CEO Tash Elwyn: The value of the human financial advisor will persist

June 03, 2020

By Michael R. Malone

Integrity, work ethic, and emotional intelligence are the keys to succeeding in the “client-first” financial services field, Tash Elwyn, CEO of Raymond James & Associates, told an online audience in a University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School webinar on May 28. 

Guided by questions from Henrik Cronqvist, vice dean for Graduate Business Programs, Elwyn shared his personal journey to leadership success, assessed trends prompted by the pandemic, and offered advice for students planning on pursuing careers in financial services. 

After graduating college, Elwyn shifted from his original plan to serve in the Peace Corps and entered Raymond James as a financial services trainee and over 27 years—his entire professional career—worked his way through the ranks of the firm to become CEO. He stayed with the firm motivated by his appreciation for the workplace culture and his dedication to benefit the lives of his clients. 

Though his professional trajectory differed vastly from that of his bohemian parents, Elwyn credited them with instilling the values of servant leadership that have fueled his successful career. 

WATCH: "Customer Experience Comes First"- A Conversation With Raymond James CEO Tash Elwyn

“Everyone has an opportunity and a responsibility to change the world, and there are lots of ways—big and small—to do that,” he said. “In the wealth management profession, we change the world one client at a time, and from a leadership standpoint there’s a butterfly effect—the ability to effect change less directly but more exponentially.”

To succeed in the wealth management field, Elwyn urged students to broaden their horizons. 

“Often business students have a myopic view of what they want to do, so cast your net wide,” he said. “While it’s important to have analytical skills, financial advising is also very much a people business and that requires a blend of skillsets.” 

Elwyn said the pandemic has actually benefited the relationship between financial advisors and their clients.  

“Counterintuitively, the pandemic has increased the cadence of interaction between advisor and client significantly,” he said. “Technology has leveled the playing field and bolstered the financial advisor’s ability to serve the client in terms of frequency.”

According to Elwyn, technology and the advice and services that humans offer will continue to evolve in complementary fashion.  

 “As technology continues to evolve, there are some that suggest that the human advisor will go the way of the dinosaur,” he said, adding “but there will be a persistent need for advice, and the technology will actually reaffirm the human financial advisor at the center of the relationship. The technology will simply liberate the advisor from some of the mundane tasks.”

 What does a firm of eight thousand advisors like Raymond James & Associates look for in an applicant?

“Someone who can demonstrate integrity above all else, work ethic, and emotional intelligence,” Elwyn responded. “In many ways, emotional intelligence is the X factor that can be the edge—the art of properly interpreting the signals that others send you and conversely those you send are important no matter your career. Everything else can be trained in time.”

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