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Hightower Advisors Review

Hightower Advisors offers both investment management and financial planning. This guide reviews what you can expect from the firm’s services.

Hightower Advisors is a financial advisor firm based in Chicago, Illinois. It is a registered investment advisor (RIA) with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), holding it to a fiduciary duty when it works with clients. The company specializes in providing investment management and financial planning services to both retail clients and organizations alike. In 2023, the firm ranked #2 on Barron’s Top 100 RIA Firms list.

In this article, we’ll review what you can expect from Hightower’s services. This includes giving you an overview of its types of clients, fee structure, and account opening process. We’ll also take a look at the firm’s disclosure history and customer service contact methods.

Assets Under Management

$105.23 trillion

Date Founded

2008

CEO

Bob Oros

Fee Structure

Fee-based

Headquarters Address

200 W. Madison St. Suite 2500. Chicago, Illinois, 60606

Phone Number

(312) 962-3800

Pros and Cons of Hightower Advisors

Pros

  • No account minimum
  • Offers both investment management and financial planning
  • Only two disclosures
  • Upholds a fiduciary duty

Cons

  • Fees can be expensive
  • Not available in every state

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Types of Clients

Hightower Advisors serves individual clients of varying asset levels, including those of high- or ultra-net-worth. Because it doesn’t require an account minimum for its services, most clients should be able to open an account provided they can pay the annual fee. The firm also serves organizations, including:

  • Trusts, estates, and charities
  • Institutions, such as universities
  • Corporations and non-profits
  • Government organizations

While Hightower Advisors doesn’t set an account minimum for its services, you’re still responsible for paying advisory fees. For those with fewer assets to manage, this fee can be higher. Unfortunately, this might price you out of hiring the firm for the services you need.

Financial Advisor Services

Hightower Advisors primarily offers discretionary investment management, as well as financial planning for its clients. Additionally, it provides clients access to third-party money managers as an extra resource. And, if you’re a client impacted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the firm provides specialized services.

Below is a more specific breakdown of each service Hightower offers clients:

Investment Management and Consulting

Hightower Advisors provides discretionary investment management and advisory for clients. Once you begin working with a professional, they’ll attempt to understand your goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon via a “detailed financial assessment,” according to the firm’s wrap fee program brochure. Then, your advisor will structure your portfolio with an investment mix that fits your preferences.

Based on the information you provide your advisor, they’ll use one of two categories to structure your portfolio. These are:

  • Multi-Asset Portfolios (MAPs). This arrangement is made up of several investment vehicle types that attempt to reach your target asset allocation, such as index funds and mutual funds.
  • Separately Managed Accounts (SMAs). With this type, you’ll own shares of various equities and fixed-income securities that help you reach your target asset allocation.

Also offered by the firm is its non-discretionary investment consulting service. Similarly to its investment management, a professional will utilize the information you provide them to tailor a strategy that’s right for you. But, because the program is non-discretionary, it’s up to you to put those recommendations into action.

Hightower also utilizes third-party money managers. These professionals specialize in asset management and can assist clients with constructing their portfolios. According to the firm’s wrap fee program brochure, the service intends to allow clients to “obtain portfolio management services that typically have higher minimum account sizes.”

Financial Planning

Hightower Advisors also provides financial planning for its clients, either per each service or comprehensively. Here’s what it includes:

  • Investment and asset planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Estate planning
  • Education planning
  • Cash-flow planning

Fee Structure and Cost

Hightower Advisors charges differently depending on the type of service you’re receiving. Additionally, fees for financial planning are negotiable. For a given service, the firm will charge you in one of four ways:

  • Assets under management (AUM). This requires you to pay a percentage of your AUM. Among most firms, this number ranges from 0.5% to as high as 2.0%. Typically, the more assets you have, the smaller the percentage.
  • Fixed fees. Non-wrap-fee clients may need to pay additional fees that would otherwise be included. These include transaction costs, custodial expenses, and other administrative fees.
  • Hourly. Wealth management or financial planning clients may be subject to hourly fees for their advisor’s time. Before you begin working with a professional from Hightower, you’ll agree to the hourly rate.
  • One-time fee. Wealth management or financial planning clients may also need to pay a flat fee for services they require. As with hourly fees, you will agree to these flat costs beforehand in your client agreement.

