No slow down in recruiting at Raymond James as advisers prepare for DOL fiduciary rule

The firm's independent broker-dealer is playing host to a record number of potential recruits at its annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., this week

Apr 26, 2017 @ 1:23 pm

By Bruce Kelly

Coming off its best recruiting year ever, Raymond James Financial Services Inc. is playing host to a possible record number of potential recruits this week at its annual meeting, Elevate, in Orlando, Fla.

The firm is hosting 86 advisers who are thinking about joining the independent broker-dealer, compared to 75 in 2016, Scott Curtis, president of Raymond James Financial Services, said in a meeting with reporters Wednesday morning.

A veteran executive formerly with Raymond James & Associates, the employee adviser arm of parent Raymond James Financial Inc., Mr. Curtis joined the independent broker-dealer, Raymond James Financial Services, as president in 2012. This week's conference saw the largest class of prospects since he took over, he said.

The number of potential recruits to Raymond James Financial Services is "greater than what we had last year, and last year I think was the largest we've had in a long time," Mr. Curtis said. "I can't say what the numbers were in 2008 and 2009. But we actually had to cut it off this year. I capped it because I was concerned that, since the largest event we have ever done with just over 4,000 attendees, I didn't want a prospective adviser displacing a current adviser or someone on an adviser's team into an off-sight hotel."

"Every large firm you can think of is represented, whether it's independent, wirehouse, Edward Jones or Ameriprise," he said. "There's at least one adviser from each of those firms here."

Raymond James Financial Services ends its fiscal year in September. During fiscal 2016, the firm recruited advisers who generated close to $150 million in annual revenue, known as the "trailing 12" in the industry, for its best year ever, Mr. Curtis said. That's an increase of 34% compared to fiscal 2015, when the firm recruited advisers who generated $112 million in annual revenues.

Mr. Curtis attributed the success in recruiting at Raymond James Financial Services to its continued flexibility with how advisers run their practices.

"As a lot of the other firms, particularly the employee firms, continue to adjust compensation that rewards certain behaviors by financial advisers that benefits the firm and may or may not be in the adviser's or client's interest, at some point, advisers are saying, 'Enough is enough,'" Mr. Curtis said.

"Also, firms continue to adjust payouts each year," he said. "They adjust them down, or take a portion of compensation and move it to an adviser's deferred comp, or restrict the size of the client before the client is moved to a call center or the adviser doesn't get paid. We don't do those things. I think the flexibility, allowing advisers to run the business the way they want, that helps. That's behind the success in recruiting."

Meanwhile, Raymond James Financial Services' more than 4,100 advisers are rolling up their sleeves in preparation for the work involved with the June 9 implementation of the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule for retirement accounts, Mr. Curtis said.

"They are determined to get through it, but they also recognize it is a fair amount of work that is not going to result in any incremental revenue or compensation for the work they have to do," he said. "They're saying we're going to do our best to get all this done, recognizing it's a narrow window of time. They don't want to risk not being in compliance."

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