This is Elliot Weissbluth’s second appearance on the IA 25. Read his extended profile from the 2012 IA 25 here. Click here to view the complete list and Special Report schedule for extended profiles for each of the 2013 IA 25 honorees.
Last year, when we highlighted Elliot Weissbluth on the cover of our IA 25 issue, we said that with HighTower’s unique appeal to top-level wirehouse brokers who sought independence while taking advantage of the best of the financial services business, Weissbluth had changed the conversation on and about Wall Street. It’s no longer a dualistic understanding that “Wall Street is bad; independent advisors are good.”
So where is that conversation now? “Like any other big topic, it hasn’t changed much in the past year,” said Weissbluth, before subtly contradicting himself by describing a rather big change: “More advisors have left the wirehouses,” with many of the larger ones having joined HighTower as partners. At the same time, “the level of tolerance that individual investors have has decreased.” What has increased is the “level of skepticism about these large firms—that they put their clients’ interests first,” while “the delineation between manufacturers and true fiduciaries is sharper.” Weissbluth said he’s “optimistic that the consumer is incrementally more sophisticated,” and he sees opportunity ahead as “the next generation decides what advisor they’ll use.”
It’s not so much that the next generation of clients doesn’t trust advisors, he said; instead it’s about “service model modality.” He argued: “Do millennials want to be serviced the way their parents were? Is a quarterly office meeting or golf game or dinner or paper performance report the way that the next generation wants to be serviced?”