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Raymond James Makes Succession Planning Push With New Team for Advisors

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Raymond James’ executives are serious about succession planning–so serious, in fact, that the firm’s leadership this year created a four-person team to focus on succession planning and practice acquisition.

To hear the top brass tell it, Raymond James’ new Succession and Acquisition Planning group has met and exceeded expectations, with the team fielding even more requests for help from advisors than they had initially anticipated.

“If you’re a client in most firms and your financial advisor retires, they divide the book in the branch. You get handed off arbitrarily,” said Chet Helck, CEO of Raymond James’ Global Private Client Group, at a meeting with the media on Thursday during the 2012 Raymond James (RJF) Women’s Symposium in St. Pete Beach, Fla.

“Where’s the trust factor?” Helck (right) added. “At Raymond James, the care and trust that advisors have earned can be passed along by choosing and grooming their successor. “

Also on the agenda during the meeting with media were Raymond James’ recruiting efforts and technology upgrades. The executives reported that they have hit their recruiting targets for the year, with new advisors coming to Raymond James from independent firms, regionals and the large wirehouse firms. In terms of new tech, the firm has big plans this year to roll out some new mobile apps “that will raise the bar,” according to Helck.

New Succession and Acquisition Planning Team

The man behind the Succession and Acquisition Planning group’s creation is Scott Curtis, president of Raymond James Financial Services (RJFS), the firm’s independent broker-dealer. Curtis said at the meeting with the media that the new group helps advisors establish a formal business succession plan along with support for every stage of researching, negotiating with and acquiring another practice or book of business.

By documenting a formal succession plan, advisors can ensure that clients experience a smooth transition if their original advisor retires, Curtis said, adding that the Raymond James succession program is flexible. This means it exists not just within a branch office, but can also extend to advisors at other firms and across channels.

As an example, he pointed to independent advisors Matt Lawson and William Winchester, who moved last month from LPL Financial to RJFS, and that the firm is in the process of acquiring the practice of retiring Raymond James advisor John Goodson in Winchester, Tenn. And this week, Curtis received a phone call from a recruiting prospect who came to him through a rep at the Raymond James & Associates employee channel, although the prospect wants to transition to the independent- business owner model at RJFS.

“That’s where the advisor wants to be,” Curtis said. “She wants to transition the practice to the independent business owner model, and we’re perfectly comfortable with that.”

Recruiting and Tech Upgrades

Data being compiled now for Raymond James’ fiscal 2012 year-end on Sept. 30 shows that recruiting efforts at Raymond James are meeting expectations. While the executives wouldn’t share numbers of new recruits, they said that in all business units, the company had hit its targets.

This year and next, recruitment will include the contributions from Morgan Keegan advisors now that the merger is finalized, said Tash Elwyn, president of Raymond James & Associates. Morgan Keegan people “weren’t lost in the recruiting process,” Elwyn said, adding that as much as Morgan Keegan branch managers have contributed to recruiting results, “we’re seeing improved collaboration between RJ&A and RJFS.”

As for tech upgrades, by the end of November Raymond James’ Investor Access online tool will launch an optimized mobile app.

Elwyn, who returned his laptop to Raymond James 18 months ago because he now works only with an iPad and an iPhone, said that the Advisor Access platform is fully functional and secure on a tablet. 

He noted the demographic challenge of the advisor industry over the next five to 10 years will be the retirement of a huge wave of advisors, the vast majority of whom are over the age of 40. The new wave to replace those retirees will demand state-of-the-art technology, Elwyn said.


Read Raymond James Women Welcome Morgan Keegan Advisors at AdvisorOne.


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