NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Assets under administration at Raymond James Trust have nearly doubled in the last three years, says Joe Weaver, the firm's president.

And Weaver credits strong relationships with financial advisors for the growth of the boutique unit, which offers trust and estate planning services for clients of Raymond James Financial.

In an interview during the Raymond James Summer Development Conference in Nashville, Tenn., Weaver describes the intimate relationship his firm has with advisors in both the employee advisory channel and independents at Raymond James -- a synergy that allows the two groups to cross-sell the trust division's services.

Weaver, who joined the Raymond James Trust in 2011, also spent about five years working in private wealth management for Bank of America's U.S. Trust division; earlier, he was a sales executive for the bank. This interview has been edited and condensed.

How much has business grown at Raymond James Trust?

When I got here we had $1.8 billion in assets under administration in 2011. We're now at $3.4 billion.

What were the factors that nearly doubled your business over that time period?

Market appreciation has helped, and new trust sales. We're going to have trust [sales of] $500 million this year, all through our financial advisors driving that.

We open 45 accounts every month. It is fast paced. Also today, people are setting up trusts for more than tax reasons, like control and asset protection.

How many Raymond James advisors actually work with your side of the business?

Today we have 28% of the 5,500 financial advisors [working] with Raymond James Trust. Based on talking to other competitors, I would say we're significantly above the average. We're focused on trying to improve that.

One of our strategies is to increase that number to 40% over the next three to five years, [through] a lot of education. [We have] 16 "trust schools" a year, two programs in advanced estate planning [and] we put out white papers every quarter.

What type of advisors do you work with?

Many of the advisors we work with today are larger producers, have larger books and have wealthier clients. Those types of practices have to deliver more than investment expertise to compete in the high-net-worth arena.

How did the relationship with Raymond James advisors start?

Raymond James Trust started a little over 22 years ago. [Raymond James Financial executive chairman] Tom James wanted an in-house resource that could serve ... clients seeking a corporate trustee.

We have 90 associates at Raymond James Trust [who exclusively] work with the clients that our advisors are working with. It's rare for us to step as [as a corporate trustee for a family or individual who does not already have a relationsihp wiht Raymond James].

What is the advantage for the client?

The trust company becomes part of that advisor's team, facilitates all of the corporate trustee duties. One of the significant advantages of naming Raymond James Trust as trustee or co-trustee with a family member is the local continuity that the financial advisor provides the beneficiaries when a loved one becomes incapacitated or passes away. The advisor remains the primary point of contact for those beneficiaries while Raymond James Trust becomes part of their overall relationship-management team.

How do your associates approach working with advisors?

They respect the autonomy, the independence of the financial advisor, and essentially understand that those clients are the clients of the financial advisor. We do not delegate our fiduciary responsibilities, but we do collaborate with the financial advisor on the investment allocation and client communications..

Do we tell the financial advisor "no" sometimes? Absolutely.

But I will tell you though; most financial advisors understand that trust assets typically have much more conservative allocations.

Why is that?

There are two clients, usually, in every trust account. You have the income beneficiary, which is the surviving spouse, and then the remainder beneficiaries, typically the children, or charitable organizaiions.

The spouse is going to want more income and the kids are going to want more growth. So ultimately what you see is a more balanced approach.

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