The Raymond James Women’s Symposium kicked off Wednesday with a schedule of events designed to make it clear to women advisors from the newly acquired Morgan Keegan that they are a welcome addition to the firm.
Now in its 18th year, the symposium is seeing its largest attendance ever, at more than 300 individuals, 26 of whom were Morgan Keegan advisors until the merger became final in April. The popular three-day event, held at the Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach, Fla., also includes eight women advisors from firms such as Wells Fargo (WFC) and Morgan Stanley (MS), who are considering moving their books of business to Raymond James.
Raymond James Financial (RJF) said April 2 that it had completed the acquisition of Morgan Keegan from Regions Financial, paying $1.2 billion in cash. In an interview with Research magazine at the time, Raymond James COO Dennis Zank said he expected most of Morgan Keegan’s 1,000 advisors to join Raymond James, and that 98% of the 600 Morgan Keegan reps presented with retention offers had signed a letter of intent to join the firm and that of the 98%, 96% had already submitted their paperwork to do so.
With the paperwork out of the way, the two corporate cultures joining at the Raymond James Women’s Symposium focused on the positives of change. The first day’s events, held in a sunny ballroom that was filled to capacity, were peppered throughout with laughter, many one-on-one conversations, and a feeling of camaraderie among women who were clearly eager to network with one another.
“Embrace change even when it’s uncomfortable,” said Susan Goodman, speaker and chief awareness officer of the training firm Pursue Possibilities, during the symposium’s first workshop, a relaxed session that encouraged advisors new and old to define their investment strategy and use Raymond James tools such as Wealth Management Solutions and Asset Management Services to get there.
Also on hand to welcome Morgan Keegan advisors were three new Raymond James women advisors who told their own stories of why they decided to join the firm:
Marcia Person of Raymond James & Associates, the firm's employee channel, initially became an advisor because she realized when getting a divorce that she could do a better job than the advisor that her husband had hired. She walked into Smith Barney in 1994 with a psychology background and said, thinking that being an advisor would be equivalent to a sales job, “If you teach me, I can sell anything."
By 2009, when Smith Barney went through a merger, “we saw the culture evaporating,” and Person spent 18 months talking to people at Raymond James about making a move before she came on board.
Person decided Raymond James would be a good fit after attending a post-quarterly earnings event at the home office. “When I went to that event, I had a change of attitude. I was surrounded by Raymond James people and I thought, ‘Wow, it’s 7:30 in the morning and all these people look excited to be here.’ I have found Raymond James to be a wonderful alternative to Wall Street. When I hear the client comes first here, it’s not just marketing.”
Jeannie Holliday and Jodi Perez of Raymond James Financial Services, the firm's independent channel, joined Raymond James on July 18 from a small independent broker-dealer in Tampa Bay. Over the last four years, the small BD was bought out several times, and they grew tired of going through mergers.
“None of the independent firms can compete with Raymond James,” Holliday said, asserting that RJ offers excellent securities research, well-priced variable annuities and good bond support. “Our clients weren’t crazy about the paperwork, but they’ve made a lot positive of comments about Investor Access.”
Perez added that she didn’t want to come to Raymond James in the beginning, but that Holliday convinced her to just go and do the tour. “They showed us everything Raymond James has, and by the end of the day, I was like oh s**t, we’re moving, because we had 2,200 accounts and I was thinking of all this paperwork. Everything Raymond James promised us, they came through with.”
Read Raymond James Boosts Fees, Commissions 8% in August to $250M at AdvisorOne.