Edward Jones to add 60 financial advisors

July 21, 2012
| By Pete Daly |
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Edward Jones Investments has announced it plans to add 60 new financial advisors over the next several months as it expands throughout Kent, Ottawa, Allegan, Kalamazoo and Calhoun counties.

The firm, which is based in St. Louis, has nearly 10,500 branch offices throughout the nation, which it says is more than any other brokerage firm. It currently serves almost 7 million clients, many of them in rural communities, according to its website.

CNN Money reported in March that Edward Jones was planning to hire 700 financial advisors this year nationwide.

Sam Vriezema, an Edward Jones financial advisor in Zeeland who is also the firm’s West Michigan talent acquisition manager, said there are currently 117 financial advisors in the five counties, and that two factors are increasing the demand for more: the aging baby boomer generation and the lackluster stock market.

Citing “the turmoil in the market in the last five years,” Vriezema said that before the recession, the general assumption was that retirement investments would generate gains of about 7 percent per year. “Well, in the last five years, we haven’t seen that 7 percent return on your money,” he said.

There is now “more of a need, more of a want” for retirement investment advice “because of the aging baby boomer generation, along with the fact that the stock market has been flat for a good amount of time for the last 10 years,” added Vriezema. “With turmoil in the market, there are more individuals that are seeking advice.”

He said the 60 new advisors are an addition to Edward Jones’ headcount and are not intended to replace others who have left the firm in its West Michigan region, which it perceives as extending from the Indiana border north to Manistee. “As far as the industry goes, we have very low turnover,” he said, adding that the turnover rate is about 10 to 15 percent per year.

The 60 new financial advisors will also mean an increase in support staff at those new offices. “That’s probably going to result in a cumulative 200 (new) employees,” he said.

First-year Edward Jones financial advisors earn an average of almost $60,000, he said, which is a combination of salary and commissions. In the second year, the salary declines and the commissions increase.

Vriezema said that in the recruitment of new financial advisors, a college degree is “nice, but it’s not huge. If somebody has good sales experience, then we can train them.” He said the firm looks for candidates who have had a career marked by increasing responsibilities and increasing compensation.

The Edward Jones training program has been rated the best for 10 years in a row by Registered Rep Magazine, according to Vriezema.

A young person who has just graduated from college “will probably lack some of the skills we are looking for,” he said. The best bet are individuals ranging in age from late 20s to mid-40s, “with some life experience, some people skills, some sales skills. We’re looking for people who have the ability to get up every morning and go talk to people.”

With more than 12,500 financial advisors, Edward Jones has been named one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America by Fortune magazine for the past 13 years. Its overall ranking is fifth place in the 100 Best and third place among large companies, according to the magazine.

The firm was founded in 1922 to provide investment advice to rural populations in the Midwest. By the 1980s, it was expanding into metropolitan areas, beginning with Chicago and Dallas. Although it still has many rural offices, the majority of its business is now in urban and suburban markets.

A career development seminar will be held today from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Amway Grand Plaza. To register, e-mail micareers@edwardjones.com or visit edwardjones.com/grandrapids.

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