The community, regional bank and thrift industry is expected to enter a period of consolidation, so Raymond James Financial [RJF] is betting that its pending acquisition of Howe Barnes Hoefer & Arnett will enable it to get a leg up on the competition in those sectors.

The St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Raymond James announced this morning that it has agreed to buy Barnes Howe Hoefer & Arnett, a Chicago-based middle-market brokerage firm. The Chicago-based firm is a privately held company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Raymond James expects to close the deal by the end of March.

Paul Reilly, chief executive officer of Raymond James Financial, said the acquisition reflects the company’s growth strategy by adding to its private client presence in some key markets, and by expanding its capital markets reach.

“The Howe Barnes professionals bolster our existing expertise in the financial institutions sector—an area of focus for our capital markets team.”

Raymond James contained its comments to the statement. Howe Barnes did not return a call seeking further comment by press time.

Howe Barnes chairman and chief executive officer Dan Coughlin will join Raymond James as a managing director of investment banking and will co-head the Raymond James Financial Institutions practice with managing director Patrick DeLacey. The Chicago-based brokerage provides private wealth management advice and solutions to more than 4,500 clients and oversees more than $1.9 billion in assets under management. It is also provides research, sales, trading and investment banking services to depository institutions.

“Howe Barnes’ overall practice is well-aligned with Raymond James’ existing investment banking, research, ales and trading businesses,” Patrick DeLacey said in a statement.  “We are excited by the prospects of bringing our complete product offering, including financial advisory, equity and fixed income brokerage, and wealth management services, to Howe Barnes’ clients.”

At press time, it was not clear how the 115 associates at Barnes Howe Hoefer & Arnett would be sorted up once they come under the Raymond James banner. Raymond James operates an asset custody business for independent registered investment advisors, as well as a traditional brokerage unit.