HighTower Adds Ex-UBS Team; Baird Grabs Merrill, Morgan FAs

Former UBS team to go independent with $330 million in assets; advisors joining Baird could bring $460 million in AUM

HighTower said Monday that it recruited a former UBS (UBS) team to open an office for the independent firm in San Diego. On Tuesday, Baird said it recruited five advisors from Merrill Lynch (BAC), Morgan Stanley (MS), JPMorgan (JPM) and Spectrum to join its operations in California, Oregon and Texas.

Chicago-based HighTower is owned by its 65 advisors, who operate in a fee-based independent model, while Milwaukee-based Baird is owned by many of its 700-plus employee advisors, along with management and other staff.

Joining HighTower in San Diego are David Molnar and Drew Nordlicht, who have a total of 40 years of experience in the financial services industry, specialize in the venture capital sector and have about $330 million in assets under management. With the addition of the Molnar/Nordlicht Group, HighTower has added six teams in 2012, and new-team assets have surpassed those of 2011.

“The Molnar/Nordlicht Group joined HighTower because they understand that it’s the best option for their clients,” said Mike Papedis (left), HighTower’s executive vice president of business development, in a press release. “Our unique platform harnesses the competitive power of Wall Street for our clients’ benefit. We simply have more choices and better prices.”

Molnar and Nordlicht, who most recently worked as advisors for UBS, were also advisors at Smith Barney earlier in their careers.

“Over the last few years, we’ve studied the changing landscape of our industry. We came to the conclusion that HighTower is the only firm that is positioned to meet our needs and our clients’ needs—both now and in the future,” Molnar said in a statement. “We are pleased to join this dynamic partnership.”

Baird’s New Recruits

Baird’s most recent recruits include ex-Morgan Stanley Smith Barney advisor Patty Estopinal in Roseville, Calif. Estopinal has about $1 million in annual production, $175 million in assets under management and operates in the greater Sacramento area.

The Fields Nichols Group of Portland, Ore., joined Baird last week from Merrill Lynch with about $1.1 million in yearly fees and commissions and $170 million in assets. The team is led by Matthew Fields and Tonya Nichols.

Jayson Bales moved to Baird in Dallas from Spectrum Financial Group, where he managed about $65 million in assets and had some $635,000 in yearly production.

In nearby Fort Worth, Steve Phillips joined Baird from JPMorgan Chase & Co. with roughly $50 million in assets and $50,000 in yearly fees and commissions.

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