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Feb 27 (Reuters) - HighTower Advisors LLC, an independent adviser-owned firm that has grown by hiring away from top U.S. brokerages, said on Wednesday it added a veteran branch manager from Morgan Stanley Wealth Management to join one of its existing practices in the Baltimore region.
Thomas New, who had been at Morgan Stanley for more than a decade, joined HighTower as an executive director with its Kelly Wealth Management practice - an independent advisory team formed last year by two former Merrill Lynch brokers.
New had been a senior vice president at Morgan Stanley and branch manager based out of the firm's office in Hunt Valley, a wealthy community in the Baltimore region. He oversaw roughly 50 financial advisers and helped during the consolidation of Morgan Stanley's Hunt Valley office with its Smith Barney location in Towson, Maryland.
Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, the largest U.S. brokerage by adviser headcount and client assets, was formed out of the merger of Morgan Stanley's wealth business and Citigroup's Smith Barney in 2009.
New began his career as a financial adviser at Morgan Stanley in 1998. The company declined to comment on his departure.
Chicago-based HighTower, formed in 2008, has attracted many breakaway broker teams that want to become independent and free from attachment to big banks.
Kelly Wealth Management was formed in February 2012 when former Merrill veterans Leo Kelly and Brian Grumbach left the Bank of America Corp-owned brokerage to join HighTower as independent advisers. The group added former Merrill adviser Matt Moore in January.
The HighTower model allows groups to work with several independent securities brokers, or custodians, such as Charles Schwab, Fidelity and Bank of New York Mellon's Pershing unit, instead of keeping all of their clients' assets with one custodian - a common practice at the brokerage arms of big banks. This relieves advisers from the pressure of pushing proprietary products on their clients.