Raymond James says it is changing its compensation grid for employee advisors starting Sept. 25, when its next fiscal year begins.
The majority of the unit’s 2,500-plus registered reps — almost three-quarters, who have trailing-12-month fees and commissions of $350,000 and up — will see a payout drop of about 100 basis points, or 1%, while those with lower production will experience a decline of 200 to 400 basis points, or 2% to 4%, according to Tash Elwyn, head of Raymond James & Associates, which includes Alex. Brown.
“It’s big news when a national firm like Raymond James makes any changes to its payout grid, because it’s so unusual,” said Mark Elzweig, an executive search consultant and head of Elzweig & Co. in New York, which works with Raymond James.
For advisors with trailing-12-month production over $300,000, “This represents the first time in nearly two decades … to have a modification to their payouts,” Elwyn said in an interview.
In 2013, Raymond James changed how it paid employee advisors by moving to a product-neutral grid. “That change did not impact what was paid but how it was paid,” the executive explained.
“This was cost-neutral to the firm, and advisor compensation in the aggregate actually increased a bit as a result of that move to product neutrality,” he added.
The firm is making the move because in recent years, its costs for technology and other areas “have increased significantly,” according to Elwyn, “to help advisors better service clients and grow their practices.
In addition, he adds, it is investing in “more in-home and back-office associates and support in the field and so forth,” he explained.
Like other broker-dealers in the business, the current regulatory and legal environment — including the new Department of Labor fiduciary standard — also is affecting Raymond James’ spending patterns. On the upside, though, the firm says it is also spending more due to “overall higher average productivity of advisors and related higher compensation costs.”
According to Elwyn, “This change is intended to be as balanced as it possibly could be” to keep the firm’s comp plans “competitive and fair,” while letting the firm have the financial resources it needs “to be able to make important investments that support advisors and allow them to grow their respective businesses.”
Input from both advisors and branch managers was considered as part of the process, both formally and informally.