Q: What were you looking for in a new opportunity?
A: Well, I parted with my previous firm under less than ideal circumstances, so I had to leave a lot of my book there. I knew that I would have to build a new book, and that was why I started with Edward Jones. That is what is described as a new-new Financial Advisor. In the process of transitioning to Edward Jones, it simply became something that I decided I would do, not if but how I was going to do it and how aggressive I was going to be. It was more or less what I have been looking for, an opportunity to go out and build my book from scratch. I accepted it at face value and assumed it was something I could do and would not have any problem with. Actually it was some time before I realized some successes. The reason I say that is because it really comes home to you when someone walks into your office and says, "You came by the house and introduced yourself a year ago, and I was impressed with the way you presented yourself, and I think we can do business together." That is when you really get a feel for it. Then you realize, my God, that really worked.
Q: Describe a good day of work at Edward Jones.
A: The same client who considered me family during her annual review was dissatisfied with how fast she and her husband were accumulating funds, and she blamed it on the fact that he wasn't contributing enough money. He complained that he was too busy. She said, "You play golf, so why don't you two play golf every month, and you can give him a check then." So now I have to play golf with the husband every month so that he can give me a check, and sometimes he even pays for the rounds, so how good is that?
Q: How would you describe your compensation compared to that of an independent?
A: Well, I don't know your commission structure, but let me say a little bit about the difference because I came from a commission structure that is obviously different from Edward Jones. We were an independent, so all of the expenses were borne by us. Yes, I had a higher payout; however, I also had all of the expenses. I think it works out to be just about a wash, as far as compensation is concerned. If you do well there, you will have a good career. If you do well here, you will have a good career. The plus side of Edward Jones is that you are truly allowed to build the business exactly as you want it. Autonomy has to be important to you, and Edward Jones does an awful lot to make sure it is kept in place because they understand it is important to us and fervently supported. The firm spends an awful lot of money, time and effort to maintain that environment.
Q: What part of the training was most helpful?
A: The CCD program was one of the first initiatives I was personally involved with. I went to a class and it was, in experience, the very first class that made me really feel like I belonged. As you know, according to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, feeling like you belong is one of the most important things that can happen for an individual.
Q: What about the Edward Jones opportunity appealed to you?
A: I would say that you have the opportunity to work with whomever you choose. If that is the environment you choose to work in, Edward Jones has the tools to support you. Ted Jones found a market that historically was not served, and he proved that serving it was a good thing. If you feel that high net worth clients are the way to build a business, you can focus on that, but it is simply not the focus here. It is not necessary to cultivate them to have a very good career.
Q: How would you describe Edward Jones?
A: I would have to describe Edward Jones as being a firm of fairly smart, visionary people. Ted Jones was definitely visionary. I consider it something other than wise to not recognize the changing world environment. And Edward Jones recognizes that, too. The environment we live in is entirely different from what it was 30 years ago, and if you don't make changes to incorporate that, then you are simply going to fail.
Q: Articulate the spirit of volunteerism that exists at Edward Jones.
A: There is a national organization called the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. It has some primary initiatives or motivational factors that are consistent with what we want to do, so Edward Jones has formed an alliance with the 100 Black Men. I am one of the local people responsible for interaction with that organization to bring that alliance to fruition in Houston. One thing that is important to the firm is mentorship, so they are concerned with growing and developing the next generations from a financial perspective. We conduct educational seminars for that organization and the people they bring to us, and we help the individual members with their personal finances.
Q: Are there any memorable experiences, perhaps with a client, that encapsulate or typify what it's like to work for Edward Jones?
A: I once went by for a first meeting with a woman at her home, and she complimented me on my car. The next time I came by, she said, "Look, my husband and I are not going to deal with you. We are not interested in working with you, so really it would be best if you just didn't come back. Don't waste your time." Fast-forward two years: I am with her and her husband in an attorney's office, and the attorney says to me, "It is really not appropriate for you to be in this meeting because we are going to talk about very personal stuff." The wife replied, "No, no, Pat is OK; he is like family." That's when you know it was really worthwhile.
