Here are all of the comments RR heard from Edward Jones brokers.
"They are what they present themselves to be. They are ethical, equitable and fair. They talk the talk and walk the walk. They never tell you something but really want something else. "I think with rapid expansion, IS systems are lacking. Need some streamlining but it’s coming."
"Jones encourages entrepreneurial spirit and mentoring. Culture is important, it fosters independence. The weakness is that we’re expanding rapidly, IS is impacted and it needs service, but it’s getting better."
"Freedom allows brokers do choose products for its clients. Research dept. could be improved, transition of adjustment to better IS." "Best thing is freedom and diversification trips. Everyone is eligible. Found nothing bad about firm."
"Jones does a good job of re-enforcing core values and focus of firm [quality investments at good prices for long haul]. Stays away from dot-coms and latest thing on CNBC. Jones knows the market it is serving. Needs work on IS, and ease of working with planning programs, can get bulky, they’re working on it."
"Good at client service and one on one. Statements aren’t too great, only problem is with paperwork."
"Jones gives us autonomy. I have my own full-time sales staff assistant."
"It’s great . You’re by yourself but not alone. The mentoring program is an asset."
"Training is great, attrition is very low. Training given is good so brokers can stay out in the field. Growth rate makes it difficult for home office to keep up, slow paperwork and screw-ups but that is due to phenomenal growth."
"They have great variety of fixed-income funds. Work ethics is great, win trips anywhere. Family atmosphere, give-back type of culture, profit share, payout. Culture is unique. No proprietary products. Too much of a big brother attitude. No $2 trades."
"Edward Jones has a good plan, strategic focus, great management."
"We are one of the few firms on the Street that actually practices what we preach, putting the client first."
"Wonderful mentoring program, firm takes suggestions really well, when they set you up in an office it’s always first-class, compliance is excellent. I like the firm’s advertising campaign."
"Nice trips, but the health benefits could be better. Our focus right now is on the growth of the sales force. The firm really helps younger brokers a lot, big investment in making sure we have the right training and support. ‘Healthy growth’ is the motto. There is some resistance among older brokers, but most are warming up to the idea that we need to do this to remain competitive. It does hurt our technology, we’re spread thin, but our new technology center outside of Phoenix will help. We need newer technology."
(Pressure/quotas) "The firm recently switched to A-share annuities, and lower payout on technology funds. From the wholesales I’ve spoken with, we’re about the only firm on the Street doing A-share annuities. Firm also lowered payouts on traditional annuities, so there is some indirect guidance on what to sell. John Bachman is a visionary on where this industry is heading."
(Firm’s image) "Only 3% of the investing public knows who we are."
(Sales support) "Dropped some this year, a function of our growth and our size, number of brokers exploded, so support hurt. For example, premiums given to clients are not as good: used to be Omaha Steaks, now tote bags and baseball caps."
(Fixed-income) "Market not strong, inventory thin. Account statements very difficult to read."
"There’s no better place to work. I love it. It’s a great fit. I have a lot of friends at other firms and no one has it like I do."
"We have tremendous freedom that enables us to focus on our business the way we want.
(Ongoing training) "It’s excellent. Several times a year in St. Louis, they have week-long advanced training sessions on a variety of topics. Examples: ‘How to Better Manage Your Business and Time’ and ‘How to Work With High-Net-Worth Clients.’"
"I love it here. I really appreciate the ethics of the firm. It’s family oriented. When they were recruiting me, they included family on trips and on several regional meetings. That told me a lot about the firm. Other firms may do it but I doubt it’s emphasized like it is here. With a lot of companies, you have to be in the top 3% to 5% to get those big trips. You don’t have to win a trip at the expense of someone else. They set their goals and if you meet them you go."
"I’m my own branch manager. I set my own schedule. I decide what I’m going to specialize in. If it’s stocks, I do stocks. If it’s funds, I do funds. I don’t have someone telling me what I have to do. I do what’s best for the client. That’s what is unique about Jones. We also have a longer-term focus than the big wirehouses. The pressure isn’t on us in a down market."
"I believe we’re the best firm to work for. All have to do is run an ethical office and a profitable one, and I have all the freedom I want. There are no sales quotas and our research is fantastic. It’s the best of the retail firms."
