Edwards firm hits 100-broker mark with new Florida office

CEO says family style, lack of outside investors attracting reps, advisers

Feb 11, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

By Dan Jamieson

Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. has reached the 100-broker milestone with the addition of a new office in Melbourne, Fla.

The Melbourne branch, the 28th office for the firm, is headed by 27-year industry veteran Betsy Dickson and her daughter, Dawn Dickson. They transferred from UBS Financial Services Inc. on Feb. 8. Both were also formerly at A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc.

In addition to the new Melbourne branch, the firm recently added brokers in existing locations in Wheaton, Ill., Red Bank, N.J., and St. Louis, where Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. is based.

The company now has branches in 15 states.

Founder and chief executive Benjamin F. “Tad” Edwards IV said he will soon have 30 offices, but declined to specify where the new locations will be.

A family-like culture at the firm, similar to the old A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc., is attracting legacy Edwards representatives and other advisers, he said.

“We're private, so we have the ability to stay in control and remain independent,” Mr. Edwards said. “That's a huge deal for people who don't want to move a book [of clients] and then have to do it again … We have zero ownership from any private-equity firms, venture capital or institutions.”

There are “absolutely no” plans to sell out, he added.

The company's expansion is being financed by family money, employees and “friends of the firm,” Mr. Edwards said.

Mr. Edwards, a former A.G. Edwards branch manager, founded the firm in 2008 after Wachovia Securities LLC acquired the old Edwards firm in October 2007. It later became part of Wells Fargo Corp.

He is the son of former A.G. Edwards chief executive Benjamin Edwards III, and the great-great-grandson of Albert Gallatin Edwards, who founded A.G. Edwards in 1887.

Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. opened its first office in August 2009 in Springfield, Mo.

It now has more than 250 employees, including advisers.

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