as a Merrill or a Morgan Stanley.” ”Our integrity and sense of purpose is top notch. I would like to see them improve training on our computer system for us older guys.”

(Hiring/recruiting) “Just hiring a lot of people right now, not necessarily quality people, but numbers of people. We’re in a down turn in terms of brokering services, yet they are still hiring. To start off at this stage when it’s pretty tough, you have a lot who might not make it.” ”Quality and ethics of this firm is excellent. They believe in quality people. They don’t tell us what to sell. They believe if you run a profitable and ethical business that’s awesome. What I don’t like to see is all this hiring, especially now when the market’s so tough.”

(Ethics) “One of the best things we have going for us here is the ethics of the firm. It’s a given that we will do what’s right for the client. That is first and foremost in the company’s eyes.” (Operations) “We get great support from St. Louis.” “Our strongest area is without a doubt the high standards that are carried out throughout the firm. It makes it easy for us to do our job. Our technology could be improved. I know there are other systems out there that are better. But with the size of Jones, by the time they distributed a new system to all the offices, it would be outdated.”

(Sales Support) “We are the only source of income for the company, therefore our company bends over backwards to do whatever they can to make us as good a producer as possible through constant support.” (Research) “Very good because it all comes back to the firm wanting to provide us with everything we need to do our business.” (Ethics) “I’ve been in the field a long time and I’ve seen some of the terrible things people do to make a buck. I don’t see that with Jones. Everyone does what’s right for the client. At Jones, they preach that whole client first philosophy.” ”We’re given every tool we need yet there are no proprietary products and no pressure to sell a specific product or push any one idea. What I’d like to see is a little bit more of a level playing field for new brokers. Either they start out new and build a brand new territory, or they pair up with a veteran in the field and get a three-year jump start on their business, or if a broker leaves the firm and they are lucky enough to land his or her office they wind up with a lot of assets. It’s hit or miss as to who the lucky one is and who has to grind it out, pay his dues and wait it out for two to three years.”

(Hiring/recruiting) “We’re definitely growing at a fast pace. I suppose that’s good but it does stretch the organization and sometimes the quality is compromised.” (Research) “Good but not perfect. They’re made great strides but they still need to improve upon it.” (Ethics) “Very strong. Compliance reviews every thing we do. The home office definitely keeps us in check.” “Jones is not for everyone but for those who like the freedom to run their own branch office and make a ton of decisions on a day-to-day basis, this is the place. It does take a highly motivated, disciplined person to succeed here.”

(Training) “I’m pleased with the training department although I wouldn’t mind having more programs available from time to time, particularly training on specific products.” “They keep us focused on quality investments. They don’t let us stray very far from that. I have a few clients who wanted to go astray in their investment strategy and I could not accommodate them even if I wanted to.”

(Sales support) “We have tons of people supporting what we do.” (Sales ideas) “We get more than we can handle.” (Training) “It’s available all the time, I can take as much as I want.” (Quote/info) “I know some brokers complain about that but I find it adequate for my needs.” (Account statements) “We’re made good strides; it certainly wasn’t always as good as it is now.” (Research) “Considering the market we’ve had, I think they’re doing a fine job.” (Fixed income) “It’s fair, I have no problem with it. It’s competitive enough. There’s no profit center like some other firms.” (Quality) “Excellent. We don’t get involved with junk IPOs and we have high quality bonds.” (Focus) “I’d give that one a 20 if I could. Best long range plans, focus, strategy and vision on the street.” “I like the culture here. It’s been passed along for over a hundred years. We have old fashion values. Unfortunately, though, we’re growing so fast we may be losing some quality brokers because of the difficult market. It makes it difficult for the newer ones to succeed.”