(Research) "In terms of what’s out there our research department is relatively small, but I think it’s very good and our analysts are very good at what they do."
(Quality/quantity SAs) "We have one branch office administrator [sales assistant] for each broker. Her whole job is to support my sales efforts. The quality of her work and support is excellent.
(Sales support) "We get excellent sales support."
(Training) "We’re very well trained."
(Quote/info) "Our communication system was state-of-the-art, but it’s starting to show its age."
(Freedom) "I’d give it a higher number if I could. There’s absolutely zero pressure."
(Strategic Focus) "It is and always has been client first."
(Hiring) "We are continuing to grow both here in the United States and in Europe."
"When I joined the firm it was a family operation where everyone knew each other. Now we’re around 6,000 and we still feel like it’s a family operation. Despite its growth, the firm has maintained its integrity and high standard of ethics."
(Hiring/recruiting) "We are continuing to grow."
"The situation we have here is fantastic. The ability to conduct our own business the way we see fit, as long as we follow strict ethic guidelines, is a major plus as far as I’m concerned. The support system is outstanding, even someone starting out gets an assistant right away and has the opportunity to become an owner in the firm through the limited partnership concept is another plus. I get calls all the time trying to recruit me and I won’t even consider it."
(Freedom) "Definitely a 10, can I go higher?"
(Research) "Five years ago our research was a little weak, but we’ve had some turnover in our department and we’ve gotten much better. For the past two years The Wall Street Journal ranked us No. 1 among 15. If there was any negative about the firm, it would be in its lack of pushing a national advertising campaign so more people would know who we are."
(Ethics) "Because we’re a one-man office they have to keep a tight rein on the ethics of the brokers. If someone doesn’t tow the line, they cut him lose."
(Quote/info) "We’re light years ahead in the delivery system. We have a satellite system in each office, our trades are executed in an average of 15 seconds, the industry average is twice that."
"One hundred percent of our energy is focused on the investor and everyone and everything goes to support that effort. The broker is the only revenue the company has and therefore the level of training, technology,and support we have is outstanding. It makes you feel pretty comfortable coming to work."
(Research) "Our research department has improved a lot in the last four to five years. We’ve had a complete turn around and now have good quality. Our analysts are not faddish. We don’t react to the latest fads, such as the Internet. We’re value-driven and always go for quality. We could have made a lot of money off the Internet, but we decided it was not in the best interests of our clients."
(Focus) "The all around focus of the company is always geared to the individual investor."
(Quote/info) "We’re having some problems with it, but they’re addressing the problem and will soon have it taken care of."
"This is the only firm that operates from the concept of a single broker office. That allows us the freedom to work with no pressure. It’s entrepreneurial. If we do well, run an ethical, profitable business, they leave us alone. They care about the clients."
(Ethics) "We have a field supervisor department that is very strict. We have frequent reviews to make sure we are on the ball as far as ethics, records, files, etc."
(Training) "It’s good, but they could probably offer more to keep us all informed about what’s going on as well as to provide sales ideas and motivation."
"This is an impeccable company. I worked with a large recruiting company before deciding to come here and I can assure you that this is a unique situation. The freedom and accountability to be your own boss and to treat clients the way you want to be treated is of the utmost importance. It is a moral and ethical match that I looked for in a company and found with Edward Jones. There is a strong family environment here, instead of a competitive one that I know exists at a lot of other firms."
(Freedom) "Jones wants us to remain neutral to sell what is best for the clients, to always keep their best interests in focus."
(Operations) "The back office does a tremendous job, but we are building a second operations center in Tempe, Ariz., and so we are feeling the growing pains as it goes through this."
"The firm is on the right track, providing us with the information and support we need to best service our clients with absolutely no pressure to do any particular thing we don’t think is right for the clients. What’s also good is that we don’t get involved in extremely speculative things."
(Account statements) "It depends on the clients. Clients give us mixed reviews. Some like it, others don’t. Sometimes I think we give more information on the statements than clients need to have or are even interested in having."
"Great support network, total freedom to run our own business, and an excellent opportunity, as limited partners, for us to really do well financially. I would love to see us have a technology analyst on board to broaden out our research department, but I’m not sure Jones would go for that."
