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HighTower to Buy $6.4B RIA Aggregator WealthTrust

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HighTower says it is buying WealthTrust, an RIA-rollup firm in Houston that has about $6.4 billion in client assets and is owned by Lee Equity Partners, in what should be its biggest deal yet.

Once the deal is wrapped up, Chicago-based HighTower says it expects to have close to $46 billion in client assets and roughly 40% of its team will be either independent RIA teams that it acquired or that are using its services.

“Ten years ago, we founded this company upon our core belief that the fiduciary approach is the best for clients — and the best for business,” said HighTower CEO Elliot Weissbluth, in a statement. “We are proof that the fiduciary standard is the future of financial services.”

The firm financed the cash-only purchase by adding $75 million to a $245 million credit facility it has, which is led by BMO Harris and includes lenders Regions Bank, Fifth Third Bank and KeyBank.

Recent Additions

About two weeks ago, HighTower recruited a group formerly affiliated with LPL Financial in St. Louis: Rogers & Co. Wealth Management. The team, led by Carol Rogers, merged with HighTower St. Louis (which was acquired in 2016 and formerly known as Archer Wealth Management).

The acquisition means HighTower’s operations in the Gateway to the West include $600 million in client assets.

“HighTower attracts exceptional financial advisors from every segment of the industry,” Weissbluth said at the time. “We proudly welcome Carol, Omar [Qureshi] and their team to our St. Louis office and the greater HighTower community.”

The wealth firm also says Rogers & Co. is the fifth new team it has added this year, after bringing on Fortress Wealth Planning in Jacksonville, Cognetic Capital Advisors in New York, the Kelly & Wohlner Group in Denver, and Ewing/Cona Wealth Management in Marlton, New Jersey. These groups have a combined $2.5 billion of client assets.

In February, HighTower attracted a pair of breakaway brokers that manage some $1 billion in client assets: Joel Talish, formerly of Wells Fargo Clearing Services in Westchester County, New York, and John Buffa, who used to work for a Morgan Stanley office in Paramus, New Jersey. The two formed Cognetic Capital Advisors, which is affiliated with HighTower.

HighTower says a group formerly working with Wells Fargo Private Bank began using its platform in January: Fortress Wealth Planning, which has about $1 billion client assets, recently came on board with advisors Michael Skowfoe, Eileen Ortega, Jay Rolfe and Jim Williams.

In 2016, HighTower said 14 new teams with about $4 billion in assets in six states joined it.


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