Edward Jones revamps recruiting to focus on wirehouses

Almost 20% of the 695 advisers who joined firm last year came from big Wall Street firms

Jan 21, 2014 @ 1:06 pm

By Mason Braswell

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Edward Jones has been fighting back against wirehouses with some new moves of its own.

The fourth-largest broker-dealer firm with about 13,000 financial advisers has spent the past two years trying to shift its focus and market itself as an attractive place for top-dollar, veteran advisers from wirehouse firms.

Last year, the firm brought in about 150 wirehouse advisers, almost a fifth of all net new advisers, up from 120 in 2012. It is hoping to increase that number to about 300 this year.

Wirehouse firms have always picked up veteran advisers from Edward Jones, but the opposite hasn't always been true.

At least $542 million in net assets moved to to Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley to Edward Jones last year, according to data from InvestmentNews' Advisers on the Move database.

But Edward Jones has shied away from getting involved in the big-money deals and back-and-forth trading of veteran advisers. The firm doesn't issue press releases on major moves and has focused instead on bringing college graduates and career changers up through its six-month training program.

“A couple years ago, if you asked me how many people are you aware of who left a wirehouse and went to Edward Jones, I'd say none,” said Ron Edde, founder of career consulting firm Millennium Career Advisers. “That's not the case anymore.”

In the past two years, the firm has focused on how to better market itself to this segment of the adviser market and spent money building its recruiting resources and enhancing its offers to recruits.

Katherine Mauzy, a principal who helps the firm recruit wirehouse advisers, was hired by Edward Jones in 2010 after spending 20 years at UBS, where she was a director of field recruiting and retention.

Since joining Edward Jones, she has helped restructure the firm's transition packages and made the culture and business model the focus of Edward Jones' message. Jones stresses the independence of its advisers, who work in single-practioner offices, often in suburban markets, where the adviser has his own client associate.

“Here we are, leading with the opportunity,” Ms. Mauzy said. “We don't feel like we need to give an upfront check, nor do we feel that would be aligned with how we work.”

Although wirehouses offer upfront or production bonuses that can reach up to three times trailing-12-months' revenue, Edward Jones has found its own way to compete.

The firm offers an income guarantee that will provide whatever additional money that a veteran recruit needs to maintain the level of production they had at their old firm.

A $400,000 producer, for example, would be compensated by Edward Jones for however much they fall short of that amount for a number of years after making the transition. The length of time over the income guarantee stretches depends on production levels.

The firm also offers an asset-based bonus based on how much of their assets the adviser is able to bring over to the firm.

Ms. Mauzy declined to comment on how that bonus is structured because it was proprietary information, she said.

In the past year, as Edward Jones looks to compete for the larger teams, it has extended the length of time and amount that advisers can obtain for those asset bonuses, she said.

“A lot of it has to do with the fact that we're in conversations with a lot of very qualified advisers who have been in the business a long time,” Ms. Mauzy said. “We are looking at the income guarantee differently and where it has the potential to last longer.”

Not all wirehouse advisers are a good fit for the firm, Ms. Mauzy said.

The firm does all its recruiting internally and uses databases as well as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc.'s BrokerCheck database to do due diligence on advisers, she said.

The firm generally screens for advisers who haven't moved firms multiple times and would jibe with Edward Jones' long-term investment philosophies, Ms. Mauzy said.

That may exclude advisers with clients who do a lot of options or alternative investments, which aren't available on Edward Jones' standard brokerage platform.

A version of this article posted at 1:06 p.m. Wednesday incorrectly stated that $542 million in assets moved to Edward Jones from Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley. In fact, the $542 million moved from Edward Jones to Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley as three brokers departed the firm last year, according to data from InvestmentNews' Advisers on the Move database.

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