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.

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