Pre-coronavirus lockdown, Raymond James snagged $900M Merrill Lynch team

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Just days before the coronavirus started forcing U.S. states and cities to ask residents to shelter in place, Raymond James picked up a $900 million team from Merrill Lynch.

The advisors signed with the firm’s independent broker-dealer in Alexandria, Virginia, making it the largest IBD recruiting move announced so far this year, according to data collected by Financial Planning. And it may not be surpassed any time soon, as state and municipal governments escalate efforts to blunt the rising number of coronavirus cases. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam recently ordered his state’s residents to shelter in place.

Like other firms, Raymond James has been forced to change how it operates in order to safeguard employees’ health in face of the fast-spreading pandemic. The St. Petersburg, Florida-based firm has, for example, cancelled corporate conferences, limited access to its offices and permitted employees to work remotely.

More often than not, wirehouses were on the losing side of these moves.
December 30

The coronavirus also disrupted recruiting efforts. Firms have called off home-office visits and advisors have postponed career moves, potentially slowing the strong headcount growth firms like Raymond James have experienced in recent years. At the end of 2019, the firm amassed a record headcount of 8,060 advisors — a net increase of 245, or TK%, from the year-ago period.

Raymond James’ newest hires joined before the pandemic scrambled normal life, signing on with the firm Feb. 28, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. The team includes advisors Neil Goetzman, Jeffrey Nau and Gerald Lyon as well as registered client service associate Kathy Trzaskoma. Goetzman pointed to Raymond James’ corporate culture and the firm’s focus on wealth management as reasons the group left Merrill.

“It’s clear their resources are designed with advisors in mind and that the support staff and functions throughout the firm are not only knowledgeable, but also extremely accessible and willing to help,” Goetzman said in a statement. “We feel Raymond James is the perfect complement to our clients and our team, and we are excited to have them as our partner in serving our clients.”

The advisors spent their entire financial services careers with Merrill before the independent move. .

Goetzman started his career at the wirehouse more than 30 years ago. Nau began at Merrill in 1999, while Lyon made his debut in 2006. Lyon partnered with Goetzman and Nau in 2012, according to Raymond James. Registered Client Service Associate Carrie Decker also moved with them.

The firm also said it picked up a $200 million team in January. Advisors Mark Killingsworth and Stephen Vessey left Wells Fargo to join Raymond James’ IBD in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

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