But in the case of 32-year Edward Jones veteran Ted Bowling and his son, Aaron Bowling, who left for Morgan Stanley, the firm responded to news of the move with only kind words.
“Ted Bowling was a well-respected, long-time Edward Jones financial advisor who made a significant contribution to his clients and his branch,” Edward Jones spokeswoman Regina DeLuca-Imral said in an emailed statement.
The comment conveyed a softer side of an otherwise highly competitive industry. Firms generally do not comment on departing advisors and transitioning brokers frequently wind up in arbitration against their former employers for unpaid promissory notes or client solicitation. The industry was so fraught with cases over departing brokers that over 600 firms have come together since 2004 to sign The Protocol for Broker Recruiting, which makes it easier for advisors to move firms without fear of being sued.
Edward Jones, which is one of several firms, including JPMorgan, that have not signed the Protocol, made headlines last year when it sued another one of its departing veteran brokers in a $5 million arbitration case. During the presentation of evidence in the case, the firm provided a list of over 200 similar cases it had won against departing brokers. FINRA awarded Edward Jones no money, however, and some recruiters felt Edward Jones’ reputation for being tougher than other firms on departing advisors was outsized.
"It's as hard or as easy to leave Edward Jones as it is any other firm," said Mindy Diamond, the president and CEO of Diamond Consultants, in October.
In a phone call, Deluca-Imral said there was no policy around offering statements about departing brokers. She said she felt motivated to provide comment because of Bowling’s long tenure at the firm.
“I did this one because he’d been with us for such a long time,” said Deluca-Imral, adding she felt, “we needed to do a little something.”
The statement, however, also included an unsubtle marketing message tacked onto the end: a reminder that because of his departure, Bowling would not be able to take advantage of Edward Jones’ recently unveiled Retirement Transition Package. The program, which was rolled out this fall, would have provided Ted Bowling with an option to transition his assets under management to his son upon retirement had they stayed, the statement said.
The package, the email concluded, “ensures [Edward Jones] is the best place for financial advisors to finish their careers and transition their client relationships,” DeLuca-Imral wrote in the statement. Farewell, indeed.