Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Issues related to Monitoring of Terminals at Edward Jones



From its main terminal in St. Louis, Edward Jones has the ability to monitor everything entered into a broker's terminal, including electronic calendar appointments, client and prospect notes, and intranet "wire" communications. While most reps believe this is par for the course of doing business as a one-rep per office operation, some believe the firm has used the information to bully them and even force their resignation.

Jones brokers, however, say the peculiarities of running one-rep offices justify the firm's apparent intrusion and close monitoring.

"It smacks of 'Big Brother' when you hear about it," admits one Jones broker in the Midwest. "But you've got to realize, it's not your personal equipment. Maybe we're spoiled because we're so autonomous in our one-man office. We think it's our computer-but it's not. Jones allows me to run my business as long as it's ethical and profitable."

Other brokers believe close monitoring keeps bad apples out and has little effect on brokers who are honest. "I'm glad they spy on us," says one Jones broker in Southern California. "If I'm using company equipment, they have a right to look at anything I put on there. ... Anyone who says differently is a jerk."

As for the firm, it says it doesn't have the resources to monitor every piece of information on the computer terminals of its more than 3,500 reps. It does, however, closely watch all new accounts, all trading activity and all customer correspondence via various methods for regulatory purposes and "to ensure the protection of our customers."

Edward Jones says it permits brokers to have separate PCs or laptops in their offices but discourages them from doing so.

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