| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Feb 28 Brokerage firms often flaunt
their success at recruiting million-dollar advisers, but Raymond
James Financial Inc went further this week by giving
some new hires a platform for panning their former bank-owned
The St. Petersburg, Florida-based company has generally
eschewed public disparagement of competitors, a spokeswoman
said, but the anti-bank refrain among veteran brokers is so
commonplace these days that it seems appropriate to acknowledge.
On Thursday, Raymond James issued a press release about a
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, adviser who joined on Feb. 21 after 31
years at Merrill Lynch, which is owned by Bank of America Corp
. He and a partner who came with him managed more than
$162 million in client assets at Merrill and generated more than
$1 million annually in fees and commissions, according to the
"Raymond James reminds me of the firm I started with years
ago," Thomas Dedrick said in the release. "It's a firm with no
outside influences or pressures. Many bank-owned broker/dealers
are going in another direction ... which is counter to what is
best for our clients and counter to what we do as
A Bank of America spokeswoman confirmed that Dedrick and his
partner, Pam Franklin, had left, but declined to comment
Dedrick, who with Franklin had about 600 clients at Merrill,
said in an interview that many of the bank products and services
they were encouraged to sell were not appropriate for their
clients in a city that has no local Bank of America branch.
He also said service for advisers, such as help desks for
resolving questions about retirement accounts, had waned since
Bank of America bought Merrill Lynch in January 2009. "It was
taking a good bit longer to get things done because they had
shrunk a number of areas that we relied on," he said.
On Wednesday, Raymond James announced the arrival of Ann
Fleming and Thomas Turnbaugh, who spent a total of 52 years at
Wells Fargo Advisors and its predecessors, to its Bartlett,
Illinois, branch. They, too, brought in more than $1 million of
revenue for the Wells Fargo & Co unit last year and
managed almost $140 million for clients.
"While we sought the products and services of a
sophisticated investment firm, we did not want it to be
bank-owned, so we were delighted to discover that Raymond James
owns a bank, not the other way around," Fleming said in the
A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo Advisors did not return a
call seeking comment.
WANTED: LONGTIME BROKERS
Raymond James, which is gradually expanding from the
southeastern United States to California, the Northwest and the
Northeast and owns a small bank where it holds clients' cash, is
a relatively small brokerage.
But the company is aggressively recruiting veteran brokers
close to retirement who seek a transitional compensation package
and consistent service for their clients after they leave.
Tash Elwyn, president of Raymond James' branch system, told
analysts this month that the program enables the company to
build client assets rapidly.
When BofA bought Merrill and Wells acquired the former
Wachovia Corp in the aftermath of the financial crisis, many
brokers feared they would be slowed by bureaucracy and a loss of
Some still complain, and recruiters for nonbank firms still
wave the cultural flag to lure brokers from Merrill and Wells
Fargo. But five years later, most brokers at the banks have
settled into situations where they are rewarded for
collaborative selling and cross-marketing of services.
The branch brokerage sales forces of Merrill Lynch, at just
under 14,000, and Wells Fargo Advisors, at about 11,000,
overwhelm the approximately 2,400 at Raymond James & Associates,
the Raymond James branch system.
Individual brokers at Raymond James, however, have a much
more significant impact on the bottom line than do those who
work at BofA, the second-largest U.S. bank company, and Wells,
The private client group of Raymond James contributed 63
percent of its parent's revenue and 41 percent of profit in the
year that ended in September.
Merrill Lynch's global wealth and investment management
group provided 18.6 percent of revenue and 19.6 percent of net
income at BofA last year.
Wells Fargo's wealth, brokerage and retirement group
contributed 20.5 percent of its parent bank's revenue and 7.8
percent of profit in 2013.
Anthea Penrose, public relations manager for Raymond James'
retail brokerage franchise, said the company was not
deliberately attacking larger competitors but was accurately
reflecting current attitudes.
"We have almost prohibited advisers from knocking the
competition in the past," she said, "but this talk about banks
has been such a prevalent refrain lately that we're OK letting
them say that."