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VOL. 127 | NO. 70 | Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Chapters

City’s investment firms deal with change

By Andy Meek

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It’s a new day at prominent investment firms in Memphis. Different degrees of change are on tap at Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc., Duncan-Williams Inc. and Wunderlich Securities Inc. And though it’s reshaping the inner workings of those firms at the moment, some of those changes also could have an impact on the city around them.

Traders work on the equity trading floor at Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. The firm joins Duncan-Williams Inc. and Wunderlich Securities Inc. as local investment firms experiencing change.  

(Daily News File Photo: Lance Murphey)

One obvious example is at Morgan Keegan, the longtime Memphis-based investment banking arm of Alabama-based Regions Financial Corp. that’s now officially owned by a Florida firm, Raymond James Financial Inc. That acquisition, the result of months-long sales talks, has resulted in dozens of job losses in Memphis, even though both firms promise customers won’t feel an impact.

“Tantamount to (our) success is a focus on you and your financial adviser,” Raymond James CEO Paul Reilly tells clients in a video posted on the Morgan Keegan website. “Your financial adviser won’t change. You will continue to get the high quality service you’ve come to expect from Morgan Keegan. Over time, you’ll experience more products, broader service and innovative technologies that will help you and your financial advisers continue to grow and do your financial planning.”

A Raymond James spokesman would not comment on the possibility of additional job cuts in the future as Morgan Keegan operations get fully merged into Raymond James over the course of the year. Also, Memphis might not keep the tennis tournament here that has long carried Morgan Keegan’s name.

A Raymond James spokesman earlier this month said a decision has not yet been made on continuing sponsorship of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championship tennis tournament.

According to Sports Business Journal, though, IMG has agreed to buy the tournament and relocate it to Rio de Janeiro.

What’s more, the Morgan Keegan brand will continue to evolve.

“In the coming months, you will begin to see references on our website, account statements, marketing and other materials transition to a new brand: Raymond James | Morgan Keegan,” reads a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document for customers on the Morgan Keegan website. “This brand represents the strength of our combined firm and serves as a reminder of the continuity of your relationship with Morgan Keegan. As Morgan Keegan and Raymond James fully merge, we will eventually operate under the Raymond James name.”

Morgan Keegan and Raymond James branches in the same cities won’t be consolidated – for now. They’ll continue operating separately for the time being.

“In the coming months, you will begin to see ... transition to a new brand: Raymond James | Morgan Keegan.”

Also, Morgan Keegan essentially shut down its Equity Research Department as a result of the acquisition, since a majority of the stocks covered by Morgan Keegan are also covered by Raymond James.

Meanwhile, Duncan-Williams is celebrating its 43rd anniversary this month. Firm president Duncan Williams this month will give the speech to employees companywide that he presents every year, recapping the previous 12 months and talking about what’s made the company’s “great things” list.

The firm has an updated website with large and more community- and family-oriented photos. Its tagline also has been changed from “A firm understanding” to “Do well.”

Williams also has some major plans in the works he can’t discuss yet that portend a strong 2012 for the firm, which was founded by his father, A. Duncan Williams.

“Our infrastructure’s being built around growth and adding people,” said Williams, whose firm at the end of 2011 extended its lease in East Memphis’ Forum office park for 12 years.

The firm is effectively doubling its square footage as a result of the deal.

“I don’t know many companies that have leased 20,000 square feet in this market,” Williams said. “We’re also getting more calls today than we were 30 days ago.”

In other news, Wunderlich has been expanding, too. The firm has expanded its private client group in Houston by adding to the firm a financial group comprised of three people in Houston with $65 million in assets under administration.

They include D. Lynn Houston, Matthew Houston and Sandra Jolly.

Wunderlich also has been hiring advisers around the country. Earlier this year, new financial advisers joined the firm in Chicago, St. Louis, Little Rock, Ark., and Memphis.

“Wunderlich is committed to continuing its vision of growth through the hiring of advisers that want the benefits of a regional firm culture with a full range of products, services, and state-of-the-art technology,” Wunderlich CEO Gary Wunderlich said.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 74 312 10,190
MORTGAGES 103 400 13,275
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 16 76 2,614
BUILDING PERMITS 221 783 24,307
BANKRUPTCIES 72 299 9,832
BUSINESS LICENSES 39 110 3,713
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 129 519 14,482
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