Raymond James doubles down on digital with advisers in control

As digital advice evolves, Raymond James stays focused on advisers

Sep 26, 2019 @ 4:07 pm

By Bruce Kelly

Raymond James Financial Inc. is "doubling down" on its investment in technology to give its more than 7,000 advisers digital financial advice tools, a top executive at the company said.

But that doesn't mean that Raymond James intends to push its automated investing platform — dubbed Connected Advisor — as a stand-alone offering direct to clients.

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The focus of the company's technology investment is to "reaffirm the human adviser" as the center of the relationship with the client, said Tash Elwyn, president and CEO of Raymond James & Associates Inc., the employee broker and adviser arm of the company.

The difference in the future is that financial advice delivered by people will be "digitally enabled," Mr. Elwyn said. "We are doubling down on the investment we make in the human adviser and their ability to serve clients."

Raymond James' digital financial advice platform, Connected Advisor, which was announced in early 2017, gave clients working through its affiliated advisers' websites the ability to create accounts, set goals and gain access to investment recommendations based on a handful of risk models.

"The investment we are making in client-facing technologies will enable self-service where self-service is a client preference and enable the adviser to gain more capacity," Mr. Elwyn said. "The Connected Advisor platform is a way to bring on board smaller clients and leverage the firm's model solutions, particularly for younger, next gen clients. To reiterate, this is delivered through the financial adviser and is not a direct-to-client robo-style adviser."

Mr. Elwyn was speaking in New York on Wednesday at a panel discussion about the potential for the wealth management industry to expand in St. Petersburg, Fla., where Raymond James Financial has its headquarters.

In 2017, InvestmentNews reported that Raymond James spends about $250 million annually on technology.

The company's technology investments focus on three areas, Mr. Elwyn said: the back office, facing the adviser and facing the client.

"In the back office, we want to streamline and improve processes wherever possible," he said. "Automation and bots let us repurpose home office staff to other responsibilities with advisers."

"With adviser-facing technology, the big emphasis has been to innovate in our mobile tools for advisers," Mr. Elwyn said. "Today we have a platform that allows advisers to work just as well remotely as they can from the office."

"And with client-facing technology, the focus and investment is on the digital experience for clients through the client access portal," which allows advisers' clients to interact with their financial objectives and goals through a variety of scenarios at home, Mr. Elwyn said.

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