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Richard J. Saunders

NEW POSITION: Senior vice president, business development, Raymond James Financial Services, Atlanta

PREVIOUS POSITION: First vice president, business development, Raymond James Financial Services, Atlanta

As Raymond James Financial continues to expand its St. Petersburg facilities, the company looks to add more key financial advisers as well. Richard J. Saunders will be leading this quest as he directs the company's financial services subsidiary.

Although living in Atlanta, Saunders has regularly traveled to the Raymond James Financial headquarters in St. Petersburg as part of his job of establishing new branch offices. Now those Atlanta-to-St. Petersburg trips will be more frequent.

Essentially, Saunders' new job requires him to recruit "outside people who are experienced in the industry, have years of experience, are top-quality producers, (are) very client-focused and tend to be more entrepreneurial than typical brokers," he said. These brokers provide financial consultation as well as tax and estate planning for Raymond James clients.

"Our job is to find those who are the best fit for the Raymond James culture," he said, and there are hundreds of independent contractor broker-dealers in the United States.

The recruiting process can take months, Saunders said. "We go through a process of learning about them and educating them about us. What are they looking for in a broker-dealer relationship?"

Typically, Saunders said, the branch offices that he sets up are "boutique practices," meaning they could be as small as a sole proprietor or have as many as 20 brokers. The average broker office for Raymond James, he said, has about three financial advisers.

Nationwide, Raymond James has more than 1,500 independent offices and 3,500 financial advisers. Worldwide, there are an estimated 4,900 financial advisers in 2,100 locations.

The recent announcement of the construction of a fourth building at the Raymond James campus in St. Petersburg affirms the company is "in a growth mode," Saunders said.

Saunders entered the securities business in 1977, spending nearly a dozen years with Merrill Lynch and Robinson-Humphry. He left the industry for five years beginning in 1989.

"I got the entrepreneurial itch myself (and) wanted to own my own business," he said.

Saunders set up a consulting business in the franchise industry with two partners. Then he returned to the securities industry in 1994 and joined Raymond James. He has lived in Atlanta since 1973.

He earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Duke University in Durham, N.C., in 1969, and went to work for a bank trust department. He also studied law for two years but decided not to become a lawyer.

"I realized that I loved the investment business, loved the tax side of the investment business, loved the planning side," he said. After eight years in the bank's trust department, he joined Merrill Lynch.

Saunders said he likes the problem-solving aspect of estate and tax planning. "What gets me up in the morning is my love for the financial services industry," he said, and the joy of working for Raymond James, "a first-name organization, from the top down."

Saunders, 54, is married and has five children.

_ FRED W. WRIGHT Jr., Times correspondent