Shelly Church, CFP, is a senior vice president of investments with the Church & Box Planning Group of Raymond James & Associates in Naples, Florida. She joined Raymond James in 1994 and served on the firm’s Women’s Advisors Council for 12 years.
Church also has been awarded the distinction of a having a seat on the Raymond James Financial Advisors Council and has been recognized with Chairman’s Council honors since 2001. She was named by Raymond James Financial Chairman Tom James to the firm’s Executive Council in 2003 through 2005 and again from 2013 through 2015.
In 2010 she was recognized by Raymond James as a “Woman of Distinction.” The honor came five years after Church lost her son to heart disease at age 18.
How and why did you begin your career in wealth management?
I started my investment firm in 1984, after being a real estate broker for eight years. Because of my past experience, I focused primarily on real estate investments for my clients.
However, as more and more of my clients started asking me to look into other investments for them, I expanded what I did and ultimately got my CFP certification in 1989, so I could provide full-fledged financial planning for my clients.
What have you learned from your supervisors and/or colleagues? Does one of them stand out — and if so, can you tell us who that is and why?
I truly have the best manager possible at Raymond James — Dave Morgan. Dave is always there to support me. However, unless I reach out to him, he “stays out of my way” and lets me do my own thing.
In addition, Raymond James has always had tremendous training programs to help me not only become more proficient in the various areas of financial planning and practice management, but also learning new and innovative planning strategies to help my clients grow and preserve their wealth for future generations.
Raymond James has also cultivated an environment that encourages sharing of ideas and practices among the other financial advisors in the firm. Although the education programs and forums are great, I find the sharing of ideas among my colleagues to be even more beneficial.
What have you learned from the broker-dealers you’ve worked for and how has that helped your career?
At the beginning of my career, I actually had my own broker-dealer before I joined Raymond James. In fact, I was very concerned about folding my business into another broker-dealer. It was important to me to make sure my clients would continue to get the service they were accustomed to.
When I went to Raymond James’ home office to meet senior management, I was instantly impressed and reassured. From the top down — Raymond James is all about integrity, and putting the client’s interests first. By having confidence in the back-office support and day-to-day operations, I was able to focus on meeting my clients’ needs and not the minutiae of running a business. It was, and still is, a perfect fit for me and my clients.
What is the most significant change you have seen in the industry?
The continuous trend toward a fee-based business, which I believe is very positive! I converted to a fee-based platform for my clients over 15 years ago, before it was really popular to do so. I’ve always been a fan of that because there’s no inherent “conflict of interest” built in, as there can be when you are paid commissions.