Robo advice may be all the rage in parts of the industry – but not at Raymond James Financial Services.

Where exactly does automated investment management fit in at Raymond James following the much ballyhooed roll-out of Schwab’s Intelligent Portfolios service for advisors and consumers – as well as the plethora of similar digital platforms being launched throughout the industry?

“It doesn’t,” says Scott Curtis, president of the financial service firm’s independent broker-dealer channel. “We’re betting on financial advisors and personalized financial advice delivered by people.”

After delivering a keynote address to over 1,800 advisors in Las Vegas at RJFS’ annual professional development conference, Curtis made clear in a phone interview that the company was not ignoring technology, but it will be used as a complement to their advisors, not a replacement.  "Client expectations are changing, and it’s being driven by technology," he says.


Technology is changing so much, in fact, that he describes it as a "call to action" when he talks to advisors.

"We have to make sure clients have easier access to information regarding their financial well-being. That includes areas like access to our online portal, account aggregation and external assets and e-signatures. Advisors have to learn these technologies and embrace them, because clients now expect it.” 

Continued growth of advisor practices is Raymond James’ primary goal for 2015, with an emphasis on boosting assets and revenues, retaining advisors and recruiting, Curtis says.

He pointed to a 52% increase in RJFS client assets to $205 billion at the end of last year from $135 billion in 2010 and a 65% jump in total revenue to $1.5 billion in 2014 from $945 million in 2010.

Advisor count has remained steady: Raymond James has about 3,380 advisors today, only 150 more than it did five years ago.


But RJFS wants high quality advisors, not just a bigger head count, according to Curtis.

The firm’s stability and reputation are a big draw for advisors who are “dissatisfied” with their current IBD, he asserts.

RJFS doesn’t require a minimum book of business and is eager to pair an incoming younger advisor to a current advisor looking for a successor, Curtis says. As for recruiting deals, RJFS “won’t pay as much as those who pay the most,” but will be “competitive” in a tough seller’s market, he says.

Major acquisitions aren’t likely this year, according to Curtis. “There’s not much out there that’s a good fit,” he says.

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