And the ghost of Elliot Weissbluth as the former HighTower CEO rolls over in his grave. HighTower has just announced that it is exiting the broker protocol, limiting the movement of advisors in and out of its ecosystem, to focus on M&A of larger RIA targets.
Instead of the corporate message being that of the fiduciary standard, client first, and a corporate culture built of uncovering the ‘fleecing’ of wealth clients that occurs at competing wirehouse firms; HighTower now joins them in exiting the broker protocol.
In other words, recruiting can be declared dead at the firm. Very few, if any, are going to walk into a non-protocol RIA, as those very collection of words seems incredibly antithetical. If you were to ask us, it a move they will live to regret.
From the current HighTower CEO, Bob Oros, “We were part of the protocol when our business model centered on recruiting wirehouse teams. But we’re no longer a collection of teams. Our growth is now focused on mergers and acquisitions.”
A strange move from the firm that lead the charge in 2008 away from the litigious nature of the wirehouse model. Many firms followed in the ‘first mover’ path that HighTower had already travelled.
Why choose to veer significantly off message and off that familiar path now? We don’t see it. Feels like a ‘spreadsheet versus leadership’ type of decision. Our take: bad form.