The Best Investment He Ever Made

John Beuerlein, MBA ’77, is principal in the Service Division and leads the global Client Service Excellence program at Edward Jones. (Joe Angeles)

John Beuerlein is a dedicated advocate for higher education. He says: “Whenever someone brings up the high cost of college today, I always tell them that Washington University was the best investment I ever made. In terms of its impact on my life, it was a steal.”

Beuerlein knows a thing or two about good investments. While earning his MBA at Olin Business School, he had an internship at Edward Jones that led to a full-time job. At age 26 he became the youngest person ever to be made a general partner of the firm, and over the next 35 years he helped to lead the company’s spectacular growth. When Beuerlein joined Edward Jones, it had 177 branch offices. Today the St. Louis–based firm has more than 11,380 offices, serving more than 4.2 million households in the United States and Canada, and it has grown from $20 million to just over $4 billion in revenues.

“We build our company by building long-term individual relationships,” Beuerlein says. “That personal approach contributes to an amazing spirit of caring throughout the firm. Our No. 1 goal is to help people, not maximize profits.”

Learning and growing

Beuerlein grew up as one of eight children in Springfield, Mo. He recalls: “My dad was valedictorian of his high school class, but he never had the opportunity to go to college. He taught us the value of education.”

Beuerlein received a scholarship to attend Drury University, where he began dating his future wife and classmate, Crystal Tinlin. After they graduated in 1975, Crystal got a job with a St. Louis mortgage company, and Beuerlein applied to Washington University. During his first year at Olin, Crystal urged him to attend a Career Day job fair, where he was offered the internship with Edward Jones — and he never looked back. “I worked as a numbers cruncher in the Research Department,” he says. “During my second year at Olin, I was invited back to work at the firm part time.

“It was an incredibly exciting, entrepreneurial place to be. My cubicle was located right behind Ted Jones, the son of the founder, and John Bachmann, who later succeeded Ted as the managing partner. I learned so much from them; it was like getting a second MBA. I couldn’t wait to get to the office each morning.”

John and Crystal were planning to be married and relocate to Flagstaff, Ariz., where Beuerlein was going to open the third Edward Jones branch office in the state. “Just two weeks before I graduated from Olin, John Bachmann asked me to stay and help expand the Investment Banking Department. In 1978 they offered me the chance to run OTC trading. Two years later I became a principal of the firm, with responsibilities for the Syndicate Department.” In 1990 Beuerlein was named director of Equity Marketing.

Although he had never worked directly with clients, Beuerlein was made an area leader in the Financial Advisor Development Division in 1993, in charge of sales for the New England territory. By 2000 he was head of sales for the entire East Coast, working with regional leaders to develop financial advisers in more than 1,000 branch offices. He spent the next five years in advanced sales training, working with about 1,800 senior financial advisers throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“Ted [Jones] taught me that helping people was good business,” Beuerlein says. “Today Edward Jones believes in giving back to the communities we serve.”

Today he is a principal in the Service Division and leads the global Client Service Excellence program. “We’re responsible for client satisfaction,” he says. “We provide employee education programs, and we work to improve the services we deliver to our branch offices.” J.D. Power and Associates has ranked Edward Jones No. 1 in investor satisfaction in five out of the past six years, including 2010, and SmartMoney magazine named it the No. 1 full-service broker for 2010.

Beuerlein credits Ted Jones, who died in 1990, with recognizing the importance of serving individual investors and building long-term relationships. “Ted taught me that helping people was good business,” Beuerlein says. “Today Edward Jones believes in giving back to the communities we serve.”

‘Returning the favor’

Beuerlein is committed to helping others in his personal life as well. He is the past chair and a member of the board of trustees of Drury University and chaired its successful “Campaign for Sciences,” which helped to build a new science complex. The Beuerleins, together with Edward Jones, made the naming gift for Drury’s Edward Jones Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation as well as the Edward Jones Scholarships for 40 minority students. Beuerlein has mentored many Drury students, and he received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001.

Beuerlein also has been generous with his time and support at Washington University. He is a longtime member of the Executive Committee of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society and recently served as chair of the Danforth Circle Committee. In July he began a three-year term as president of the Eliot Society. He and Crystal are sustaining charter members of the Danforth Circle Chancellor’s Level and life fellows of the Eliot Society, and they have been active in many community organizations through the years. Washington University honored Beuerlein with a Distinguished Alumni Award at Founders Day in 2009.

“A scholarship made my education possible, and it changed our lives,” Beuerlein says. “Crystal and I are very happy to be able to return the favor!”

For nearly 25 years, the Beuerleins have sponsored two annual scholarships in the Olin Business School — the Edward D. Jones, Sr. Scholarship and the L.A. Beuerlein Scholarship, named in memory of John’s father. Recently they made a $1 million commitment to endow the John and Crystal Beuerlein Family Scholarships, to be awarded with a preference for students who graduated from Drury University. Their gift serves as a challenge grant to match unrestricted gifts and pledges for scholarship support in all schools at the university.

Mahendra R. Gupta, PhD, dean of Olin Business School and the Geraldine J. and Robert L. Virgil Professor of Accounting and Management, says: “John is committed to helping deserving students receive a superior education. He is a mentor to many and actively recruits them for internships with Edward Jones. We are fortunate that he and Crystal have chosen to invest in our students and their future.”

Beuerlein responds: “A scholarship made my education possible, and it changed our lives. Crystal and I are very happy to be able to return the favor!”

Susan Wooleyhan Caine is director of Development Communications.

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