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Raymond James Hosts Women’s Symposium

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CEO Paul Reilly explained how the integration of Morgan Keegan is making Raymond James 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., during early October. 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 the press, 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, adding that the firm is especially interested in smaller acquisitions “to build out our platform for advisors.”

Morgan Keegan 

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.”

As of Sept. 30, Raymond James had 6,330 advisors, including some in the United Kingdom and Canada. 

Role of Women

Boosting the number and role of women is another objective of Raymond James and other firms in the wealth management business. But how do you make that happen? 

Of Raymond James’ 6,000-plus advisors, about 14% are women. In the first year of its training program for new reps, the Advisor Mastery Program, 35% of its participants were women.

An important part of supporting women in the business, six advisors at a roundtable discussion said, is having the right culture. This includes taking steps to support female advisors and other women throughout the firm and doing as much as possible to encourage the formation of advisor teams.

The support advisors need in the field, members of the roundtable noted, can mean shaking things up a bit at headquarters—which Raymond James has been willing and able to do—and talking about such challenges openly. 

“It’s uplifting to those of us looking for [top] service. And we had heard about what Raymond James was doing, but then we heard more about it here today with coherency and continuity,” said Margaret Starner with Raymond James & Associates (RJA), the firm’s employee channel, in Coral Gables, Fla. “It was well articulated, and it never crossed my mind that it would be discussed like this.”

Starner sees the move to boost service and performance at the corporate level as a renewed drive for accountability led by Reilly. “It’s a big morale lifter,” she added.

Glass Ceiling?

As for women having the influence and presence they would like to have in wealth management, “We and the industry are not quite there yet, but we hope to get there,” said Rachel McNeil, an advisor and participant in the company’s training program in St. Petersburg, Fla.

And the firm they’re with supports this effort, they add. “We see with what [RJA President] Tash Elwyn and others are saying that there is big commitment to it,” explained Starner.

Do they feel, as women, that they are an equal part of the Raymond James organization? “We have brought that up every year,” said Starner, whose practice manages $350 million in assets. “And there are women executives, like Bella” Loykhter Allaire, head of technology and Operations for RJF.

“The leadership wishes we had more [women in management] and aspires to that goal,” the veteran advisor noted. “This is a situation common to all firms and to the industry.”


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