Well this is humbling.
I’ve received numerous emails and phone calls since putting up The Bold Advisor website and sharing my story with the press. Many of those who contacted me are (or were) advisors who were also wronged by a large corporation. Here are a few comments from others about the injustices they'vesuffered.
Look for some sort of collaborative effort to emerge as a result of these exchanges.
John Lindsey, CEO and Founder
Lindsey & Lindsey Wealth Management, Inc.
Feedback From Advisors -
"Just read through The Bold Advisor website and wanted to thank you for taking the stand. Our firm has been independent for 10 years, but we care so much for our industry and think it's great you stood up to the big boys. I guess sometimes David beats Goliath!! I believe it's the clients that suffer in these cases and I hope your case is the beginning of the tide turning in the clients favor - for once."
- David Taylor, CFP®, CAP®
"Congrats on your successful break-away! I was with Edward Jones from 1989 to 2005. I am more than happy to help anyone that contacts you. I'd like them to hear my story too…it all went well, but sure am glad to have been “bold” and moved! If I can help in any manner, reach out."
- Todd D. Knickerbocker, Investment Professional
"I read your story at On Wall Street today and wanted you to know you have several allies who agree that 'If you didn’t do anything wrong, don’t be bullied.' My story is outlined generally in a new book, In Bed with Wall Street, and a few weeks ago I published this much more detailed piece that you can read here. The last portion about Morgan Stanley going after brokers even though they didn’t own the promissory note ought to be of particular interest. I will send you the names of several other allied professionals who think our efforts to eliminate abuse of power are complementary and just wanted you know that we are here if you need us."
- Mark D. Mensack, AIFA®, GFS®, Independent Fiduciary Consultant
"I read your article about leaving Edward Jones. Your message resonated with me. When I decided to leave Edward Jones in 2003, I received a letter to not solicit any of their clients. In addition, soon after my departure I learned that they encouraged my former clients to write complaint letters. I am convinced that they were doing this to not only prolong my legal expense but to discourage me from staying in the business. I had a great attorney in place that helped me financially weather the storm that was coming my way. My only regret is that I didn’t leave Edward Jones sooner.”
- Carey Koele, Investment Consultant
"I read your story about leaving Edward Jones. Good for you... I left in 2004 and am now an RIA firm. I was always focused on the investor even if EDJ wasn't."
- Margaret Wittkopp, Independent Financial Consultant
"I just finished reading your interview on ThinkAdvisor.com, about you leaving Edward Jones. We left Jones back in March of 2008 after being there for 11 years for similar reasons. Hopefully by sharing your experience with some of my friends at Jones they will get the courage to leave. If you truly have the client’s best interests at heart I do not see how anyone can stay at Jones. I know we are working for different organizations, but if there is anything I can help you with, in regard to your newfound freedom, please do not hesitate to get in touch!"
- Daniel R. De Jong, CFP®, AAMS®
"What an inspirational story. I read it from the perspective of someone who has a group of clients in an area of the country where Jones is the main competition (4 offices in a town of less than 20,000). The firm seems to embody the 'corpocracy' that you reference. While I’ve never worked in the wirehouse world, I was on the independent contractor side of Raymond James for about a decade before moving to the RIA side. I agree with you about big corporations: the dictates are top-down and there is no ability to think out-of-the-box. My personal view is that the movement to the RIA side is a long-term inevitability for our industry, a sort of gravitational pull. Especially once advisors truly grasp that the client’s relationship is with them, not some large firm. Just wanted to say I appreciate what you’ve done and are doing. Good luck to you."
- David Novak, CFP®, Independent Financial Professional
"I normally wouldn't send an email to someone out-of-the-blue but your interview on ThinkAdvisor.com really made me feel as though I needed to. I am thrilled that you have left Jones and even more thrilled that you were able to begin working with your daughter. I hope to one day have children; I can only dream that they will come and work with me. More importantly, I think that the best part of this whole transition is that you will now be able to proudly display your Kingdom Advisors Certificate on your wall. I am not a Kingdom Advisor but it is great knowing that there are other Christian men in our line of work. I was encouraged to write this because you seem to be a great example of what standing up for your beliefs truly means. I wish you and your daughter all the best!"
- Tony Velasquez, Investment Advisor
“I just read the recently published article about your trials and tribulations with Edward Jones. What a travesty! I have been recruiting in this industry for many years and have seen other instances of this abuse. My hats off to you for your persistence, your courage, your conviction, and the willingness to tell your story for others to hear. If there was more focus in this industry about what's best for the client, none of this would be an issue with any firms.”
- Mitch Vigeveno, CEO, Turning Point Inc.
"I just wanted to express congratulations for fighting (and beating back) the Kool-Aid machine. I applaud what you are doing by educating "captive" reps and expect that your shared experiences will also help wirehouse reps and career changers considering Jones. I will point folks to the article (and your website) as a great resource.
I was well coached by LPL when making my move and avoided problems. At the time Jones was just stepping up their "enforcement" efforts. Unfortunately, I know a friend from Jones who suffered dearly when he departed. The good news is that today, he too is enjoying his successful independent practice.
