A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc., a St. Louis-based stock brokerage firm, has opened a new Hunt Valley office, its third in the Baltimore region.
The new office, at 303 International Circle, is staffed by four brokers. About six months ago the company opened an office in Annapolis with 10 brokers. Edward's downtown office, which has 14 brokers, opened in 1980.
Bernard J. Sledzik, vice president and resident manager of Edwards' Baltimore office, said the Hunt Valley branch was opened as the result of new brokers joining the firm. "It reflects the opportunity to have some good people join us," he said.
The Hunt Valley staff includes Roger T. Powers Jr., resident manager and vice president for investments; Jerald J. Ciekot, certified financial planner and associate vice president for investments; and brokers Michael C. Lawrence and Robert S. Greenwald.
Powers said the office should have 10 or 11 brokers within the next few months.
Edwards, the largest national brokerage firm based outside New York, has 435 offices in 48 states. The company is the 19th largest in terms of capital and the sixth largest when it comes to branch offices.
The company concentrates on individual investors, and its brokers' first allegiance is to the customer, not the firm, according to Benjamin F. Edwards 3rd, chairman and chief executive officer.
To avoid possible conflicts of interest, the firm does not sell its own financial products, such as mutual funds. At other firms, brokers normally receive larger commissions on their firm's products. "We feel that is one conflict of interest we don't have to live with," Edwards said.
In fact, Edwards said, the key to the company's success is to reduce the importance of profit. "When we were focused on making money, we did a poor job of it," he said. Instead, he said, the company concentrates on serving its clients.
As for profit, "We sort of back into it," he said.
Edwards receives a salary of about $300,000 a year. Although that is about one-third of what his New York counterparts receive, he said he probably is overpaid. "I feel I'm the most fortunate person alive," he declared.