Edward Jones Accused of Making ‘Questionable’ Sales CallsZeke Faux
Edward Jones & Co., the brokerage with more than 12,000 financial advisers, uses “questionable telemarketing” tactics to recruit customers, according to New Hampshire regulators.
The firm made 20,000 calls to state residents on the National Do Not Call Registry, the New Hampshire Bureau of Securities Regulation said today in a complaint seeking a fine of as much as $3 million. Consumers level more complaints about unsolicited phone calls from St. Louis-based Edward Jones than any other brokerage, the regulators said.
The registry “was established not because telemarketing calls were a petty annoyance,” Adrian LaRochelle, a staff attorney for the bureau, said in a phone interview. “It was established to try to limit the serious effect that telemarketing tactics were having on consumers.”
John Boul, an Edward Jones spokesman, said the firm hasn’t received any complaints from consumers and that the New Hampshire regulators only got one complaint. The company has cooperated with the investigation and will defend itself against the allegations, he said in an e-mail.
Edward Jones has about 11,400 offices across the country, most staffed by a single broker, according to a regulatory filing this month. Net revenue for Jones Financial Cos., the brokerage’s closely held parent, rose 10 percent to $4.97 billion in 2012 from a year earlier, the filing shows.
The brokerage seeks to circumvent telemarketing rules by training brokers to go door-to-door for business and follow up with calls, LaRochelle said. In Edward Jones training materials provided by the New Hampshire regulators, brokers are told how to respond to requests to be added to the do-not-call list.
“Let them know you will respect their decision,” Edward Jones instructs trainees. “Tell them when you see something you think they may be interested in, you’ll be sure to stop by.”
The Federal Trade Commission set up the do-not-call list in 2003 to let consumers block telemarketing calls at home. New Hampshire has about 1.3 million residents and 1.1 million numbers on the list, according to the complaint. Last year, the state’s securities regulators fined Spartan Capital Securities LLC for making unsolicited calls.
“New Hampshire residents clearly don’t like being contacted unsolicited for any purpose,” LaRochelle said.