So long, Morgan Keegan

Raymond James retires brand ahead of schedule

Feb 26, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

By Andrew Osterland

Raymond James Financial Inc. has completed the integration of Morgan Keegan advisers and their clients to the company's technology platform ten months after closing on the acquisition of the brokerage. It simultaneously announced the retirement of the Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. brand a year ahead of expectations.

“Morgan Keegan [employees] were rightfully proud of their heritage and brand, but they have approached the opportunity to be Raymond James —one firm, with excitement,” said Tash Elwyn, president of the private- client group at Raymond James & Associates.

In contrast to troublesome tech integrations seen in large brokerage mergers — notably Morgan Stanley's acquisition of Smith Barney — the conversion of roughly 900 Morgan Keegan advisers to the Raymond James platform appears to have gone smoothly.

“Having been through a number of large and complex integrations, I can honestly say this was a far superior experience,” Bella Allaire, executive vice president for technology and operations at Raymond James, said in a statement.

The brokerage's management said the company had retained about 95% of the revenue associated with Morgan Keegan advisers who were offered retention packages after the acquisition. Raymond James acquired Morgan Keegan from Regions Financial Corp. last year. More than a dozen senior executives at Morgan Keegan, including former chief executive John Carson, also joined the company.

Mr. Elwyn credits a technology staff of 100 specialists for the training and smooth transition of Morgan Keegan advisers. Along the way, the company managed to incorporate some parts of Morgan Keegan's systems, add new capabilities and implement enhancements to both adviser and investor access to the system, he said.

“We had a phenomenal year converting Morgan Keegan advisers to a new platform and deploying new technology for existing advisers,” Mr. Elwyn said.

With the transfer to the Raymond James platform, legacy Morgan Keegan advisers have dropped the name of their old firm. Raymond James initially expected to keep the Morgan Keegan name on the fixed-income side of its business for another year. The brokerage brought a substantial municipal bond underwriting and trading business to Raymond James. According to the company, however, Morgan Keegan executives asked for the brand to be retired sooner.

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