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Raymond James Boosts Networks, Prospects

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Raymond James has appointed marketing veteran Michelle Lynch as vice president and director of the firm’s Network for Women Advisors. Lynch, who has 11 years of experience with the company’s Private Client Group and Asset Management divisions at Raymond James, will lead the Network for Women Advisors—which includes more than 800 reps—and other diversity initiatives.

Lynch will report to Tash Elwyn, president of the Private Client group for employee-advisor channel Raymond James & Associates, and to Scott Curtis, president of the independent-advisor channel Raymond James Financial Services, which recently held its national development conference in Las Vegas. At the event, the company shared the news that it now includes a Black Financial Advisors Network.

Founded by three advisors—Tony Barrett, Joel Burstein and Kaon Nelson—BFAN has the support of Raymond James’ top leadership, including CEO Paul Reilly. It is focused on both recruiting more black advisors and increasing existing black advisors’ success at the firm.

In an interview during the conference, Barrett said BFAN members want to make black advisors “feel welcome at Raymond James.” Since the industry itself “doesn’t have a lot of diverse talent, we need to make the industry more attractive to young people,” he added.

It’s “the right time to do something more inclusive for the firm,” since there are more affluent black Americans, “plus the talent pool has increased” for new advisors among black college graduates, explained Barrett, who is the Philadelphia area complex manager for Raymond James & Associates. “We’re looking at how we can bring in more education and training so existing advisors grow and develop.”

Barrett, Burstein—RJA’s Miami branch manager—and Nelson, who joined Raymond James via the Morgan Keegan acquisition, had informally discussed how to achieve those aims, but Barrett said it was Elwyn “who called our bluff.” The three men realized that “if we were going to do something it would have to come from us.”

In February, the first formal meeting of the Black Financial Advisors Network took place, with about 30 people attending from across the firm.

As for the company’s latest financial results, Raymond James Financial posted net income of $113.5 million on $1.3 billion in revenues vs. profits of $104.6 million on sales of $1.2 billion a year earlier.

The company announced a record number of advisors in its Private Client Group, which includes both its employee FAs and independent contractor registered reps: 6,384. There were 72 advisor prospects at its national development conference for indie advisors.

As for the makeup of advisors, “We’re great believers in diversity,” said CEO Reilly. In the case of women, “We believe we have the highest number of women” advisors in the industry, since the RJ women’s network has been very successful over the past 20 years, he explains. “I hope we can do the same for advisors of color.”

Some 1,900 indie FAs attended the Raymond James National Conference for Professional Development, along with 72 prospective reps. “That’s up from the 50 to 55 or even the 60 we get. It’s definitely a bigger number,” Curtis stated.

“Other firms continue to either get between the advisors and the client or do things that may manipulate what advisors do with clients,” he 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.”

“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 added. Average fees and commissions per advisor are about $540,000 per year.