(Hiring/recruiting) “We’re one of a few firms that is actually hiring. Everyone else seems to be in a hiring freeze.” (Sales ideas) “They give us more than we can use.” (Research) “No one has a crystal ball. I agree with our philosophy of being conservative. We pick good conservative stuff. No one will get rich overnight with that, but no one will loose their investments either.” (Ethics) “You won’t find a company more ethical than Jones.” “We have the freedom to run our business any way we want to within the ethics and standards of Jones. They give me the freedom to be able to pick the areas of business that we want to market. We’re not pigeon holed into selling certain stocks.”

“We have a nightly wire for broker suggestions to the firm, and they complain about our workstations and technology every day. But the fact is that you don’t need technology to call somebody and ask them to buy GE. If we looked at the technology at all brokerage firms, ours might be the worst, I don’t know. And I don’t care. Our firm’s image is excellent, we have an excellent current to paddle with, in that we can tell the Jones story and people like that story. We have some basic principals that are suited to long-term investors, so we have a way of doing business that keeps people out of trouble in hard times.”

“Because we are such a buy-and-hold company, we get a lot of the same sales ideas. That’s fine for good times, but in the tougher selling times we might need some fresher ideas. The firm’s research? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. It is improving, but that needs to continue. (Managing partner) John Bachmann has taken our firm to the next level. He is a visionary. We have a satellite communications system problem. They’re addressing it. The greatest thing about this firm is that we stayed away from online brokerage situation and technology stocks, another plus for Bachmann. We took a lot of criticism for that. I thank him because I didn’t get into that. Another positive is that our company is a partnership. There’s no pressure to perform for shareholders.”

“The firm is a little too aggressive opening new branches. It’s like a McDonalds on every corner. And there are too many brokers in my branch. They promised two, and there are now five. But the firm supports brokers very well. If you ever need anything, the firm is right there for you.”

“All our reps are involved in hiring and recruiting, so that score is largely determined by me. For a person like myself who is new to the industry, I think Edward Jones is the best firm in the business. Their training is really tops and so is the way they treat their brokers.”

“Jones is always offering great sales ideas, bringing us to St. Louis to show us new sales techniques. Our research is long-term, which is exactly what my clients need. Our corporate vision is focused, runs counter to most companies. And I think that vision will continue until all the partners have died off. Our national advertising could be better, but I realize that is expensive. One of the best things about this firm is the bonus incentive trips we take. It gets the reps out of the office a few times a year to spend time with your family and build a lifeline to Edward Jones so that you have a future here.”

(Quote/information system) “It’s better than it was.” (Account statements) “Clients have choices. They can be very detailed or not.” (Research): “Everybody’s allowed to make a mistake.”

(Sales quotas) “In the beginning years, you have some numbers you have to produce. Later on, you’re on your own.” (Hiring/recruiting practices) “They don’t pay bonuses; there’s no upfront money. But they do give you a special payout if you produce. Sometimes they hire people who are not ready to do this.” (Payout) “Jones pays in different ways—bonuses, trips.” (Account statements) “I do get some complaints. They improved it. It was too complicated. There are three options now. I’ve seen a lot of stuff from other firms that I can’t understand myself.” “I feel that I belong to a company that has a very powerful strategic focus. They know where they’re going, who they are, and who they aren’t. You know where you want to go in the business. I like that. It’s a great company to be a part of.”

“I have positive comments. There’s no way I’d ever anticipate leaving Edward Jones. It’s a place you want to live, not a place you want to visit.”

“It’s just been a great place.”

“I can't imagine working for a firm that is structured any better for serving individual investors. I recently came across a training manual that the firm put out in 1986, and most of what's in it remains the same today. Integrity, commitment to client, all hasn’t changed much at all.”

“One of the incentives I like the most is the diversification trips. We can qualify for vacation trips two times per year based on how much diversified types of business we do for clients, such a growth, growth and income, insurance, non-taxable income and so forth. So if you're diversifying for your client, you'll qualify for these trips. It discourages stock jockeys coming in and just focusing only on equities.”

