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VOL. 127 | NO. 39 | Monday, February 27, 2012

Encouraging Signs

Morgan Keegan employees get glimpse into Raymond James culture

By Andy Meek

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In the weeks since it was announced last month that Raymond James Financial Inc. is paying $930 million to acquire Memphis-based Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc., more than 550 Morgan Keegan employees have trekked down to St. Petersburg, Fla.

Traders work on the equity trading floor at Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. Downtown. Raymond James Financial Inc. is paying $930 million to acquire the Memphis-based company.  

(Photo: Lance Murphey)

That’s the home of Raymond James’ global headquarters, the campus of which those hundreds of Morgan Keegan employees toured in groups over four separate visits Jan. 17, Jan. 31, Feb. 10 and Feb. 14.

They did so because the top brass at Raymond James was eager that they “meet the family.” And they made more than a dozen Raymond James executives available on those days to welcome the Morgan Keegan employees and to introduce them to what they can expect from their new parent company.

“The Raymond James welcome has been overwhelming,” said Dick Ferguson, president of Morgan Keegan’s private client group. “Managers and advisers alike have expressed to me how impressed they were not just with the resources and depth of the firm’s capabilities, but with how genuinely welcoming the Raymond James team has been; how focused everyone is on supporting advisers and making it easy for them to grow their businesses.”

The four visits Morgan Keegan employees made included trips by 57 Morgan Keegan branch managers, a dozen regional and complex managers, 55 top producers and 420 financial advisers along with administrative staff and private client group leadership.

Accompanying the Morgan Keegan visitors were Ferguson and Bill Geary, executive managing director of Morgan Keegan’s private client group.

“I was really impressed with the openness, the candor and the approachability of the Raymond James senior management,” said Jim Burnett, a 12-year Morgan Keegan financial adviser in Memphis. “After a very anxious past six months it will be such a relief to get this behind us and to be with a firm that shares our values. … It really felt like home to me. I am especially looking forward to utilizing the adviser technology, as it appears we will have access to more tools, more integrated client information and more practice management resources.”

Financial advisers from Morgan Keegan, the Memphis investment firm founded in 1969 that today is a major financial player around the country, showed particular interest in a few topics, such as Raymond James’ “By Invitation Only” program for high net worth clients and prospects, its technology offerings and how the two firms’ existing technologies will be integrated.

They also focused on mobile applications, social media, marketing services support and access to customized offerings.

The meetings come at a time Raymond James, which would become the largest investment firm not based on Wall Street once the Morgan Keegan deal closes, is still in the process of acquiring the Memphis firm and getting necessary approvals for the deal. In a regulatory filing, Raymond James said it expects the transaction to close around April 2.

In related news, Raymond James recently announced the pricing of a public offering of 10.5 million shares of common stock at $34 per share. Net proceeds of that public offering will be used to pay part of the purchase price of Raymond James’ acquisition of Morgan Keegan.

The remaining portion of the deal’s purchase price will be paid for using cash on hand and the proceeds of a contemplated public debt offering and/or borrowings under a bridge financing facility.

Hosting its open house in recent days signifies the finish line being in sight on a deal that Raymond James CEO Paul Reilly earlier this month in an interview at the office of Forbes magazine called a “once-in-20-years type of acquisition.”

Reilly added that his firm started off in June being the low bidder in the auction of Morgan Keegan, and months later it found itself in the position of being one of the last ones standing.

In his welcome remarks to Morgan Keegan branch managers during the recent visits and in subsequent presentations, James said he wanted to reinforce Raymond James’ commitment to conservatism in decision making, to independence for the company and for its advisers, and to integrity.

He also recounted the beginnings of the firm founded by his father, Bob James, in 1962 and his father’s commitment to financial planning as a discipline rather than one focused on sales like most other securities firms at the time.

PROPERTY SALES 83 405 4,276
MORTGAGES 104 424 4,814
BUILDING PERMITS 148 883 10,151
BANKRUPTCIES 53 264 3,149