Speaking after the opening sessions of the firm’s 2015 independent advisor conference in Las Vegas, Raymond James Financial Services (RJF) President Scott Curtis made it clear that the firm will not be pursuing a robo-offering, unlike Charles Schwab (SCHW), for instance.
“We have no robo-advisor plans and are committed to supporting advisors with the technology and services they need to be successful,” the executive said on Tuesday in an interview. (The firm has a direct-to-investor offering, but it is limited to clients who once worked with Raymond James advisors.)
“We don’t believe [robo-advisors] will replace competent, caring advice,” he added. “But we have to pay attention and think about out what advisors need to do to keep up and adjust [online].”
Some 1,900 affiliated reps are attending the Raymond James National Conference for Professional Development, along with more than 70 prospective reps. “That’s up from the 50 to 55 or even the 60 we get. It’s definitely a bigger number,” Curtis stated.
Why the jump? “Other firms continue to either get between the advisors and the client or do things that may manipulate what advisors do with clients,” Curtis said. “Our way is to tell advisors, ‘Do it your own way … we are not financially trying to motivate you to do [certain activities] or penalize you if you do not do them.’ That’s not what we do.”
Curtis acknowledged six of the nine Raymond James indie advisors who have been affiliated with the firm for 40 years or more during his opening talk, before highlighting the growth of the business.
“The advisor count has grown 5% in the past five years, and both assets and revenues per advisor have increased by 75%-80% over that period,” Curtis explained.
“I congratulated everyone on their success and encouraged them to think about what they have to do with the business to keep up with client expectations and regulations,” he added.
The firm has nearly 3,400 independent reps today, down several hundred from 2005, but is “comfortable” with the success of its FA force, the executive says, and its focus on “high-quality advisors.” Average fees and commissions per advisor are about $540,000 per year.