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Wealth Manager: Raymond James' global WM head on why regulation is now international
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by James Phillipps on Jul 04, 2013 at 00:01
It is fitting for Wealth Manager to have an American cover star on Independence Day, and independence proves to be a watchword of my conversation with Raymond James’s Chet Helck.
The wealth management giant’s global private client group chief executive is in town for his firm’s annual investment conference and the conversation starts with the circuitous route that led him into the industry.
‘Just after college I joined John Deere, a large international manufacturing company. It was very successful and I started buying stock in the company through the stock purchasing plan,’ he recalls.
‘It had a lot of competitors and one was International Harvester, which was a bigger company and also had a truck division. I got to know a lot of people who worked there and I watched its stock, which always traded about $10 higher than ours. It went through $60, then $70 and then $80 and then that became $2. The business was eventually sold off in parts.
‘I knew a lot of people who owned a lot of shares in the company and they fell on hard times. I saw these guys lose everything and decided that wouldn’t happen to me so I saw a financial adviser because I wanted to diversify my portfolio.’
This bitter introduction to the vagaries of stock market investing resulted in Helck building a strong long-term relationship with his financial adviser that was to change the course of his career path. The keen interest he took in his adviser’s approach to investment eventually led to the IFA offering Helck a job at his firm.
‘I thought he was joking and I had no interest initially, but after a couple of years I decided to take him up on it. I completed a training programme, moved to a new town and built a successful franchise,’ he says. ‘It was absolutely scary, but that fear is probably what drives you to succeed.’
The business flourished to the extent that Helck was asked to be a regional leader, coaching other advisers and helping them build their businesses.
He was then recruited to join Raymond James in its independent contractor division where he was later promoted to what he describes as a leadership role within the principle business. In 2002, he took on the responsibility of Raymond James’s retail private client businesses in the US, Canada and the UK and two years ago was named global CEO of its private client group.