You also have the option of paying for your investment management services through a wrap-fee program. In this arrangement, any additional costs, such as for transactions or custodial fees, will be factored in along with your advisory fee.

Investment Philosophy

When you open a discretionary account with an investment management firm, it’s important that you understand how it will invest your funds and why. In the case of Hightower Advisors, you’ll be working with a fiduciary financial advisor to build your portfolio in a way that aligns with your objectives. To accomplish this, the firm asks you to provide information regarding your goals, risk tolerance, time horizon, and resources.

Once Hightower Advisors understands how you think as an investor and what you want to achieve, it can begin helping you in a discretionary capacity. The firm’s wrap fee program brochure outlines several specific investment strategies and methods of analysis that it uses to assist clients. This includes fundamental, technical, and quantitative analysis of both the market and individual securities. You can also expect your advisor to utilize the charting method, in which one projects the performance of an investment via a graphic.

Disclosures

Hightower Advisors, LLC is an RIA with the SEC. This status requires it to file a Form ADV each year, which reports any legal action, conflict of interest, or other pertinent information to the public. Any regulatory event (such as disciplinary action) against the company or its representatives comes in the form of a disclosure on this document.

As of its most recent Form ADV, Hightower Advisors only has two disclosures to report. One is due to a violation of “investment-related regulations or statutes.” The other indicates that the firm was found to have violated another regulatory authority’s rules on one occasion.

Customer Service and Becoming a Client

If you have questions for Hightower Advisors or would like to report any complaints, the best way to reach the firm is by accessing the firm’s contact page. It contains contact information for each of the company’s corporate offices, including phone numbers. If you’re an existing client, it may also be smart to contact your local office for any specific inquiries or concerns.

To begin working with Hightower Advisors, you can access the firm’s website to locate an advisor near you. The firm has at least one advisor in the following states:

StateNumber of Hightower Advisors
Alabama3
Arizona4
California18
Colorado5
Connecticut5
Florida14
Georgia5
Hawaii1
Illinois11
Indiana1
Kansas2
Kentucky1
Maine3
Maryland1
Massachusetts10
Michigan2
Minnesota2
Missouri2
Nebraska1
Nevada1
New Hampshire1
New Jersey8
New Mexico1
New York23
North Carolina2
Ohio2
Oregon1
Pennsylvania5
South Carolina1
Tennessee3
Texas9
Virginia3
Washington6
Wisconsin1

Tips for Choosing a Financial Advisor Firm

Selecting the right financial advisor firm for your needs can be a tall task. The fact that there are many options available, all with varying services, makes it an even tougher choice. However, there are some key indicators to look for, such as the firm and its advisors being fiduciaries. Be on the lookout for whether a company is an RIA and special designations for professionals, such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).

Another important detail to pay attention to is a firm’s account minimums. Some, like Hightower Advisors, won’t require an account minimum. However, this is rare. Most require an initial investment for you to get your foot in the door and access specific services. You should also be aware of a company’s fee structure. It’s key to ensure you’ll be able to afford the advisory fees necessary to maintain an account.

If you need help kickstarting your search for a financial advisor, we recommend you use a free matching tool, such as this one. After filling out a brief questionnaire, it’ll connect you with up to three fiduciary advisors in your area.

Methodology

This review is based on publicly available information directly from Hightower Advisors’ website and the SEC. Neither the firm nor its representatives have any say on what we’ve included on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Hightower Advisors a fiduciary?

Hightower Advisors is registered with the SEC as an RIA. This status requires the firm and its representatives to uphold a fiduciary duty while conducting its advisory business.

Is Hightower Advisors good?

Hightower Advisors is a solid option if you’re looking for a firm that offers both investment management and financial planning. With no account minimums, it has a rather low barrier to entry, aside from fees. Additionally, the company only has two disclosures, which is much lower than many larger competitors.

Another key benefit of the firm is access. The company operates with at least one professional in 34 states.

Does Hightower Advisors offer wealth management?

Yes, the firm provides wealth management solutions to its clients. This comprises investment management and financial planning. If you fit into this category, you may need to pay additional fees for hourly work. These will be outlined in your client agreement with the company.

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