Pros: Experience may be worth if you really value face-time.
Cons: More about sales pitches than financial advice.
High fees are not justified.
Our experience with an Edward Jones representative was disastrous.
First and foremost, I would agree with comments already made that my main issue with this agent was that he was not a Certified Financial Planner, and instead a salesperson, pushing mutual funds mixes pre-packaged at the headquarters level, with no acute knowledge of the markets. This quickly became frustrating, as every time I asked a detailed question on the performance of one fund over another, I never got a detailed answer.
Instead, we consistently got clichéd expressions such as “we are the Cadillac of financial services”, “I wish I could control the markets”…etc…
I believe that the qualifications of our "advisor" should be clearly indicated, or expressed, so that we can manage our expectations accordingly. It is also somewhat dishonest to present yourself as being in possession of qualifications or education which you clearly aren't.
Then there is the fee structure, and the lack of transparency behind it. Our agent was clear from the get-go that to have an RRSP account (RRSPS are more or less the Canadian equivalent of 401(k) in the U.S.A) with Edward Jones, there was a $45 yearly fee. This is a steep price to pay for a once a year face to face meeting where no strategic discussion or technical analysis would occur, just vague statements as described above.
Then there was the lack of transparency about which type of mutual funds we got into, and what the low-load structure would mean in terms of fees if we chose to leave after a couple of years. This was never made clear to us.
So again, if you decide to go with an Edward Jones agent, make sure you ask and ask again what type of funds you are getting into (class A, F… low-load or not… etc…).
Third, we found this agent to be very passive. We understand the Edward Jones motto to “invest in the long term”… we are fine with that: but does this justify never ever questioning the investment mix that was created from the date of the creation of the account, as markets tumble? Maybe, maybe not… but at the very least, a discussion should have occurred, especially when the clients (us) had made it clear we would like more technical discussions on what is what in our accounts…etc… we never got that. Instead, we got broad-brush salesman statements with no real content behind them.
Finally, the website is really poor as far as one accessing their online accounts goes. It is way too basic when compared to what other companies such as Sun Life are offering: no yearly/year to date/since inception rates of return or graphs functions… which should be basic for a company the size of Edward Jones. Again, it feels that everything is done to promote the face time with your agent who has access to more personalized functions on how your funds are doing. And it never seemed like our agent had email capability to contact us… in the 21st century…
All in all, Edward Jones was a disappointment for us. We suspect the experience may vary based on the agent you deal with, and that the steep fees they charge may be worth it if you really value face-time with someone who is unlikely to be a Certified Financial Planner in the first place… but for us, this was a waste of money and time, as there was no added value. We are better off going back to a self-managed account platform going forward, without the useless intermediary and costly step of having an Edward Jones agent taking a cut of our savings at every corner.
Alternatively, one would also probably be better off going to a real financial planner, maybe pay more upfront, but get added value services for the fees being paid. We felt there was zero added value having an Edward Jones agent.