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Aggressive hiring pushes Edward Jones’ headcount to record high

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Edward Jones is on a red-hot recruiting streak.

The broker-dealer added 1,176 advisors last year, marking an 8% rise in headcount from December 2016 to December 2017, the firm noted in a recent SEC filing.

While headcount has grown every year for the past 30-years or so, 2017 brought the “best growth” for the firm in at least a decade, says Jim Weddle, Edward Jones’ managing partner.

“We’re very pleased with it,” he added.

Edward Jones has a reputation for training advisors from the ground up, rather than pulling in experienced talent from rival firms. While that remains the BD’s preferred approach, Weddle says the firm also acquires industry advisors “one financial advisor at a time.”

The current recruiting push is part of a long-term growth plan. About three years ago, Edward Jones said its goal was to hit 20,000 advisors by 2020. While it is gradually moving toward that target, the firm isn’t exclusively focused on hitting that number in the specified time frame, Weddle says. (As of December, Edward Jones had 16,095 advisors across the company.)

“Too many people are pointing at that 20,000 and saying that’s the end point,” Weddle says.

“We can grow beyond that, and I don’t know if we’re going to get to 20,000 by 2020. Honestly, that would be quite a distance from where we are now. We’re going to get there as quickly as we can find the right people to share our opportunity with.”

In training its workforce, Edward Jones often places new advisors in the offices of company veterans, where they learn how to build client relationships and become familiar with tools to build their own practices.

While Edward Jones has seen record growth in advisor recruitment over the course of a year, other firms haven’t fared as well. Wirehouses, in particular, have been experiencing a massive exodus. Planners are leaving the wirehouses in favor of going independent or for regional BDs, as they seek out greater freedom and the ability to market their businesses the way they want to.

Merrill Lynch, for example, has been gushing talent at a steady pace over the last year, seeing advisors move on to Raymond James, Steward Partners, Janney and Stifel.

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