CHICAGO -- While HighTower goes after the crème de la crème of high-end wirehouse advisors, CEO Elliot Weissbluth dismisses the Wall Street giants who currently employ them -- as well as any big firms that provide both products and advice.

"The biggest challenge will be for firms who are at their core manufacturers and/or distributors masquerading as service providers," Weissbluth said during a roaming conversation about leadership, industry challenges and what lies ahead with former Vanguard CEO Jack Brennan and moderated by CNBC's senior editor at large Jim Pavia.

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