It's a role reversal for Merrill Lynch in the firm's most recent recruiting grab. 

While aggregators and roll-ups are built on the business of going after breakaway wirehouse advisors, one prominent financial academic has gone the other way, leaving HighTower Advisors for Merrill Lynch.

Margaret Towle, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Investment Consulting, will be joining Merill’s Seattle Denali complex in Bainbridge Island, Wash., as a financial advisor in January. She will report to complex director Michael Maroni.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Towle join us and believe that her distinguished experience will further enhance our ability to serve high-net-worth families, endowments and foundations in the Pacific Northwest,” Maroni said in a statement.

Towle’s decision to leave HighTower for Merrill Lynch was based on her assessment that being part of a large firm would provide her with the resources and ability to serve such potential clientele, Merrill Lynch officials said. For the past two years, Towle was a partner and managing director with HighTower Advisors in Bainbridge Island and Minneapolis, working with endowments and wealthy families. 

Towle’s academic work has researched the role of strategic and dynamic asset allocation in portfolio construction and the issues surrounding the use of alternative investments in endowment portfolios, the firm noted in a released statement.

Her advisory career also includes four years as a managing director with Greycourt & Co., where she worked with ultrahigh-net-worth clients.

Additionally, Towle is a founding board member with the Center for Democracy at the University of Washington. 

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