Edward Jones and Financial-services Industry Legend John W. Bachmann Passes at Age 80

October 16, 2019

John W. Bachmann, the financial-services icon who led one of the greatest growth expansions in the history of Edward Jones as its third managing partner, died Oct. 16, surrounded by family in Charleston, SC.

"Our firm and our communities lost a part of their hearts today with the passing of John," said Edward Jones Managing Partner Penny Pennington. "The clients, associates and communities of Edward Jones are the beneficiaries of his outstanding vision and leadership. He left an indelible mark on the entire world of investing, as well as the civic and charitable causes he so strongly stood behind."

Mr. Bachmann grew up in Salem, IL, where three generations of his family owned a local furniture business. Choosing a different career path, John embarked on a nearly 60-year legendary career at the St. Louis-based firm. He began as a college intern in 1959 and transitioned into a fulltime role. While his starting salary of $500 a month was less than what he might have earned on Wall Street, Mr. Bachmann didn't look back, knowing what the opportunity meant to the then-underserved individual investor.

"I would have a chance to make an impact," he said.

And he did.

Mr. Bachmann became a financial advisor and ran a successful practice in Columbia, MO, when there were only 50 Edward Jones branch offices. In 1970, he became a principal and just two years later penned a legendary memo that outlined how the firm should grow to 1,000 offices from the 100 offices at the time—all to serve serious, long-term individual investors.

"I saw that if someone could be purely in the business of serving the customer who wants and needs help — and recognizes it — that would be a wonderful business with a strong social dimension. You’re actually helping people be better off if you do it right, if you do it with conviction and conscience," John said."

When Mr. Bachmann became Edward Jones’ third managing partner in 1980, the firm had 200-plus offices. He served as managing partner through 2003. His active role in the securities industry solidified Edward Jones’ reputation as an advocate for the individual investor.

The Securities Industry Association (which later merged to become SIFMA) appointed Mr. Bachmann chairman in 1987. He guided the industry through October’s “Black Monday” crash and ensuing tumult. In 1991, Mr. Bachmann headed the Bachmann Task Force, working with industry leaders on a set of recommendations to shorten the settlement cycle and reduce risk.

Mr. Bachmann navigated the firm through both turbulent and prosperous times, growing the number of branch offices to more than 9,000 in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom (Edward Jones sold its UK offices in 2009).

Under John’s leadership, Edward Jones was, and continues to be, nationally recognized as one of the best places to work in America and has received accolades for its unique business practices. The firm received back-to-back No. 1 rankings by Fortune magazine as a Best Company to Work For during Mr. Bachmann’s tenure.

In 2010, Mr. Bachmann was one of seven inaugural inductees into the Edward Jones Hall of Fame.

Giving back to the community is a theme that runs through the core of Edward Jones’ culture. Mr. Bachmann spent his career extolling the virtues of giving back to the communities in which clients and associates live and work.

He chaired or held leadership roles with many organizations over the years, including the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association (now the St. Louis Regional Chamber), St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Science Center, United Way of Greater St. Louis, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri Baptist Medical Center, AMR Corporation (American) and Monsanto (Bayer). Mr. Bachmann also chaired the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Commission on the Regulation of U.S. Capital Markets in the 21st Century. Following a close personal and professional relationship with management consultant Peter Drucker spanning nearly 25 years, Mr. Bachmann was a founding member of Drucker Institute's Board of Advisors and a trustee of Claremont University.

Mr. Bachmann graduated from Wabash College in Crawfordsville, IN, with an economics degree in 1960 and earned an MBA in finance from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. He is the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Laws from Wabash College, and holds honorary Doctor of Arts degrees from the University of Missouri - St. Louis, Westminster College and Washington University, St. Louis.

Mr. Bachmann is survived by his wife, Kay Inglis Butler Bachmann, his daughter, Kristene Ellen Bachmann (Chris Napoli), and son, John Charles Bachmann (Christine), and stepchildren Kathy Butler Sandvoss (Keith) and Beattie Butler (Claire), and five grandchildren.