Hypocrisy reigns at RJFS

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May 17, 2006 10:33 pm

While touting being a "leader in the industry" and the champion of lowering clients annuity expenses, RJFS gouges unsuspecting FA's and small clients with huge increases of annual fees on inactive or  "small" accounts.

$50 per year charge to the FA or client if there isn't $375 in commissions in the household.  The message is very clear, if you are not seriously fee oriented or trading stocks, RJ may not be the right fit for you. For example, if you buy & hold $50,000 of blue chip stocks and some good A share mutual funds worth $100,00- you're going to be an inactive/small account at RJFS. 

This week I've talked with 4 other RJFS FA's about our surprise problem: all 5 are 15 yr vets, all have AUM from 75 to 120 mil, all have large A share MF positions with good funds & blue chip/div paying stocks with large unrealized gains, from previous firms.  We all do fee business now, but think it would not be in our clients best interests to exchange the stocks and funds for fee based investments. (and  meet the  RJ requirements.)

Our "surprise" fees are going to range from $5,000 to $7,500 per year.  Bottom line: 1 of the 5 is staying with RJFS no matter what, 3 are making phone calls to other b/d's and 1 has a foot out the door.

While RJF stock is trading at all time highs, greed rears it's ugly head. RJ used to shoot for 5% growth and they got 20% year after year.  Now they're shooting for 20%....and this is what we get.  It looks like our new management stole a page out of the EDJ playbook on this. 



May 18, 2006 9:13 am

unfortunately that's par for the course. age has gotten away from what they used to be as well. it would be nice to see a wirehouse stand alone and be truly client focused. but it seems they are all doing the same sh!t while trying to promote themselves as standing out from the crowd...

May 18, 2006 6:00 pm

a $50 dollar annual fee is driving brokers w/$75m under management away from Ray Jay? Custodial fee on two iras is damn near double that for most firms. I don't think what you are saying is true. Sounds like a wire house recruiter is trying to scare people away from a good company.

May 18, 2006 6:34 pm
no idea:

unfortunately that's par for the course. age has gotten away from what they used to be as well. it would be nice to see a wirehouse stand alone and be truly client focused. but it seems they are all doing the same sh!t while trying to promote themselves as standing out from the crowd...



"Well, from a business standpoint, I don't see anything wrong with a small fee for an inactive account to recover the costs of maintaining that account.  The wirehouse or any other broker dealer is not a charity you know.


If the client knows up front that they are going to be charged, what is the problem?  I explain it that the fee is charged not by me but by the back office (Pershing in my case) to offset the costs of maintaining their account.  


"If you have no acctivity in your account (Mr. Client) in an entire year you will be assessed an inactivity fee of $$  This is to offset the costs of providing you with a monthly/quarterly statement, a 1099 at the end of the year for your taxes and general accounting and servicing on your account and pay for the operations personell who help us with these and other issues that may arise.  Of course, if we do business, when appropriate during this year, then that fee is not charged."


They understand that it is costly to have statements mailed and so on.  I have never had anyone complain about it. 

May 18, 2006 11:51 pm

Sherlock/Peanut broker: Since the $6,500 that RJ's gouging my clients is just peanuts to you, I'll pm you my PO Box and you can send them a check. Brilliant hunch about me being a headhunter.  Could it be you're one of the RJ desk jockies that dreamed up this scheme?

Babs: I agree with you to a point. If someone is just parking some stocks with us and doing no business...I'll cut them loose even before RJ sends them a bill.  However,  take the case of the client with 100k in A share mf's.  They're paying RJ/me $250 per year in 12b-1 fees-hardly an "inactive" account and more than fair compensation.  Tacking $50 more on is gouging. Especially for a company that's claiming to be a "leader" in the industry by cutting annuity fees.    

May 19, 2006 10:19 am

However,  take the case of the client with 100k in A share mf's.  They're paying RJ/me $250 per year in 12b-1 fees-hardly an "inactive" account and more than fair compensation.  Tacking $50 more on is gouging. Especially for a company that's claiming to be a "leader" in the industry by cutting annuity fees.    


Then just move the Mutual Fund only account back to the fund family.   Problem solved. 

May 19, 2006 10:23 am
Cerberus:

Sherlock/Peanut broker: Since the $6,500 that RJ's gouging my clients is just peanuts to you, I'll pm you my PO Box and you can send them a check. Brilliant hunch about me being a headhunter.  Could it be you're one of the RJ desk jockies that dreamed up this scheme?

Babs: I agree with you to a point. If someone is just parking some stocks with us and doing no business...I'll cut them loose even before RJ sends them a bill.  However,  take the case of the client with 100k in A share mf's.  They're paying RJ/me $250 per year in 12b-1 fees-hardly an "inactive" account and more than fair compensation.  Tacking $50 more on is gouging. Especially for a company that's claiming to be a "leader" in the industry by cutting annuity fees.    


