Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Business

An interview with Tom James of Raymond James Financial

> Back in '74, when times were really tough and it looked like we were going broke, I had a written plan for how to shut the business down over a three-month period. Boy, we were close.

> How do I relax? Well, the answer is I don't. I'm an activities-driven person. I fill up time. If I go on vacation, I have a schedule for every minute almost.

> I started playing in a rock band when I was in high school. I went and saw Elvis Presley when he came to St. Petersburg in the 1950s and got really taken with the music. I got a guitar and taught myself how to play.

> My father was one of the world's nice people. He was a really good person, a moral person of high integrity. He's the person who influenced me more than anyone else.

> I was vice president of the Harvard Young Republicans when I voted for John Kennedy. By the way, in today's world, I'm not sure that Kennedy wouldn't have been a Republican.

> My wife raised our kids when they were young. If she wasn't there, I couldn't have done what I did.

> I could write music when I was younger, but I never really worked hard at that, which is too bad, because I'm not sure I can do it anymore. You've got to have all these emotive juices flowing to write songs. It's good when you're young and thinking about women all the time.

> My art education has been in the real world, looking at a lot of art, talking to artists. The more I talked to artists about how they did it, what their modalities were, I just developed more and more taste for what I liked.

> It seems to me that most politicians are only interested in getting re-elected. That's like No. 1 on the list, and it's also No. 1 through 9. I don't mean they're dishonest or not competent to do things, but they don't.

> I go to movies once every week or two because when I go to movies, I just totally lose myself in the movie. It doesn't really matter what it is. I don't think about business problems. But that's the only time.

> I'm not afraid to make decisions.

> Well, I'm a failure at retirement. I turned over my CEO job three years ago, and I actually have a couple of major tasks to do that I haven't even started. I work just as hard, but on less important things.

> I learned very quickly from my father that helping people achieve financial goals was a worthwhile thing, and I also learned from him that the people you associate with are very important.

> You want to save religiously. It's most important that you develop the habit of putting aside so much money a year out of what you earn. People say 10 percent, 5 percent. You start with what you can do. It's all about discipline.

> I'm paranoid that we would do anything to put the firm at risk. I do everything I can to eliminate what I call branches on the decision tree that have an end point of death.

> With building coming back — which was the thing that just killed us because we're so real estate dependent — we're in pretty good shape now. I'm actually pretty bullish about Florida doing better financially.

> In college, my band was the Maniacs. We did Chuck Berry, Little Richard, a lot of what we would call real southern rock.

> Giving back is a philosophy. I believe that it's consistent with your obligations and your economic best interest to create an environment that is better. I don't think that thinking about shareholders and maximizing profits is inconsistent with pledging part of your profits to charity.

> I was an early member of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), but the minute they had riots in California, I said, "No way. That's not the way you get equal rights for people."

> We have not made this a very business-friendly state contrasted to other states. We can do a lot better job. Gov. Scott, he may not be a great communicator, but basically he has done some right things and has had some right objectives.

> There are tradeoffs you make in life. I didn't take a lot of weekends off, so my kids didn't see me. Remember, I was going to law school at the same time I was starting off in business. So, for 10 years essentially I worked 80 or 100 hours a week.

> We still haven't made the educational infrastructure in Florida as high quality as it is in a number of other states. That's inexcusable.

> I wish Jeb Bush had been elected president instead of W, who I like, but he didn't have the skill set to do the job like his little brother.

This interview originally appeared in Florida Trend magazine. To read other Florida Trend stories and interviews, go to floridatrend.com.

Comments
A tight supply cuts into Tampa Bay homes sales while prices keep rising

A tight supply cuts into Tampa Bay homes sales while prices keep rising

Tampa Bay’s two largest counties showed anemic home sales in May as prices continued to rise due to a tight supply.In Pinellas, sales of single-family home plunged nearly 12 percent from the previous May, the second-worst showing in a year. Prices, t...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
Pinellas County files suit against companies who built Public Safety Complex

Pinellas County files suit against companies who built Public Safety Complex

CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Public Safety Complex was built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, but officials now say the $81 million fortress has water leaks and cracked walls.The county filed a lawsuit this month against Harvard Jolly, the S...
Updated: 1 hour ago
CEOs are calling the separation of children and families at the border ‘inhumane’ and ‘tragic’

CEOs are calling the separation of children and families at the border ‘inhumane’ and ‘tragic’

Democratic and Republican lawmakers have spoken out about the Trump administration’s hard-line "zero-tolerance" immigration policy that has resulted in a sharp rise in children separated from their parents at the southern U.S. border. The president o...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Demolition looms for old Bromley office building at Midtown Tampa

Demolition looms for old Bromley office building at Midtown Tampa

TAMPA — Over the past month, demolition crews have gutted the old five-story Bromley office building at the future site of the $500 million Midtown Tampa project.On Sunday, the remaining skeleton of the building is scheduled to come down.The demoliti...
Updated: 2 hours ago
What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

Blame a lack of rail cars in Canada or not enough semi trucks in the United States. Forest fires didn’t help. Tariffs played a big role, too. Even the buoyant economy takes part of the rap for frothy lumber prices, which hit all-time highs las...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Citizens considers hiking homeowners insurance rates about 8 percent

Citizens considers hiking homeowners insurance rates about 8 percent

For the second year in a row, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. is asking state regulators to approve hefty rate hikes because of an abundance of non-weather claims that end up in court. If approved, the average rates for homeowners covered by Citize...
Updated: 5 hours ago
What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

Blame a lack of rail cars in Canada or not enough semi trucks in the United States. Forest fires didn’t help. Tariffs played a big role, too. Even the buoyant economy takes part of the rap for frothy lumber prices, which hit all-time highs las...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Reopening date still elusive for Palace Grand facility

SPRING HILL — Palace Grand, an upscale event facility closed in 2016 because of sinkhole activity beneath the structure, remains shuttered. A reopening date remains elusive.Originally advertised as a "luxurious" setting for weddings, corporate events...
Published: 06/20/18
A valet at this South Tampa Publix will park your car as you shop

A valet at this South Tampa Publix will park your car as you shop

TAMPA — Publix shoppers in South Tampa who hate circling the lot for parking can now toss their keys to a valet.The Publix at Dale Mabry and Neptune started testing a free valet service last week that could expand to more stores. Spokesman Brian West...
Updated: 6 hours ago
As Tesla races to meet Model 3 deadline, factory pressures and suspicions grow

As Tesla races to meet Model 3 deadline, factory pressures and suspicions grow

Tesla chief Elon Musk said last week that the company’s layoffs of 9 percent of its workforce wouldn’t affect production as the all-electric automaker races to build thousands of new Model 3 sedans a week.But documents the company filed days later wi...
Published: 06/19/18