The Real Story Behind HighTower’s Reinvention with Bob Oros
A conversation with the industry veteran and CEO of HighTower Advisors
In 2008, Elliott Weissbluth set out to build a turnkey solution for wirehouse advisors who wanted more independence and control—but were not interested in the heavy-lifting of starting a business, nor the day-to-day management of legal, compliance and operations. And so HighTower Advisors was born, pioneering a model that would not only survive the 2009 financial crisis, but thrive on the heels of the disruption and ensuing distrust of big brokerage firms. It was a “perfect storm” which fueled the success of HighTower and other quasi-independent firms born shortly after, forever changing the wealth management landscape—and opening up a new world of options for advisors who were in search of a better way to grow their businesses and serve their clients.
Fast forward a decade and, with over $70B in assets under management, HighTower has morphed its business model from an employee-based partnership to an investor in independent firms. Elliott Weissbluth stepped down as CEO, leaving some big shoes to fill—that is, until January of 2019, when Bob Oros took over the helm of this iconic firm.
Few people would be up for the task of driving HighTower into a new decade and through a landscape that looks very different from the one it helped forge. Yet Bob brings with him a great deal of experience and expertise, having previously held top positions at HD Vest, Fidelity, Schwab and LPL.
In this episode, Bob digs into the evolution of HighTower and the landscape at large, including:
- HighTower’s much-publicized change in business model—and how the new “HighTower 2.0” value proposition fits within an evolved landscape.
- Advisors who fit the HighTower target profile—and what these advisors are looking to solve for.
- The appeal of HighTower to prospective breakaways—and why a wirehouse advisor who is considering going independent would think about selling to HighTower over other models.
- The role of private-equity investor Thomas H. Lee Partners (THL)—and the benefits for HighTower both long- and short-term.
- The impact of a greater number of competitors in the landscape—and how HighTower stacks up against firms like Dynasty Financial Partners and Focus Financial Partners.
- The momentum of the M&A market—and why principals at recently acquired billion-dollar-plus firms chose to sell to HighTower.
- The changing wealth management landscape—and how HighTower plans to remain relevant.
It’s an engaging conversation that offers a unique perspective on how the momentum towards independence and a thriving M&A market will continue, fueled by an aging advisor population who are asking themselves a threshold question: “What’s the rest of my life look like?”
A question that, no doubt, advisors of all ages are asking themselves, and firms like HighTower are providing the answer to.
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Bob Oros is the CEO of HighTower, a national wealth management firm that invests in and supports independent-minded financial advisory businesses to accelerate their growth. Mr. Oros joined HighTower in January 2019 to shift the company to an acquisition-based business model, build out the firm’s advisor-focused infrastructure and scale the company. He has more than 20 years of leadership, strategic and operational experience, with a strong track record of successfully recruiting, retaining, and supporting advisors at firms such as HD Vest, Fidelity, LPL Financial and Charles Schwab.
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