A meaningful commitment to the community
A conversation with Andrea Masterson, director of corporate responsibility
Q. Can you give us a brief introduction to corporate responsibility at Raymond James?
A. We see corporate responsibility as the intersection between how we operate and the values we live by. By focusing on people, governance, sustainability and community, our goal is to live the values that built our culture and set us on the path of a successful business.
Q. The firm’s Wealth Management Associate Program is a finalist for a Wealth Management Industry award in the Corporate Social Responsibility category. Can you tell us about the program?
A. The Wealth Management Associate Program (Wealth MAP) provides an opportunity for professionals interested in becoming financial advisors to gain more experience and knowledge before joining the firm’s formal new advisor training program. The goal of the program is to create a diverse population of associates. It enables us to be thoughtful about diversity and inclusion, which is material to who we are as a business.
On the topic of diversity and inclusion, we also have a Women Financial Advisors Network that just celebrated its 25th anniversary and an extremely engaged Black Financial Advisors Network. And in June, we announced the official launch of the Pride Financial Advisors Network for LGBT+ financial advisors and their allies.
Q. What other corporate responsibility initiatives is the firm focused on?
A. We’ve been giving back since the inception of the firm in 1962 and this is an integral part of our culture. In addition to the contributions we make on an ongoing basis to our Raymond James Cares partners, this spring we made a $1.5 million commitment in response to COVID-19 to help address food insecurity and healthcare in communities where we have a significant footprint. We also committed a $1.5 million investment in the Black community as part of a five-point pledge centered on a long-term plan that focuses on our internal opportunities and also how we can support the communities where we live and work. Our goal is to avoid just writing a check and moving on. We want to ensure a meaningful investment and a long-term impact.
Our commitment to sustainability includes both sustainable investing and environmental sustainability. The firm’s approach to sustainable investing is collaborative in nature across all business segments and heavily influenced by advisor feedback. When it comes to environmental sustainability, we also have really excellent associate engagement and volunteerism, including sustainability fairs and lunch and learns. Our efforts focus on reducing our carbon footprint in our offices and throughout our value chain while engaging associates at all levels.
Q. What are some of the most fulfilling aspects of the work you do?
A. I’ve been doing this type of work for nearly 15 years, and I always say that I get to see the best in everyone I work with. I can’t express how impactful it was for me in April, while we were all still in quarantine, to see the response to our drive-up food collection to support the Tampa Bay community. We expected a small amount, and we collected 10,000 pounds of food from Raymond James associates. It exceeded all expectations from our charity partners.
Q. Do you foresee corporate responsibility gaining importance as more employees want to work for ethically and socially responsible companies?
A. There has never been a moment in time that has better illustrated the importance of corporate responsibility than right now. How companies like Raymond James respond when the world shuts down … to immediately pivot to a virtual workforce with little to no disruption to the business is a combination of our governance practices and our focus on people. We ensured that our people are safe, with the resources to be successful and cared for. Our focus on people during our COVID-19 response has led to our ability to be productive and sustainable. We’re not saying we’re perfect, but we acknowledge corporate responsibility is a component to the longevity of our firm.
Sustainable investing may result in investment returns that may be lower or higher than if decisions were based solely on investment considerations.