Contributed by: Lauren Adams, CFA®, MBA
In September, I was given the wonderful opportunity to attend the Raymond James Branch Professionals Foundations Conference, which an intensive hands-on educational experience for new employees of Raymond James-associated offices. Just as the weather was starting to cool in Michigan, I headed south to hot and humid Atlanta for the two-day training.
The roughly 30 attendees came from all over the United States, including as far as California and Washington. I’m proud to say that Michigan represented well with five of us attending from different Michigan offices (which also gave us a chance to ask each other where to find the “pop” during breaks and actually be understood… although I’m still puzzling over my new southern friends’ tendency to ask for a “Coke” and then proceed to select a Sprite or Dr. Pepper).
We started the conference with a deep dive into Client Center, which is Raymond James’s command center for managing client accounts, and new account processes, where we learned everything from how to monitor the opening, funding, and ongoing maintenance of accounts to the difference between IRAs and SAR SEP IRAs and UTMAs and UGMAs. All the while gaining a newfound appreciation for acronyms!
Day two started with a bang.... which, if you’re an operations nerd like me, that means an hour and a half session on compliance! Two senior compliance professionals presented to us about how to best prepare for a branch audit and learn about other compliance best practices. They quizzed us on the most common compliance issues (spoiler: the most common issues generally center on advertising) and gave us plenty of time for questions and answers.
We then moved into sessions on how to quickly and efficiently conduct money movement, which is of critical importance for our clients, and reporting. I found the sessions on practice management and client reporting especially helpful, as it allows us to do everything from make sure account administration goes smoothly to conduct interesting analysis on our business. Our last session was on how to use social media to better understand our clients and connect with them on issues that are most important to them.
Since returning from the conference, I’ve already used what I’ve learned to run reports that allow me to better analyze the potential FDIC exposure of our clients and identify the different sweep options used by our managed accounts (both of these topics are especially relevant given new SEC money market reform rules). Also, I’m eager to tell our clients about the benefits of our secure document center called the Vault, which clients can access through their online Investor Access account and share documents back and forth with The Center team in a secure and organized way. I’m also jazzed about the ease of using eSignature, a convenient (and eco-friendly) way to electronically sign documents.
We ended our time together with a competitive game of Jeopardy to test what we’ve learned. The prize was your pick from a table of Raymond James swag. As good branch associates, we all learned the material quite well, so winning came down to who could raise their hands the fastest after the questions were asked. I even took to jumping in the air along with raising my hand, but sadly, another team was somehow quicker on the draw; my team came in second place. Next year, I hope to be able to attend the Raymond James Branch Professional Development Conference to learn more advanced concepts in technology, office procedures, and compliance… and for another chance at the Jeopardy Gold.
Lauren Adams, CFA®, MBA is Director of Client Services at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.®