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Scott Curtis of Raymond James

Practice Management > Building Your Business > Recruiting

How Raymond James Keeps Luring Advisors From Rivals

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What You Need to Know

  • The market downturn, the pandemic and continued competition haven't stopped Raymond James' recruiting success.
  • The company continues to attract advisors from wirehouses and other large firms.
  • The firm started seeing its advisor headcount rise last year after sweetening its recruitment packages.

Despite challenges including the pandemic, this year’s market downturn and continued competition for talent, Raymond James has continued to find success with its recruiting efforts, company executives told ThinkAdvisor earlier this week at its Elevate national conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Recruiting is still strong,” Scott Curtis, president of the firm’s Private Client Group, said in a media briefing at the company’s first in-person conference since 2019.

Between 80 and 100 prospective advisors attended the event, some of whom “already committed to join us” at the firm, he said, noting that during Elevate, advisors who had already joined Raymond James shared their experiences with prospects.

“Whether it’s the independent channel or whether it’s the employee channel, the interest remains high” among advisors to join Raymond James, he said. Those who have been joining the firm in recent months are “primarily employee advisors, but there are also independent advisors in the mix, and that’s consistent with historical recruiting at Raymond James,” he noted.

The firm has consistently “recruited a higher percentage of advisors from wirehouse firms” and other large national employee model firms, including from Ameriprise, Edward Jones, LPL Financial, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, UBS and Wells Fargo — the firms that have the most advisors — are “the firms that we tend to recruit the most from,” he said in response to a ThinkAdvisor question.

Another Win

Another example of Raymond James’ success in recruiting advisors and brokers from the wirehouses was provided on Thursday, when the firm announced it added Steve Harman, Mark DeGon and Jake Phillips to Raymond James & Associates, its advisor channel, in Spokane, Washington.

The advisor team was picked up from Merrill Lynch, where they had managed about $409 million in client assets, Raymond James said.

Together, they now operate as Panorama Wealth Management of Raymond James and work alongside client service associates Jennifer Jones and Kaitlyn Harman.

Recent Trends

Recruiting trends overall are pretty similar in 2022 to what they were last year, although “I would say more teams, bigger teams” are being recruited of late, a trend that Curtis said “may just be indicative of the industry more so than anything specific to 2022.”

Asked if the recent market downturn had affected recruiting at all, he told ThinkAdvisor: “Not that we’ve seen so far.”

But he added: “We’ve seen over time [that] markets go up and markets go down. And when the markets are very volatile, certainly I would say that will cause advisors maybe to hit the pause button because, if they’re needing to tend to client inquiries during a very volatile period, if they committed to join us during that window, they may defer because they want to make sure” their clients are taken care of.

However, “we’ve had advisors join us during volatile periods [and] during less volatile periods.” For now, recruitment “seems to be pretty steady,” he said.

Sweetening Recruitment Packages

As of Sept. 30, the end of the firm’s fiscal year, Raymond James had a total of 8,482 advisors, up from 8,239 a year earlier, it said. That included 3,461 in its employee channel (up from 3,404) and 5,021 independent contractors (up from 4,835).

Raymond James started seeing its overall advisor headcount rise last year, after the firm improved its recruitment packages to be more competitive against rivals, Paul Reilly, its CEO, said in April 2021.

“We continue to be one of the top recruiters of advisors” and “attrition is less than 1%,” Reilly said at Elevate.

New Advantages

What stands to only help recruit advisors is the new affiliation option for independent financial advisors: a corporate registered investment advisor model for investment advisor representatives, or IARs, who run fee-only practices that the firm announced last week.

“We’ve had a successful pilot internally,” Jodi Perry, president of the Independent Contractor Division of Raymond James, told reporters at Elevate. “We actually moved a couple of branches internally, just so we could make sure that we had everything buttoned up before we went out publicly with it.”

The new option gives advisors the ability to “drop their Series 7” license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and “do all of their fee-based business under the corporate RIA, and that’s an alternative to them actually setting up their own registered entity,” she explained.

“So it gives people more flexibility to be able to just do fee-based business … [and] it’s just one more way we can support them,” she added.

Some advisors may also find the new Admin Extension program that Raymond James announced at Elevate appealing. It offers advisors turnkey administrative support from experienced branch associates.

As Raymond James employees, the AdminExt team is trained and proficient across the firm’s processes and applications to help advisors more efficiently manage and expand their businesses, according to Curtis.

“In addition to freeing advisor time and solving staffing challenges, the extensive knowledge and dedicated focus of the branch professionals differentiates them as consultants capable of improving practice efficiencies,” he said.

AdminExt associates operate remotely as Raymond James employees, eliminating limitations related to office space or practice location, according to the company.

AdminExt is now available to independent branch owners, with engagement options starting at a three-month minimum length of coverage and no renewal term limitations.

The new program will also be available to augment support staff needs for advisors transitioning their business to Raymond James, the company said. The service will be expanded to other PCG affiliation options in the future, according to Curtis.

Pictured: Raymond James Private Client Group President Scott Curtis.