By Tad Edwards, Chairman, CEO and President

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Spring is in full gear, the trees are blooming, fresh water is filling the swimming pools, and we are having a compelling 2018 start at Edwards!

Since I last wrote, we have added a new branch of four advisors in Reno, NV, and advisors in Wheaton, IL, Paris, TX, Woodstock, IL, Baltimore, MD, Sarasota, FL, Galesburg, IL, Birmingham, AL, and Atlanta, GA. Over 525 employees, including our home office and 68 branches in 28 states, serve our valued clients day after day across the country.

Growth

As we steadily grow in numbers of branches and advisors, we are also growing in other areas. We have enjoyed continued growth in our client accounts and assets, as well as record revenues and profits. Our RIA Hybrid channel, Edwards Wealth Management, is anchored in our over 130-year legacy, and resonates vividly with our clients and advisors. For advisors with roughly 85% advisory business, and in the upper echelon of revenues, it could be a path to consider.

Hospitality 

Hattiesburg, MS and El Dorado, AR, have recently hosted Open Houses, and I had the pleasure of meeting many clients at each one and having dinner with our people afterwards. I always benefit from being “in the field” where I can listen to our clients and branches so we continually learn how to best serve and support them. I am on the road soon for more branch visits.

In St. Louis, we just hosted more than 50 advisors from around the country at our 8th Annual Wealth Symposium. Our valued vendors presented on various topics, and breakout sessions led by our people were energizing and instructional. Catherine and I enjoyed hosting everyone involved in the event in our home for dinner one night. It thrills me to see our advisors share ideas and best practices with one another, and develop relationships that will last well beyond their careers.

New York restauranteur, Shake Shack founder, and St. Louis native Danny Meyer, eloquently states that “hospitality is present when something happens FOR you; it is absent when something happens TO you. Hospitality is almost impossible to teach. It’s about hiring the right people.” 

I see hospitality as one of Edwards’ distinctive trademarks, and know it makes a difference to clients and employees alike. Edwards is committed to practicing hospitality that revives and makes people know they are valued. (If you haven’t read Danny Meyer’s book “Setting the Table,” it’s a classic.)

An Honor 

I often think of how Edwards is similar to a prolific sports organization. Certain players get the recognition, while many are off the radar, yet so vital to the team’s success. My father used to go to the basement of our building and visit with our mailing and printing departments. They were largely invisible to the public and clients, yet he underscored how valuable they were for our culture and future success.

We recently learned I have been named a finalist in the Entrepreneur of the Year 2018 Heartland Program for Ernst & Young. The awards program recognizes entrepreneurs who are excelling in areas such as innovation, financial performance, and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. Let’s make no mistake, anything accomplished at Edwards is a direct result of the stellar people with whom I work. This is an honor for which I credit our entire team, as well as the 120,000 clients who are our top priority.

Family/ Reunion 

Daughter Hadley continues her work at Chanel in NYC. They recently sent her to Beverly Hills, CA for two weeks (15-hour days) to assist with the Oscar’s. Son Benjamin is winding up his sophomore year at college and then begins a six-week internship at Neuberger Berman, a premier global asset manager in NYC. His focus will be quantitative asset allocation.

My high school reunion was this weekend. People came in from as far as Vietnam. Turnout was strong. The stories, friendships, and memories seemed like yesterday and will continue forever!

Department of Labor (DOL) News

When asked at our recent Wealth Symposium about the status of DOL, our Chief Legal Counsel said, “Ding dong, the witch is dead!”

After months of preparation in advance of the rulings, and implementation for the first phase, we are thankful that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has now ordered the DOL to vacate the fiduciary rule. This is an enormous relief for our advisors and compliance team, and frees more resources to focus on serving our clients.

Food for Thought 

The legendary financier JP Morgan was often asked what stock prices would do. His standard response: “They will fluctuate.”

“A robo-advisor can’t hold the hand of a nervous client or a widow’s hand.

People have to get retirement right the first time. They only have one shot, no mulligans. They should trust someone who has done it successfully hundreds of times.”  — Don Connelly

While seasons change, our markets fluctuate, and world events surprise and evolve, we are committed to staying strong and steady, to understanding the times, staying current, treating our clients as we would like to be treated, supporting our advisors, and having fun. We have an opportunity of a lifetime here at Edwards.

Keep your seatbelts buckled!

Many, many thanks,

Tad

*** a few recent books I read:

“Life in Leadership,” John Whitehead, former CEO, Goldman Sachs

“Babe: The Legend Comes to Life,” Robert Creamer (historian on Babe Ruth).

“Wheat Belly,” Richard Davis, MD. (Best health book I have read in ten years)