Raymond James & Associates COO Kim Jenson

Raymond James said Wednesday that its employee channel has hired UBS executive Kim Jenson to serve as the group’s chief operating officer.

Jenson, who has been a manager of the Chicago-area operations for UBS for a year and led the Chicago complex before that, has been in the financial services industry for more than 30 years. She joined Piper Jaffray in 1991 and served as regional head of the Midwest and West for the firm; its private client business became part of UBS in 2006.

Starting July 17, she will fill the role previously held by Tom Walrond, who is set to head up the Eastern Division for Raymond James & Associates.

“What set Kim apart among the great candidates was her experience,” which included many years with both a regional and national firm, said Tash Elwyn, head of RJA’s Private Client Group, in an interview. Jenson also stood out for “her shared values and cultural fit with Raymond James.”

Elwyn said the firm’s conviction that it had made the right choice “was affirmed immediately as we made the internal announcement.”

Fan mail poured in from Raymond James’ advisors and other employees, as well as from outside the firm as the news spread, he said: “We were told we’d made a phenomenal choice – which is just fantastic to see – based on how many fans she has from her many years in the business.”

What will the new COO’s work be? “She’ll partner with me to help support our divisional, regional and branch managers in serving and supporting our advisors as they serve their clients and grow their practices,” Elwyn explained.

Raymond James & Associates had about 2,800 advisors in roughly 280 locations across the country as of Dec. 31.

“Our women advisors are thrilled to see her join us,” Elwyn said.

Technology Push 

By year-end, Raymond James — which has a total of more than 7,220 independent and employee advisors and $611 billion of client assets — will roll out Connected Advisor, its own digital advice platform. The platform includes tools to support more collaboration between advisors and clients, and boost data-driven capabilities.

“Kim will be very immersed and engaged in the … evolution of Connected Advisor,” Elwyn said. “This is referred to as our firm’s response to robo, but it is anything but robo as we continue to develop technology to strengthen and reaffirm the advisor as the center of client relations. She will be integral to that.”

Jenson will meet many of the top 30% or so of Raymond James’ employee advisors at the group’s upcoming summer development event, which is set for mid-July in Washington, D.C. She also plans to attend the next Raymond James Women’s Symposium, hosted by the firm’s Network for Women Advisors, in October.

“I am excited about the opportunity to help lead the next chapter in the growth and development of RJA’s Private Client Group,” said Jenson, in a statement.

“I was certainly aware of Raymond James’ reputation as a firm with an advisor-centric, client-focused culture, but when I visited the home office, I was overwhelmed by everyone’s sincere welcome, the sophisticated processes and solutions available to advisors and their clients, and the overall atmosphere of commitment to clients and pride in the firm,” she explained.

During the firm’s annual independent-advisor event that took place in late April in Orlando, Raymond James reported a nearly 20% jump in revenues across the firm to about $1.6 billion for the quarter ending March 31 vs. last year’s figure. Its net income, though, tumbled 10% to $113 million, or $0.77, from the year-ago period on one-time charges.

The firm’s private client results had a similar bifurcation. Sales soared 23% year over year to $883 million, but pretax profits dropped 65% to about $29 million.

The firm’s attrition, though, is a steady 0.6%, Chairman and CEO Paul Reilly explains. “It’s really the best six-month start we’ve had [to the fiscal year], and we are continuing to” see positive results from these trends in the current quarter, he said in an interview.

In terms of the advisor headcount, Raymond James has been growing at a compound annual rate of 3.4% for the past five years, he adds.

— Check out ‘No Fee Compression on Our Advisors’: Raymond James CEO on ThinkAdvisor.