Published February 16, 2010
Volume 18, Number 2

Edward Jones Investment Services Stresses Long-Term Client Relationships

Financial advisor Jeff Bohn, left, and office administrator Cheryl

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

When you make a call during business hours to the Hacienda office of Edward Jones—or to any of the investment services firm’s 12,614 other branches in the U.S. and Canada, for that matter—you can count on a live person answering at the other end. That kind of personal contact is a hallmark of what the firm considers its key differentiators.

“What sets Edward Jones apart in the financial services industry,” says Financial Advisor Jeff Bohn, “is our emphasis on taking care of our clients. We focus on the serious long-term investor, and we shoot for solutions, not profits.”  

Elaborating on that distinction, Bohn tells a story about Ted Jones, Jr., whose father, Edward Jones, founded the firm in St. Louis, Mo., in 1922.  “Ted really believed that the employees were the strength of the business, which is why today we are a partnership, employee-owned, and not a corporation,” Bohn relates. “He once received a letter from a financial advisor asking why he hadn’t taken the company public. He responded to the effect that with a loving wife, a few close friends, two dogs, horses, and a farm he cherished, he was already the richest man in America.”

Ted Jones died in 1990, but the company retains the same organizational structure he advocated. The model is built around the two-person branch--financial advisor and administrator--and face-to-face meetings as the preferred method of client contact. The St. Louis headquarters and the company training site in Tempe, Ariz., provide tremendous resources for the field offices, and Edward Jones’ training programs are world-renown. “The general pass rate on the first Series 7 exam is between 50 and 60 percent, but our firm’s pass rate is around 90 percent,” Bohn notes. “That shows what kind of support and mentoring are provided.”

Another of the firm’s distinctions is its independent approach to investing. At the height of the dot-com boom, the firm strongly advised all clients that they should have no more than 10 percent of their portfolio invested in that sector. “We were heavily criticized by the financial industry, and then the bust hit,” he says. “That’s an indication of the type of company we are. We truly believe in diversification, no more than five percent in any one investment sector, and we act for the long term, buying quality and holding it.”

Unlike some financial firms that have shut down or been drastically revamped during the downturn, Edward Jones has weathered the storm without losses or layoffs and continues to grow, expecting to open a few thousand offices over the next five years. It all comes back to the client focus, Bohn says. “When we put a plan together, the question is always ‘what are the needs of the client?’ Then we look for the products that can meet those goals, given the time period and funds available.” 

Along with its client-centric focus, Edward Jones is firmly committed to employee satisfaction, as its 11 years on FORTUNE magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For " list attest. For 2010, the firm earned the No. 2 spot overall, ranking No. 1 among large-sized companies.  For more information, call (925) 225-1055 or send an email to jeff.bohn@edwardjones.com.  


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