Raymond James Financial, a Florida-based diversified holding company, has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire Howe Barnes Hoefer & Arnett, a Chicago-based middle-market full-service brokerage firm.

Through this transaction, Raymond James will expand both its capital markets presence in the community and regional bank and thrift sector, and its Private Client Group.

Howe Barnes, established in 1915, focus on depository institutions, providing its clients with equity research, sales, trading, and investment banking services.

In addition to its equity capital market activities, Howe Barnes provides private wealth management solutions for more than 4,500 clients totaling over $1.9bn in assets under management. It employs 115 associates.

As part of the transaction, Howe Barnes chairman and CEO Dan Coughlin will join Raymond James as a managing director of Investment Banking and will co-head the Raymond James Financial Institutions practice with managing director Patrick DeLacey.

Raymond James Financial CEO Paul Reilly said that the acquisition of Howe Barnes professionals bolster the existing expertise in the financial institutions sector – an area of focus for capital markets team.

DeLacey said that with the addition of Howe Barnes, Raymond James Financial will be better positioned to capitalize on the expected consolidation of the community and regional bank and thrift industry.