Edward Jones to Reopen “Home Offices” to Some Employees
Edward Jones & Co. will begin opening its three “headquarters” buildings in the U.S. and Canada to some of the 6,500 corporate employees who support its 19,000 brokers in the coming weeks, but it will be many months before work routines return to normal, an executive said.
In a sign of the complexities large companies face in determining how to phase in reopenings amid the ebbs and flows of the Covid-19 pandemic, Jones expects 5% to 10% of home-office employees to return in the “next month or so,” rising to, perhaps, one-third late this year, Pennington said.
One of the three home regional offices is based in Tempe, AZ, a state where virus diagnoses have been rising. The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Wednesday said they will require residents from Arizona and eight other western and southern states to quarantine themselves for 14 days before crossing into their borders.
Jones also has two headquarters buildings in Saint Louis and one in Mississauga, Ontario for its Candian operations.
The retail brokerage firm, whose advisors work from about 15,000 primarily two-person offices, has permitted most of the locations to stay open but has restricted clients and prospects from meeting face-to-face with brokers since the outbreak of Covid-19 in March. Jones earlier this month began permitting client visits in selected regions, by appointment only, to sign paperwork and review accounts. Fewer than half of the branch offices are currently open to clients, and none to prospects.
“We are still taking a cautious and phased approach,” said Alex Reed, a Jones spokesman. “Once a branch office is eligible to reopen to the public, it is still ultimately up to that branch team in that office to decide if that is the appropriate decision for them and their community.”
The regions that have opened to clients include offices in all or parts of more than a dozen states, including California, Florida, Hawaii, Missouri, Texas, Tennessee, Vermont and Washington State, he said.
In her remarks on Tuesday, Pennington said reopening decisions are data-driven on a community-by-community basis.
“We’re working with public health officials, we’re listening to the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention],” she said. “We’re listening to the needs of our colleagues, those who are anxious about opening the branch to the clients, for whom this is working really really well.”
Jones’ physical presence in 2,000 of the United States’ 3,000 counties and all ten Canadian provinces gives it a strong understanding “on the frontlines” of the variable economic and behavioral effects of the pandemic, she said.
“It has been disparate across North America, and has really helped us bring in the resources, the empathy, the understanding and the expertise that our financial advisors needed to bring to their clients,” she said.
Like many companies, Jones has imposed travel restrictions on corporate employees, and, more idiosyncratically, has frozen wages, suspended overtime pay for client associates and halted hiring of non-broker personnel out of concern about falling revenue.