The national RIA HighTower said today it added two San Diego, Calif.-based UBS advisors to its ranks and boasted that the pace of its advisor acquisition has accelerated sharply this year.
David Molnar (right), 40, and Drew Nordlicht (below left) , 42, who managed $330 million in assets of corporate executives, HNW families, entrepreneurs and venture capital firms, joined HighTower on Friday. Both had been at UBS for six years, and previously at Smith Barney for 14 years.
Nordlicht described their split with UBS as amicable, and he expected to transfer former client assets over to their new business at the same level, or more, as other HighTower advisors have done.
The venture capital expertise of the two advisors is valued by HighTower. In addition to managing the assets of VC executives, the advisors also handle certain financial needs of the firms themselves.
They include cash management, building retirement plans for execs and their employees, and facilitating the transfer of the proceeds of IPOs to the VC investors—usually pension funds, foundations and endowments.
Nordlicht said the two advisors began reconsidering their business model after the markets tanked in 2008. Although they didn’t lose any clients, he said, they spent extensive time reassuring clients who were troubled by the news of shaken investment giants.
“Once trust is broken, it takes a significant length of time to heal it,” he said. “We felt the traditional broker model definitely broke that trust.”
They settled on Chicago-based HighTower because they were impressed with its technology and its fiduciary culture. Nordlicht said HighTower also attracted large teams who bore some similarity to their own practice.
Charles Schwab will be their primary custodian, with assets also held at Fidelity and JPMorgan.
HighTower has targeted wirehouse advisors since it opened for business in 2008. The Molnar/Nordlicht team is HighTower’s sixth new team this year; the firm said it has attracted more assets in the first six months of this year than it did in all of 2011, when it added $5 billion in new assets. HighTower reported $20 billion in assets at the end of the year.
Mike Papedis, executive vice president of business development at HighTower, says he’s travelled more in the first half of this year than he has in all of 2011.