Raymond James Wraps Up Purchase of Alex. Brown

The 193 wealth advisors at the boutique firm are now on the parent firm's platform, according to the head of the new unit

Raymond James headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida. Raymond James headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Raymond James Financial (RJF) said Monday it wrapped up its purchase of Deutsche Bank’s U.S. Private Client Services Unit, some nine months after the deal was first announced.

The company also says the 193 advisors that joined it through the acquisition are now on the Raymond James’ technology platform and are operating as part of Alex. Brown, a unit of Raymond James that cater to high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth investors in 16 branches concentrated in the Northeast and West.

“This combination continues our focus on strategic additions to augment consistent organic growth while also complementing our core private-wealth business in geographic areas targeted for expansion,” said Raymond James CEO Paul Reilly, in a statement. “That such a large percentage of legacy advisors agreed to join Raymond James as part of this agreement speaks highly of our values-oriented culture and the sophistication of our offerings.”

Alex. Brown is led by Haig Ariyan, who earlier was co-head of Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Americas. Ariyan joined the firm in 1996 as an advisor at Alex. Brown, which was acquired by Deutsche Bank three years later. He is based in New York, reports to Raymond James COO Dennis Zank and also works closely with Raymond James & Associates President Tash Elwyn, who leads the firm’s employee-advisor channel.

“Tash and I are committed to keeping both businesses separate but aligned,” said Ariyan, in an interview with ThinkAdvisor. “There is much value in keeping the Alex. Brown brand alive as a unique [entity], while recognizing that Raymond James serves high-net-worth clients through its advisor business today, as well. We are embracing a collaborative approach, with the ultimate objective being to build a more successful and larger Raymond James.”

More specifically, the two firms are working together on recruitment, diversity, technology and other issues, he says.

“We’ve been getting calls from those who lead the effort to support women and minority advisors and network with them. It’s … more organized than what we have been able to do historically, so we are very excited about what this can do for [Alex. Brown], both commercially and culturally,” the president explained.

(Raymond James will host its 22nd-annual Women’s Symposium for advisors in early-October in Orlando, Florida.)

As part of the Raymond James acquisition, Alex. Brown advisors will work with Deutsche Bank on equity new issue securities for seven years. In addition, Raymond James gains access to “new alternative investments and other sophisticated investment solutions, allowing the firm to continue to expand its offerings to existing and future ultra-high-net-worth clients,” according to the firm.

“Our client set, in the high-net-worth and ultra-high-net worth demographic groups, has a core priority that is not about wealth creation but [about] wealth preservation,” Ariyan explained. Over the years, Alex. Brown advisors have become well versed at using alternatives for diversification, to minimize volatility and to enhance returns over the long term.”

As for this weekend’s technology shift, which happened as Hurricane Hermine was hitting the Gulf Coast of Florida—where Raymond James is based, “The conversion led by Raymond James’ information-technology team has gone extraordinarily well,” he said. “There have been multiple trainers in all the [Alex. Brown] branches.”

Asked if the new parent firm is meeting the boutique wealth managers' expectations, Ariyan said, “This is a very demanding group of advisors, who are thoughtful, committed and loyal to putting the client first. We … have to meet these demands, and Raymond James is the perfect partner for that.”

Also on Monday, Alex. Brown’s former owner, Deutsche Bank, announced that it plans to “focus on making strategic investments in its U.S. Wealth Management business after successfully closing the sale of its U.S. Private Client Services (PCS) unit to Raymond James Financial.”

Deutsche Bank says its wealth-management business has been expanding in some parts of the U.S., such as the West Coast, Texas and Florida, as part of its private-banking approach.

“The successful sale of the U.S. PCS business is a significant step toward the bank’s Strategy 2020 goal to become a simpler and more efficient organization,” said Fabrizio Campelli, head of Deutsche Bank Wealth Management, in a statement. “We will now concentrate on further building out our wealth management capabilities for ultra-high-net-worth clients in the U.S., underlined by a series of recent senior appointments including Patrick Campion, who joined us last month as head of Deutsche Bank Wealth Management for the Americas.”

“We will now be able to better serve our clients and grow our Americas business by focusing on a single distribution channel,” Campelli added. “We are looking forward to continuing our collaboration with Raymond James as a distribution partner.”

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