Large independent RIA HighTower announced on Thursday that it will offer two new business lines, HighTower Network and HighTower Alliance, targeted to advisors that are either leaving a wirehouse or have already left a wirehouse.
HighTower Network is a turnkey platform that provides advisors with “a path to independence without the expensive overhead associated with starting and running a practice,” said HighTower CEO Elliot Weissbluth (left). It allows members to use HighTower’s platform and broker-dealer, as well as allowing them to affiliate with the HighTower brand name, while still giving members ”the freedom to manage their own staff and keep control over the day-to-day details of the business.”
HighTower Alliance provides advisors with access to the firm’s platform along with the option to “retain the services of HighTower specialists for additional ongoing advisory services in areas such as legal, HR, technology and marketing,” Weissbluth told AdvisorOne at MarketCounsel’s Member Summit in Las Vegas.
“HighTower Alliance helps advisors with branding, front-office issues like their website, middle-office issues like HR and back-office issues like statements and other mailings,” he said. “It’s completely scalable. It works for a smaller firm of $150 million in assets right up to some of the largest firms in the industry.”
HighTower’s business model, and products like Network and Alliance, proves “wirehouse advisors can become full-service, fiduciary, independent advisors as owners and not have to comprise on the sophistication of what theiy’re able to do when dealing with high-net-worth clients,” Weissbluth added.
In response to a statistic put forth by Advizent’s Charles Goldman in a summit session on Wednesday, that 84% of clients do not know the RIA model exists, Weissbluth countered that “I think it’s probably higher.”
“I compare it to anti-smoking efforts in the 1970s,” he said. “Look how long it took for their message to get out that not only was smoking not good, but that it was actually bad. You have this lobbying organization with limitless cash to spend which muffles the message. But we’re doing the right things and have the right message in place; it will just take time to take hold.”
Weissbluth says HighTower is now the thirteenth fastest-growing company in the nation, as reported by Inc. magazine. He was unsure if the latest office to open in Las Vegas was the company’s twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth [it’s the twenty-fourth], but said the number of teams brought on in the first quarter of 2012 surpassed the number for all of 2011, and the wait to transition into HighTower stretches to June 2013.
“I have a great team and a very forgiving wife,” he quipped when asked about managing such growth.