“Anything I want to know more about, from retirement planning to estate planning, I can get from the home office in St. Louis. And our research department is excellent. That wasn't true when I joined the firm in 1993. It took a few years, but now it's excellent.”

“I like the fact that at most offices, there's one sales assistant for every investment representative. It's a great system, and it allows me to spend more face-to-face time with clients instead of handling paperwork. Plus, we're all limited partners in the firm so I don't have to worry about the firm's stock prices. And the general partners give us sales ideas, with no pressure, but it's there for us if we want to use it. We can get muni bond ideas, fixed annuity ideas, and see any changes in analysts' recommendations.”

“In the training area, the firm is starting to focus not just on training for new brokers, but also ongoing training for experienced brokers. A while ago, I did a two-day workshop on estate planning, which was very informative.”

“The CEO, John Bachman, plans to grow the firm from the current 7,000 offices to about 10,000 offices within the next five years. That, plus what's anticipated to be more national advertising, will give us more name recognition in the years ahead.”

“Benefits, yes, they're an issue. We have to pay for all our insurance coverage. But it's offset by the fact that the firm pays higher commissions than other firms. One thing that would help us, however, is when we retire, if we could get compensated for turning over our book to the firm. I know that's not done anywhere, but it would be nice. You do, however, retain your limited partnership status until you die. And being a limited partnership, we can focus completely on the client. There's no pressure to sell certain products to keep up the bottom line.”

“All this hiring and recruiting is a little disquieting. This is a very hard time to get started in the business, but we seem to be hiring at all costs. I don't see how rookies can make it today. The concept of an aggressive hiring policy in a bear market doesn't make a lot of sense to me.”

“In the area of hiring and recruiting, while other firms are cutting back, we're not slowing down in this area at all. Hiring is just as brisk as it's always been. Plus, I like the fact that although that the managing partners never created an online avenue for trading, we've remained a face-to-face firm with clients. They've stuck to their guns, despite pressure to provide online services to clients.”

“I think we're the best firm to work for - lots of freedom, very high ethics, family type atmosphere. Since we all have separate offices, everyone does a lot to help the others successes. We all pull together and try to help each when there are family problems, etc. The home office makes everyone understand that the customer comes first, and that we're in this together. In my opinion, it's the best firm.”

(Branch Manager) “There's always room for improvement. I'm really blessed to be with them. They're a good group. The office staff does what they need to do.”

(Ongoing training) “I don't know where I heard this but Jones spends $2,500 for each investment representative, while other firms only spend a few hundred. The firm is very focused. It's extremely ethical.”

“I've worked for two other firms and this is the best. (Hiring and recruiting) “I got turned down the first time. Why? Lack of sales experience. I waited two years, got more experience and got hired.” (Benefits) “They're terrific. Health care is expensive. It's far less expensive where my wife works. Benefits get better once you reach partnership.” (Branch manager) “I could do better.”

“Overall I'm pretty pleased. Nothing is perfect. I think they do a tremendous job.”

“The firm has done a great job overall; the numbers from our research department are really good, and that's something to feel good about. But, our strategy in terms of developing more fee-based revenue, is probably behind the curve here. It's not happening very quickly, and they're not doing a lot to help it happen. Until they're sure this is best for the customer, they're just not going this way. True, some wrap accounts are egregiously overpriced, but there has to be a way to bridge the gap, that is, to bridge the philosophical gap between the two ways of doing business. Right now I'm now doing more funds rather than stocks.” (Economic situation) “The late ‘90s was once in a lifetime period. Corporate America is largely responsible for the situation we're in. There's been a lot of mismanagement in corporations then there was the tech bubble. That plus the fed's raising rates a while back because of oil prices. Companies like American Funds that stuck to their guns are being paid dividends now in getting the new business, while on the other hand some companies like Putnam are devastated. It's a case of the tortoise winning the race.”

