HighTower nears launch of new channel for independent advisers

HighTower Alliance to offer independence, access to firm's investment platform, BD services

By Trevor Hunnicutt

Feb 6, 2014 @ 1:55 pm (Updated 2:50 pm) EST

HighTower chief executive Elliot S. Weissbluth
HighTower chief executive Elliot S. Weissbluth

HighTower is getting ready to launch its latest offering to independent advisers.

The firm's chief executive, Elliot S. Weissbluth, said Thursday the firm is looking to launch its HighTower Alliance channel “between now and the spring.”

According to prior descriptions of how the Alliance model will be structured, advisory firms would retain independence, ownership and their own brand, but have access to HighTower's investment platform and broker-dealer services. Mr. Weissbluth did not offer additional details.

Launching the alliance signals a new emphasis for the “hybrid” advisory-brokerage firm, which has largely been built as a partnership of emigrants from wirehouse firms such as Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and UBS Wealth Management Americas.

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Last year the firm brought five wirehouse teams into the partnership, in which advisers sell their practices for an equity stake in HighTower. But it also brought two teams onto the HighTower Network, which allows firms to link with HighTower but retain ownership in their firm. (Two advisers reportedly left the partnership in 2013.)

The Alliance model has been compared to Dynasty Financial Partners, which has grown quickly by offering advisers the ability to operate independently and use Dynasty's platform and other services for a fee.

“I don't really know exactly what Dynasty is offering today,” said Mr. Weissbluth. “I don't know what their offering is compared to ours.”

HighTower's rollout plans, which were first reported by Financial Advisor IQ, comes more than a year after Mr. Weissbluth first announced the initiative at an industry conference in September 2012.

HighTower Advisors, the partnership, reports $12.3 billion assets under management, according to regulatory filings.