For many broker-dealer firms, 2008 is a year to forget. But that’s not the case for Raymond James.
“This will probably be the most successful recruiting year ever in terms of the momentum and pace we’ve seen in the candidates meeting with us in all channels,” says Raymond James Financial President and COO Chet Helck. “These candidates are coming to us from lots of firms, which have had a change of ownership or some serious issues or news affecting them, like a bailout.”
Helck, a West Virginia native, uses a neutral, almost humble tone when describing how the firm has been able to successfully weather the storms of 2008. “It feels good that we’ve been able to distinguish ourselves in a period that has been so difficult.
And we have deployed a lot of discipline, not a lot of leverage,” he says. That stability is attractive to advisors with other firms, Helck points out. “Financial advisors have been affected and are looking around at their choices. We are busy and responding more than ever and are confident that some number will make the decision to come over to us.”
St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Raymond James says it now has about 5,000-plus advisors and $187 billion in assets under management.
In September, ex-UBS advisors and vice presidents Nadine Wilkes and Paul Weinstein of Fort Myers, Fla., joined the independent arm of Raymond James (Raymond James Financial Services) as managing directors. They have some $400 million in assets and $2 million in yearly production.
And in October, a former Merrill Lynch team opened a new private wealth management office in Novi, Mich., as part of the Raymond James employee channel (Raymond James & Associates): Charles L. Nemes and Timothy P. Rush focus on high-net-worth clients, and while at Merrill, they had some $530 million in AUM.
Scott Curtis, senior vice president for RJA’s private client group, is helping to make these moves happen. “We are having success in our discussions with advisors from all firms, as these advisors have discussions with clients regarding the financial stability of their organizations.”
And this makes it a very busy time for Raymond James. “We have received more inbound inquiries from successful advisors at other broker-dealers than we’ve seen in a long time,” explains Curtis.
He acknowledges that, of course, not all of them will switch firms. “Many, many more stay put than leave in any given year. Still, I reassure all of them that those advisors who come here, stay here. Our retention is second to none, and that says something about the organization.”
Through the early fall, recruiting in the independent channel was up close to 50 percent year over year, says Bill Van Law, senior vice president and national director of business development for RJFS. “Advisors are frustrated with market issues and issues at their firms,” he explains. “They are looking for permanent resolution of the issues.”