What do financial advisors look for in a wealth management firm?
Edward Jones financial advisors are bullish about, well, Edward Jones.
In a recent employee satisfaction survey conducted by J.D. Power & Associates, financial advisors rated the St. Louis-based company the highest of any wealth management investment firm.
It was the fourth time in as many studies that Edward Jones financial advisors had helped their company get the highest rating. J.D. Power surveyed advisors at eight financial investment firms, examining nine factors, including technology, firm performance, compliance and administrative support.
Edward Jones scored 901 points out of a possible 1,000. Raymond James came in second with 864 points. Edward Jones got its highest marks in technology and firm performance.
According to J.D. Powers officials, Edward Jones’ emphasis of putting the interests of the client first was very important to the financial advisors.
The outcome of the survey didn’t come as a surprise to several Edward Jones financial advisors, many of whom cited other factors such as corporate support, continuous training and the lack of upfront costs as other reasons why they love the company. Many also say they love the fact that they are not required to push certain products.
“The main philosophy of the company, which is to do what’s right for the client, is huge for me,” said David Cunningham, a financial advisor based in Columbus, Ohio who has been with the firm for nearly 10 years. Cunningham tells eFinancialCareers: “They make sure we’re not just doing it for the money but helping the client. The compensation is fair and understandable. Goals are set at a reasonable expectation. They are not easy but they are not unreasonable.”
Sheldon Clark, a suburban Chicago financial advisor, adds: “In our industry, you hear stories about scalawags all the time. Do we stumble? Sure we do. But we fix them.”
There’s a widespread feeling among financial advisors that most big firms seldom provide them with enough support and training in order to be successful, independent business owners.
But at Edward Jones, Cunningham says, the management employs strategies that heighten chances of success of advisors.
“We get our own branch office administrative person and Edward Jones pays for it,” says Cunningham. “I don’t know of any place else that gives you that off the bat. Edward Jones’ philosophy is if I don’t have any other administrative responsibilities I can focus. I don’t have to pay the rent, pay for computers or pay for furniture. I just have to get business. There are no upfront costs. They give you the basics.”
Guy Weinhold, an Austin, Texas financial advisor who will mark his 10th anniversary with Edward Jones in November, says he also values the company’s emphasis on putting the clients first.
Weinhold, who worked at a couple of companies, including Prudential Securities, prior to joining Edward Jones, says he and his colleagues thrive in an environment where they are not under pressure to move any particular products.
“Most of the other firms have quotas, where they want you to have to sell a certain amount of certain kinds of products,” he says. “They also have proprietary products, where they sell things representing certain firms."