Hightower Advisors Review - MagnifyMoney
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Hightower Advisors Review

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Hightower Advisors is a Chicago-based, private equity-backed network of advisors, many of whom operate under individual brand names. The advisors provide investment advisory, wealth management and financial planning services, among others.

There is generally no minimum amount required to invest with the firm, which means Hightower Advisors is accessible to all levels of investors. The firm currently oversees $74.5 billion in assets under management (AUM), with office locations throughout the U.S.

The bottom line: Hightower Advisors is a wealth management firm that caters largely to non-high net worth investors, but you’ll need to meet with an advisor to find out the costs involved as there’s no published fee schedule.

  • Services offered through a network of advisors throughout the U.S.
  • No minimum account balance, though $500,000 recommended for some products
  • Range of financial planning services available

All information included in this profile is accurate as of December 14, 2021. For more information, please consult Hightower Advisors’ website.

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Overview of Hightower Advisors

Hightower Advisors was founded in 2008. The firm offers its financial advisory services through its network of over 100 advisory firms across the U.S., many of which operate under different names.

Hightower Advisors is wholly owned by Hightower Holding, LLC. Private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners holds a majority stake in the parent company of Hightower Holding, although some advisors and employees also have an ownership stake.

In recent years, the firm has grown via RIA acquisitions. Currently, the firm has over 670 employees on staff, including more than 580 who serve as investment advisors.

A look at the founder of Hightower Advisors

Hightower Advisors was founded by Elliot Weissbluth, an attorney and financial services executive who served as the firm’s CEO until 2019, and then as chairman until retiring from that position in late 2020.

Weissbluth is a very well-known figure in the RIA space. He has received recognition as a top industry influencer from publications including Investment News and Investment Advisor, and appeared on networks such as CNBC, Bloomberg TV and Fox Business.

Hightower Advisors’ pros

  • Broad accessibility: Hightower Advisors generally has no minimum balance requirement, making it possible for most investors to connect with an advisor at the firm. However, Hightower does suggest that some services and products wouldn’t be a good fit for those with less than $500,000 to invest due to trading and transaction costs.
  • Industry recognition: The firm’s advisors have received numerous awards and accolades, including recognition on the Forbes 2021 list of “Top Women Wealth Advisors,” Barron’s 2021 list of the “Top 100 RIA Firms” and Barron’s 2020 list of “America’s Top Wealth Teams.”
  • Clean disciplinary record: The firm has not had to disclose any civil or regulatory issues over the last 10 years.

Hightower Advisors’ cons

  • No published fee schedule: Because clients’ fees are set on a case-by-case basis, it’s impossible to know what services will cost without speaking to an advisor. Additionally, some clients may pay based on a different fee schedule for some services than others and could see a variation in fees even when similar investment strategies are used.
  • Preferred brokers used: Hightower Advisors has an established relationship with several broker-dealers, including Fidelity, Schwab, TD Ameritrade, JP Morgan and Pershing, and it will generally recommend these brokers to clients. While Hightower does not receive financial compensation for using these brokerages, clients may be able to purchase some investments at lower prices from a different firm.
  • Potential conflicts of interest related to commissions: Hightower Advisors may receive commissions for the sale of certain insurance products and annuities as well as for services provided as registered representatives for Hightower Securities, LLC, a broker-dealer under common ownership with the firm. This creates potential conflicts of interest as advisors may be financially incentivized to recommend certain products.

What types of clients does Hightower Advisors serve?

The majority of Hightower’s clients are non-high net worth individuals, although the largest share of the firm’s assets under management is from high net worth clients. For reference, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) defines high net worth individuals as those with at least $750,000 under management or a net worth of at least $1.5 million.

The firm does not have a minimum account balance. However, it notes that certain services and fee structures may not benefit portfolios of less than $500,000 due to the impact of trading and transaction costs.

Services offered by Hightower Advisors

Hightower Advisors provides a range of financial services to clients, including financial planning and investment advisory services, offered through its individual investment practices that each have their own strategy and focus.

Most of Hightower Advisor’s investment management services are offered on a discretionary basis, meaning it does not consult the client before making every trade. Advisors may or may not regularly review and update client financial plans, depending on the terms of the client agreement.

