Magazine article American Banker

Raymond James: Adviser Stability and More Loans

Magazine article American Banker

Raymond James: Adviser Stability and More Loans

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Ackermann

After a wild 2009 the movement of financial advisers from wire houses to independent channels is "stabilizing," Raymond James Financial Inc.'s top executive said Thursday.

"I don't think we are going to be, as an industry, seeing the kind of movement in terms of advisers that we saw last year," Thomas A. James, the St. Petersburg, Fla., company's chairman and chief executive officer, said during its quarterly conference call.

Raymond James Financial reported late Wednesday that fourth-quarter profits declined 20% from a year earlier, to $49 million, or 39 cents a share.

KBW Inc. said last week that, though it remains cautious on Raymond James' bank unit, it thinks growth opportunities exist in other business segments, including the asset and wealth management businesses. Assets under management shrank 19%, to $14.7 billion, from a year earlier, but client assets under administration grew 36%, to $232 billion.

Executives at other large wealth management companies - including Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch - have also said they think adviser movement is stabilizing. But Geoffrey Bobroff of Bobroff Consulting in East Greenwich, R.I., said that all of this might be wishful thinking or just lip service.

"Everyone wants to believe that they are stable, and from a practical standpoint, that could be a desire to talk it up by talking it down," he said. "With volumes down, one has to assume that people aren't seeing the same activity, and they are starting to think about what they can do differently, and that might mean moving."

James said that productivity per adviser was down 16% to 17% from a year earlier but that assets are recovering.

Chet Helck, the company's chief operating officer, said that productivity has been hampered by retail investors' fears of a "double-dip" recession. …

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