“It had a significant financial impact,” admits Chet Helck, when asked about Raymond James’s decision last year requiring insurers that wanted to sell annuities through its advisors to simplify their offerings and cut their cost, even if it meant lower commissions and less revenue for the firm. However, says Helck, president and COO of Raymond James Financial, “the net result is we have annuity products that are very competitive,” and meet the clients’ needs. “I’m proud to be part of a company that has the courage of its convictions.” The exchange is pure Helck: incisive, direct, competitive, and idealistic, all at the same time. Helck took time out during an early October visit to New York to chat with Editor-in-Chief Jamie Green.
Who is your competition?
Is it Merrill, Schwab, LPL? We’re in different businesses. The competitor for our independent contractor business is different than the competitor of our employee [broker business], versus our investment bank, so it’s a complex answer. Clearly, in the independent contractor space, LPL is a very worthy competitor. They’re the biggest. They choose to chase size and growth rate–it’s a different strategy than we’ve chosen. But that’s okay. Someone’s got to be the biggest, and the fastest growing, and lead that charge. We’ve chosen to focus on becoming a high-quality advisory practice. We believe that you can’t achieve both of those simultaneously–if you’re going to be the best, you almost can’t be the biggest, because to be the biggest you have to reach deeper into the barrel, and dilute the best.
Has recruiting changed over the last few years?