Top managers at Raymond James (RJF) say they know more women are needed in the upper levels of the firm and across the industry.
“Our professional ratios should be like the ratios of our clients,” said Chet Helck, CEO of private-client operations, before 200 female advisors and other guests at the Raymond James Women’s Symposium in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.
“We’re at a healthy level,” Helck added, looking around the conference hall, “but I don’t think it will get there in my lifetime. Progress is slow, though significant.”
On the final day of the event, he and other executives highlighted steps the firm is taking to move things in a more positive direction. “We want to organically train and attract more female talent,” said Helck, “and as we achieve this, the ratio should change across the organization.”
He pointed to Bella Allaire, head of technology and operations for the firm, as an example of positive momentum. And Scott Curtis, who leads the firm’s independent channel, mentioned that one of the unit’s six regional directors is a woman, Jodi Perry.
Having more women at different levels and throughout the organization “helps us help you,” said Tash Elwyn, head of the firm’s employee channel, “and it’s critical for our long-term business success.”
“We want to turn this challenge into an opportunity, as CEO Paul Reilly has explained at this event,” noted Elwyn. “This comes about through succession planning, recruiting and new-advisor training and development.”
About 35% of participants in Raymond James’ training program are women, he adds, “which is a significant number.” Plus, the firm couples the training with extensive mentoring and other support. (About 120 enter the new-advisor training program each year.)
A good number of the firm’s female advisors, perhaps as many as one-third, used to be service associates, Elwyn notes.
The Private Client Group, in cooperation with the Women’s Advisory Council of Raymond James, has just launched a registered service associate program, he says. This pilot project identified 10 high-potential service associates for one year of special training and development.
In addition, the employee channel started a branch-associate recognition program a year ago, modeled on the recognition programs for advisors.
“These efforts also play into succession planning,” added Helck, because a number of associates have stepped in and stepped up to help run and later manage some sizeable practices.