(Las Vegas) Raymond James Financial Services, the independent channel of Raymond James, spread the word about several shifts in its fees, social-networking and other policies during its national conference, which took place May 2-5 in Las Vegas. While some of the changes were put in place on March 1 or earlier, RJFS CEO Dick Averitt drew attention to them during his keynote speech on Monday.
“We listened to you, and we eliminated the trading limits on the Ambassador accounts,” Averitt said in a general session on May 2, regarding a change that took place in October 2010. “We also heard your comments about cost, and we recently [on March 1] lowered administration fees on both Freedom and UMA accounts, which directly affects your retention of revenues. The savings goes back into your practices or into your pockets.”
In addition, says RJFS Chief Administrative Office Greg Williams, the company introduced a no-transaction-fee (or NTF) mutual fund platform for a popular account on March 1. This eliminates the $30 processing fee for the associated fund transactions. “To add money or rebalance, the fees charged in the past are now gone, so clients can do their rebalancing for free,” Williams said in an interview. “This is huge, and it’s been a long time coming.” The NTF platform is also accessible to employee-advisors affiliated with Raymond James & Associates.
Raymond James is also moving ahead to give its advisors more capabilities in terms of communicating with clients via social media. While a policy allowing advisors to use social media in some ways has been in place for roughly nine months, a new policy that will let advisors communicate via social media on a real-time basis should be in place this summer, Averitt says. “I’m pleased to tell you that we are on the cusp on contracting with an outside service with which you will be able to enroll, which will enable us to track and supervise your communications — just as we already do [with] e-mail, to meet the requirements of our regulators,” he said in his May 2 speech. Other changes — such as letting advisors work and access client accounts on iPads and similar laptops — were rolled out at the national confab, the CEO says.
On May 4, Raymond James COO Chet Helck told more than 1,600 independent advisors and a similar number of other guests that the firm was moving to help them compete with banks in retirement services, saying that capital-access accounts and services were “not optional.” “This is huge,” he said. “They are going to steal your clients.”