Raymond James and Ameriprise saw strong recruiting in 2017, vow to stay in broker protocol

Raymond James' recruiting up 5.7%, while Ameriprise gains 2.3%

Jan 25, 2018 @ 2:28 pm

By Bruce Kelly

Coming off strong recruiting years, Raymond James Financial Inc. and Ameriprise Financial Inc. said Thursday they intend to stay in the protocol for broker recruiting.

Raymond James had 7,537 advisers under its roof at the end of December, an increase of 5.7% from the end of 2016 when it had 7,128 advisers, according to its fourth-quarter earnings report.

Ameriprise had 9,896 advisers at the end of 2017, a 2.3% increase over the end of 2016, when it reported 9,675, according to its quarterly earnings report.

During investor calls Thursday morning, the CEOs of both firms made clear that they favored the broker protocol, which makes it easier for brokers and advisers to move from one broker-dealer to another.

Paul Reilly, CEO of Raymond James, gave full-throated approval of the protocol.

"At Raymond James we are steadfast supporters of the broker protocol," Mr. Reilly said. "While a few large firms in our industry exited the protocol for broker recruiting during the quarter, Raymond James remains committed to supporting the agreement, as we believe the integrity of the adviser-client relationship is integral to putting clients' interests first."

"We are in the protocol and remaining in," said James Cracchiolo, CEO of Ameriprise.

Those statements contrast with the positions recently taken Morgan Stanley, UBS Wealth Management Americas and Citigroup Global Markets.

Turning the business of recruiting experienced advisers on its head, Morgan Stanley said at the end of October it was leaving the agreement. About a month later, UBS Wealth Management Americas said it was following Morgan Stanley's lead. Citigroup announced it was leaving near the end of December.

Morgan Stanley and UBS this month reported they had net decreases of advisers last year, with Morgan Stanley reporting a decline of 51, a loss of less than half of 1%, and UBS a drop of 203, or 2.9%. Morgan Stanley saw the largest net decline of advisers during the fourth quarter of 2017, the same time it announced it was leaving the protocol.

Agreed to in 2004, the broker protocol makes it easier for brokers to move to new firms by allowing them to carry a limited amount of client information during the transition. It also cuts down on costly legal fees by limiting lawsuits against brokers when they change firms.

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