Edward Jones topped $1 trillion in client assets while stepping up recruiting efforts to better compete with industry giants like Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

The St. Louis-based broker reported a 9.9% jump in AUM to $1.07 trillion since the beginning of the year. Net new assets (separate from market appreciation) reached $34.9 billion to date, generally on track to hit its $47 billion target for the year.

“We’re growing in the largest markets in the U.S. and in Canada,” Weddle says. “That’s where we see the future opportunity being the greatest and we’re working hard to understand those markets and tailor our growth.”
“We’re growing in the largest markets in the U.S. and in Canada,” Weddle says. “That’s where we see the future opportunity being the greatest and we’re working hard to understand those markets and tailor our growth.”

Edward Jones hit this milestone sooner than planned. In an interview with On Wall Street in 2015, the firm’s leadership said their goal was to reach $1 trillion by 2020.

It attributes this increase to the expansion of its advisor base. Edward Jones has added 876 financial advisors through September, says Edward Jones Managing Partner Jim Weddle. The firm expects to reach its goal of adding 1,000 advisors by the end of 2017. Of the 1,000 advisors the firm is planning to bring in this year about 160 to 170 of them will come from within the industry.

“We’re growing in the largest markets in the U.S. and in Canada,” Weddle says. “That’s where we see the future opportunity being the greatest and we’re working hard to understand those markets and tailor our growth.”

To be sure, this would mark a new strategy for the firm. Founded in 1922, Edward Jones has largely focused on smaller towns, suburbs and rural areas.

Edward Jones has about 15,000 advisors and believes it can hit 20,000 by 2020 or 2022, which would make it the biggest advisory sales force in the industry, compared the wirehouses’ current headcounts. But Weddle says they are in no rush.

“We’re not going to hurry; we’re going to do it in a thoughtful, planful way. We can only grow as quickly as we can attract people to join our firm,” Weddle says.

Merrill Lynch has about 15,000 advisors with $2.25 trillion in AUM. Wells Fargo’s Wealth and Investment Management division has about 14,500 brokers and total AUM of $1.9 trillion. Morgan Stanley Wealth Management has 15,759 advisors and total AUM of $2.3 trillion.

“Competition is everywhere,” Weddle says. “And we’ve certainly seen a pretty dramatic evolution of competitors over the years.”

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Amanda Schiavo

Amanda Schiavo is an associate editor for Financial Planning. Follow her on Twitter at @SchiavoAmanda.