Advisor Recruiting Up 40%: Raymond James’ Curtis

It’s not another 2009, but it’s the best of the past few years, says Scott Curtis

RJFS President Scott Curtis at the group's 2014 confab. RJFS President Scott Curtis at the group's 2014 confab.

Raymond James (RJF) prides itself on its conservative approach to the financial advice business, and its executives stressed this point when discussing possible acquisitions at the independent channel’s national conference this week in Washington, D.C.

But Raymond James Financial Services President Scott Curtis didn’t hold back about the group’s recruiting push in a meeting with the media on Wednesday.

“We expect this fiscal year to be the best since 2009,” Curtis said. “We are only halfway through the fiscal year and are ahead of last year [at this point] by 40% or better.”

Still, he admitted, there’s no way the group can replicate the ’09 results. “That was not a benchmark. That was an outlier, as the world fell apart and advisors were trying to find a safe place to go, which we benefited from.”

Curtis stressed that, though the firm doesn’t share its recruiting numbers, “We are having success in the growth [via recruiting] and expect that to continue.

“If we have a couple advisors leave who had less than $200,000 [in yearly fees and commissions] and some come in with $1.5 million or more, we are comfortable with that,” he added.

During a town-hall meeting with advisors early Wednesday, two advisors who had moved to Raymond James over the past two years spoke about their pleasure in having switched firms, Curtis says.

“One advisor who has been with us for about four months got up and addressed the audience” during the question-and-answer period, the executive said. “He wanted to say ‘thank you.’ That was unprompted.”

That advisor was Lake Geneva, Wisconsin-based Tyson J. Ray. Ray worked as an advisor with A.G. Edwards and Wells Fargo (WFC) from March 1998 to January 2014.

As for the roughly 50 prospective advisors attending the event, several are already committed to move to RJFS. Most are at different stages of the transition process, according to Curtis.

“Maybe about 25% have gone independent already,” he noted. “They are looking, because they aren’t satisfied with the breadth and depth of support and resources they are receiving.”

“Most are employee advisors with large firms,” Curtis explained. “There’s a consistent drumbeat we hear about firms not paying respect to their overall independence and their recognition and awards being tied to” sales of certain products.

The total number of Raymond James advisors was 6,202 as of March 31 vs. 6,178 on Dec. 31 and 6,165 a year ago. The firm’s U.S.-based independent channel has about 3,288 advisors, while its employee channel has 2,438.

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Raymond James Exec: No Big Merger

Raymond James Financial Services President Scott Curtis also describes the independent broker-dealer's legislative, IT and other aims at national confab.