ON THE MOVE-Wells Fargo duo goes independent, joins Raymond James

Mon Jan 7, 2013 11:34am EST

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Jan 7 (Reuters) - Raymond James Financial Inc has bolstered its independent adviser footprint in Maryland with a veteran duo that joined the broker-dealer from Wells Fargo & Co .

After more than three decades in the brokerage industry, adviser Carolyn Meakem and her daughter Traci Meakem Richmond moved to Raymond James to open their own practice. The duo, based just outside of Washington, D.C. in the Maryland suburb of Bethesda, managed more than $200 million in client assets and had $2 million in annual revenue production at Wells Fargo.

"We knew it was going to be a big investment and risk with the transition, and we feel it's been well worth it to have our clients feel better," said Richmond in an interview on Monday.

Richmond said a part of their decision to move was to break away from the big bank-brokerage model, which was a point of frustration for some of their clients who disliked the idea of keeping their assets with a company that received government bailout money.

"They were really glad to hear that Raymond James didn't take TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money," she said. "Clients just really don't like that."

Wells Fargo declined to comment on the departure.

The Meakem Group, as the advisers now call their independent firm, joined Raymond James Financial Services Inc, the company's independent broker-dealer division which caters to advisers who also function as business owners. Richmond said the biggest change has been the ease of access to senior management at Raymond James, which is based in St. Petersburg, Florida.

"It couldn't have been easier to access the upper level and that was the marked difference," she said.

And the move has already begun to pay off. Richmond said in the roughly three months since they joined Raymond James, she and her mom have already added two new clients who said they decided to join as a result of their move.

Raymond James last year added at least 54 veteran advisers who managed roughly $5.9 billion in client assets at their old firms. More than half of those new recruits came from large bank-owned brokerages.

The company also has a traditional employee broker-dealer division in the United States and smaller brokerage units in Canada and Britain. Together with its broker-dealer subsidiaries, Raymond James has more than 6,300 advisers managing $389 billion in client assets.

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