Once upon a time I felt like I needed a change of careers. Back then I was an ER nurse, and after a while, day in and day out, dealing with sickness, death, trauma and sadness can get to a person. I had seen enough abuse cases and heart attacks to last someone a lifetime. I couldn’t stand to look another family member in the eyes who’s husband, daughter, mother, sister were not going to make it, as they plead with the trauma team to save their loved one. It was exhausting.
One day a friend encouraged me to apply for a job with Edward Jones. I didn’t have a bit of knowledge regarding investments. All I knew was my 401K was doing alright. He told me the company would teach me everything I needed to know. And they did.
The first several months of your employment with Jones is spent studying and taking practice exams to obtain the Series 7 and Series 66, both brokerage exams. This was several years ago, but we were paid to study. After the rigorous interview process to get hired, this was welcome. At the time, it was a small fraction of what I was making hourly as a nurse, but it was something, the silver lining was it enabled me to stay home with my daughter. The studying was serious. Jones certainly wasn’t paying their prospective employees to sit around. After months of studying, I passed my exams, well above my predicted scores. It was then on to St. Louis or Tempe, Arazona. My location was chosen as St. Louis, had it been my choice, I wouls have chosen Tempe, climate being the only factor for that decision.
The instructors let you know up front that the business isn’t for everyone. In fact, many years after my time at Edward Jones, not one person I still keep in contact with is with the company. They have all gone independent, to other companies, or back to their former careers. I’m unsure of the percentage that stays with the company, but I know it’s really low.
After a week in St. Louis the real fun begins. The job at this stage is door knocking. I hated this part with a passion. My personal philosophy is that the most successful Jones reps are this who already have a book of business to bring with them, or a ton of friends and contacts who are willing to trust someone with their money who they know has not real prior knowledge of investing. None of mine were willing to take that risk. Do I blame them? No. I wouldn’t have trusted me with my money. Probably because I hadn’t completely “drank the kool-aid” myself.
I made it to the second St. Louis trip, but barely. During that time my area had a huge ice storm. There is an expectation of having a certain amount of names per week in the funnel with names, addresses, and phone numbers who you will call while you are in St. Louis. The ice storm shut my city down. I couldn’t walk down my driveway, forget driving out of it. Those of us from my area tried to tell our rep that the entire central Kentucky region had been declared a state of emergency. She suggested we walk around our neighborhoods with water for people. Really? I can’t get to the store to buy water. Because I can’t leave my driveway. We had no electricity. But my leader kept pushing the issue until she turned on the news a couple days later and let me know she “understood” why I couldn’t collect names that week. That called for a big eye roll.
Shortly after the second trip to St. Louis I realized the company just wasn’t my cup of tea. I tried in my assigned part of town, but the stock market had crashed. No matter how many people I tried to convince that stocks were “on sale” or “feel-felt-found,” I couldn’t do it. I had to pick nurse shifts back up because the pay with Jones is so meager.
If someone is considering working with this company, here is my advice to you:
1. Read message boards. You’ll get the scoop on what has happened to folks who have worked there.
2. Be objective. Don’t just “drink the kool-aid.” Understand that although being enthusiastic is great, believing everything they tell you is another. They want your friends and families money to invest.
3. Do have months of money to cover your bills while you are not making enough while employed by Jones the first several months. I did not start out with much saved back. I ended up having to cash out my own 401K to live and then pick up shifts as a nurse (which was against the rules, but well, I needed to pay my mortgage and feed my child. You do why you have to do.)
After all was said and done, I wish I had thought my move to Jones out a little bit more thoroughly, and been a bit better informed before I signed my contracts. They own your Series 7 license, and you can own it too, for a price tag of $50,000. I wasn’t willing to take out a loan to keep working in an industry I didn’t feel honest in, so I went back to nursing far poorer than I left. (Several thousand in credit card debt and a cashed out 401K that I had to pay a massive amount of taxes on.) Would I do it all again? No chance. There are people I still talk to who started their “career” with Edward Jones when I did, but besides that, it was a huge mistake that impacted me negatively financially for many years.