Here is a full list of services that Hightower Advisors provides:

  • Investment advisory services
  • Financial planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Estate planning
    • Education planning
    • Cash management and certain treasury services
    • Asset allocation review and recommendations
    • Insurance planning/risk management
  • Advising for retirement plan sponsors or trustees
  • Private fund management

How Hightower Advisors invests your money

In early 2020, Hightower Advisors launched a new branding campaign centered around the tagline “well-th. rebalanced,” aimed at conveying the firm’s collective focus on holistic financial wellness. Rather than simply focusing on money, the firm emphasizes its understanding that wealth is also about “freedom, security, philanthropy, legacy [and] balance.”

Because Hightower is comprised of a network of individual advisors, they each may take a unique approach to investment management. However, the firm has an Investment Solutions group, made up of ​​a team based in both New York City and Chicago and led by chief investment officer and portfolio strategist Stephanie Link, that can offer assistance and support to the firm’s advisors as needed.

Available options for investment advisor clients include the firm’s discretionary advisory service, where the firm develops an investment policy statement for a client based on their objectives and then creates a portfolio accordingly, or its investment management/wealth consulting services, where the firm provides investment recommendations to the client and other related services on a limited basis but does not have the authority to make trades on the client’s behalf. Clients can also opt for Outsourced Chief Investment Officer solutions, wherein clients can choose between two portfolio categories, multi-asset portfolios and individual-security separately managed accounts.

Fees Hightower Advisors charges for its services

Depending on the services provided and the agreement between the client and the advisor, Hightower Advisors earns money through a percentage of assets under management, fixed fees and/or other one-time fees. Clients who receive limited-scope financial planning or wealth management may pay hourly fees, which are also determined on a case-by-case basis.

Wealth management clients can either get services through a wrap program, in which the fee will cover all transaction costs, or they can opt out of the wrap program and pay all transaction costs separately.

Additionally, clients may be responsible for other investment-related fees and costs, such as fees and expenses charged by mutual funds, real estate investment trusts (REITs), exchange-traded funds, alternative investments and other collective investment vehicles.

Hightower Advisors disciplinary disclosures

Hightower Advisors did not have any disciplinary events to disclose, meaning it has a clean record. All registered investment advisors are required to disclose any civil, regulatory or criminal events related to the firm, its employees or its affiliates in their Form ADV paperwork that they file with the SEC.

For more information on the firm, visit its Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) page.

Hightower Advisors onboarding process

  1. Find a Hightower advisor near you: To get started working with the firm, find a local advisor by using this online tool.
  2. Sign a client agreement: If after connecting with an advisor at Hightower you decide to move forward, you’ll sign either a discretionary or a non-discretionary client agreement. This agreement will outline the services you’ll receive and the associated fees.
  3. If you’re a discretionary client, create an investment policy statement: Discretionary clients will also work with their advisor to create an investment policy statement, which the advisor will use to create and manage an appropriate portfolio.
  4. Receive regular reviews and communications: Investment management clients will receive a review at least once per year from their advisory team, although many advisors are in touch more frequently. Communications may take place via phone calls, in-person meetings and strategy reviews. Additional reviews may take place as necessary when there’s a significant change in the financial picture of the client or economic events.

Where Hightower Advisors is located

Hightower Advisors has its headquarters in Chicago. It also has office locations in the following states, plus the District of Columbia:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Is Hightower Advisors right for you?

Hightower Advisors may be a good choice for investors looking for holistic financial planning and discretionary portfolio management. The firm’s presence in 34 states also makes it accessible for investors in many regions. However, some of the firm’s products and services may not be a good fit for investors with less than $500,000 to invest. Additionally, some advisors may earn commissions for recommending certain insurance products, which could pose a conflict of interest.

As always, when choosing financial services, it’s important to understand the experience of the provider and how much you’re paying for its services. Be sure to research multiple firms to ensure you find the right advisor for you.

The “Find a Financial Advisor” links contained in this article will direct you to webpages devoted to MagnifyMoney Advisor (“MMA”). After completing a brief questionnaire, you will be matched with certain financial advisers who participate in MMA’s referral program, which may or may not include the investment advisers discussed.