Best of luck to you. Independence is great! It affords us the opportunity to do what's best for OUR clients each and everyday."
- Lee Margerison, LPL Registered Principal at Cornerstone Financial Services LLC
After 18 months of a nasty legal battle, my 11 years with Edward Jones has finally ended. Myself with a big legal bill, but victorious that I did not have to pay them any of the money they were suing me for. I started working for Edward Jones in September of 2001. I thought this would be a great fit. At the regional meetings, they always seemed to reinforce that this is your business and you need to take care of your clients. After I while I felt like this was not my own business and they would fight you for your clients. What they were saying and doing seemed to be two different things.
After 11 years at Edward Jones and a lot of soul searching, my assistant and I walked out the door. I followed the industry standard "Protocol" for broker recruiting, sent out an announcement card and made announcement phone calls. Our client response of those who wanted to follow us was overwhelming and I ended up moving about 68% of assets. By the Friday of the first week, Jones had filed a Temporary Restraining Order in local court and was successful in obtaining a limited restraining order within two weeks of me leaving. We were still able to accept business, but we could not do any new out bound contacts. After a few attempts to resolve we ended up stipulating to an injunction.
After 15 months of a brutal discovery process, I found myself sitting across from them in an arbitration hearing. After six days of them trying to make me look like a liar, the panel denied their request for an award.
I would like to thank John Lindsey and his staff for providing me with support to get through this process. I can finally sleep at night knowing they can't control me anymore.
- John Kadletz, Kadletz Wealth Management LLC
“I read, with interest, your March 17 Think Advisor interview. As I read, I was nodding my head in agreement and speaking out loud at times agreeing to what I was reading. You hit the nail on the head with your description of what that organization has become. Maybe they were always that way and was I just drunk on Kool-Aid and did not notice. I will say that the firm changed dramatically once JW took over.
Anyway, I am reaching out for a bit of guidance. I left EJ the day before you did. Not nearly to your level, but I experienced much of what you did. The threatening letters and tarnishing of my reputation. My question is now that the one year non-compete has expired, I was wondering if you could provide your thoughts on letters to former clients. I would like to send out something, but am stumped on what to say. Any suggestions? Plus, any ideas on continuing to rebuild a practice that they fought hard to stop?
Thanks for your reply and for, in some way, representing all that leave the “corpocracy” and choose a different path. I find it interesting that today’s EJ condemns the very same action that Mr. Jones took when he founded the firm, when he formed the firm as a protest of sorts to the way that his former employer treated him on finding a bond underwriting deal. They love to talk about and support your entrepreneurial spirit, until you actually ARE a real entrepreneur.”
- Don Meade, AAMS®, Financial Adviser
“I am a former Edward Jones advisor. This morning I was talking with a friend who also left Jones and he told me your story, John. I just wanted to send you this brief note to commend you for your courageous stand. Hopefully your actions will embolden other to stand-up to Edward Jones’ bullying tactics.
My trauma with Jones was minor to yours. I was placed in a two-advisor Edward Jones office (assets over $400 million). Although these two advisors were both in the top echelon of Jones, they went out of their way in the community to disparage my character. (Example: telling people that I wouldn’t last-because most EJ newbie’s don’t, so don’t waste time with me?). The regional supervisor eventually discovered their antics and put a stop to it.
I was with Jones for only three years; and when a local wealth management firm approached me with a job offer, I pounced on it.
When I left Jones they accused me of taking Jones’ client list – I had not. They accused me of contacting former clients – I had not. In reality, it was they who sent a letter to all my past clients letting them know I had left Jones and where I went.
Former clients contacted me, not the other way around; yet they accused me of breaking my employment contract.
I had started from scratch but that didn’t stop them from claiming my clients were their clients. In training, they pontificate on how with Jones you own your own business. When you leave, it becomes clear that you don’t own your own business. A fellow training classmate made a pertinent point when the “own your own business” point was brought up. He asked, “Can Jones fire me?” The instructor said yes. The trainee then responded, “Then I don’t own my own business.” That was not well received.
Back to my scenario: Fortunately my new employer hired one of the best trial lawyers in the state to represent me.
I would be honored if you put my note and this attorney letter on your website. Hopefully someone will find it helpful. The attorney’s letter touches on several key points: contract of adhesion, trade secret laws, customer’s right to choose, basis for reimbursement/penalty (I have blacked out the names of some of the offending parties and other information that I’ve been counseled to keep private, but there is lots of good information that will be helpful to other advisors who may be facing a similar situation).
Unfortunately, many who leave Jones fold to the Jones extortion methods. Through intimidation, Edward Jones will attempt to extract whatever they can get from the financial advisor. After my attorney sent his letter to Edward Jones, I never heard from EJ directly again.
They were demanding $23,000 from me, but they got nothing.
I read the Think Advisor article about your adventure. I loved your comment about “drinking the Kool Aid”. So true. I’ve used that analogy many times.
I truly admire what you are doing. Perhaps Edmund Burke said it best: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
Thank you for your lonely fight. May God bless your continued efforts.
- Bruce Leimbach, Financial Consultant