Raymond James’ Averitt Recognized for Leadership at Conference

The popular leader of Raymond James’ independent-advisor channel steps down after 34 years at the firm

Dick Averitt addresses a crowd of 1,600 advisors and other guests at a conference in Orlando on May 21. Dick Averitt addresses a crowd of 1,600 advisors and other guests at a conference in Orlando on May 21.

Dick Averitt, who retired as CEO of Raymond James' (RJF) independent-advisor channel on Monday, was recognized at a Chairman’s Council event on Thursday night in Orlando.

"I want to thank Dick for his service—besides being a great leader and CEO he is just a great human being,” said Paul Reilly, CEO of Raymond James Financial, the parent company of the independent and other channels, in a statement. “We wish him and [his wife] Sandi all the very best."

Averitt remains chairman of the independent channel through 2013, and the daily operations of the organization are now led by President Scott Curtis.

In his remarks on Monday, Averitt described his positive outlook for both the firm and the nation. “We do not have to live in fear of scarcity when there is such hope of abundance,” he said.

Now 67, he joined Raymond James (then Investment Management & Research) in 1978 as an advisor from Merrill Lynch. In April 2002, Averitt took the reins from Tony Green as head of the independent-advisor channel.

The executive explained that he’d considered getting out of the business when he was in his mid-30s and realized that he wasn’t “driven to make money.” A natural problem solver, he chose instead to focus on his desire to help solve problems, including the portfolio issues facing a paraplegic client. “By working on his investments, this allowed him to—over about 30 years—to live a life better than he’d ever expected,” Averitt said.

In terms of the Raymond James independent advisors that he’s helped to lead, “Your production has soared over the past 10 years,” Averitt said, going from about $188,000 a year for average fees and commissions to $360,000. Plus, he said the number of million-dollar producers at RJFS "has increased nearly six-fold from 25 to 147” from 2002 to the present.

Averitt described the key concepts that have guided him, including the idea that everything and everyone counts—from the cleaning staff up to the top levels. “Possibilities are all in our own minds—they rest here,” he explained, “so ignore the boundaries and be unreasonable. Don’t limit yourself and don’t let others limit you.” Finally, Averitt said, “Integrity is the critical element … it protects our soul.”

A graduate of Duke University, Averitt spent nine years as a regular officer and naval aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in Vietnam as a Marine helicopter pilot, and another 20 in the USMC Reserves, principally in a reserve attack helicopter squadron in Atlanta. He retired from the Corps in 1994 with the rank of colonel.

(We featured Averitt in our slideshow honoring Advisors Who Serve(d) in the military in May 2011.)

Averitt’s decision to retire at this time, he noted, came after a rough day of sailing on Tampa Bay. "It put my choices into perspective," he said. "Life is too precious to put off living."

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