In June 2011, financial advisor Jeff Leventhal went to Chicago for a home office visit with HighTower Advisors' executives at the firm's headquarters. Leventhal was pondering a move from the wirehouse where he worked to a more entrepreneurial practice, but he thought any action was a few years off.

Instead, Leventhal brought his team of five to HighTower in Bethesda, Md., within three months. "The home-office visit was the number one thing that solidified my decision," he says.

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