Pay it yourself, if you don't think your clients should pay. If you can't generate at least $375/year from each household you should find some other type of work to do.

May 19, 2006 12:02 pm

Pay it yourself, if you don't think your clients should pay. If you can't generate at least $375/year from each household you should find some other type of work to do.


[/quote]


Nothing like that wirehouse "kill what you eat culture" now stepping up to comment. What if it's the account of the brother of an $8000 a year fee account nimrod that gets the inactive bill?? Many clients, in the past, could tell that this place wasn't a wirehouse with all the high pressure churning and nickel and diming involved.


Obviously the policy issue is a little more complicated then the simple minded one size fits all condescension expressed by some here.


These fees are a long way from "cost" and they're not shared by the branch. The reason clients paid commissions is to get some of these reports but just try stopping the often drivel that clients don't want in the mail? I'm not saying RJ is completely wrong either on this topic but the way they worked out exemptions for example was pretty poor and heavy handed which is the flavor of the moment.












May 19, 2006 2:16 pm

Remote: your name says it all.  Thanks for the uplift.  With guys like you hosing clients, my future looks golden.  I'm barely solvent now after 20+ years in the business, but somehow I keep going. I think I'll stick with it, thank you.

Babs: So, I'm supposed to lower the level of service to my clients even though we're getting $250/yr. in service fees? (Lower statement frequency,  cost basis information on statement, lose our RJ rate of return on account, 1 1099). Just a few of the benefits they now enjoy with level 3 vs. shipping the account back to the MF company.  Plus, I'm going to increase my branch service and operations time because it's easier to pull account info from RJ than MF company.

Sorry,  just because something is "easy" to do doesn't make it better or solve the problem.  Plus the fact that RJ's stock is trading at near all time highs.  RJ's making plenty of money.  It's just not right to do this to clients that are paying us a hefty service fee already. 

May 19, 2006 3:24 pm

Babs: So, I'm supposed to lower the level of service to my clients even though we're getting $250/yr. in service fees? (Lower statement frequency,  cost basis information on statement, lose our RJ rate of return on account, 1 1099). Just a few of the benefits they now enjoy with level 3 vs. shipping the account back to the MF company.  Plus, I'm going to increase my branch service and operations time because it's easier to pull account info from RJ than MF company.


If your clients find value in all of those services then they shouldn't balk at paying an annual fee. If they don't have enough assets to generate a minimum revenue for the company (and you too by the way) then they don't deserve to get those services for nothing.   For those clients who don't generate income and who are cheapskates to boot, they deserve to be getting a lower level of service.


You are supposed to be a salesman for God's sake.....sell the value of the fees.


In addition, sending the mutual fund account back to the fund family doesn't mean that they will be getting less service or attention, unless you don't give it to them yourself.  It is a piece of cake to pull the information about a mutual fund from the mutual fund companies.  I assume since you are posting here you know about the world wide web.  Most MF companies have web sites and you can log on and get information about your clients accounts and even affect MF exchanges on line.  Sign yourself up for this https://www3.financialtrans.com/tf/Vision?tx=VisStartup& cz=6210818081413


If you are worried about consolidated statements and account analysis then take a look at this.  http://www.albridge.com/solutions/wealth-reporting.php 


Maybe as a captured RJ rep (?) you don't have access to these tools.  Just another reason to go indy.


Quit complaining about fees that you have no control over.  What you do have control over is to increase your revenue per account to the minimum.  As someone said if you can't generate $375 per year income per household, what are you doing in this business? 


Sure some people will not generate that revenue every year.  I have some elderly clients who have nothing but bonds.  I figure the cost to me of absorbing their annual fee is more than compensated by the referrals that they bring to me.    It is a cost of business. You are always going to have some clients who generate more than enough revenue to support those that don't.   

May 20, 2006 12:43 pm

I just don't believe what cerbellus is writing...that ray jay (fee based gurus) are unhappy about 50 account fee being charged to clients. I know no raymond james guys with an A share book.

May 22, 2006 9:27 pm

The 375k in gross is what pisses me off.  If someone is doing no business--I can partially agree.  But the $375 is way too high. 

May 23, 2006 11:11 pm

Peanutbroker:  You must not know much about RJ brokers.  There are hundreds of former EDJ reps (not to mention other firms) that have moved millions of A shares into the RJ platform.  Some of them have moved the A shares into fee based accounts, but most have kept the A shares.  What do you think reps do when they change their b/d to RJ...churn all their A shares into fee based accounts???

Babbling: I think you're right on some points but I disagree with you on some others.  You're right, I could go out and "sell those fees".  But I would like to think of myself not only as a salesman but also a advocate for my clients. Clients ultimately pay the bills around my shop, they're the boss, not RJ.  I simply think that the fees are mostly unreasonable for my clients.  Especially when RJ is doing so well financially.  And in light of their new stance of being the "industry leader" in lowering VA fees.

