HighTower Advisors, LLC is a registered investment advisor (RIA) with more than $48.06 billion in assets under management (AUM). The Chicago-based firm provides institutional clients and ultra-high-net-worth individuals with investment advisory and financial planning services. It offers these services through partner advisors nationwide.
HighTower Advisors Background
HighTower Advisors launched in 2008. Today, the firm extends its services through more than 200 advisors active in 33 states around the U.S. The firm operates on a fiduciary basis, which means its advisors are legally required to make recommendations with your best interests in mind at all times.
Founder Elliot Weissbluth made RIAbiz's 2012 list of the Most Influential Figures in the RIA Business. In addition, he made InvestmentNews' 2012 Power 20 list and Investment Advisor's list of Top 25 Most Influential People in the Industry in 2012 and 2013.
What Types of Clients Does Hightower Advisors Accept?
According to documents it recently filed with the SEC, HighTower Advisors serves the following types of clients:
- Individuals (other than high net worth)
- High-net-worth indiviudals and ultra-high-net-worth individuals
- Corporate retirement plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
- Certain pension and Taft-Hartley plans
- Trusts and estates
- Charitable organizations
- Business entities
- Institutional organizations such as universities
- State and municipal entities
Hightower Advisors Minimum Account Size
HighTower Advisors generally doesn’t require a minimum investment to start a relationship. However, the firm notes that its services may not benefit clients with small asset levels due to higher fees. The firm believes these expenses may significantly impact account sizes below $500,000.
Services Offered by Hightower Advisors
Representatives of HighTower Advisors generally provide investment advisory services on a discretionary basis. This means advisors have complete access to your account, and they’re authorized to sell or purchase securities as they see fit to meet your investment goals based on your Individual Investment Policy Statement (IPS).
Advisors may also provide stand-alone financial planning services upon request. Depending on your goals, these services may encompass some or all of the following:
- Estate planning
- College savings plans
- Retirement planning
- Insurance management
- Asset allocation review
- Cash management and certain Treasury services
The firm may also offer access to unaffiliated third-party money managers who can provide specialized asset management services. These managers may provide additional research and investment management expertise. HighTower Advisors monitors and evaluates these managers in order to determine whether they are suitable for particular clients. However, clients will come into separate agreements with these managers if they agree to work with them. HighTower Advisors has the authority to fire these managers on behalf of clients who have given HighTower discretionary authority.
Furthermore, HighTower Advisors also works with plan sponsors who manage employee benefits like 401(k) plans and 403(b) plans. The firm also provides services to the following private funds:
- Fischer Global Opportunity Fund, LP
- Fischer Enterprise Fund, L.P.
- FGLO CAPITAL, L.P.
Hightower Advisors Investment Philosophy
HighTower Advisors’ investment advisory process starts with a thorough assessment of the client. The firm will gather key information such as the client’s risk tolerance, investment goals, preferences and more. HighTower Advisors uses this information to develop an IPS for the client as well as an appropriate asset allocation for an investment portfolio.
The firm doesn’t limit itself to investing in specific securities and will allocate client assets across the securities universe as it deems appropriate to meet the client’s goals. HighTower Advisors also employs the following methods when evaluating these investments:
Charting - predicting the performance of a security based on past price movements and other available information
Fundamental analysis - conducting an in-depth analysis of a company's financials throughout a certain period of time in order to determine future performance
Technical analysis - making economic projections based on patterns and trends of a particular security or sector
Quantitative analysis - creating mathematical models to predict price movements and other factors of a particular security or secto
Fees Under Hightower Advisors
For investment advisory services, clients generally pay advisory fees as a percentage of their AUM. Advisors determine this percentage at different asset levels. For example, it may be a 1.00% annual advisory fee on the first $1 million. However, these fees are typically charged on a quarterly basis using the fair market value of the account as of the last business day of each quarter. So the quarterly fee would translate to a fourth of the annual fee in this scenario.
Clients may enter either a wrap-fee or unbundled fee schedule for investment advisory services. The wrap program covers the firm’s advisory fee along with the custodial and transaction fees paid to other entities involved with the management of your account. In this case, the client would work with the advisor to determine an appropriate wrap-fee schedule.
Investment advisory fees paid to the firm are separate form expenses charged by the underlying funds that the client’s portfolio invests in. These may include mutual fund and exchange-traded fund (ETF) expenses levied by the applicable fund managers. While these aren’t paid to HighTower Advisors, they would reduce your account size. You can find detailed information about these expenses in each fund’s prospectus.
For financial planning services, fees are on an hourly or fixed basis. The extent of these fees would depend on the scope of the services rendered.
Overall, fees are specific to the advisor you work with through HighTower Advisors and the services you receive. But you can compare your fees against national rates which we describe below.
|Estimated Fee Comparison*|
|Your Assets||National Median Advisory Fees**|
|$1MM||$8,500 - $10,000|
|$5MM||$25,000 - $32,500|
|*Fee estimates only consider the maximum base fees for the services each firm provides. You may also pay manager fees and other fees, which can vary in amount. **All figures are based on median fee levels according to Bob Veres' 2017 Planning Profession Fee Survey. The above estimates solely take into account AUM-only fees. Total costs will likely be higher due to additional expenses.|
What to Watch Out For
Representatives of HighTower Advisors may be affiliated with third-party firms in the financial services industry. As a result, they may receive commissions and other forms of compensation when they recommend or sell products from such firms. This structure may create a conflict of interest, as the advisor may feel incentivized to recommend certain products. However, the firm legally must uphold its fiduciary duty to act in your best interest at all times. Furthermore, HighTower Advisors must disclose potential conflicts of interest.
In addition, the firm works to ensure its advisory fees along with other expenses don’t exceed 2.5% of AUM annually.
Neither HighTower Advisors nor its representatives have any disciplinary events to disclose as of the time of this writing.
Opening an Account With Hightower Advisors
To contact HighTower Advisors, call 312-962-3800. You can also find advisors close to you by visiting its website: https://www.hightoweradvisors.com/find-advisor.
Where Is Hightower Advisors Located?
HighTower Advisors is located at the following address:
200 W. Madison St., Suite 2500
Chicago, Illinois 60606
Tips for Finding a Financial Advisor
- Before you sign up with a financial advisor, make sure he or she is a fiduciary. This means the advisor is ethically bound to put your best interests first. For more things to know about prospective advisors, check out our story about the 5 questions to ask when choosing a financial advisor.
- Use our SmartAsset financial advisor matching tool. After answering some questions about your goals, you’ll be linked with up to three advisors in your area. You can access their profiles to compare their qualifications before making a decision.
All information was accurate as of the writing of this article.