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How Raymond James Is Boosting Employee Advisors

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Very few weeks go by when Raymond James (RJF) hasn’t announced a team of new recruits for its Private Client Group of financial advisors.

In June the firm announced its biggest get yet — the Americas Group in South Florida, which left Morgan Stanley and has about $2.4 billion for both retail and institutional clients. And in July Raymond James opened its first employee office in Northern Vermont when Catamount Financial Advisors joined.

These new recruits followed the firm’s announcement in May that it had hired three new regional directors to help boost its recruiting — two in the Northeast.

Tash Elwyn, head of the Raymond James Private Client Group for its employee advisor channel, tells ThinkAdvisor that the “recruitment and growth  opportunities” on the East and West coasts “appear to be near infinite.”

The firm’s Private Client Group is primarily comprised of its employee broker/dealer channel called Raymond James & Associates (RJA), which Elwyn directs, and Raymond James Financial Services (RJFS), its independent contractor broker/dealer. The Private Client Group accounts for about 70% of the firm’s revenues.

When Elwyn launched the firm’s campaign to increase the number of employee branches and advisors on the East and West coasts in 2012, RJA had 34 branches in the Northeast and 10 on the West Coast.  Three years later it has 45 branches in the Northeast (10 are in New England) and 19 on the West Coast, up 32% and 90%, respectively.

Elwyn was in the Springfield, Massachusetts, RJA office last week to celebrate the relocation and expansion of the office — RJA’s first New England branch, which opened a little over nine years ago with five advisors. Now there are 12, with space for even more.

 “When we first came here we had probably $1-1.25 million in revenues and zero assets under management,” said Vincent Petrangelo, branch manager of the Springfield office. “This year we will exceed $5 million in revenues with about $1 billion in assets.”

Petrangelo said he came from a major wirehouse and moved to Raymond James because it was “client-centric” and “advisor-focused.”

“There is a thirst in these markets for advisors to affiliate with a firm that’s simultaneously big enough to have access to technology and intellectual capital to serve clients [and has] a culture small enough to have accessibility to home office support,” said Elwyn.

RJA, in turn, is “looking for opportunities to affiliate with advisors that share the firm’s values — “clients come first” — incorporating a “servant leader mentality” which the firm also uses. To paraphrase Elwyn, RJA’s advisors work for their clients and RJA works for its advisors. “I work for our financial advisors, not the other way around,” said Elwyn.

Raymond James had 6,384 advisors as of the end of the March 2015 — 39% from RJA and 54% from RJFS; the remainder affiliated with the firm’s U.K. and Canadian units. 

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