Edward Jones & Co. plans to introduce online banking services by the end of the year. But the St. Louis-based firm is quick to point out that it has no plans to offer Internet trading.

"We're not putting our brokerage online because we see no value added in circumventing our investment advisers" says John Bachmann, the firm's managing partner. "We're not interested in providing another distribution channel for trading."

A consultant at the Boston-based research firm Cerulli Associates was quoted in American Banker saying, "Jones may be shooting itself in the foot by offering online banking without online trading."

Bachmann scoffs at that comment. "In the 1970s, people thought we were nuts because we were not doing options," he says. "Online trading is something we don't do. I admit Schwab and E*Trade can do it better."

The online banking effort is designed to "support the relationship between the adviser and the investor," Bachmann says.

Online banking could streamline the firm's handling of checks. Currently, all Jones-issued checks originate in the St. Louis home office and are distributed to its numerous small-town offices.

"This will add more convenience," says a West Coast Edward Jones rep. It could also make it easier for the firm to meet its goal of increasing the number of offices to 10,000 in four years, from its current system of 4,600 one-broker locations.