Conversations with Alums: John Beuerlein

March 11, the Breech Student Advisory Board hosted John Beuerlein, General Partner at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Mo., Drury class of 1975, and Emeritus Trustee of Drury’s Board of Trustees.  Before Beuerlein spoke in the Lay Hall Auditorium about corporate culture and innovation at Edward Jones, he sat down with SAB members to talk about his career, reminisce about his days at Drury and even share advice with graduating seniors starting their careers.

What was your first job out of college? How did you land it?
1975 was a terrible job market so I took the coward’s way out and I went on to graduate school (MBA) at Washington University in St. Louis.  In between my first and second year there I started interning at Edward Jones in the Equity Research department.  I had one interview, it worked out and I’ve been there for 36 years.   I also married my wife, Crystal, (Drury class of ’75) that same year and I’ve spent the last 36 years trying not to give either one of them a reason to get rid of me.  So far so good!

What advice would you give to graduating seniors starting their careers?
They might be persuaded to settle for the highest salary, but I would encourage seniors to hitch their wagon to a growth-oriented company. If you have a high salary at a company that is not growth-oriented, your career may not go anywhere.  I have had eight different positions at Edward Jones and that is because of the company’s growth.  Guess what?  The learning doesn’t stop after college.  It’s important to remember that.

What does your job consist of as a general partner at Edward Jones?
I lead the Product Review division and I am responsible directly to our Managing Partner.  The division is responsible for quality control and works out the mechanics around new investment products.  In addition, we monitor roughly $670 billion worth of assets held in the hands of Edward Jones clients.  If we see any cracks in the financial armor of those issuers it’s our job to wave the warning flags and offer guidance to our clients on how to manage any problems.

What is your fondest memory from Drury?
Kissing my girlfriend for the first time on the steps of Smith Hall…I can say that because she is now my wife.

What was the motivation behind funding the Edward Jones Minority Scholarship at Drury?
A: It was purely selfish.  It was an investment that was good for the school, with an aim to increase diversity.  In addition, I was hoping that some of those students would come to Edward Jones after they graduated and help make our firm a better place.

How has a liberal arts education helped in an analytical career?
The nature of the role I perform is not analytical in its totality. Understanding human behavior is important. While at Drury, I took psychology and political science classes and that helped me to learn the fundamentals of interpersonal relationships.  The course work in economics has helped me to understand the markets each and every day for the last 36 years.

What would you like to see out of students, in general?
Students come away from school with a lot of debt and they are trying to pay off that debt while earning as much money possible.  You can become overly focused on those obligations.  I hope that doesn’t blind them from the need to give back and contribute to society.

Too many people settle for financial success when there is much more out there. It is important to lead a life of significance which comes from helping others. That is one thing I really love about Edward Jones. Financial Advisors help people achieve their life’s most important emotional drivers such as planning for education or retirement, taking care of their parents, leaving a financial legacy; all of these things are noble causes. Financial Advisors help people be successful, and when they are good at their job, they achieve personal significance in their lives too.

What does Drury need to do in order to stay on top of higher education?
It needs to invest in excellent professors and strong core curriculum; that is a critical competency. The expectations for students needs to be set high and those expectations must be maintained.

What do you love about Drury?
I love that it provides for a liberal pursuit of the truth. Drury is a place where all kinds of ideas can come together in a penalty free environment to be explored by people of diverse cultures, leading to a rich discussion of the truth.

Written by Amber Perdue, senior Public Relations and Advertising major