Raymond James Unveils Robo-Advisor

The firm says its more than 7,100 indie and employee reps will have access to the innovations by year-end

Raymond James IT chiefs Bella Allaire and Vin Campagnoli Raymond James IT chiefs Bella Allaire and Vin Campagnoli

Raymond James says it is ready to robo.

By year-end, the broker-dealer — which has more than 7,100 independent and employee advisors — will rollout Connected Advisor, its own digital advice platform. The platform includes tools to support more collaboration between advisors and clients and boost data-driven capabilities.

“This significant, multiyear ongoing investment ensures we continue to be an industry leader in advisor-oriented technology,” said CEO Paul Reilly, in a statement. “While many industry alternatives seek to disintermediate advisors, Connected Advisor will support advisors and their commitment to serving clients.”

About 300 branch managers and directors from several Raymond James channels had an introduction to Connected Advisor last week at a two-day meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the company is based.

“The response from managers in the audience was quite positive,” said Tash Elwyn, head of the employee-advisor group Raymond James & Associates, in an interview. “This wasn’t a surprise to them by any means. They know it’s a vision we have been building towards with their input and that of the Technology Advisory Council.”

The idea behind the technology, Elwyn says, it to let computers do “what they do best” while allowing advisors to focus more of their time on “engaging … and deepening relationships with their clients.”

In addition, the platform moves the firm in the direction that clients are heading, he explains.

“We do lots of work on the client of the future,” the executive said. And that client is female, younger and more technologically savvy than ever before — meaning that the client wants to work both digitally and directly with the advisor, he adds.

Rollout Plans

Many of the firm’s roughly 4,000 indie advisors will get a hands-on encounter with the platform at the Raymond James Financial Services conference set for late April in Orlando.

A pilot rollout of the platform set for the third quarter will include 25 advisors who are part of Raymond James’ technology council; after that introduction, Connected Advisor will be launched branch by branch, according to Bella Allaire, head of technology and operations for Raymond James.

Some rival broker-dealers have chosen to give their reps robo-advisors via partnerships. LPL Financial, for instance, is working with BlackRock’s FutureAdvisor, while UBS is partnering with SigFig.

Charles Schwab, on the other hand, introduced its own Intelligent Portfolios and intends to launch a hybrid robo-human service called Schwab Intelligent Advisory this year.

“Our new platform adds another … layer of collaboration between the client and the advisor,” Allaire explained, along with “more sophisticated data mining and opportunities for client alerts from the advisor.”

“The ease of use has to be there to bring value to the advisors and clients via sophisticated alerts and accurate, complete data. That is the excitement of the platform. It’s really about giving the advisors more ways to connect with clients, including communications … and analytics. It takes it all in,” the Raymond James technology leader said.  

--- Check out Can a Robot Be a Fiduciary? on ThinkAdvisor.

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