I also can't agree with your suggestion to move the shares back to the fund  or  buy  a system to  handle accounting.  I'm already giving RJ 15-20% of my gross to handle this--I'm not going to pay for another system.  And if you think that going to the fund companies for fund data or service would equal the ease of having RJ reporting it to us on level three....I really don't agree with you on this.  More importantly, when I posed your solution to my two operations people-they howled, laughed and  basically thought I had lost my mind.

You're absolutely right on the complaining. It doesn't do any good.  I've backed RJ's management for 10+ years.  I didn't like the A share breakpoint fiasco or the Herula mess, but I've stuck with them.  Sadly, this action on fees is what I fear to be the start of a new era at RJ.  More fees to us or our clients.  Ticky tacky stuff that a greed head in headquarters dreams up over his spreadsheet that either makes our life more difficult or our client's wallet thinner.  That's why myself and my other 3 buddies are looking at moving from RJ.  Don't know if it will happen, but we're looking.  If we all move, RJ's going to be short around 525 million in assets. It's going to take a lot of $50 fees to make up for that loss.

To quote Sam Walton: "the client can fire anyone from the president on down, simply by taking his business elsewhere."  Richard Averitt, you're fired!
  

May 24, 2006 6:09 pm

I don't think it would be easier to have the funds at the fund family at all.  On the contrary, it can be a major pain in the rear.  BUT if you are concerned about the inactive fees not being fair to your clients AND if they hold only A share mutual funds then move the fund back to the fund family and explain to the client the trade off.  No inactive account fee but also no level 3 statement or reporting.  If the service is worth it they will pay. If they are that cheap that they would leave you over $50, then do you really want them as clients?


I imagine that you will not be able to go anyplace else that doesn't have similar fees for inactive accounts. Maybe at a self clearing firm. It does seem a bit harsh, however, to make the fee applicable to clients who are generating even some small income instead of just for those truly inactive accounts.  I looks to be a power squeeze on the small accounts and the systematic investor accounts.  Not everyone has 100K plus accounts and I have found that by accommodating the "little" accounts eventually you will get the bigger fish.  I think it is a shortsighted policy that RJ has proposed.


I don't know how you structure yourself at your RJ platform, but where I am there are ticket charges for every brokerage trade in addition to the 10% override but no ticket charges for direct business.  It is also in MY best interest to channel those small trade accounts and inactive accounts back to the fund family.  


I feel your pain.  I just had to eat fees on several accounts.  However, since those households generate thousands of dollars each year on other accounts, I guess it really wasn't that painful.  If I had to eat fees on accounts that were time consuming to me and generated no income, you can bet your boots that I would do something with them.  Cut them loose or send them to the fund family. 


I really like my clients and want to help them, but I am not a charitable institution.

May 24, 2006 7:50 pm

You think you're indy but even your indy b/d can fu#k you if they want to. They are still in contol of the payout.


BTW, it's a pain in the a$$ to move assets from indy b/d to indy b/d also.

May 24, 2006 9:33 pm
ezmoney:

You think you're indy but even your indy b/d can fu#k you if they want to. They are still in contol of the payout.


BTW, it's a pain in the a$$ to move assets from indy b/d to indy b/d also.



Well.... Duh... yea.  No one is EVER completely independent in ANY business. There is always the IRS, local rules, national rules etc. to hamper and hinder our entrepreneurial aims, with some justification, to keep us from running with scissors through life.  There are also ways to run with scissors without getting injured too


I realize that it is a pain in the rear to move clients.  I've done it twice and unless my B/D really tries to screw me over I won't do it again. There is always going to be the creeping over reaching of control from the government, your employer, your girlfriend/boyfriend, your parents or the company you are contracted to do business with.  I understand the frustration, but you either need to live with it, get over it or move on. 


I may not be "completely" independent, but compared to my previous situations the freedom is incredible.  What it is like at RJ with the new fees and new structure coming down the pike on VA's I couldn't say.  But I can say you guys better learn to cope.

May 24, 2006 10:16 pm

CEREBUS...my apologies. Just have read too many posts from SpikedKoolaid. Apparantly that A share guy put everybody into fee based accounts when he went indy. I agree with your statements about the unfairness to clients about the fees. RJ should just disclose it up front that the cost of the account is X dollars per year for the account to cover mailings, admin, etc.

May 25, 2006 12:13 pm
ezmoney:

You think you're indy but even your indy b/d can fu#k you if they want to. They are still in contol of the payout.


BTW, it's a pain in the a$$ to move assets from indy b/d to indy b/d also.



It is a bit of a pain to move indy to indy but not nearly as hard as wire to wire or wire to indy.  The terms of my contract specify that I OWN the clients and that my b/d has no right to contact them for a standstill period of 60 days.  If I choose to move they have no right to impede my efforts to bring my clients along.  I can also do block transfers for outside accounts at mutual funds and annuitites.  Difficult if not impossible for you to replicate that at a wire.