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Paul Reilly, CEO of Raymond James Financial, Is the Next Conversation with a CEO Guest in February

By Keith Morelli

Paul Reilly

TAMPA (January 14, 2019) -- Paul Reilly’s business pedigree is impressive. He currently is chairman and chief executive officer of Raymond James Financial, leading a diversified financial services company with more than 7,800 financial advisors and, as of September, some $790 billion in client assets. Prior to joining Raymond James, Reilly was the executive chairman of Korn/Ferry International and before that, CEO of KPMG International. His leadership abilities have buoyed such corporate giants for more than two decades.

Yet, he has said, his main leadership strength is listening. Collaboration among trusted team members with diverse cultures is key to accomplishing goals. Growing up in a family with seven siblings presented an environment that fostered this leadership outlook, where he developed at an early age a knack for listening and working as a team.

“I'm a listener,” he said in a 2015 interview in InvestmentNews. “I've come into three firms now with diverse cultures and I don't assume there's one way of doing things. Team decisions are usually better.”

Reilly is slated to be the guest speaker at the next Muma College of Business Conversation with a CEO, set for Feb. 5 in the Center for Advanced Medical Learning Simulation, 124 S. Franklin St., in downtown Tampa. The 8:30 a.m. event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register, click here.

The event offers a glimpse into the high-pressure world of investments and how successful careers are planned and carried out. The format is informal, featuring a casual chat with the Muma College of Business Dean Moez Limayem. Questions will be taken from the audience.

Riley rose to CEO of Raymond James in 2010 after joining the firm’s management team as president and CEO-designate a year before, but he has served on the firm’s board of directors since 2006. He took over the CEO role from Tom James, son of the company’s founder, Bob James.

Reilly’s career hasn’t been a total cakewalk.

“I sold my consulting firm to KPMG on Black Monday, October 1987,” he said in a 2016 interview with ThinkAdvisor. “I joined Korn/Ferry on June 30 of 2001 — the year the industry’s stock value fell by 50 percent because of the tech bubble. I joined Raymond James in March 2009, the stock market’s low point during the worst recession since the Great Depression.”

What got him through the difficult times? Patience and perseverance.

“I’d say my timing has not been great, but I’ve been fortunate to be a part of the upside … In all of those cases there was basically nowhere to go but up,” he said. “The career decisions I’ve made weren’t based on what was going on in the environment around me; they were based on believing that the people involved shared my values and that I could contribute to the organization.

“That’s been an approach that has served me well,” he said. “Thinking about the fit and the long-term reward, rather than letting short-term trends define my decisions.”

Walking into Raymond James, Reilly entered a culture that had been 40 years in the making. He asked himself if he should change that to fit the changing financial environment.

He didn’t. He found that the culture there fit completely with his own. He was brought on not only because of his financial services experience, but because of his values of trust, integrity and long-term conservative growth. And the mantra that clients come first, he said.

“I tell people our results are because of the culture,” he told Fortune in a 2018 interview. “We’re differentiated in our industry because of our culture. How we treat advisors, how we treat associates.”

Reilly earned a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame and remains active with the school, serving on the Mendoza Graduate Alumni Board and the Business Advisory Council. In 2005, he was a recipient of Notre Dame’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.