Customers Name Edward Jones Best Full Service Firm

From the Associated Press:

“A survey by J.D. Power and Associates found that brokerage Edward Jones was consumers’ choice as the best full-service investment adviser for a second straight year.

J.D. Power, a marketing firm that’s part of The McGraw-Hill Cos., asked investors to evaluate full-service brokers on seven criteria, including competitiveness of portfolio, account set-up and offerings, commissions and fees and account statements. More than 5,000 investors responded, the company said.

Edward Jones, the investment brokerage network of The Jones Financial Companies based in Des Peres, Mo., was rated No. 1 with a score of 808 out of 1,000, J.D. Power said. The other firms in the top five and their scores were Raymond James Financial Inc. of St. Petersburg, Fla., 800; A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. of St. Louis, 778; LPL Financial Services operated by Linsco/Private Ledger Corp. based in San Diego, 775; and The Vanguard Group Inc. of Malvern, Pa., 775.”

I found this study pretty interesting. Jones is headquartered right in my backyard and a closer look at the results of the survey are confusing to me. I am well aware that Edward Jones has below-average stock recommendations (their Model Portfolio has lagged the S&P 500 since it was created in 1992) and their commissions are fairly high as well, being a full-service brokerage.

Why then did they score so high? Evidently, their customers care much more about the overall experience with Jones and their personal brokers than they do about actually doing well in the market. Portfolio performance and fees associated with their investments made up only 33% of their overall rating of the company. Shouldn’t those two factors be some of the most important?

Jones surely gets kudos for providing a positive client experience, but I wonder if such happiness is luring customers into thinking they are actually doing well with their investments.