Raymond James’ acquisition of Morgan Keegan this year has injected an unprecedented number of new financial advisors into the firm’s ranks, while it continues to see interest from high profile prospective recruits from rival wealth management firms, according to Dennis Zank, chief operating officer at Raymond James Financial.
Zank spoke at Raymond James’ annual Women’s Symposium on Thursday to an audience that mostly included female financial advisors employed by Raymond James. Zank also acknowledged that some prospective wirehouse recruits were also sitting in the audience.
Much of the focus of Zank’s speech was the acquisition of Morgan Keegan’s brokerage business that was finalized earlier this year, and has had a direct impact on Raymond James as they continue to consolidate their businesses. One of the most notable changes, Zank said, is immediate expansion of Raymond James’ financial advisor force.
“In a really good net recruiting year, we’re going to hire 80 net, maybe, maybe 70, maybe 90, maybe 100,” Zank said. “There’s 900 in Morgan Keegan. To frame it for you, this is like 10 years worth of really, really, really good recruiting.”
But Raymond James executives, who at this same conference last year said they were not interested in Morgan Keegan, only had a change of heart after the price for the business came down and they realized the synergies the two firm’s cultures had, according to Zank.
“If the price was not fair, [Tom James] wasn’t going there, it was not going to happen, period,” Zank said. “There was only a slight difference in price of about $650 million from the original prices they were talking about and the one we actually paid.”
The combination of the two firms has provided Raymond James with a stronger fixed income business, while complementing Raymond James’ already strong private client business, Zank said. And it has also expanded the firm’s presence throughout the U.S., making its presence larger in certain large cities while adding new offices in other areas.
“There’s almost no overlap, and where we have overlap, they’re in towns that are so big it almost doesn’t even matter,” Zank said, which includes big branches in cities including Atlanta and Houston, as well as a new 50-person branch in Birmingham, Ala.
Recruiting at Morgan Keegan, now rebranded Raymond James-Morgan Keegan, has admittedly still been tough, Zank said, after the firm was put in play in 2011. But Raymond James, which has seen its own profile in the industry raised in the last 10 years, now sees more interest from prospective recruits than it did back then, he said.
“If you don’t want to be at a wirehouse today, we have to be on your list,” Zank said.