Recruiting Emerging Producers and Experienced Advisors to Edward Jones
Our world-class training makes Edward Jones a magnet for career changers or recent college grads who want to be financial advisors—we get 36,000 inquiries annually. But established financial advisors at other firms weren’t drawn to consider our firm when deciding to move and grow their practice.
Recruiting more applicants with experience could significantly aid our ambitious goals to grow from 15,000 North American financial advisors to 20,000 by 2022. Edward Jones has deployed a consistent approach to growth through good times and bad since we began expanding from our St. Louis headquarters 60 years ago.
We hire and train several thousand new recruits annually, but inexperienced hires have a high turnover rate until they become successful after several years. Attrition drops into single digits once they are profitable. On the other hand, a veteran advisor with a significant book of business who moves to Edward Jones typically is immediately successful. Even a less-experienced emerging producer with a newly developing practice elsewhere has a significant chance of succeeding here. There is a strong business case to grow this channel of both emerging producers and experienced advisors.
One obstacle to hiring more financial advisors with experience: A 2015 industry survey showed those considering a move did not have Edward Jones at top of mind.
We launched extensive research and employed focus groups to identify misperceptions and determine how to overcome them. We also established an advisory group of financial advisors who came to us from other firms. We quickly learned that the more experienced financial advisors knew about us, the more they were interested.
Quite simply, they had outdated perceptions of Edward Jones. Although our roots are in rural, small-town Midwestern America, today’s Edward Jones is growing fastest in metropolitan and suburban areas.
Many were unaware that we not only offer financial advisors their own branch office with dedicated administrative support, but also industry-leading capabilities and tools, mobile and texting technology, and a broad range of client solutions, as well as a competitive compensation package.
So we took steps to break through those obsolete perceptions.
Industry Advertising: Late last year, we rolled out a national $6 million print and online advertising campaign to fight those small-time perceptions. To the financial community viewing them, the ads should surprise them and make them think: “That isn’t the Edward Jones I thought I knew.” The ads tout our unique branch-office business model, our private partnership, our organic growth strategy, our resources and capabilities, and our outside awards demonstrating client and financial advisor satisfaction. Associate photos appearing in the campaign depict our own strategists, analysts, home-office leaders, and advisors in metro markets. The photos reflect the diversity we have but also demonstrate our intent to continue to advance our diversity. The ad campaign is running again this fall.
Industry Profile: We continue to make senior leaders more visible as thought leaders, both through increased participation in prestigious industry conferences, as well as quotes and stories in influential industry and business publications.
Recruiting Staff: We hired experienced industry recruiters from other financial firms. We created new roles in high-growth geographic areas to lead experienced financial advisor recruiting. We beefed up our transition and integration team, which evaluates practices and onboards experienced financial advisors.
Recruiting Messages: We updated recruiting messages on our careers.edwardjones.com Website to clearly articulate why we have a unique opportunity for experienced advisors, offering great autonomy with world-class support. Our industry ad campaign drives people to a special landing page, which then takes candidates to our Website.
Training: We changed our messaging and updated training for the best recruiters we have—current financial advisors and branch office administrators in our 13,000 U.S. branches, who are involved in approximately 70 percent of hires. We introduced new onboarding for volunteer recruiting leaders in our regions, training them on foundational and talent pool strategies in hopes of giving them a quicker start in this important role.
We provided recognition for regions that recruit more experienced financial advisors, since it typically takes longer to engage them enough to learn more. We do not pay recruiting bonuses, however, since our associates tell us money is not what motivates them. They want others to enjoy the Edward Jones opportunity, and the firm to grow and serve more clients well. That’s the basis of our new internal recruiting message, “Change Lives: Refer Today.” We also have continued to strengthen the message of “The Edward Jones Opportunity,” which is the value proposition for financial advisors to start, build, and transition a career at Edward Jones.
Our own associates are the absolute best way to introduce talent to our firm. They do a great job of telling the Edward Jones story. We know from historical precedent that the more engaged they are in recruiting, the more likely we are to meet lofty hiring goals.
In 2016, we hired 39 experienced financial advisors and 110 emerging producers. So far this year, we already have hired 110 emerging producers, and we are making progress toward our goal of hiring of six experienced financial advisors a month. We expect our numbers to rise as all our efforts continue paying off.
But it took a multipronged effort. We performed extensive research, defined a clear strategy, developed coordinated marketing and training messages, invested the right resources, and engaged our best recruiters—our associates—to help us crack hard-shelled perceptions.
We continue to hire and train career changers, recent college graduates, and military veterans in large numbers, but we can accelerate our growth by also attracting a small but steady stream of already-successful financial advisors to join Edward Jones.