Edward Jones Freezes Pay, Suspends Overtime, for Advisor Support Staff
Edward D. Jones & Co. told half of its 49,000 employees on Monday that it is freezing wages and suspending overtime pay for one year in response to the need to continue operating during the coronavirus crisis.
Jones also has imposed a hiring freeze on all positions, except for licensed financial advisors, through the end of May.
“Deemed one of 16 critical industries by the Department of Homeland Security, Edward Jones is committed to remaining open for business while working to reduce risk and combat the spread of coronavirus,” Jones spokesman Alex Reed wrote in an e-mailed statement confirming the actions.
The one-year pay freeze is a “proactive and preventive measure so the firm can continue to meet the needs of its clients while preserving opportunities for all associates now and into the future,” the statement said.
“Outrageous,” a midwestern branch office administrator wrote to AdvisorHub. “Every Edward Jones employee should be outraged and stand up for those essential employees who are grossly underpaid.”
Most of Jones’ 16,958 client associates, called branch office administrators, earn between $17 and $24 per hour, she wrote. She communicated anonymously out of concern about job security.
Jones Financial Co. is the last sizeable Wall Street brokerage firm to operate as a partnership. Its managing partner, Penny Pennington, received $14.4 million in 2019, or 194 times greater than the median employee’s $75,543 compensation, according to the company’s annual report filed earlier this month.
The $2 trillion stimulus package President Trump signed into law last week expands unemployment benefits and offers hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks, zero-interest loans and other aid to small businesses and companies in distressed economic sectors.
In response to the pandemic, Jones is offering ten additional paid time-off days to associates who are “personally affected” by the coronavirus, “waiving deductibles for COVID-19 testing” and offering “new wellness resources and virtual doctor visits,” the company statement said.
Jones in recent days instructed its home-office employees to work from home, although some have been “redeployed….to service areas to meet the most critical needs of clients and branch teams,” it said.
The company two weeks ago told brokers to work only “virtually” with clients and prospects as part of a nationwide effort to curb the spread of the pandemic by employing social distancing. Unlike firms with larger branches that are encouraging at-home work or splitting in-office work cycles, Jones still encourages brokers and branch administrators to work from their offices, within limits of local government edicts.
Royal Bank of Canada on Tuesday assured employees, including its 2,000 U.S.-based brokers, that it will not impose layoffs through the end of the year.
“[W]hile we’re all living in stressful and uncertain times, we don’t want RBC employees to worry about their jobs,” RBC President Dave McKay wrote in a memo.
Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America and UBS Group AG also have reassured employees that they will not impose layoffs in the near term.