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HighTower Adds $750M Team From Morgan Stanley

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HighTower says an ex-Morgan Stanley (MS) advisor team has moved to the group in Orange County, California, with about $750 million in client assets. The eight-person group is led by David L. Bahnsen and Brian T. Szytel, both certified financial planners.

“David leads an elite advisory practice on a phenomenal growth trajectory,” said Michael Parker, national director of enterprise development, for HighTower in a statement. “The caliber of his team reflects the discriminating process we use for selecting advisors to join the HighTower membership.”

Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Bahnsen was with UBS (UBS) from 2001 to 2007. Szytel began his career in 2002 at UBS Financial Services before moving to Citi Smith Barney and then to Morgan Stanley in 2008.

“Becoming part of the HighTower community grants our team the opportunity to collaborate with our peers in a sophisticated environment,” said Bahnsen, in a press release. “I am incredibly honored and humbled to join the HighTower membership and take a giant leap forward in our ability to serve our clients.”

The HighTower partnership includes 50 teams with $30 billion in total assets under advisement as of Dec. 31.

Other News

An RIA in Savannah, Georgia, has just become a member of Focus Financial Partners: Fiduciary Group, which has some $600 million in assets.

“The Fiduciary Group’s client-centric approach, entrepreneurial spirit and future ambitions for growth make them a natural addition to the Focus partnership,” said Rudy Adolf, founder and CEO of Focus, in a statement. “We have known Malcolm Butler and his team for a number of years, and have been consistently impressed by their ability to attract assets as well as transform from a family-owned business into the leading RIA firm in the Savannah region.”

The RIA was formed in 1970 and has three principal owners and nine employees.

“Our decision to join Focus was influenced by their shared values and entrepreneurial business model,” said Malcolm Butler, president and CEO of the Fiduciary Group, in a press release. “Focus has the proven ability to help family-owned firms like ours move forward into the next stage of evolution and realize their full growth potential,” Butler explained.” As a Focus partner firm, we now have unparalleled access to capital and strategic expertise, while still maintaining our independence and focus on the client experience.”

Focus Financial Partners says it has more than 30 firms in its network and about $325 million in annual revenue. 

Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch (BAC) said Monday that advisor Jeff Tompkins and his multimillion-dollar advisory practice joined its office in Boca Raton, Florida. Tompkins leads a three-person wealth team that has over $160 million in client assets.

“With over 33 years in the industry, Jeff has clearly demonstrated success in the marketplace based on his exceptional client service and reputation in the community,” said complex director Matthew Liebman. “We are pleased to welcome this knowledgeable and well-respected team to the Boca Tropics complex.”

“We are all excited to join the Merrill Lynch family. We now have the ability to offer our clients’ a more diversified and complete suite of products, services and solutions, helping us to meet our clients’ needs and goals,” said Tompkins. “The positive responses we have received from our clients regarding our move to Merrill Lynch have been overwhelming”.

Before joining Merrill, the advisor worked for Deutsche Bank and Smith Barney.