Edward Jones Suspends In-Person Client/Broker Meetings
Edward Jones & Co., which has more than 18,000 brokers in over 15,000 offices in the U.S. and Canada, has told brokers to suspend their hallmark visits to the homes of clients and prospects, and to restrict public access to their offices.
“As cases of coronavirus spread,…Jones has announced new steps to protect the health and well-being of our clients, associates, their families and our communities,” spokesman Alex Reed said in a statement issued Tuesday. “We have asked our financial advisors to temporarily suspend making residential face-to-face contacts. We are also temporarily restricting public access to our branch offices, and encouraging clients and our financial advisors to communicate using virtual means, including telephone call, WebEx, secure text and online access.”
The St. Louis-based firm continues to encourage brokers and branch support administrators to work from their offices, Reed said. But Edward Jones has told most employees at its headquarters locations in St. Louis, Tempe and Mississauga, Canada, to work from home, and has enhanced cleaning protocols for those working in offices while encouraging them to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Public health officials have said that people should stay six feet apart, and President Donald Trump on Monday said they should not congregate in gatherings of more than ten.
Jones last week suspended all business travel through the end of May and moved all training and firm events to virtual platforms.
At Minneapolis-based Ameriprise Financial, which also services primarily middle-class investors and champions home-visit financial reviews, the “vast majority” of employees are now working remotely, said Stephanie Siegle, a company spokeswoman. Ameriprise has over 9,000 brokers in its independent contractor and employee channels.
Raymond James Financial, the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based firm with more than 8,000 independent and employee-channel advisors, said Tuesday that it has canceled all conferences and firm-hosted events through the end of April, eliminated work-related travel and is “working to limit the number of people in our offices by implementing a mix of remote work and split operations.” (The cancellations apparently include the personalized broker recruiting trips to Raymond James’ home office, where prospects are pitched by top executives on the company’s broker-centric culture.)
In a message posted on the company’s website. Chairman and Chief Executive Paul Reilly said the firm is also “empowering our managers and asking them to be flexible, especially for associates at higher risk for significant complications from the virus, for those who have family members at higher risk, or who face challenges related to childcare.”
Reilly also addressed the tricky balance of isolating employees without denting client service in chaotic markets.
“Even as we deal with historic market conditions and modified work arrangements to address concerns with associate safety, we are working tirelessly to minimize service disruptions,” he wrote. “We know times of instability are when we best earn clients’ trust, and we are here to be a strong, reliable partner through the current volatility and beyond.”
The firms did not say how long their restrictions will be in effect. Edward Jones will continue to follow guidelines of the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and local public health officials, and reevaluate processes as needed, its spokesman said.