ORLANDO, FLA. – Recent big recruitment grabs by Raymond James, including a $2.4 billion team, are helping the firm keep up its momentum, says Tash Elwyn, president of Raymond James & Associates.

Elwyn says the firm is having greater and greater success in attracting large teams and that the trend is accelerating as those advisors take note of the firm's recruiting successes.

“It becomes self-perpetuating in that as each of these teams chooses to affiliate with Raymond James, and it sends a clear message to others in the industry that Raymond James can meet and exceed their needs,” Elwyn says from the sidelines of the firm's summer development conference, where about 650 advisors were in attendance.

Late last year, Raymond James recruited a team that managed $900 million in client assets, the firm said, while the advisors worked for J.P. Morgan. And earlier this year, the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based firm recruited a Morgan Stanley team that managed $2.4 billion in client assets. That grab was the largest in the firm's history.

Elwyn says that those, and other recruiting grabs, have "triggered a number of inquiries" from advisors thinking of making a move.

"Advisors took notice and said I want to talk to you. It's very flattering and humbling for us," Elwyn says.

However, in recruiting mega teams, Raymond James has not been alone. 

Billion-Dollar Moves

This year has been a particularly active one for recruiting billion-dollar teams. A three-advisor team that managed $3 billion at J.P. Morgan Private Bank left to join Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management, according to a person with knowledge of the move. Merrill Lynch, meanwhile, pulled in a $2.9 billion team from Morgan Stanley, according to a spokeswoman and the latest Barron's rankings.

Elwyn says that his firm and others continue to benefit from both macro and micro issues affecting wirehouse advisors, including changes to compensation plans and branch management.
"I hear things [from potential recruits] like, 'I like my branch manager, but he or she can't make business decisions anymore.' I have advisors remark to me that it has been X weeks or months since their branch manager has spoken to them," Elwyn says.

Because of these pain points, Elwyn expects that recruiting opportunities will always remain present.

But, he adds, the appeal of Raymond James for advisors is still the firm's culture. It remains small enough to feel like an intimate work environment, while large enough to provide advisors access to the services and products they need to serve clients, he says.

"I say this understanding that culture is one of the most overused terms in the industry, but it is one of our key differences," Elwyn says. "It's not lost on us that as we continue to grow that the culture can be at risk. But I'm confident that we can continue to protect and grow that for generations to come."

Part of the firm's appeal for some advisors is its intimate feel, exhibited by the number of children that advisors brought to the conference. Nearby Disney World may have been an incentive for some to bring their kids. But Elwyn, who has been with the firm since 1993, notes that it has always been a family event.

"It's a completely different feel than you have at other firms," he says.

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