(Image) “Our advertising is minimal overall, but it is getting better. It's mostly local advertising, and the company pays for some of it.” (Sales quotas) “It can be tough starting your business although after a few years, it's easier. Sales have dropped off recently, but rather than letting people go, they work with them.” (Benefits) It would be nice if they had something less expensive for reps. (Health coverage) “Yes, we have both health and dental insurance but it's expensive.”

(Quote system) “Communication system and monitors need to be improved. We've had problems in the past. When it's overcast (outdoors), it's inoperable, and it's annoying.” “We also need to get our e-mail capabilities up and running. For now we can't e-mail our clients. But these are fixable problems. We're probably the best firm in the industry.”

“Pretty well satisfied. Terrific firm to work for. It would be easy to rate everything a 10, but that wouldn't be realistic.”

“I'm not happy with how they treat veteran brokers, and it's getting worse. I got divorced from my wife who was a broker, too. I asked for a new office and they gave a transfer broker priority over me. Finally I moved to Wyoming, and took over an office here.” (Hiring) “They've hired a lot of strange people. Their goal is to get to 10,000 offices, doing whatever they have to do to get there. That seems to be the main focus, to open 10,000 offices before Mr. Bachman retires.” (Benefits) “Not happy with insurance and health care.” (Operations) “They're trying to cut back. When unemployment was low, they had to hire people to fill spots and so they don't have the quality they once had. Maybe they're not being supervised well. You deal with people in management who don't know what a broker needs.” “They take so many little decisions away from you. We can't offer OTC or bulletin board stocks, pink sheets stocks, and if we sell something that's under $4, there's no payout. We can't do options, at least haven't been able to for the last 15 years.”

“You couldn’t give me a $1 million to move from Jones. It’s a very supportive company to work for. Because it’s a partnership, you share all your great ideas with everyone else. You’re not fighting or competing with them to be top dog. My first 13 months, I won two trips--to Rome and Ireland. They make it a reward-based system and they teach you how to get there. No politics. And we’re the only profit center so we get all the support we need. And they always put the client first. That makes it easy for us. I don’t have to worry about my neighbor IR is doing cross country. The firm also does a great job promoting the 529 plans. I believe we do more in that area than any firm.”

“Jones doesn’t tell you how to service your clients. They tell you, ‘Here’s what we have to service the client. You do what’s best for them.’” (Benefits) “Medical is not very good. It’s too expensive.”

“I’ve been here 23 years, seen a lot of changes, and seen the firm evolve. The firm has learned for its mistakes and made the necessary changes in order to succeed and go forth. They haven’t simply chalked it up to experience and said, ‘That’s the way it goes.’ I admire that. I go back to the disappointments we had with DH Baldwin, when they went Chapter 11 and we had an offering of quite a few bonds. The firm is here to keep investors as informed as possible, but at the same time they made a decided step to make sure that would not happen again. They just didn’t chalk it up to one of those things that happen in this business. They took the approach of saying, ‘That’s not us. We don’t want to have embarrassments. We’ll take whatever steps necessary not to have it happen again.’ I don’t believe some of the other firms would have handled it in such a classy, honest manner. The decision makers in the home office realize where their bread and butter comes from-it’s those in the field. And when it comes to trying to control costs or overhead, do what we can but don’t adversely affect those who make our jobs possible in the first place. Cost cutting, budget balance doesn’t come at the expense of the IR.”

“The culture grows on you and we’ve been growing like a weed. What I like is the emphasis placed on the policy of getting people who can build relationships, rather than ones who can sell product.”

“Jones should institute a procedure where the clients affirm that the order was unsolicited, etc., and pay the broker when the client wants that kind of trade.”

“(I have) a lot of concerns about Jones trying to grow (its) sales force by putting young brokers into marginal markets that couldn't support a practice.”

"Overall, it’s great here. (You get) all the support you want. (There’s) easy access to plenty of sales ideas, not only equities, but fixed income as well. I believe we are the best firm out there.”

“(People in the firm) support each other, top to bottom. Everybody is willing to help you, with a positive attitude."

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