Growth of the division
“The best demonstrate over and over again a willingness to get out of their comfort zone and take the steps that create real results and real growth.” - Tash Elwyn, President and CEO, Raymond James & Associates
Q. With your climb from cold caller in Atlanta to president of Raymond James & Associates, you have held a few positions in our firm. What have you learned along the way?
A. I’ve learned one never stops learning. I enjoy the challenge of getting outside of my comfort zone to gain new experiences and business and life lessons. A day without new experiences is a missed opportunity. I’ve also learned, as well as witnessed, over my 20 years with Raymond James that we have a tremendous opportunity as financial advisors to make a difference in the lives of our clients. This is a noble profession, and we should be proud of our contributions to our communities and society.
Q. In addition to your other responsibilities, you are proactive when it comes to recruiting and try to meet with every advisor who visits our home office. Why?
A. I’m passionate about our story and demonstrating to advisors that no matter how commoditized products and cultures have become throughout the profession, Raymond James is different. By helping advisors recognize these differences, we arm them with the information they need to understand how our unique strengths can better serve their clients and their business. Plus, many of these advisors ultimately join Raymond James. Spending time with them from day one begins the process of building the lasting relationships that help to perpetuate our culture of accessibility.
Q. Meeting with advisors, I can imagine that you hear best practices they use to power their growth. Are there any common threads you might share?
A. One common thread is execution. The best in our industry have figured out that, while it’s important to optimize marketing and practice management strategies, it’s far more important to simply execute. The best demonstrate over and over again a willingness to get out of their comfort zone and take the steps that create real results and real growth.
Q. How about the other side of that coin? What are you seeing that makes you scratch your head a little bit?
A. The most frustrating thing I witness is when I meet with an advisor or team and hear them agree we have a better culture, stronger support, a great platform and a more competitive compensation plan, yet they just can’t make a change. It is as if their fear of change is so powerful they would rather tolerate a situation that, by their own admission, shows no signs of getting better. Our greatest success stories come from those who are thoughtful enough to weigh their options, decisive enough to make a decision and strong enough to have the courage to say, “I am making a change because it is the right thing to do for my clients, my business and my family.”
Q. Paul Reilly has said numerous times that growth in the Western United States is a priority for us. What do you see as our biggest impediment to success in these markets?
A. While we’ve had success with our independent contractor affiliation option in the West, we still have some work to do in educating advisors about who Raymond James & Associates is. We need advisors to understand that we’re a service firm that is superior by almost any measure to the alternatives today. As we share the employee affiliation option with advisors out West, we’re seeing great interest and improving success, as evidenced by our 10 traditional private client group branches opened in California over the last five years or so. As we accomplish our goal of making Raymond James more well-known, we need to get the message out that Raymond James can’t be placed side by side on a spreadsheet. There is much more to this firm.
Q. How do you mean that?
A. Well, how do you put on a spreadsheet things like qualifying for your own assistant at a production level almost half that of the firms we usually compete against? How do you quantify the impact our lower client fees, significant investment in mobile technology and commitment to continuous advisor training will have on an advisor’s practice?
Q. That’s a tall order.
A. It’s a tall order until they visit us in St. Petersburg, spend some time with people they will interface with every day and see that maybe our distance from New York and freedom from bank influence are meaningful advantages. If an advisor is considering a change, even if the decision is a few years away, I would suggest they owe it to their clients and their practice to experience firsthand why Raymond James is truly the premier alternative to Wall Street. Our firm is big enough to have the tools, technology and resources they need to effectively serve their clients, yet small enough to have successfully preserved the culture many of us grew up with. Investing the time to understand who we are has zero downside and they just might discover, as we have, that Raymond James is an exceptional place to call home. Thank you, Tash. Always a pleasure.