Q: What would you say is the most enjoyable part of being a Financial Advisor?
A: The most fun part of my job is when I find myself in a position where I can in fact make a difference in somebody's life. I work with retired people primarily, or those who are about to retire. Some of them are either widowed or divorced, but they are single parents at retirement age who have put a lot of time into a particular job. For example, I helped a retired policewoman who had put in 30 years on the force. Another was a retired cook and merchant marine. For both, I was able to help with long-term care insurance. It's phenomenal when you feel the appreciation for something like that. Another thing I enjoy is that I am my own boss, so I set my own hours. My 9-year-old grandson lives in Atlanta, and I was able to go watch him play his very first playoff football game.
Q: How important is it to have your branch office located in your community?
A: My branch is involved a lot more with the community. We have held several neighborhood coffee meetings at the office, and since those are primarily for retirees, it has developed a community relationship that is very comfortable for everyone. There is a discount retailer near my office that offers a monthly meeting for senior citizens, and I have become a featured part of the presentation. They cheer and shout out my name, and as a result, senior citizens call my office just to thank me for my participation. You get appreciated in a lot of different ways, and that is always gratifying, but there are also the standard things like Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, exchange club and other organizations that actually do things in the community that are gratifying, but it also brings a lot of pleasure to people in the community.
Q: What about the Edward Jones opportunity appealed to you?
A: In my previous job, I had no desire or motivation to be part of organizations like this. Actually, I guess that is not true; I was motivated to join those kinds of organizations, but we didn't relate with other financial organizations or any other businesses like ours that would promote us working in the neighborhood for the pure benefit of doing good. There was no reason to do that, whereas the environment at Edward Jones is such that you seek out those opportunities. I can't really say that it is expected of you, but through the Edward Jones environment you learn that community work is gratifying and helps you become a better person.
Q: What are the benefits of working for a partnership?
A: There is no a competition for us. What it actually does is increase our exposure in the community. Believe it or not, there are still a lot of people who don't know about Edward Jones. So the more visibility we have, the better it is for all of us as an Edward Jones community. It is not a competitive circumstance. There is enough business for plenty of people. It is not competitive, we encourage it, we support it, we grow, and we develop within the firm to help one another.
Q: Describe what it's like to build a business.
A: When I had my first meeting with my regional leader, he took my wife and me to lunch, and if he said it once, he said it 10 times: "The first five years are going to be tough." We did everything we could to shorten that time period, but there is a certain amount of growing involved. The business takes time, especially when you are building a branch from scratch. We knew it would take time, but we still expected to do as well as we possibly could. I have to give my wife credit; she is a trooper. She actually has been in the industry longer than I have. She works for a mutual fund vendor, so she understood, but there were still times when it probably would have been better if I'd had what she described as "a real job." A supportive attitude is helpful when you know you need to get back out there and try a little harder.
Q: Detail an incredible diversification trip that you would never have considered had it not been for that benefit.
A: The last trip was for just my wife and me. I have grandchildren, and my wife's idea was to rotate the trips: us, them, us, them, us, them. My idea, of course, is us, us, them, us, us, them — but the last trip was an "us" trip. We went to Hawaii and did absolutely nothing, and it was a wonderful, beautiful place. Edward Jones trips are always first class — that is a given — but we were able to completely relax and have a wonderful time doing nothing in a magnificently beautiful place.
Q: Explain the dynamics of working in a two-person office.
A: I shared an assistant where I was before. Now I have a branch office administrator to help me develop the office as much as possible. That is totally different. Her objectives and my objectives are one and the same. My branch office administrator was with me for about two and a half years, and then her father made her an offer she couldn't refuse. He owned an insurance branch and was about to retire, so he told her if she would work for him and get her licenses, then he would turn over the business to her when he retired. However, things didn't work out quite as well as she had expected, and I ended up getting her back after two years. I couldn't make it happen without her. I am grateful that she was there originally and saw the branch's beginning: She knows what it takes, and we work together very closely. She knows what is required to make me do what I need to do, and we have a wonderful working relationship.