Michael Kitces’ #FASuccess Podcast: Elliot Weissbluth on the Future of the Broker/Dealer Model

Michael Kitces and HighTower Advisors’ Elliot Weissbluth dive deep into the firm’s service model and data platform.

Welcome, everyone! Welcome to the 67th episode of the Financial Advisor Success Podcast!

My guest on today’s podcast is Elliot Weissbluth. Elliot is the founder and CEO of HighTower Advisors, a back-office and middle-office support platform for independent advisory firms that now oversees more than $50 billion of assets under management with nearly 600 employees.

What’s unique about HighTower, though, is the way they built their own data platform that houses all of the data for all of their advisors and clients, making it possible for them to build deeper integrations between popular independent advisor software programs and what virtually any other advisory firm can accomplish on its own … yet still be able to easily swap out for a newer best-in-class software solution in the future should one come along.

In this episode, we talk in depth about how HighTower structures its service model, why platforms like HighTower have been successful by leveraging their size, scale and sophistication to reduce costs for independent advisory firms while bringing new capabilities, and why even at a cost of 15 to 20 percent of the firm’s revenues, the HighTower model can ultimately produce a significant cost savings relative to the overhead expense of the typical large independent advisory firm.

We also talk about HighTower’s unique structure with a subsidiary broker/dealer, used not to implement new commissionable products like mutual funds and annuities, but instead for the original purpose of a b/d—to help facilitate the implementation of trades; and the way HighTower leverages the control it has through its b/d subsidiary structure to pit RIA custodians and clearing firms against each other as a way to ensure the vendors compete for HighTower’s business by offering better service and lower execution prices for advisors and their clients.

And be certain to listen to the end, where Elliot shares his own personal background, as a child who was diagnosed with and struggled with severe dyslexia when he was young, yet was still able to find ways to not only cope with the challenge, but turn it into skills that have ultimately allowed him to excel in the business world.

So whether you are interested in learning more about how platforms like HighTower reduce costs for independent advisory firms, how HighTower pits RIA custodians and clearing firms against one another to achieve better execution prices for advisors and their clients, or are interested in how Elliot turned adversity into skills that allowed him to excel in the business world, I hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast!

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