Recognizing potential

How Raymond James gave Jeri Richard the support she needed to thrive as a new advisor.

You may not expect a financial advisor to have overseen 21 retail locations for a Fortune 500 company at one point, but that’s exactly what Jeri Richard did before joining the field of financial services.

“I accepted an operations role in retail after graduating high school and worked my way to a district manager position. I really honed my people skills in that role by learning how to approach individuals from all walks of life and with generational differences.”

After eight years, however, Jeri was ready for a change.

“I just got to the point where I was burnt out and felt that the company I was working for was not moving in a direction I was comfortable with, so I decided to make a shift. I went back to school with the intention of exploring law. It was during that time when I made a friend who worked in a Raymond James branch.”

It turned out that the branch where Jeri’s friend worked was hiring for an operations role, and after meeting with the team, Jeri was chosen for the position.

“I came to Raymond James in that operations capacity knowing I could use my customer service experience, which I had in spades. I was looking to get my foot in the door with a more traditional office environment so I could then apply those skills to a job in law. It just so happened that once I got here and learned about the business, I found it genuinely compelling.”

From the beginning, Jeri’s team fostered a sense of comradery, involving her in the process of running their practice and motivating her to pursue a career in financial planning.

“I got to have a behind-the-scenes look and really liked what they were doing and what I was learning about the business. They’d tell me, ‘We’ll support you as far as you want to take this. We think you’d make a great advisor.’”

Their encouragement led Jeri to earn her Series 7 within the first year of joining Raymond James and to later enroll in the Registered Associate Mentoring Program (RAMP), a one-year program designed to help registered associates explore the transition to financial advisor.

While partaking in RAMP, Jeri learned about the Advisor Mastery Program (AMP) at the 2016 Women’s Symposium. She was convinced AMP was the right fit for her once she attended the program’s breakout session and spoke with advisors from all over the country and with varying backgrounds about their experiences in the program. After discussing the benefits with her team, Jeri decided to sign up.

“AMP blew my mind from the first home office visit. You receive a lot of support for a very long time in the beginning of your career, which you just don’t find anywhere else. The runway and guidance Raymond James offers is different from anything else I’ve heard of or seen, and it was crucial in helping me transition to the advisor side of things.

“I also think AMP does an excellent job helping advisors understand the best practices that Raymond James promotes, especially when it comes to adopting a more planning-based perspective. I appreciated that, unlike other training programs, AMP doesn’t force trainees to push products.”

In addition to these benefits, Jeri found that one of the most valuable aspects of AMP was how the program teaches advisors to become a truly holistic resource for their clients, helping them bridge knowledge gaps, understand all the tools at their disposal and rely on fellow AMP graduates for ongoing support.

Now an Accredited Asset Management SpecialistSM and almost four years since joining Raymond James, Jeri says she wouldn’t be in this business without the guidance of her mentors. She’s particularly grateful for her colleagues, including her manager, who had previous careers outside of the financial field and understood the value of bringing into their practice someone with a nontraditional work history.

“They recognized the potential I had. It really was a perfect storm of the right team, the right firm, the right culture for me to come into.”