Raymond James (RJF) said Thursday that retention packages were delivered to eligible Morgan Keegan advisors. The firm gave the seven-year award offers to those with $300,000 or more in yearly fees and commissions; the deals begin vesting at the end of year two.

Raymond James COO Dennis Zank“While industry norms suggest that retention offers are made only to advisors with more than $500,000 in production, Raymond James and Morgan Keegan managements have determined to offer retention to advisors with $300,00 or more in gross production,” said Raymond James COO Dennis Zank (left) in a statement.

The awards will be paid within two weeks of the expected closing date of Raymond James’ $930-billion purchase of Morgan Keegan from Regions Financial (RF), which is anticipated to occur on April 1.

“The range of advisors receiving these retention-award offers is considerably wider than industry norms,” Zank explained. “We are offering five graduated levels of awards based on annual production, beginning with advisors whose trailing 12-month production is at least $300,000.”

In addition to a cash award – part of which may be taken in restricted stock – the eligible advisors can join Raymond James’ benefits program, which includes profit sharing, employee stock ownership, 401(k) and stock purchase plans. Advisors who qualify for recognition clubs may also receive additional stock-option awards, a long-term incentive plan and the ability to join other retention-bonus programs.

Raymond James includes about 5,400 financial advisors, the majority of whom do business in the United States. The Morgan Keegan deal could potentially add up to 1,000 employee advisors to Raymond James’ headcount.

Tash Elwyn“We are hopeful each and every one of the Morgan Keegan advisors will choose to stay and together help us create a firm that truly lives up to the promise of being the premier alternative to Wall Street,” said  Tash Elwyn (left) president of Raymond James & Associates, the company’s employee-advisor channel, in a statement.

“The loyalty these advisors have demonstrated during what must have been an excruciatingly stressful period is a testament to their character, their dedication to clients and the importance they place on being a part of a firm that is like family,” Elwyn added.

Raymond James is not publishing the details of the award packages, as the firm considers that information private and for disclosure only by management to eligible advisors.

“We believe the Morgan Keegan advisors will carefully weigh their options, consider the financial strength, character and long-term success of Raymond James, and make the choice that is in the best interests of their clients and each respective advisor’s practice,” added Zank.

Raymond James says it expects more than 75 top Morgan Keegan advisors and executives to visits its headquarters in St. Petersburg, Fla. The visit will be similar to the one made recently by 80-plus Morgan Keegan branch managers and should be followed in early February by two more groups of some 300-400 Morgan Keegan advisors.

On Jan. 25, Raymond James released the results of its fiscal first quarter, which met analysts’ expectations.