Raymond James Financial said that it has extended its retention package offers to eligible Morgan Keegan financial advisors with $300,000 and more in gross production.

The announcement by St. Petersburg-based Raymond James marks the firm’s first public comments on the terms of those bonuses since it agreed to acquire Morgan Keegan for $930 million earlier this month. At that time, Raymond James said it had $215 million in retention payments earmarked for certain Morgan Keegan employees.

News of the acquisition immediately sparked speculation as to how large those retention payments could be for Morgan Keegan’s financial advisors, who weathered six months of uncertainty with the hopes they could prosper from an acquisition of their firm. Morgan Keegan’s parent company, Regions Financial, put Morgan Keegan up for sale in June.

In its announcement, Raymond James said it has prepared retention bonuses in five graduated levels of awards starting from $300,000. The firm declined to provide more details on those levels.

However, on Wednesday, On Wall Street spoke with Armstrong Financial Group Senior Executive Recruiter Ron Edde, who detailed some of the terms of those retention offers from his sources at both firms, including a 50% payout for producers from $500,000 to $1 million.

Raymond James said its retention bonuses are set to be paid within to weeks of the transaction’s close, or around April 1. The retention period will total seven years with vesting scheduled to begin at the end of the second year, the firm stated.

Terms of those retention offers will include a cash award. Eligible financial advisors can decide to take part of that award in Raymond James Financial restricted stock units.

The package also includes participation in Raymond James’s employee benefits program, which includes 401(k), stock purchase plans, employee stock ownership and profit sharing. Advisors who qualify will also have access to stock option awards, long-term incentives and other retention bonus programs.

“We believe that the retention being offered to Morgan Keegan advisors is similar to retention offers in recent industry transactions of this type,” Raymond James Chief Operating Officer Dennis Zank said in a statement. “While industry norms suggest that retention offers are made only to advisors with more than $500,000 in production, Raymond James and Morgan Keegan managements have determined to offer retention to advisors with $300,000 or more in gross production.”

News of the retention payment offers come as Raymond James also revealed Thursday morning in its quarterly earnings call that it plans to continue to focus on recruiting and organic growth for both its employee and independent wealth advisory channels while the acquisition is pending.

Raymond James’s deal to buy Morgan Keegan is already off to a good start, Raymond James Chief Executive Paul Reilly said during the call.

“Meetings are going very well,” Reilly said in the call. “So we’re very, very early in the process, and I’m sure there’ll be bumps along the road, but so far [it’s] very, very good,” he added. “All indications are the culture fit that we were anticipating has been spot on.”

Since that announcement of the deal nine days ago, Morgan Keegan’s top 13 managers have agreed to stay on with the firm, Reilly said.

Raymond James has hosted a meeting with all of Morgan Keegan’s 85 branch managers, where they were able to discuss the fit and Raymond James’s platform.

The firms’ technology and operations forces have also met to go through the technology, operations, regulatory and compliance integration. The equity capital markets and fixed income units also have had their own meetings, according to Reilly.

“We’re very, very focused on the transition, getting people on board and moving forward,” Reilly said.

Lorie Konish writes for On Wall Street.



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