US share shop Edward Jones plans UK launch

US high street share shop chain Edward Jones is to launch in the UK early next year. Its service will be aimed at consumers who do not have the high level of net worth demanded by stockbrokers.

The franchise chain has 3,300 offices in the US and over 50 offices in Canada. Customers can walk in and buy or sell shares, as well as the US-equivalent of unit trusts and tax-free bonds.

Full financial planning advice is given although, in the UK, consultants would not be empowered to give advice on pensions or life assurance products.

A spokeswoman for the company confirms Edward Jones is looking at the UK market. Industry sources say the company’s talks with marketing consultancies are advanced and that the UK launch is planned for early next year, with nine branches earmarked just outside the M25 area.

Most stockbrokers demand that an individual has a portfolio upwards of 150,000 to invest. The only way for lower net-worth people to buy and sell shares is through high street banks’ share shops, which do not give financial advice.

ProShare, an independent body set up to establish share-based investment, estimates that once all the building societies that are due to demutualise have done so, there will be 17 million private shareholders in the UK.

News Analysis, page 24

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