Financial advisors working at Edward Jones seem to be living a charmed life. Don't believe us, just ask them. When invited to rate the quality of life at the nation's seventh-largest brokerage firm, an overwhelming number of reps piled on the praise.
“I don't ever want to work for another company,” says one southeast Jones rep, with $280,000 in production and a six-year tenure with the firm. “I can't think of anything to complain about,” says another southeastern rep who is producing $380,000 after nearly seven years with the firm.
In fact, some of the reps polled said they'd like to stay married to the firm until they retire. “I have no intentions of leaving,” says a rep working in North Carolina. “I've worked for a couple of other big firms and coming to Edward Jones was the best move I've ever made,” says one rep in New York, adding, “I'd like to retire here.”
And so say the many others we polled — again. For the 13th consecutive year, Edward Jones took home the top spot with an 8.8 overall ranking, equaling last year's mark. But this year Jones shares the top slot with A.G. Edwards, which also boasts an 8.8 score.
The polled reps expressed their satisfaction with the level of support they receive from management. And why not? Each Jones rep has a one-to-one relationship with a sales assistant — paid for by the firm. Indeed, the firm ranked first in support with an 8.7 rating, edging out A.G. Edwards, and blowing away its wirehouse counterparts.
Jones is famous for its one-person branches in cities and towns across the country. And, by and large, the reps are free to run these offices as they see fit; they set their own hours and are unencumbered by unattainable sales quotas set by the home office. “I don't think I could run my business this way anywhere else,” says one rep in the South.
In the ethics category, the company received a score of 9.3, matching its year-ago rating, and besting all other firms except one. “We have no proprietary funds, so it makes it easy,” says one Jones rep in the midwest. Of course, like several other firms, Jones got hit with a $75 million fine for failing to disclose its revenue-sharing arrangements with a preferred group of mutual fund families in December 2004.
Despite the blemish on its record, Jones still stands tall in the compliance department. “They're as strict as they come,” says one rep. “Through all the criticisms, I truly believe the firm acts in the best interest of the client,” says another rep. True to form, the firm's public image was rated a 9.2 by Jones advisors, which tied it for first place.
But the firm did receive some demerits. Many reps complained that its technology is years behind rivals. Email access can be tough to get. As for its quote and information system, the company lagged some of its peers with an 8.4 rating, although it was slightly above last's year's mark. Benefits received a poor 7.8 rating, albeit a modest improvement from last year's 7.5 rating. The grumbling is understandable, since most of the firm's reps pay for their own health care.
Other reps groused about their pay despite recent improvements the firm made to its compensation package. For example, Jones has recently restructured its payouts to allow newer reps to earn a bigger commission. That boost is reflected in its 8.4 rating, a significant improvement from the 8.1 the firm received last year. But some advisors complained that the firm didn't reward bigger producers with high percentage payouts.
Lastly, some complained of too much freedom: There is too little contact with regional supervisors, some say. Others are just plain lonely, longing for some camaraderie with other Jones reps. But maybe that's the price you pay for freedom and happiness.
|Score||Average, All Firms|
|Freedom from pressure to sell certain products||9.4||9.0|
|Realistic sales quotas||9.4||8.4|
|Hiring and recruiting practices||8.5||7.8|
|Quality of sales assistants||8.9||7.9|
|Quantity of sales assistants||8.3||7.0|
|Quality of sales ideas||8.6||7.4|
|Quote and information system||8.4||8.1|
|Quality of operations||8.8||7.4|
|Quality of research||8.6||7.9|
|Quality of the products offered||9.0||8.3|
|Your branch manager||8.9||8.0|