Scott Curtis, leader of Raymond James’ independent advisory arm, received a call yesterday from one independent financial advisor looking to transition her practice to Raymond James by teaming up with one of its financial advisors.

The transaction would take place in two steps, first with the acquisition of the Raymond James & Associates practice in the firm’s employee-based channel, which would then be moved to the firm’s independent side to suit the acquiring advisor’s preference.

That possible new marriage of practices is one that is made possible by Raymond James’ business model that includes both independent and employee channel financial advisory practices, both Curtis and other Raymond James executives said Thursday in an interview from the firm’s annual Women’s Symposium.

Phone calls regarding similar practice acquisition deals are becoming more common since Raymond James expanded its practice acquisitions and succession planning department earlier this year, according to Curtis. That new department is currently staffed with four associates who help the firm’s advisors develop succession plans and strategies to acquire practices at other firms.

“It’s not up to us to decide what happens if something tragic happens to the advisor or the advisor chooses to retire,” Curtis said. “But it’s up to the advisor to decide what will become of their clients and how they will be succeeded.”

The program is also aimed at giving Raymond James advisors more options as to the possible combinations they can come up with when developing succession plans.

“If you’re a retiring financial advisor who works as an employee in the branch office, typically your pool of candidates are the employees who sit around you in that office,” said Chet Helck, executive vice president at Raymond James Financial and CEO of the Global Private Client Group.

“Because of the way we work this business and open our architecture, his advisors can select from a pool of candidates that are either independent contractors, work in community banks, are located all over the country, or are with another firm and can come here and put any business model together they want,” Helck said.

That new development comes as Raymond James has seen its profile raised with potential new financial advisor recruits this past fiscal year. The firm met its recruitment projections for that year that ended in September, Helck said, while the pace has picked up even more in October, the first month of fiscal year 2013.

“You can’t predict how things are going to go, but at the moment, the tide is rolling our way,” said Helck, who declined to elaborate on specific numbers of recruits.

The firm’s recruitment strategy has also been bolstered by the acquisition of Morgan Keegan that closed earlier this year and now contributes to its overall hiring tally. In particular, it has opened new opportunities for advisors who want to join Raymond James in its newly acquired Morgan Keegan branches where it did not previously have offices before.

Since the Morgan Keegan transaction, Raymond James & Associates has expanded the number of local areas where it has offices by about one-third, said Tash Elwyn, who heads that employee channel business. But Raymond James is still emphasizing fit for all of its businesses when it comes to hiring.  

“Our emphasis is on the quality of the advisors that we’re affiliating with, and not just necessarily, as you often see elsewhere, the quantity of people,” Elwyn said.

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