M and A

Hightower Buys $2.0 Billion AuM Wealth Management House

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, July 28, 2021

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The deals highlight a continued busy trend of mergers and acquisitions in the North American wealth management sector. 

Hightower, the Chicago-based group, has acquired Farr, Miller & Washington, a $2 billion (assets under management) wealth management firm based in Washington, DC with offices in Naples, Florida, and Devon, Pennsylvania. 

Farr, Miller & Washington’s president and CEO is Michael Farr, a speaker, media commentator and author. As a part of this transaction, Farr will take on a broader role as Hightower chief market strategist collaborating with Hightower’s Investment Solutions group, led by chief investment strategist and portfolio manager Stephanie Link.

The acquired firm was founded in 1996 and has 20 employees, including 13 investment professionals focused on serving affluent clients and institutions. 

The transaction comes at a busy time for Hightower. In June the firm won conditional regulatory approval to transform its Texas-based trust company into a nationally chartered trust company. In January this year Hightower made a strategic stake in New York-based Siller & Cohen Family Wealth Advisors, an $830 million wealth management firm in Rye Brook, New York. 

The deals highlight a continued busy trend of mergers and acquisitions in the North American wealth management sector. 

 DeVoe & Company, which tracks M&A deals in the RIA space, said earlier in July that there were 43 deals in the second quarter of this year, the fourth-largest deal-flow figure on record, following 58 transactions in Q1 and 48 in the final three months of 2020.

In recent months Canada’s CI Financial, US-based Mercer Advisors and CAPTRUST, among others, have been snapping up RIA businesses. A desire for scale comes with increased client and tech spending demands, coupled with some RIA owners’ wish to retire and seek exits. FWR has noted, meanwhile, that the mass of M&A activity seen among RIAs hasn’t yet been mirrored by comparable levels of transactions among multi-family offices. (See an interview here with wealth sector consultant Jamie McLaughlin, who explained in detail why this is the case.)

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