Raymond James' exec sees record recruiting year for top advisers

NEW YORK, July 11 Fri Jul 11, 2014 5:20pm EDT

NEW YORK, July 11 (Reuters) - U.S. investment bank and brokerage firm Raymond James Financial expects 2014 to be its best recruiting year since the global financial crisis, at a time when top brokers are reluctant to change jobs, a senior executive at the firm said.

Tash Elwyn, president of Raymond James & Associates Private Client Group, said he expects to hire more advisers with a strong track record of generating revenue in 2014 than any time in the last five years. However, the firm may not end the year with more net new advisers than in 2013.

"We are well on pace for the best recruiting year ever, with the exception of 2008-2009, which was an anomaly," said Elwyn, who oversees the branch-based arm of the parent brokerage firm Raymond James Financial, in an interview on Wednesday.

Raymond James' roughly 6,200 financial advisers manage $462 billion in assets, in its traditional retail branches as well as broker-dealer offices that are owned by independent contractors.

In 2008 and 2009, when the financial crisis drove many advisers to take their clients and move, the firm attracted hundreds of brokers away from the industry's four largest firms, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Corp's Merrill Lynch unit, Wells Fargo Advisors and UBS AG's U.S. Wealth Management Americas.

A Raymond James spokeswoman declined to specify hiring numbers for 2008 and 2009.

For the first time since then, Elwyn said he expects an increase, of 50 percent this year over 2013, in the amount of trailing-12-months' revenue produced by new hires.

Raymond James this year has hired at least 28 new financial advisers, who produced about $40.4 million in trailing-12-months' revenue at their previous firms. In 2013 its 60 new financial advisers had about $30.4 million of revenue for the comparable period.

This year's new advisers come from all top four U.S. brokerages as well as independent broker dealers and registered investment advisers, Reuters data show.

"They have a big recruiting sales force and they're aggressive," said Frank LaRosa, a former complex director for Morgan Stanley who heads Elite Recruiting & Consulting and has recruited advisers for Raymond James.

Raymond James offers signing bonuses for advisers hired to its retail branch that are in line with the industry and which top out near 150 percent of an adviser's trailing-12-months' revenue.

Unlike many other competitors, Raymond James allows its advisers to take their book of clients with them when they leave the firm.

(Reporting By Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Richard Chang)

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