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Raymond James, Commonwealth shake up their C-suites

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Two of the largest independent broker-dealers have promoted key executives as they seek to maintain their solid footing in an increasingly competitive space, but now both firms also have important vacancies to fill.

Raymond James tapped Scott Curtis, the president of its IBD, to lead both the independent and employee channels as the head of the firm’s private client group. Veteran executive Jodi Perry replaced him atop the IBD, while employee BD President Tash Elwyn became CEO of the unit.

Meanwhile, Commonwealth Financial Network appointed its CFO, Trap Kloman, to move up to COO at the end of the year. Current COO Rich Hunter, who has been with the firm more than 30 years, will step away from day-to-day operations to serve as one of its 13 managing partners.

The firm is “taking a methodical approach” to finding its next CFO, Commonwealth CEO Wayne Bloom says. Meanwhile, Raymond James has reassigned the duties of retiring COO Dennis Zank, according to Curtis, who notes the company is weighing candidates for former RIA head Bill Van Law’s position.

Raymond James Financial Services, the No. 3 IBD by revenue, and Commonwealth, the No. 4 firm, unveiled the executive moves on June 28. LPL Financial, the No. 1 IBD, had announced three days earlier that recruiting head Bill Morrissey will retire later this year and pass his role on to Richard Steinmeier of UBS.

The combined amount across the top 10 firms has jumped 37% to $385.3 million over the past three years.
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Executives at IBDs often move between firms, and the gap between LPL’s $4.28 billion in annual revenue and Ameriprise, its closest rival, narrowed to $21.5 million last year. Raymond James and Commonwealth also each generated double-digit increases in revenue in 2017.

Raymond James and Commonwealth are “traditionally very competitive and very successful” in recruiting advisors, and they maintain “stellar reputations in the marketplace,” says recruiter Jodie Papike of Cross-Search. She notes both firms perform well in J.D. Power’s advisor satisfaction study.

“They both have a reputation of bringing on high quality advisors and they both do a lot to make advisors more efficient and help advisors to grow their practices,” Papike says. “Most advisors feel like the relationship is a true partnership, as opposed to just processing business.”

Having worked with Perry on recruiting moves, Papike also praises her as having “an amazing track record.” Perry has spent 19 years with Raymond James, including the past 11 at the IBD, according to FINRA BrokerCheck. The firm moved her up to president after making her a national director in May.

Elwyn picked up the CEO title on the 3,000-advisor employee side of the 7,600-advisor firm, along with additional regulatory and reporting responsibilities. He had been president of the employee brokerage since 2012 after starting at the firm as an advisor trainee in 1993.

Curtis says the St. Petersburg, Florida-based company doesn’t intend to hire a COO, but it’s currently interviewing internal and outside candidates to take Van Law’s former role atop Raymond James’ investment advisors division. Onetime Fidelity executive Maria Daley is serving in the position on an interim basis.

The combined private client group reached a record in head count, revenue of $1.27 billion and pretax income of $157.6 million in the first quarter, according to Raymond James’ most recent quarterly earnings report. Positive equity markets and technology are working in the firm’s favor, Curtis says.

“From a technology perspective, if you turn the clock back let’s say 20 years, I think the large national employee model firm had an advantage,” Curtis says. “We’re a full-service firm with an integrated suite of technology solutions and resources available to you, whether you’re an independent advisor or an employee advisor.”

Annual revenue at the Waltham, Massachusetts-based Commonwealth has soared by 92% to $1.2 billion over the past six years, according to the firm. In his new role, Hunter, the departing COO, will focus on writing, special projects, mentoring and helping Commonwealth to evolve, the firm says.

In a statement, Bloom called Hunter “a key ingredient in Commonwealth's special sauce” and expressed gratitude for his tenure with the firm. Kloman joined the firm in 2015 after an 11 yeas at LPL, where he had been a senior vice president in the firm’s investor relations division.

His upcoming role, which also includes the title of president of the firm, entails managing the firm’s operational efficiency, communication between divisions, strategy and working with the privately-held IBD’s more than 1,800 advisors, Bloom said in an email.

“Trap scores all 10s across the board, excelling in every category that matters,” Bloom said. “In addition to his exceptional work product, he bleeds Commonwealth and has earned the respect of the staff, the advisors, and all of the other vital members of our community.”

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