HighTower lands Merrill, Morgan Stanley advisers

Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:36pm EST

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(Reuters) - HighTower Advisors LLC, an independent adviser-owned firm that has grown by hiring away from top U.S. brokerages, expanded its presence in Maryland after landing veteran financial advisers from Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley last week.

Matt Moore joined a Baltimore-based team of advisers at HighTower known as the Kelly Wealth Management group from Bank of America Corp's Merrill Lynch, HighTower said. Moore, a two-decade veteran of the industry, managed about $250 million in client assets at Merrill.

A spokesman from Merrill declined to comment on the move.

Meanwhile, HighTower said it also added to its office in Bethesda by hiring Stephen Rosen from Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, where he had worked since 2008. Rosen, who oversees $140 million in client assets, worked at UBS AG's Wealth Management Americas prior to his position at Morgan Stanley.

A spokeswoman for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, a brokerage majority owned by Morgan Stanley and partially owned by Citigroup Inc, confirmed Rosen's departure, but declined to comment further.

Jeff Leventhal, managing director with HighTower's Bethesda office, said Rosen shares the team's focus on serving young entrepreneurs and people in the financial services industry.

Rosen also shares a similar investment philosophy, focusing on mutual funds, exchange traded funds and alternative investments, such as gold and hedge funds, Leventhal added.

The firm's Bethesda office also includes adviser Evan Nowack.

Rosen's expertise in alternative assets, complements Leventhal's expertise in fixed-income investing and Nowack's strong background in equities, Leventhal said.

"It just helps round out the team," he added.

Chicago-based HighTower, formed in 2008, has attracted many so-called breakaway broker teams - advisers who want to become independent, free from attachment to big banks. The company currently has 79 advisers who make up 34 teams across the U.S. and manage about $25 billion in client assets.

The HighTower 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.

(Reporting by Jennifer Hoyt Cummings, additional reporting by Ashley Lau; editing by G Crosse)

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