HighTower adds $440M team from Merrill

The hybrid firm has brought on over $1 billion in assets from the wirehouse in the past month

Sep 2, 2014 @ 12:45 pm

By Mason Braswell

hightower, merrill lynch, advisers on the move
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HighTower is continuing to build on recruiting momentum, picking up another large Bank of America Merrill Lynch duo who previously managed around $440 million in assets.

The two advisers become the 46th team to join HighTower's original Partnership platform and are the fourth sizable team HighTower has recruited from Merrill Lynch this year, according to InvestmentNews' Advisers on the Move database. HighTower has announced it brought on more than $1 billion in recruited assets from Merrill Lynch in the past month alone, according to the database, which tracks announced moves.

The most recent team, who registered with HighTower on Aug. 29 in Red Bank, N.J., includes William B. Wolf and Ethan Collins who were previously part of the Barth Wolf Collins Group at Merrill Lynch. Mr. Wolf had been with Merrill Lynch since 1998, and Mr. Collins joined in 2001, according to registration records with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc.

In mid-August, the trio of Pamela Lynn Abraham, Jack Thomas and Trevor Swartz joined HighTower in Fort Myers, Fla., after previously managing some $800 million. They also joined HighTower as partners. HighTower has two other affiliation options, including a franchise option and a fee-for-service platform rolled out earlier this year. Partners receive transition incentives, including a share of ownership, to join as employees of the firm.

HighTower Partners added another $300 million duo from Merrill in May, according to the database, while another $300 million Merrill team joined in February.

(The totals included in the database may not be indicative of the total assets that transfer to the new firm, and the count does not include smaller moves or those that are unreported.)

Michael Parker, national director of enterprise development at HighTower, attributed the moves to coincidence.

“It’s not a target by any means and hasn't been,” Mr. Parker said. “It’s fortuitous that it ends up being from a firm or firms.”

Bruce G. Barth, the third member of the Barth Wolf Collins team, remained at Merrill, where he started his career in 1973, according to Finra records.

The $440 million represented the share managed by Mr. Collins and Mr. Wolf, according to an outside spokesman for HighTower, Steven Bodakowski.

Mr. Parker said that HighTower did not intent to recruit the entire team.

A spokeswoman for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Ana Katherine Sollitto, confirmed that Mr. Wolf and Mr. Collins had left, but declined to comment further.

HighTower Advisors had more than $15 billion in assets under management, according to its most recent ADV filing, which was dated Aug. 29. That includes assets in the Network, but not the alliance or assets held at the broker-dealer, according to Mr. Parker.

Merrill Lynch reported it had more than $2 trillion in client assets, liabilities and deposits as of June 30.

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