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Raymond James Plans ‘Match.com’ for Retiring Advisors and Successors

By Mrinalini Krishna May 3, 2019

Raymond James is working on a new way to connect advisors and their potential successors, Scott Curtis, president of the firm’s Private Clients Group, told reporters on Thursday. The firm aims to roll out the platform by the end of the 2019.

“I call it kind of an eHarmony or a Match.com because the sellers and the buyers are going to have to create profiles on it, and then the sellers are going to be able to review the potential acquirers’ profiles and then reach out to those folks, if they’re interested in pursuing a conversation with them,” Curtis said, adding that the platform was the result of demand and requests from advisors themselves.

In 2018, Boston-based Cerulli Associates found close to 28% of advisors wanting to retire over the next 10 years had no succession plan.

“The way the market is today, there’s lots of demand to acquire practices. It’s a great growth strategy. And given the aging demographic there will be a lot more advisors who are looking to exit,” Robert Goff, vice president of succession and acquisition consulting at Raymond James Financial, tells FA-IQ.

He explains that the firm had been planning for this feature for over a year and had been taking feedback from advisors.

While the platform doesn’t yet have an official name, Goff has been using working titles like 'FA marketplace' or 'FA exchange' until the name is finalized. The system will also help advisor teams looking to add members or individuals seeking to join advisor teams match up.

Jodie Papike, president of recruiting firm Cross-Search thinks this tool is a good idea for both advisors and the firm, especially since most conversations around succession planning in the industry tend to happen one-on-one rather than employ technology.

“Every advisor would rather stay at the same firm and sell their practice to someone within the network where they already are, so they don't have to move before they sell. So, any kind of help or support or technology that a firm can provide around that process is going to be beneficial, and it's ultimately going to help Raymond James or any firm retain those assets,” says Papike.

So, what could it look like? How can advisors zero in on candidates they want to interact with?

The executives say the platform will not be like classified ads or Zillow, where selling advisors simply list their practice for sale and receive interest from acquirers. The platform offers retiring advisors looking to transition their practice more control over which kind of sellers they interact with.

“Oftentimes, sellers are interested in someone who’s within a reasonable proximity of their geographical location. And then they want to make sure the person who is acquiring — there’s significant overlap in terms of how they run their business,” explained Curtis.

The system will work on both user preferences and an algorithm.

“It’ll match them up based on criteria that they set or preferences on both sides, and an algorithm will run and match up or provide a level — that I’ll refer to the highest matcher to the seller — and then they’ll follow up, and then they’ll choose to receive more matches or not,” Goff explains to FA-IQ.

Raymond James is not the only firm using technology to connect advisors with succession candidates. As previously reported, Wells Fargo Advisors’ Advisor Teambuilder Tool leverages technology to help advisors scout and connect with successors.