Bob Oros takes over as HighTower CEO

Veteran of HD Vest, Fidelity and Schwab assumes the reins from founder Elliot Weissbluth

Jan 7, 2019 @ 2:01 pm

By Jeff Benjamin

HighTower Advisors confirmed on Monday that industry veteran Bob Oros has taken over as CEO of the Chicago-based RIA consolidator.

The news, which was originally reported in November, puts Mr. Oros at the head of a $60 billion wealth management business with 92 adviser teams.

Launched in 2007, HighTower announced in August that founder Elliot Weissbluth would be transitioning from CEO to board chairman.

That transition became official on Monday when Mr. Oros took over the CEO role.

"To hand over the reins to Bob is a pleasure and honor," Mr. Weissbluth said. "My technical title is chairman, but whether it's carrying Bob's briefcase or helping with some thorny situation, I'm here."

Mr. Oros, 53, joins HighTower from HD Vest Financial Services, where he spent less than two years as CEO of the Texas-based broker dealer.

Prior to HD Vest, Mr. Oros spent five years at Fidelity Investments in Boston, where he became head of the RIA segment.

Before Fidelity, Mr. Oros was a national sales manager at Trust Company of America, executive vice president at LPL Financial, and vice president at Charles Schwab Corp.

Mr. Weissbluth, 51, said he will "remain as an active part of Bob's team focusing on M&A and organic growth," and said he has known Mr. Oros for several years.

"Bob's reputation at Schwab preceded him," Mr. Weissbluth said. "When I met him at Fidelity I saw firsthand what kind of a man he is."

Amit Dogra, CEO of Third Seven Advisors, cited Mr. Oros' career history as a potential challenge, considering that HighTower will be the smallest company he has worked for.

"It will be interesting to see how he fits into a company of HighTower's size," he said. "At Schwab and Fidelity there are thousands of advisers, but only a handful that might require Bob's time. At HighTower there are no small teams and they are all worthy of Bob's time."

Mr. Oros, who said it is too early to have a "detailed roadmap" of what he plans at HighTower, said, "I want to focus on the teams that are here, first and foremost."

Mr. Oros, who never relocated from the Boston area for the HD Vest job in Texas, plans to move to the Chicago area once the school year is over in New England.

In the October announcement that he was leaving HD Vest, there was a reference to needing to help care for a family member.

Mr. Oros said being in Chicago will allow him to be closer to his aging mother, who is living in a nursing home in Dearborn, Mich.

Mindy Diamond, president of the recruiting firm Diamond Consultants, said she is a big fan of Mr. Oros' expertise and experience, and believes he is the right person to lead HighTower.

However, she also questions Mr. Oros' abrupt departure from HD Vest after just two years for reasons that were presented as family-related.

"His abrupt departure from HD Vest for family reasons was curious," Ms. Diamond said, of the move to HighTower.

Regarding the HD Vest announcement, Mr. Oros acknowledged, "I made the decision to leave for personal reasons, partially."

One of the things that Mr. Oros is expected to bring to HighTower is clarity of focus on the registered investment advisory channel.

While Mr. Weissbluth launched the business primarily as a safe haven for breakaway wirehouse brokers, it has evolved and expanded to include various platforms to offer multiple affiliation models.

"We're intently focused on the greatest opportunity, which is the consolidation in the RIA space," Mr. Weissbluth said.

On that note, Mr. Oros added that, "More RIAs are recognizing that brand matters and scale matters.

"I've had the fortunate position to a front row seat to watch HighTower's growth while I was at Fidelity," Mr. Oros added. "I think the industry needs a firm like HighTower. It needs a national brand the can bring scale and still give advisers the flexibility to run their own business."

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