When Robert “Bob” Brooks moved his financial advisory practice to Raymond James & Associates from Bank of America Merrill Lynch last month, it was a decision as much about the firm’s culture as the future opportunities it could bring.
Brooks officially joined Raymond James in Tallahassee, Fla. on July 22, along with his financial advisor son Wyatt Brooks, who has worked for him for 13 years. Together, they previously oversaw $114 million in client assets and had more than $600,000 in annual fees and commissions.
They are joined by Danna Campbell, who has worked for Brooks’ team for 17 years, and serves as a registered sales assistant.
“The Raymond James story sounded more interesting because it seemed they were doing business in the way I wanted to run it,” Brooks said in an interview with On Wall Street on Wednesday. Moving from one wirehouse firm to another would have been trading for a similar mentality, Brooks said, while the move to Raymond James promised a different, client-focused culture.
“They also seem to respect the [financial advisor] a bit more in terms of his position in the whole equation,” Brooks said, “whereas at the other firms it seems to be a tug of war between whose client is it really.”
Brooks’ departure from Merrill Lynch capped off more than 19 years of service at the firm, where he began his career as a financial advisor when he walked into the local Tallahassee, Fla. branch where he had some accounts looking for a job. Twenty-four to 48 hours later he was hired. But recent years have changed the culture he once knew.
“A brokerage firm owning a bank is fine. A bank owning a brokerage firm doesn’t sit, I don’t think, very well,” Brooks said. “And things are changing at Merrill/Bank of America.”
For Brooks’ practice, the decision to move the practice was more about its future, particularly his son’s and Campbell’s careers. “I had to think about what would be in their best interest long term,” Brooks said. “A little bit of turmoil now is probably worth a lot more to them later on.”
Now part of Raymond James & Associates’ brokerage business, Brooks said he looks forward to the firm’s support, including more opportunity to collaborate with on marketing his practice through promotional materials, websites and social networking.
Further down the line, 10 to 15 years out, Brooks said, Raymond James’ independent channel might also be a direction to take the practice, which has a strong portfolio management model. “That’s probably more of a life decision,” Brooks said. “That’s my son’s decision, if he thought that was in his best interest.”