HighTower has lured another three wirehouse advisors to its expanding empire.

Three Wells Fargo advisors became the latest to jump ship this month, as advisors John Morgan, Brian Sabo and Jason Edelson joined HighTower's Kelly Wealth Management group in Hunt Valley, Md.

The trio managed $384 million in assets and join Kelly as partners and directors; before their arrival, the firm had approximately $900 million in assets under advisement.

HighTower CEO Elliot Weissbluth says the move is further proof that his company's platform is the first choice for advisors looking to leave the wirehouse firms. "For an advisor looking to move to independence, we are the only firm that allows them to set up their own business and avail themselves of the services they have come to expect," he says.

The Wells Fargo trio is only the most recent addition to the HighTower network. The Chicago-based firm recently brought over a Merrill Lynch team that managed nearly $300 million in assets, and Weissbluth expects more to come.


Indeed, the independent advisory channels are projected to grow substantially in the next few years due to increased advisor movement, according to research from Cerulli Associates. Assets managed by RIAs and dually registered firms are projected to grow by about 20% by 2016.

Weissbluth says he thinks the competition to attract these independent-minded advisors will intensify -- although, naturally, he predicts that HighTower will come out on top.

"There are some credible alternatives to HighTower. But we are the only firm that has our brand, our infrastructure, our technologies and our services," says Weissbluth. "There are some companies doing some of what we do but there is no direct competitor," he maintains.

The three new recruits are financial services industry veterans. Morgan started his career in 1995 with Dean Witter Reynolds, according to FINRA documents. Sabo joined Metropolitan Life in 1995 and Edelson began work for IDS Life Insurance in 1999.

All three joined Wachovia in 2003, and stayed with the firm through its merger with Wells Fargo.

 "We are honored to welcome John, Brian and Jason to the team," said Leo J. Kelly III, managing director and partner of Kelly Wealth Management, in a statement. "This is an exciting time for our firm as we continue to evolve and expand. These new additions further our commitment to growing our practice to better serve our clients."

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