(Research) "It has to do with the depth of the research. I often go to outside sources to get what I need. What we get is not often the bluest of blue-chip stocks because Jones is a pretty conservative firm, but what it does, it does reasonably well." (Image) "We don’t get enough coverage. In this part of the world, people don’t know Edward Jones, they confuse us with A.G. Edwards. They need to do more advertising to increase our name brand recognition."
(Operations) "There’s a high rate of growth, making it hard to recruit and hold on to good quality people."
"Other than our image, which could be improved with more advertising, I really don’t have any complaints."
(Focus) "The company is committed to buying quality and holding for the long term, and that suits the kind of clientele we have."
(Image) "Most people don’t know who we are, those who do know us think very highly of us."
(Sales support) "Not very imaginative. I think they could be a little more creative and still maintain the positive image we have.
"It’s the most ethical firm out there, because it’s based on looking at the customer first. The goals they set for you are based on your client’s best interests rather than getting paid more to sell certain products."
"Our A-share and B-share annuities, like A- and B-shares of a mutual fund, are an example of how the company keeps working on clients’ behalf."
"It’s great being your own boss and building a business that is financially rewarding. But I wouldn’t mind seeing more national advertising and a little more name recognition."
"Our firm is working to diversify its RR base and hire more women and minorities. So there’s more vibrancy within the firm. They’ve made significant progress in this area and I look forward to more of that."
"They could improve their account statements. Clients can’t follow them; I have to explain the statements to them. But there’s no place else to work, more freedom here than anywhere else. We feel like we’re a real part of the firm."
"I think it’s one of the most ethical and customer-focused firms out there. We seem to be headed in the right direction."
"I’ve had many offers to leave with very big payouts. I’m not interested. I’ve been with this firm for nine years. I’m very happy. The freedom of expression is tremendous."
(Freedom) "It’s a 10, otherwise I wouldn’t be with them."
(Research) "I would give it a 9. Five years ago, I would have rated it lower."
"It’s a wonderful place to work. They leave you alone and let you do your own thing. They always stress-do what’s right for the client. I like that. There’s no pressure to sell any one product."
"The one thing I would mention is that there’s a lot of pressure out there to go a lot of different ways: online trading, services, mergers--Chase/JP Morgan today. We hold very consistent with the one broker, one office theme. We hold consistent with looking at what clients need. We always get pressure for an online presence and we have one, but we don’t have online trading. We won’t be part of a short-term trend, fad. It’s easy to keep loyalty with clients now that they have friends getting burned [by online trading], and clients are telling their brokers ‘thanks.’ That’s why I have to give a 10 rating for strategic focus. The firm had the foresight not to jump on the [online trading] bandwagon. I wanted to jump on that bandwagon, too. But now I’m glad we didn’t, and clients are happy."
"The firm is growing by leaps and bounds, have growth goal of 10,000 offices by 2004."
(Technology) "What we’re not keeping up with the technology. The information is available, but it’s not there as expeditiously as it would be nice to have. The firm is aware of the problem; they’re working aggressively to fix it. It isn’t a show stopper though."
"I’m pretty happy with the firm."
"The focus is 'always do what’s right for the client.' That overshadows everything else."
(Account statements) "There are two camps: they love ’em or hate ’em. They appeal more to the analytical type of person. The individual investor usually just wants a synopsis. Instead they have to go from page to page. Actually, they do have a choice between a simple or complex statement. Where it gets confusing is if they have dividends and we do systematic investing for them."
(Products) "We have nothing that we have to sell; it’s up to broker to sell right thing to right person."
[Firm’s strategy]: "We’re growing, keeping up. I’ve never been with another firm."
"What the firm is doing well: The whole opportunity is great."
"They’re putting too much emphasis on growth. We have too many people in each town, so now there’s competition from other Jones brokers and we’re all selling the same screen. Another firm will have a lot of brokers in one office... I don’t think we need two, three, four brokers in a small city. They should concentrate instead on large cities. Online brokerages don’t effect us. We have a buy-and-hold strategy."
"We’re in it for the long term, not getting caught up in the frenzy of trading--the dot.coms. We do a lot to educate investors."