The firm posted record growth for 2012, achieving $4.97 billion in revenue and a $555 million profit, which topped its previous record of $4.15 billion set in 2007.
“It’s better than our previous record which was 2007, pre-recession and [before] all the issues that we’ve worked through over the last few years,” the firm’s managing partner, Jim Weddle, said. “It was a good, solid year; that’s for sure. We’re proud of the results.”
Assets under management also rose by $78 billion to hit $669 billion. That was $46.2 billion from market appreciation and $31.8 billion in new assets, according to numbers first reported by the St. Louis Business Journal and confirmed by Weddle.
“With the markets behaving like they did last year, it was a much better environment,” Weddle said. “Investors were willing to make longer-term commitments to their dollar.”
Weddle also attributed much of the growth to strong recruiting and the success of reorganization and new initiatives and technology investments at the firm. “We laid a lot of new blocks in the foundation,” he said.
As part of that retooling, the firm restructured its talent acquisition and recruiting team. Some talent acquisition specialists were moved away from the home office in St. Louis and relocated closer to geographic region they served in order to help capitalize on referrals from the financial advisors in the area. According to Weddle, the firm currently has around 225 regions comprised of 50 to 60 advisors.
“We took our regional growth efforts [and] supplemented them with the firm’s talent acquisition resources,” Weddle said. “And just putting them out there together so that they’re face-to-face has really had a dramatically positive impact.”
The firm also focused in on some niche recruiting efforts, including bringing on 150 military veterans in the past year as part of its 'FORCES' program and hosting around 90 college students in its internship programs.
“It’s a big win for us with great people and a big win for those coming out of the service,” Weddle said of the FORCES initiative.
Overall the firm had a net increase of 221 advisors with an attrition rate of just under 9%, according to Weddle. That was on track for the goal of reaching 20,000 advisors by 2020, he added. The total headcount at the firm sat at 12,463 advisors in the U.S. and Canada by the end of 2012.
“People are a bit more willing to make a career change now,” Weddle said. “When you’re in the depth of a recession, that’s a tough decision to make.”
Momentum continued into 2013 as revenue was already up 11% year-over-year, according to Weddle.
“I think we’re really well positioned,” he said. “Our financial advisors are performing at a level that we haven’t seen in a long time."
Read More: Edward Jones to Hire 54 in Houston