Q: What did you do prior to coming to Edward Jones?
A: Before coming to Edward Jones, I was a broker for large national bank. I did that for about three years and covered about four different branches in four different cities. I did a lot of traveling at that time.
Q: What were you looking for?
A: One of the reasons I wanted to leave the bank is that the opportunity to be an entrepreneur was never there. We were just an employee of the bank. With Edward Jones, I felt we had the opportunity to run a business. At the same time, I was traveling to four different banks in four different cities every week. So there was a lot of travel time involved in my particular branch operation. This was also an opportunity to stay local and develop some deep relationships with clients.
Q: How is Edward Jones different?
A: The main difference between the bank and Edward Jones, I felt, was the proprietary funds. We were getting increased pressure by the bank to sell more and more of proprietary funds. And the funds, in my belief, were not in the best interest of the clients. These were new funds, no history to look at, but yet they were encouraging us to sell these products. I was looking for an opportunity to do what’s best for my customers as opposed to doing what was best for the bank.
Q: Can you talk a little about compensation and how you adjusted?
A: I started to see my compensation become more competitive with what I had at the bank in my second to third year. It was very comparable to what I was doing at the bank. By the third and fourth years, it was significantly higher, and the fourth and even the fifth and sixth years were even better. It was more of a learning curve to learn to prospect for myself, to learn how to go about getting clients and prospects. And once I learned how Edward Jones explains and approaches the opportunity, I was able to go out there and increase my business.
Q: What kind of training did you receive?
A: When I joined the firm, I went through a transfer program. We went to St. Louis for a week, and that was a crash course of how to understand the system. In my opinion, where the real training came is what Edward Jones’ culture is all about. As I was getting started, there were plenty of people whom I could call upon in my region, people who didn’t know me, and I’d ask for advice or information, and they were more than willing to help. I even had people come to my office to help me out who had no strings attached to me. And that’s what I felt was very unique about Edward Jones – there are so many people willing to help. Even today, after being with the company over 17 years, there are still classes and education and things I continue to learn because I think that’s one thing they strive on – the continuing education. And that’s something I didn’t really feel that I was getting at my previous employer.
Q: What is it like having your own BOA?
A: At the bank I had to share the assistant with four other brokers. So whoever had the best relationship with that assistant got their paperwork processed faster than the others. So it was more of jockeying for buying time from that assistant as opposed to the system we have at Edward Jones. The BOA is 100% dedicated to that office. And my BOA does an excellent job of running that office. One thing I do feel very comfortable with is that not only was my training excellent, but her training was unbelievable, as well. Some of the things she can do will mind-boggle most brokerage firms out there, what we do for a one-person-office operation. But I depend on her and give her tasks that I know will be completed. I will only get involved if she feels I need to get involved. And I never had that at my previous employer. I was constantly following up on things. Now I just get the end result, and it makes my job a whole lot easier.
Q: Can you talk a little about the Edward Jones culture?
A: The Edward Jones culture, I believe, is unique. It’s based on volunteerism. When I joined this company, I had many phone calls, many e-mails from people I did not know who were willing to offer their help and support. As a matter of fact, several invited me to their office to come learn some of the things that I needed to know about Edward Jones. At my previous employer, I felt I didn’t get that. What makes the culture strong, I believe, is that we are not owned by stockholders and board members; we own the company, and we have a lot of responsibility here. When a client is not satisfied, it reflects on everybody’s bottom line. I think that’s what creates that culture that everybody wants to do what’s right for the client – because we all have a vested interest in this company.
Q: What makes you feel successful at the end of each day?
A: I feel I really am making a difference in people’s lives. At the bank I thought I was more of a transactional type of person. And what I mean by that is it was just one customer after another. I probably had 1,500 customers at the bank, but if you stuck them all in one room, I probably could name only 50 of them. I have over 600 households now. I can name every one of them and tell you a little bit about their kids and a little bit of something about every one of them. I have relationships. I never had that opportunity at the bank.