Raymond James Execs Aim to Reassure Advisors About Merger

Independent-channel President Curtis expects to remain ‘overstaffed for the transition’

After former-CEO Dick Averitt retired on Monday, the president of Raymond James’ independent channel, Scott Curtis, met with more than 50 prospective Raymond James advisors at the firm’s development conference in Orlando. During these discussions, Curtis says, he has assured them that their potential transition to Raymond James (RJF) won’t be hampered in any way by the parent company’s recent purchase of Morgan Keegan and its roughly 1,000 reps.

The Morgan Keegan acquisition raises the question for some prospects, “Are you going to be able to support my transition as independent advisor coming over to Raymond James versus the other [acquired employee] advisors coming on board?” said Curtis (left) in an interview with AdvisorOne.

“We anticipated this,” the executive said. The answer to whether the acquisition will affect prospective reps joining RJFA, he adds, “is 'No' and should remain 'No.'”

As for existing independent reps, about 1,600 of whom are attending the weeklong Raymond James Financial Services event in Orlando, “We have to reassure those that have been with us for a long time that this does not mean a degradation in services to them,” Curtis said. “And [parent-company CEO] Paul Reilly will reassure them of this on Wednesday.”

Both he and Raymond James private-client CEO Chet Helck also believe that the full advisor force—which now numbers about 5,500 across the firm’s different channels—stands to benefit from the deal. “We think our RJFS reps will get better fixed-income support and products thanks to the Morgan Keegan acquisition,” Curtis said.

“It really didn’t come up [Monday] morning,” said Helck (right) in an interview, “and it’s largely a nonevent for RJFS. But it is a big event for the Raymond James & Associates [employee-advisor] group, and there will be more discussion there.”

As for the overall benefits to Raymond James, notes Helck, there will “be access to a much more prolific flow of fixed-income product for clients,” including municipal bonds, “which clients love and financial advisors do, too.”

By boosting its advisor force with the merger, Helck adds, the firm is also improving the economics for its technology infrastructure. “We now have 1,000 more advisors to help us finance more technology … and this gets us there faster and more efficiently.”

“We’re committed to making a deliverable transition of the Morgan Keegan advisors and employees, so that we do not disrupt the services we provide or slow down the tech enhancements,” Curtis explained. “If anything, we will be overstaffed for the transitions and then will take look at staffing.”

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