HighTower to Partner With Morse, Towey & White, a 5-Member UBS Team From New York

This is HighTower's 15th partnership as advisors continue to break away from wirehouses

In its continuing drive to welcome breakaway wirehouse brokers to its ranks, Chicago-based RIA firm HighTower announced its 15th partnership Monday, August 2, this time with Morse, Towey & White, a five-member, $1 billion wealth management team from UBS.

Andrew Morse, Justin Towey, and Bob White will all serve as managing directors at HighTower. In addition to the three principals, two senior members of their team, Pamela Tang and Maja Janko, also are making the move to HighTower.

"The old models that used to dominate financial services are changing, and they are changing to favor an independent financial advisor," said HighTower CEO Elliot Weissbluth in a phone interview. "With the shift in the availability of technology, and the shift in the availability of financial products, an independent financial advisor can do a better job for their clients out in the independent world than they could inside of a captive traditional brokerage firm."

In its three years of operation, HighTower has expanded from zero to about 100 employees, 15 teams, and 30 managing director-financial advisors, Weissbluth noted.

In late July, HighTower announced its 14th partnership with the acquisition of Three Bridge Wealth Advisors, an advisory firm based in Menlo Park, California, with $740 million in assets derived largely from the venture capital and private equity communities in and around Silicon Valley.

Asked about the difference between the Three Bridge and the Morse Towey partnerships, Weissbluth said that the Three Bridge acquisition represents a new structure for HighTower.

"It is not our standard acquisition because the Three Bridge team just broke away from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney about seven months ago. So this is a fully negotiated transaction for them to join HighTower if they elect to--and they fully intend to, and we fully intend to welcome them," Weissbluth said. "It's just not happening today, and we hope it will happen in the very near future. But we wanted to be sensitive to the fact that these three financial advisors had just gone through a tremendous amount of work to get completely independent, and we wanted them to get to know us before they joined a larger organization after working so hard to earn their independence."

The New York team of UBS advisors "is the standard HighTower partnership transaction," he added. All three of the managing directors are now full partners at HighTower.

Weissbluth declined to state HighTower's current assets under managements. "Every time we expand, it's a pretty significant shift in assets," he said.

Read a story about HighTower's expansion into Silicon Valley from the archives of InvestmentAdvisor.com.
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