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Edward Jones hits record advisor headcount, elevates 2 execs

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Edward Jones’s new leader is putting her mark on the firm, promoting two managers as the growing brokerage notches a record number of advisors, according to recent company filings with the SEC.

Managing Partner Penny Pennington tapped Tom Curran, 58, and Chris Lewis, 52, for the executive committee. Its members represent the “senior-most leadership of the firm” and are is responsible for the company’s strategy, governance and performance, a spokesman said.

Like Pennington, Curran is an Edward Jones veteran and started his career at the company as a financial advisor in 1992. He’s served as a regional leader and overseen financial advisor talent acquisition. Lewis is general counsel for Edward Jones and has been with the firm since 2007.

They’ll work with Pennington, who assumed the role of managing partner from Jim Weddle at the start of the year, at a moment of steady expansion. The company’s expanding ranks hit a record 17,615 advisors for 2018, up 9% from the prior year, or about 1,520 FAs, according to an SEC filing. The firm reported net revenue for 2018 of $8.5 billion, up 13% year-over-year.

These insiders are well placed to propel their firms forward and encourage colleagues to address the industry’s shortcomings.
December 19

In recent years, Edward Jones has competed with LPL Financial and Morgan Stanley for the title of the nation’s largest wealth management firm as measured by advisor headcount. (Edward Jones is the reigning champ.)

A burgeoning advisor force is necessary to serve what Edward Jones executives say is a growing market for financial advice. Baby boomers are retiring in ever greater numbers and millennials are set to inherit an unprecedented amount of wealth.

To fill out its ranks, Edward Jones has traditionally relied on its training program. However, the firm recently stepped up efforts to attract advisors from competitors.

How successful those efforts will be remains to be seen, in part because of the differences in how Edward Jones and other firms structure their brokerages.

The company’s branch offices are typically located in suburbs or small towns, and consist of one advisor and an assistant. Edward Jones has long eschewed teaming, an approach embraced by its competitors.

Pennington is the sixth person and first woman to lead the St. Louis-based firm since it was founded in 1922.

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