Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The 10 most influential figures in the RIA business going into 2012

The 10 most influential figures in the RIA business going into 2012

2. Elliot Weissbluth, CEO, HighTower Advisors LLC

HighTower, the Chicago-based aggregator, was on a roll in 2011, snapping up advisory teams from big broker-dealers like Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC and UBS Wealth Management with gusto in an effort to do what no company has really done before — create a repeatable process of picking off big wirehouse advisors in order to create a national wealth manager comprised of top-notch RIA practices.

Elliot Weissbluth: Our revenue is up 250% over last year and 14,000% since our launch.

In June, aiming to woo top brokers with teams of $1 billion or more in assets, Weissbluth sweetened the pot for breakaway brokers by proving there are dozens more hedge fund managers to pick from in the independent arena than at wirehouses. See: HighTower dangles array of hedge funds to lure breakaways.

In September, HighTower hit the $20 billion mark in assets when it landed its third wirehouse team in as many months in the Washington, D.C., area, bringing its RIA head count to 45 advisor teams. See: HighTower extends its winning streak of luring breakaways near the nation’s capital.

Recently, HighTower cast an even wider net, recruiting from wirehouses again but this time targeting managers who have shown a knack for helping advisors balloon their books of business. See: Casting a wider net for talent, HighTower poaches an MSSB branch manager.

Weissbluth helped design HighTower’s business plan, brought aboard industry giants and sages like David Pottruck and Philip Purcell, raised hundreds of millions in capital and has acted as the closer for an impressive number of deals. He comes to the RIA fight wielding weapons that wirehouse executives presumed they alone possessed — cash to pay big-time signing bonuses and deep legal pockets to aggressively pursue the most entrenched teams.

In the process, Weissbluth has created an innovative yet sturdy landing pad for brokers wanting to break away from the regulatory constraints and conflicts of interests inherent in the wirehouse model without the headaches of setting up their own practices.

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“HighTower’s advisors have the best of both worlds — fiduciary independence coupled with the best ideas, the best managers, and the best investment solutions on Wall Street,” says Weissbluth. “Our model puts the power of the marketplace to work for the client, not the firm. In 2011, we had 200 employees and 16 offices, which shows that the vision we set forth three years ago has been embraced by advisors and clients everywhere. We are excited that HighTower is continuing to grow at an extraordinary rate — our revenue is up 250% over last year and 14,000% since our launch — and with the advisor teams we have across the country and those in the pipeline, we are uniquely positioned to continue this growth trend.”

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