ON THE MOVE-HighTower lands two Merrill Lynch teams in Las Vegas
Sept 4 (Reuters) - HighTower Advisors LLC, an independent adviser-owned firm that has expanded by hiring away from top U.S. brokerages, opened a new office in Las Vegas after landing two veteran teams from Merrill Lynch.
The two teams, which moved on Friday, managed nearly $800 million in client assets at Merrill Lynch, the brokerage owned by Bank of America. They had been based out of Merrill's Henderson, Nevada office.
"Our mission has always been to deliver our clients peace of mind," said adviser Adam Thurgood on Tuesday about his team's decision to go independent after a decade at Merrill.
"The fiduciary trend is real," Thurgood said, referring to the role of a financial adviser to make investment decisions in a client's best interest, "and it will be moving forward as high quality adviser teams like ours look for an independent, conflict-free environment."
Chicago-based HighTower, formed in 2008, has attracted many breakaway broker teams, like Thurgood's, who want to become independent, free from attachment to big banks.
The model allows groups to work with several independent securities holders, or custodians, such as Charles Schwab , Fidelity and Bank of New York Mellon's Pershing, instead of keeping all of their clients' assets with one custodian - a common practice at the brokerages of big firms. This relieves advisers from the pressure of pushing proprietary products on their clients.
Thurgood joined HighTower with advisers Mike PeQueen and Ned Evans from Merrill, where they together managed $340 million in client assets. PeQueen was a senior vice president of wealth management at Merrill.
The advisers, who primarily serve clients with between $2 million and $5 million in investable assets, had also previously worked for Prudential Securities. They formed the MNA Group at HighTower, based out of the firm's Las Vegas office.
"We had in our minds what we thought would be a successful transition rate, and it seems like we will certainly exceed that," said PeQueen, who said he envisions the team moving more than 85 percent of their book of business.
Also on the move, advisers Hugh Anderson and Sheila Delutri joined HighTower on Friday from Merrill Lynch, where they managed $450 million in client assets. Both Anderson and Delutri had been at Merrill Lynch for three decades each, most recently as senior vice presidents of wealth management.
At HighTower, their practice is focused on offering holistic wealth management, including intergenerational asset management services, to affluent families.
Merrill Lynch confirmed the departures but declined to comment further.
The new additions in Las Vegas are the ninth and tenth teams this year to join HighTower, which now has 35 partner teams.
This year, the firm has also added teams in Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, New York and Virginia, from firms including Merrill Lynch, UBS Wealth Management Americas, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and Credit Suisse.
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