Financial advisor Melissa Joy joins Stephens RIA

Two long-time major advisory teams from Raymond James Financial Services left the firm’s brokerage after decades, but retained its custodian when they joined forces under a new RIA.

Pearl Planning and Stephens Wealth Management Group, which have eight advisers and $794.5 million in assets under management between the two Michigan-based practices, left Raymond James last fall for new Flint-based RIA Stephens Consulting. , according to SEC records. Financial adviser Sheryl Stephens, a 45-year veteran of Raymond James, launched the business, and planner Melissa Joy, who had been affiliated with Raymond James for her entire 18-year career, uses the RIA for her practice based in Dexter.

While the two firms previously shared technology and compliance, their choice to stay with Raymond James’ custodian reflects how wealth managers are increasingly adept at embracing the RIA movement rather than fighting it. In an example from last year, the Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network referred a billion dollar practice to an RIA of Focus Financial Partners which uses its custodian. LPL Financial has complex relationships with 450 hybrid RIAs, even though many competitors do not offer firms the option of calling on an outside consulting entity.

Joy, whose practice reached $128 million in client assets at the end of the year, said some advisers “really benefit immensely from their broker-dealer relationship” while others “just don’t not notice the difference or the nuances” with the use of a completely independent RIA. At her firm and at Stephens, what she dubbed her “big sister company,” there was “a certain familiarity and also a certain loyalty” for Raymond James built up over the decades, she said in a statement. interview.

“The profession has changed, and the custodial relationship and broker relationships are different today than what I did when I cut my teeth in the early decades of the 2000s,” Joy said. “Some people thrive with the structure and backbone of an independent broker and others can evolve to be more like an RIA.”

The people she worked with regularly at the Raymond James brokerage are probably what she misses the most since her official affiliation with the new RIA on October 1, Joy added. Representatives for Raymond James declined to comment.

Stephens, who officially joined the RIA the same day after registering it with the SEC in July, did not respond to an email.

Advisors who choose to join Joy and Stephens to ditch their FINRA licenses and brokerage affiliations compare the greater autonomy and payouts of having their own advisory firm with the burden of taking on new administrative tasks related to the running a business, according to Shauna Mace, Chief Practice Officer for Independent Advisor Solutions by SEI. With the sheer amount of work involved and the careful maneuvering to avoid a legal battle over clients, most transitions take six to nine months, Mace said.

“The risk of taking that leap into independence is going to create a better environment or a better chance of achieving good results for themselves and their clients,” she said, describing the goal as the biggest motivation of advisors to take a step like Joy’s. . “They should hopefully think about this future business before taking that leap.”

Indeed, Joy said she had the next decade in her business in mind when she left the brokerage. Since 2019, Pearl Planning has added five new members to its team, including Consultants Melissa Fradenburg and Alexa Kane, Planner and Relationship Manager Hannah Near and Customer Service Representative Maggie Segrave. A divorce financial planner also joined the firm earlier this year. In addition to Pearl’s main office in Dexter, Fradenburg operates his practice from a second location in Grosse Pointe Farms.

“The team has grown a lot, and it’s a very talented team with a lot of experience but also youth,” said Joy. “It fits perfectly with the desire to create this rock star financial planning team.”