Raymond James (RJF) said Wednesday that it was hosting meetings between its top executives and 80-plus Morgan Keegan branch managers and administrative staff. The aim is to make Morgan Keegan reps and others comfortable with the broker-dealer’s new parent company, which agreed to buy the firm on Jan. 11 from Regions Financial (RF) in a $930 million stock transaction.
“We wish to reinforce Raymond James’ commitment to conservatism in decision making, to independence for the company and for its advisors, and to integrity, which cements the relationship of trust with clients and is integral to long-term success,” said Chairman Tom James in his welcoming remarks, which were shared with the media in a press release.
After the first day’s sessions, Dick Ferguson, president of Morgan Keegan’s private-client group, said in a statement, “The Raymond James welcome and agenda have been overwhelming. Manager after manager has expressed to me how impressed they are not just with the resources and depth of the firm’s capabilities, but with how genuinely welcoming the Raymond James team has been; how focused everyone is on supporting advisors and making it easy for them grow their businesses.”
According to Raymond James, the Morgan Keegan managers it is meeting with represent the firm’s 57 full-service offices in 20 states and more than 1,000 advisors. Once the merge is wrapped up as planned by March 30, Raymond James’ advisor force could swell from about 5,400 worldwide to over 6,000.
“These meetings have helped to show our managers that Raymond James is run a lot like Morgan Keegan,” said Bill Geary, head of the private-client group for Morgan Keegan, in a statement. “We’re confident that Raymond James offers the kind of environment where our financial advisors can be very successful.”
At the end of the discussions, Raymond James executives said they felt that the Morgan Keegan branch managers and others had a better understanding of the St. Petersburg, Fla.-company’s culture and the blending of the two firms. “After answering many of their questions, I truly believe the Morgan Keegan professionals have been reassured of Raymond James commitment to client service and to an advisor-focused culture,” said Chet Helck, CEO of Raymond James Global Private Client Group, in a press release.
Recruiters and other industry observers are watching how Raymond James courts and retains both advisors and executives. “Raymond James has to come up with a package that is very, very competitive, show the Morgan Keegan advisors that the Raymond James’ platform and environment make sense for them, and then go head to head with the wirehouses, which have lots more money and strong brands,” said recruiter Rick Peterson in an interview, after the merger was announced last week.
For his part, Morgan Keegan branch manager Rob Brewer, who manages 11 advisors in Lexington, Ky., said he was eager to meet with his reps about this week’s discussions with Raymond James. “I am particularly excited about their commitment to advisor technology and the integration and simplification of the desktop,” he said in a statement. “These tools will help our FAs better serve the needs of their clients.”