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Raymond James seeks to raise client experience without raising advisor hackles

The job of Tim Killgoar is to have the corporation have its own positive relationship to end clients -- without infringing on its financial advisors

Friday, August 20, 2010 – 5:09 AM by Brooke Southall
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Tim Killgoar: The conversations I’ve had [with FAs] – they like the fact we’re going to help them out.

Raymond James Financial Inc. has tapped a rising star in its company for a new and delicate task: finding ways for the broker-dealer to connect directly with clients. That’s something that has been mostly left to its financial advisors in the past.

The St. Petersburg, Fla.-based broker-dealer is making Tim Killgoar, 32, its director of client experience. His job will be to find ways for Raymond James to more effectively connect with and directly serve end clients.

In the aftermath of Raymond James’ success in recruiting big wirehouse advisors since 2008 — and bringing more sophisticated clients under its umbrella — the company is determined to augment its client experience using a more centralized approach.

“Raymond James has always been known for its ‘client first’ values,” said Chief Operating Officer Chet Helck. “As we grow our Private Client Group – by retaining, developing and attracting professional financial advisors and businesses – continually enhancing the client experience is critical.”

Delicate task

The delicate part of Killgoar’s task will be reaching out directly to the company’s end clients in a way that doesn’t the 5,000 full-service and independent financial advisors that work with the company feel like they are being infringed upon. Financial advisors in any circumstances are highly protective of their ways of doing busiiness.

His projects will include direct communications from the company [including through focus groups] and finding ways to make Raymond James’ online presence more useful to clients.

Killgoar says it’s unclear precisely how advisors will view the kind of work he’ll be doing yet he’s optimistic that they’ll appreciate the benefits to them.

“I think it’ll be a wait-and-see,”’ he says. “The conversations I’ve had [with FAs] – they like the fact we’re going to help them out.”

Raymond James has always been considered advisor-friendly because it allows its brokers to own their books of business. It also works to be more upmarket than some of its competition — even with independents. See: Raymond James shows it’s serious about winning bigger RIAs and Why Raymond James is getting an LPL advisor’s wealthiest new clients

Killgoar will be focusing on several strategic initiatives as they relate to retail investors, including process refinement, channel integration, marketing research, and other factors that help to influence the satisfaction, loyalty and experience of retail clients, according to the company

Though Raymond James has worked on these issues in the past, it hopes to do so more comprehensively going forward.

Starbucks factor

“It’s a one-off effort right now,” Killgoar says. “We’ll have a much more robust process.”

Killgoar says that he is impressed by companies like Starbucks and shoe company Zappos that have been able to institutionalize a client experience and he hopes to create some of that magic for Raymond James. Starbucks is famous for bringing fast, fun friendly service to customers on a highly consistent basis.

To better grasp his own company better, Killgoar spent the last two years working on a variety of enterprise projects in his role as an assistant to Raymond James Chairman Tom James.

He is part of a program that involves bringing aboard two young MBA stars to Raymond James each year and putting them on a fast-track by having them shadow top executives.

At any given time there are four of these post-MBA stars on staff; many of them go on to fill permanent roles at the firm, Killgoar says. Killgoar earned his MBA at the University of Texas, where he was a Jack G. Taylor III Presidential Scholar.

“Tim has a rare mix of industry experience, institutional knowledge and shared values with the firm,” Helck continued. “He’s the ideal leader for this important role.”

Killgoar says that the two years he spent shadowing top RJ executives has prepared him. “We really get indoctrinated into the culture of the firm,” he says. “Without that, I could really alienate advisors.”

Raymond James has been trying innovative ways to pull closer to its advisors. See: Raymond James names new head of its Women’s Network

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Raymond James Financial Inc.
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