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Hightower Advisors Review

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This review was produced by SmartAsset based on publicly available information. The named firm and its financial professionals have not reviewed, approved, or endorsed this review and are not responsible for its accuracy. Review content is produced by SmartAsset independently of any business relationships that might exist between SmartAsset and the named firm and its financial professionals, and firms and financial professionals having business relationships with SmartAsset receive no special treatment or consideration in SmartAsset’s reviews. This page contains links to SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool, which may or may not match you with the firm mentioned in this review or its financial professionals.

Hightower Advisors, LLC

Hightower Advisors is a registered investment advisor (RIA) headquartered in Chicago. In recent years, the fee-based firm has been acquiring other successful RIA firms and now has more than 100 branches across the country. Its network of partner advisors provide individual and institutional clients with investment advisory and financial planning services.

Hightower Advisors Background

Hightower Advisors was launched in 2008. 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. 

Today, the firm is owned primarily by buyout firm Thomas H. Lee Partners. Technically, it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hightower Holdings, LLC which is majority-owned by Thomas H. Lee Partners. As noted earlier, the company has been expanding recently by acquiring other RIA firms.

Some of these firms have retained their individual Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registrations, including Salient Private Client, LLC, The Rikoon Group, LLC, Duncker Streett & Co., LLC, WealthTrust Axiom, LLC, Delta Asset Management, LLC, and  Harvey Investment Company, LLC. Through its parent company, Hightower Advisors is also affiliated with Hightower Securities, a broker-dealer and insurance agency, Hightower Trust Services and Hightower Insurance Company (formerly Salient).

Hightower Advisors Client Types and Minimum Account Sizes

According to its SEC-filed brochure, Hightower Advisors serves the following types of clients:

  • Non-high-net-worth-individuals 
  • High-net-worth individuals 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

Generally, the firm doesn’t require a minimum investment to start a relationship. However, the advisory 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 are 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 if warranted on behalf of clients who have given Hightower discretionary authority. 

Additionally, the advisory works with plan sponsors who manage employee benefits like 401(k) plans and 403(b) plans. It also provides services to the following private funds:

  • Fischer Global Opportunity Fund, LP 
  • Fischer Enterprise Fund, L.P.
  • A number of Salient Teton Funds

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 sector

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 from 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. 

What to Watch Out For

As of its most recent SEC filings, Hightower Advisors reported two disclosures of legal or regulatory actions.

A couple of other things to note: Hightower Advisors' many affiliations in the financial services industry may pose conflicts of interest. Also, its representatives who are brokers or insurance agents have potential conflicts of interest in that they collect commissions and other transaction-based fees. That said, the firm is legally bound by its fiduciary duty to disclose all conflicts of interest and to act in clients' best interests at all times. 

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: 

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 legally 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
  • Finding a financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now. 

All information was accurate as of the writing of this article.

How Long $1mm Lasts in Retirement

SmartAsset's interactive map highlights places where $1 million will last the longest in retirement. Zoom between states and the national map to see the top spots in each region. Also, scroll over any city to learn about the cost of living in retirement for that location.

Rank City Housing Expenses Food Expenses Healthcare Expenses Utilities Expenses Transportation Expenses

Methodology We analyzed data on average expenditures for seniors, cost of living and investment returns to determine how many years of retirement a $1 million nest egg would cover in cities across America.

First, we looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on the average annual expenditures of seniors. We then applied cost of living data from the Council for Community and Economic Research to adjust those national average spending levels based on the costs of each expense category (housing, food, healthcare, utilities, transportation and other) in each city. Using this data, SmartAsset calculated the average cost of living for retirees in the largest U.S. cities.

We assumed the $1 million would grow at a real return (interest minus inflation) of 2%. Then, we divided $1 million by the sum of each of those annual numbers to determine how long $1 million would cover retirement expenses in each of the cities in our study. Cities where $1 million lasted the longest ranked the highest in the study.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Council for Community and Economic Research