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Billion-Dollar Merrill Private Banking Team Joins HighTower

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A $1 billion Merrill Lynch private banking team joined advisor-owned financial services firm HighTower’s New York office on Friday, with wealth managers Kenneth Hoffman, Richard Steinberg and Jordan Waxman joining as partners and managing directors.

The breakaway team from Merrill, HSW Advisors, manages more than $1.4 billion for approximately 50 clients, including families, foundations, endowments, unions and pension plans. HSW was previously with Merrill Lynch Private Banking and Investment Group.

The Merrill partnership represents the fourth new team in 2012 for Chicago-based HighTower, a registered investment advisory firm. Another breakaway team from Merrill joined HighTower in February, when Leo Kelly and Brian Grumbach, formerly of the Kelly Group at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, joined HighTower as managing directors and partners. Kelly and team manage $700 million of client assets and will lead HighTower’s expansion into the Baltimore market.

Mike Papedis, HighTower’s executive vice president of business development“We spent over a year with Ken, Richard and Jordan as they conducted diligence on our firm and their other options, including going fully independent,” said Mike Papedis (left), HighTower’s executive vice president of business development, in a statement. “They decided that it was better for them, and better for their clients, to join the nation’s leading partnership and benefit from what we’ve built.”

Hoffman, a CIMA, has been advising wealthy families since 1981. Prior to joining Merrill Lynch in 1994, he worked at firms including Lehman Brothers and E.F. Hutton. He was named one of Worth magazine’s Top 250 Wealth Advisors for 2008 and one of Barron’s Top 1000 Advisors.

Steinberg joined Merrill Lynch’s private bank in 2002, after spending 13 years as a wealth manager with Goldman Sachs & Co. He was named one of the Top 1000 Advisors by Barron’s in 2009.

Waxman joined Merrill Lynch in 2002 after eight years as a wealth manager with Goldman Sachs. A CIMA and CFP, he is also a member of the state bars of New York and Massachusetts. He was recently named as one of Worth magazine’s Top 250 Wealth Advisors.

“After many years in large Wall Street banks, we simply wanted to deliver the most unconflicted and objective advice and service to our clients,” said Waxman in a statement. “This evolution of our practice to be independent fiduciaries is 100% about what is in the best interests of our clients.”

Read about HighTower’s expansions into Baltimore and Los Angeles at