Raymond James taps client associates for next generation

Firm launches training program designed to bring its registered service associates up through the ranks

Feb 19, 2014 @ 11:24 am

By Mason Braswell

Client associates are the unsung heroes of financial services, and now Raymond James is hoping that they can play another role: saving the industry from the oncoming retirement wave.

“I have long viewed the role of a service associate as being perhaps arguably one of the most underutilized and underinvested-in positions in the financial services industry,” said Tash Elwyn, president of Raymond James & Associates, the firm's traditional employee channel. “I've long had a desire and a passion to see our firm really turn that challenge into an opportunity to create a career path for service associates.”

The firm launched a pilot program at the end of last year that is designed to bridge the gap between working as an associate and as a financial adviser.

(Related: Firms work to make the most of their young advisers)

Known as the Registered Service Associate Team Development Program, it lasts 12 months and provides training and coaching that is relevant to an associate's previous experience. The associate then has the opportunity to move into the firm's traditional adviser training program.

“We are excited as well as confident that this will help Raymond James address two industry challenges, the first being attracting more women to the profession and also positioning us as we build scale over time to have the right quality and quantity of potential successors for our retiring advisers,” Mr. Elwyn said.

(More: Merrill Lynch appoints new head to expand training)

Approximately 30% of female advisers surveyed at a conference reported that they had begun their career as service associates, said Nicole Spinelli, director of the Raymond James network for women advisers.

“We knew immediately we had a very deep pool of potential adviser candidates already at the firm,” she said in a statement. “It was just a matter of developing the right curriculum, assessing the right candidates and launching a pilot program to see where that leads.”

The firm tapped two candidates from each of the Raymond James & Associate's five geographic divisions to fill the first class.

They will spend three to four hours a month participating in conference calls, completing online educational segments and tutorials and attending adviser conferences.

The participants will also be assigned a mentor and after six months, the participants will start training for the Accredited Asset Management Specialist designation, the firm said.

The program is open only to the firm's employee channel, but Raymond James is considering expanding it to include other channels and more applicants depending on its success.

“We recognize this as a very natural career path and opportunity for us to address the demographic challenge that faces all firms with aging of the adviser population by attracting a more inclusive workforce to the financial adviser program,” Mr. Elwyn said.

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