Edward Jones, known for its Advisor-On-Every-Main-Street approach to wealth management, has an ambitious growth plan that could unseat the largest player in the industry, at least in terms of advisor headcount.

The broker-dealer plans to add thousands of advisors over the next five years, potentially shooting past Morgan Stanley. The wirehouse is currently the top firm, reporting 15,915 advisors as of the first quarter of this year, writes Associate Editor Andrew Welsch in this month’s probing story about Edward Jones.

Welsch’s analysis of headcounts reported by firms within the employee advisory channel found Edward Jones already was busy laying the groundwork. In the last four years, it added nearly 2,000 advisors to reach 14,261. That puts Edward Jones above Merrill Lynch and UBS.

The story investigates how the St. Louis firm plotted and executed such a growth track, and demonstrates the Edward Jones approach to recruitment through the experience of advisor Korey Banks, a sole practitioner who started from scratch.

To be sure, Edward Jones will have to watch its attrition rate. Observers now say it’s about on par with the rest of the industry. Ameriprise, for example, had an employee advisor retention rate of 91.5%. That is basically in line with what Edward Jones has. No better, no worse.

Banks recalls how his thinking changed after taking his Series 7 and completing his training. His focus expanded beyond investment planning, he tells Welsch. “You learn it’s about the clients and their goals and risk tolerance.”

The 37-year-old advisor went through the Edward Jones training program, which Welsch describes as critical to the firm’s growth plans. The proof is offered in the story of Banks, one of thousands of advisors who may help Edward Jones vault to the head of the pack.


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