Fortune's Best Companies #2: Edward Jones

edward jonesEmployees raved about the entrepreneurial environment, being your own boss, and friendly culture that has earned Edward Jones its spot on the best places to work lists over the last few years. I talked to a number of employees who shared their ideas about what it's like to work at the investment firm of Edward Jones.

Financial advisor David Smith loves the "awesome culture of friendliness" of Edward Jones. "I loved the corporate culture because it was personable and family oriented. An example was our summer regional on Lake Lanier in Georgia. We were given free water-park tickets for the whole family. When meetings weren't conducive for kids, they had a great kid's area with age appropriate activities for my two year old, seven year old and eleven year old. The veteran reps went out of their way to make me and my wife feel welcome. The friendliness seems to be at all levels of corporate culture. At the Tempe location, everyone from the security guard and kitchen staff up to the directors seemed to be thrilled to be working for Jones."

But David related some concerns he's had about Edward Jones also. "It seemed like the series 7 and 66 [financial licensing] training was great, but when it got to sales training, I was disappointed. In addition, when you don't have an office [another problem] and you ask a person for an order, it's difficult to build the necessary trust early in your career. I did search out help from other Jones FAs and they were great with encouragement, but encouragement doesn't teach you how to close a sale."

Another Edward Jones financial advisor (name withheld) had a different take on the company. "You are treated by management as if your opinion really matters, regardless of your position in the firm. The people are fantastic. I have worked at some terrific places in the past, but nowhere have the people been as friendly and intelligent. They want you to succeed within the company."

She described the typical day as primarily door-to-door sales. "Most of your day is meeting face to face, and your evenings are often at networking events, just trying to meet people. However, once you've built a solid base of business, you're set, and the demands aren't as great."

But even with this financial advisor's rave reviews, there are some downsides that she recognized. "As is the case anywhere there can be some office politics, but no more here than anywhere. They do protect tenure a little too much in my opinion."

I spoke to a third financial advisor (name withheld), who shared mostly positive experiences with Edward Jones. "Probably the best big firm in the brokerage business. They are very careful not to offer very risky products to clients, keeping everyone out of trouble – clients, the firm and advisors. The willingness to offer guidance is outstanding. At Edward Jones, my experience was that there was an enormous amount of camaraderie and willingness to spend time coaching and mentoring younger advisors. Many firms allow only top producers to use things like the Morningstar X-Ray – EDJ makes this available to all advisors. Finally, the customer-contact database is far superior to other firms where I've worked."

Even with this financial advisor's rave reviews, there were some negatives also. "Edward Jones could do more to support young financial advisors in their careers to reduce the failure rate. Benefits for financial advisors are very costly after the subsidy period is over after 2 years."

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