Jason Salsman/Multimedia Producer
Muscogee (Creek) citizen finds happiness in new career at Edward Jones
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — James Allred was looking for a new direction in his career.
He was looking for a sign, an inclination, something…anything…that would help him figure out his next move.
When all the sudden, there was a picture of a man and his horse.
Allred had a background primarily in engineering and construction, so he had established himself with an education and a hard work ethic.
And most people knew how hard he worked, as he was one of ten finalists for Mitchum deodorant’s “Hardest Working Person in America” national contest in 2010.
He was also equipped with an entrepreneurial spirit. It served him well in operating his own construction company, until selling it in 2014 to serve his tribe as the director of Muscogee (Creek) Nation Construction.
It was in 2016, when Allred had left his post at the tribe, and he was faced with a choice for his next path. He had several options, but ultimately his journey would begin in the office of his financial advisor.
She was convinced that Allred was a perfect candidate for the position she was also in, for Edward Jones Investments.
He was leaving her office one day, mostly convinced that this opportunity he’d been hearing so much about might be the best thing for him.
And there was the picture.
“I’m walking out of the office one day and there’s this picture of a man holding a horse,” Allred said. “Turns out it was Ted Jones, one of the first managing partners of Edward Jones.”
Then Allred learned the story behind the photo.
He said there was a Wall Street Journal article published in the early 1980’s proclaiming Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton as the richest man in America.
The article went on to say Ted Jones, in fact, could have been the richest man in America had he not given his company to his employees. Edward Jones is not a corporation, but a shared partnership amongst the firms 45,000+ employees.
It was not necessarily the firm’s partnership model that truly convinced Allred this was the company for him, although he was certainly a fan of the structure, even referring to the company as the ‘Jones family.’
But it was in Jones’ rebuttal to the argument against his not taking the company public and becoming a multi-millionaire that finally sold Allred.
Jones’ words and rationale laid the foundation and remain a symbol of the company’s culture today.
‘I am the richest man in America. I have a wife that loves me in spite of my faults. I have four dogs. Two love only me. One loves everybody. One loves no one, but still is very loyal and follows me everywhere I go on the farm.
I have a horse I love to ride around the farm, and best of all she comes to me when I call her. I have too much to eat and a dry place to sleep. I enjoy my business. I love my farm and my home. I have a few close friends, and money has never been my God.’
“Those were pretty profound words to me coming from one of the initial founders of a large company like this,” Allred said. “After reading those words, I decided that’s the kind of person I want to work for.”
Allred completed the training phase and passed all his required licensing exams and has now established himself as an FA with a branch office in Okmulgee.
He is already seeing the impact of the family environment he talked about with the company’s partnership model and what makes them #7 on FORTUNE Magazine’s 2019 ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ list.
“Everybody in this organization wants to see you succeed, because we’re all partners,” Allred said. “And they encourage volunteering in your community.”
Allred checks that community activism box as well, serving on the school board for Morris Public Schools where he also coaches and helped start the youth wrestling program.
And Edward Jones’ diversity outreach was important to him as well. As a Muscogee (Creek) citizen, Allred is one of the few Native Americans in the area in the broker world.
It’s important to Liz Gore too, because she is one of those few.
Gore was the co-founder and publisher of the Native American Times newspaper until selling to Lisa Snell in 2008.
The Native Times was literally her dream and bringing Native American news to Native citizens felt like a calling for her more than a job.
But in 2008, she decided to change careers, while still being in a position to help people.
“I learned about an opportunity at Edward Jones to help people with planning,” Gore said. “It’s very important, I mean finances, what could be more important to your future?”
Gore spent three years as a branch office administrator and worked her way up. She is now an FA with her branch located in Glenpool.
She’s also the Diversity Inclusion Specialist for her region.
“I am very proud of that,” she said. “My goal is to reach out to Indian Country and make everyone aware of the positions open.”
Allred also lauded the company’s desire for more employees to appropriately reflect the areas they serve.
“They like our financial advisors to look like the communities that they live in,” Allred said. “That was just another reason that it was a great fit for me.”
Allred loves to tell the story about seeing that picture of Ted Jones. It’s a reminder for him on why he does the things he does, and why he makes the choices he makes.
He’s got a wonderful family, enough to eat and a good dry place to sleep every night.
He absolutely enjoys his new business.
And although he loves working with it and finding ways to advise, to plan and to maximize its future impact for his clients, money will never be his God.