Edward Jones Financial

Edward Jones is a leading company in the financial services industry that takes a personal approach to advising clients. Not surprisingly, it takes certain unique skills and traits to become a financial advisor at this large investment firm.

We posed 10 questions to financial expert John Rahal, Principal, Financial Advisor Talent Acquisition, who has worked roughly 17 years with Edward Jones. In 2012 Rahal “began serving as a member of Edward Jones Management Committee,” and most importantly, he continues to oversee the recruiting and hiring of quality financial advisors while meeting the firm’s growth and diversity objectives.

Below, he outlines the company’s unique company culture along with what they look for in quality candidates.

1. Give us one interesting fact that people outside of the company do not know about Edward Jones.

Edward Jones’ business model is unique within the industry. It affords financial advisors the ability to run their own offices, enjoy unlimited earning potential, create their own schedules, and work in the communities in which they live. There is one financial advisor and one branch office administrator in each individual office with locations across the country. In a sense, running an individual branch office is a lot like running a small business, except at Edward Jones you have the backing, infrastructure and resources of a long-standing financial services leader.

Edward Jones’ structure and training programs have been nationally recognized by a number of organizations, which include: Fortune Magazine, named #4 Best Company to Work For in 2014; Training Magazine, ranked #24 on 2014’s Training Top 125 list its 14th consecutive year; and J.D. Power & Associates, ranked “highest in employee advisor satisfaction among financial investment firms” in 2013.

2. What are the main areas you hire for?

At Edward Jones, we are focused on attracting, recruiting and hiring quality financial advisors to help meet the firm’s growth objectives as well as serve the growing number of Americans in need of long-term financial advice. In fact, the firm is looking to increase its financial advisor base to 20,000 by year 2020. To accomplish this goal, the firm is primarily focused on hiring financial advisors – and branch office administrators – to operate their own branches in major metro markets across the country. Currently, we have 13,000-plus financial advisors operating branches in North America and plan to hire 3,000 individuals during 2014.

It is also worthy to note that Edward Jones does not just seek those who are either existing financial advisors or in a career within the financial services industry. While a background in financial services is certainly helpful, it is not required, and we have an award winning training program that’s designed to transition people without industry background to the financial advisor role. In fact, many current financial advisors at the firm were formerly teachers, sports coaches, and military veterans, to name a few.

Of course, as the number of financial advisors grows, so does the need for branch office administrators to work in branch offices, as well as additional staff at our headquarters to support these new branch offices.

3. Describe what the typical interview process looks like.

At Edward Jones, we have developed a 16-step interview process to ensure we’re finding the right people to join our firm’s 13,000-plus financial advisors. The system is designed to be a “competency-based hiring process,” which first begins with resume reviews and then progresses to phone and face-to-face interactions.

After face-to-face interviews, we put our recruits through challenges. One such challenge is called the “virtual day in the life assessment,” where we send the candidate out to the territory he or she would be assigned to if hired. The challenge lasts four-and-a-half hours during which the potential financial advisor is expected to make new contacts with mock clients. Our goal here is to see how well he or she communicates with clients, creates relationships and manages their time.

When you’re talking about investing the general public’s money, it’s integral that we evaluate candidates well and make sure they are the right fit for this role. This process helps identify that.

4. How can new job seekers or recent graduates stand out in a job interview if they lack work experience?

Edward Jones is known for attracting “career changers,” meaning individuals who come from outside of financial services and are interested in pursuing a career in the field. While a number of individuals who are already licensed come over to Edward Jones, many of our career changers were previously teachers, bankers, engineers, and military veterans, among others. As mentioned above, we offer an award-winning training program to prepare these individuals for the financial advisor role by helping them acquire proper licensing and working in the field with established financial advisors.

While our financial advisors do tend to come from diverse backgrounds, there is one common element that we look for in candidates: an entrepreneurial spirit. These are the individuals who demonstrate ambition, motivation and a strong sense of passion and positivity. An entrepreneurial appetite, along with a desire to help individuals or families achieve their personal and financial goals, is the most important quality an individual needs to be successful at Edward Jones.

5. Other than compensation and benefits, what are some unique initiatives that your company provides to its employees?

Edward Jones financial advisors enjoy a great variety of benefits and rewards. One unique aspect of the financial advisor opportunity is our travel program designed to reward those committed to client service.  Financial advisors can qualify for participation in diversification trips all over the globe, and many trips include options for bringing family along.  Many of our financial advisors earn these trips, and they’re a great opportunity to gain knowledge about how to diversify their clients’ investment portfolios.

6. What unique offerings do you provide for new employees to advance/grow in the company?

The exciting part about the financial advisor career path at Edward Jones is that the sky is the limit!  Our unique branch-office structure allows financial advisors to achieve unlimited earnings potential, while living and working within their community.

Our firm’s managing partner Jim Weddle is a prime example of the success you can achieve at the firm. In 1976, he started at Edward Jones straight out of graduate school and opened up the firm’s 200th branch office in Connersville, Indiana. Within seven years he moved to St. Louis, where the firm is headquartered, and continued down the path that ultimately led him to his current role as managing partner of a FORTUNE 500 company.

7. Do you have a work/life balance program at your organization, and if so, what makes it unique from others in your industry? 

Edward Jones’ business model inherently encourages work/life balance for financial advisors. A key differentiator about the firm is its one financial advisor, and one branch office administrator model that allow financial advisors to operate their business close to home, should they choose it. This not only affords them with the flexibility to balance their own schedule on their own terms, but also make an impact on their community.

One of our financial advisors, Jason Blanchard, said it best: “There are a few things I love about my job. One, I get to help people plan for the future, which is very rewarding. Two, I enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with working for myself. Most importantly is number three, as long as I get the work done, I can be there for my family when they need me. I make my own schedule.”

8. What has your company done to make Edward Jones a stable environment for employees and reduce turnover?   

Edward Jones was founded on the principle that those who work for the firm should receive fair compensation and treatment.  We are a partnership, and we operate that way.  Throughout the firm’s history, there have been ups and downs in the market, and we’ve remained committed to retaining our associates through all market cycles.  Financial advisors who work hard to serve their clients in a responsible, ethical manner will find that they always have a home at Edward Jones.

9. What is your involvement in the community? How can employees get involved? 

Our firm’s business model encourages individuals to be strong contributors in their communities.  Since many financial advisors operate branches in towns that they reside in, we find that many are part of their community’s Chamber of Commerce, PTA groups or diversity organizations.  Our financial advisors often find that the community element is what keeps them close with their clients, serving not only as their financial advisory partner but also as a close neighbor and friend in the community.

In addition, our financial advisors form “Edward Jones Communities” of their own with other financial advisors in the area. These communities help transition new financial advisors (which is tough at first!) to their career through informal mentorship programs.

10. What’s the one piece of advice you would give a candidate to make a positive impression during an interview with Edward Jones? 

To make a good impression during an interview, it’s important to show your desire to take on new challenges and be in charge of your professional career development. This can come off in various forms, but typically we find that individuals right for the financial advisor career are good communicators, good with time management, show a sense of ownership with their work and highlight their entrepreneurial skills (which include: adaptability, ability to multi-task, motivation, sense of passion and positivity).

If you are considering a position at Edward Jones, it is important to ask yourself these questions:

  1. Would you rather work in a group or more autonomously?
  2. Do you want to work for a big company or start a small business?

If after thinking about these questions, you find yourself answering with “autonomously” and “small business,” then chances are that Edward Jones is the right fit for you.