Raymond James CEO Paul Reilly speaks at the firm's Women's Symposium on Oct. 12.

CEO Paul Reilly explained how the integration of Morgan Keegan is making Raymond James (RJF) a better firm than top brass anticipated during the final session of the firm’s 18th annual Women’s Symposium in St. Pete Beach, Fla., on Friday.

Still, Reilly doesn’t anticipate future acquisitions of the size of Morgan Keegan—which added about 900 reps to the firm—in the near future, though he isn’t ruling them out entirely either.

“The next step for us is to get back to 10%-15% [yearly] growth and to do it better each year,” Reilly said in an interview with AdvisorOne, after speaking at the conference. “Yes, if we find niche acquisitions that make sense, we will do them; there are not many firms the size of Morgan Keegan.”

“And if another opportunity fits our strategy, we will do it,” he added, noting that investment banks have been bringing possible candidates to Raymond James on a regular basis after it wrapped up its Morgan Keegan purchase on April 2.

“We could do it every 20 years or so, but will not grow for growth’s sake,” Reilly said, noting that the firm is especially interested in smaller acquisitions “to build out our platform for advisors.”

Morgan Keegan Success

While it has been demanding, “The Morgan Keegan conversion is going better than we possibly could have expected,” said the Raymond James CEO, who led Korn/Ferry International as executive chairman and KPMG International as its CEO before assuming his current post in May 2010. “We have beaten the optimistic projections, and we’re not done yet.”

The integration has benefitted from cultural similarities. “We’re not like [immediate] family, but we are first cousins,” he said. “Those who have stayed with us feel like they fit in, and they like what we do. They get access to a broader IT platform and back-office services, and they still have their same branch manager.”

Reilly also says that he believes his three objectives—to maintain Raymond James’ client-first culture, maintain the company’s integrity and keep up its long-term, independent growth strategy—are on track.

“I’ve discussed [at the Women’s Symposium] where we can do better, like in breaking down the division silos,” he explained. “And l laid out why we are a strategic alternative to Wall Street … it’s not that Wall Street is bad, but we are different.”