September 23, 2011

At Women’s Symposium, Raymond James to Boost Training, Women’s Programs

Advisor training is being enhanced and the women’s forum is going on the road

Raymond James (RJF) executives discussed a new training program, series of women’s conference and other steps to keep the company on a “controlled growth path” on Thursday and Friday during the firm’s annual Women’s Symposium being held in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“Most of our effort is put on increasing productivity with advisors with marketing, technology and other steps to produce greater efficiency and services,” said COO Chet Helck, during in an interview with AdvisorOne. “Other firms have to cope with advisors leaving and serial acquisitions as a growth strategy, which I would argue has an end game and is not sustainable.”

chet helck“We can grow at for rest of our lives at our controlled pace, with no end in sight, if we can deliver a compelling package that people want to be a part of,” Helck (left) explained.

One way the firm intends to keep up the “controlled pace,” he says, is by expanding its current training program. “In the past, we have had a formal six-month agenda in new one classroom interspersed with branch activities,” said the Helck. “Now we are introducing a program that lasts for two years and entails specific mentor training.”

These efforts, which are part of the firm’s Advisory Mastery Program, will start on Oct. 1 and will be dovetailed with succession strategies focused on female and other advisors, he adds. They will also include preparation work for the CFP exam.

“We are still cracking the code on how to demonstrate and prove we are the best firm” for both women and minorities, Helck shared. “We have not accomplished that to the best extent that we want to and will keep trying.”

Over the next year, the Women’s Symposium, which attracted about 110 of the firm’s nearly 790 female advisors this week, is being taken on the road to help address this issue.

Three or four such women’s forums are set to be held in the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, with the first slated for Oct. 27 in Dearborn, Mich.

Raymond James is also organizing and training some of its top female advisors to serve as speakers at these forums and at public events. The aim is for the women to serve as financial experts in their communities with greater exposure and boost awareness of the Raymond James brand.

The percent of women advisors at the firm who have qualified for its leadership council (based on certain advisor performance targets) rose to 20% in 2011 from 13% in 2005.

Women advisors, like Sacha Millstone of Boulder, Colo., say that while they don’t try to precisely keep their practices on track with the firm’s 15% corporate growth target, they have their own competitive benchmarks.  

“I’m very confident in the firm, which has an amazing track record … and keep my own growth targets for revenue, which are very aggressive,” she said in an interview.

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