Raymond James Financial Services is one of the biggest names in wealth management — just not in the Northeast, one of the nation's most coveted markets. Glenn Fischer is aiming to change that.
After spending 28 years at wire houses, Fischer, a former Smith Barney branch manager, has opened New York Wealth Management, a Garden City, N.Y., advisory firm that will be affiliated with Raymond James. His goal: be bigger than everyone else in the independent channel.
His four-adviser firm, which opened last week, caters to wealthy individuals. Ultimately, Fischer hopes to attract more than 20 financial advisers tired of the "red tape at the wire houses."
Though his shop opened with about $200 million in client assets, Fischer said he expects to eventually be one of Raymond James' largest affiliates. "We want to be a multibillion-dollar firm, and we expect to be there in a couple years," he said. "We have a great pipeline of advisers that are interested in joining us. We want to be choosy in how we hire."
Fischer began assembling his firm in the wake of the Smith Barney merger with Morgan Stanley. "After working at the wire houses for my entire career, I thought that there must be a better way to do business," he said. "The wire house environment provides a lot of products, services and resources that are difficult for the independent business model to compete with, but by working with Raymond James, I am hoping to find a happy medium and be able to provide the best of both worlds."
Although Raymond James has more than 3,300 independent advisers in 2,000 offices nationally, it is still thought of primarily as a Florida firm, said Geoffrey Bobroff of Bobroff Consulting in East Greenwich, R.I.
For wealthy individuals, in New York, anyway, Raymond James lacks the name recognition that large wire houses, like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, still hold, Bobroff said.
"I think the biggest challenge from a relationship standpoint is how important the marquee name is for customers," he said. "I am not saying that Morgan Stanley is a stronger firm than Raymond James, but in the Northeast, it isn't that well known. It is still thought of as a Florida company and doesn't have the same name recognition in New York still."
Analysts said New York Wealth Management will face stiff competition in the New York area from an array of established wealth management providers. And Bobroff said that from the advisers' standpoint, "transitioning to an independent model isn't as easy or as lucrative as wire house managers seem to think."
"New York has to be one of the most overmarketed populations that exists in the United States," he said. "It is going to be a challenge to become a multibillion [dollar] firm unless advisers have strong and committed books of business that they are bringing with them."
Fischer agreed that the transition from a wire house to an independent channel can be a difficult one because often advisers have a hard time balancing the development of their practice and management of their business.
In terms of the products and services, "Raymond James has all of the products that a full-service wire house has," Fischer said. "We expect it will offer the hybrid situation that will work better for us. We'll have the operation, compliance, sales assistance and the first-class office of a wire house — and the independence."