Coronavirus lockdown: Raymond James won’t rush advisors back to the office

Raymond James won’t rush to restaff advisors even lockdown restrictions are lifted, citing health concerns. “While conditions might be improving in some parts of the world, we must be mindful that that isn’t everywhere,” CEO Paul Reilly said.
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Even as some states lift lockdown restrictions enacted to stem the tide of coronavirus contamination, the 8,000-plus advisors at Raymond James should not expect a swift return to their branches.

“We will be slow and deliberate about bringing associates back to the office,” CEO Paul Reilly said during an earnings call April 30.

Reilly’s cautious approach is shared by other wealth management leaders, indicating that a return to business as usual is not around the corner for tens of thousands of advisors and their clients.

The Raymond James chief executive pointed to ongoing health risks to his employees as his top concern. “While conditions might be improving in some parts of the world, we must be mindful that that isn’t everywhere,” Reilly said.

Like Raymond James, UBS will take a cautious approach to restaffing branches, according to a person familiar with the matter. “We might have gone from 10% to 90% working out of the office in a month. But it isn’t going to be that fast going back in,” the person said.

States including Georgia and Texas have moved to reopen their economies, drawing criticism from some quarters that such measures may be premature given the health risks associated with the coronavirus.

The firm is making changes to its small household policy, which it had previously tightened prior to the current public health crisis.
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Even if more governors lift shelter-in-place orders, getting employees to return to the office will be complicated. Branches may need deep cleanings. Office landlords might not reopen buildings immediately. Employees may have to care for sick family members or children whose schools are shuttered for the remaining academic year.

Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, who contracted coronavirus in March, said his firm would follow guidance from health and government authorities, noting that his 15,000 advisors were successfully working remotely.

“I’m one of the fortunate people to have had the disease, but not to be hospitalized. Unfortunately, there are many thousands of people who have not had that outcome,” Gorman said during an earnings call in April.

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