HighTower is shaking things up, revamping its management team ahead of an expected surge in business over the next few months. The firm appointed Michael LaMena as its new president on Tuesday, replacing founding member Drew Kornreich, who will remain with the firm as a strategic advisor for its corporate finance and strategic M&A activities.
The move, a product of discussions started last September, is part of the “natural evolution from start-up to scale up,” said HighTower’s CEO Elliot Weissbluth. “[LaMena] is a seasoned executive with a lot of experience in managing people and processes.” There’s a traditional evolution of a start-up, Weissbluth said. At the beginning, a start-up needs a group of people who can transform an idea into reality, but as it grows, a different skill set is needed. “We needed to evolve,” he said. The recent leadership changes represent the turning point in that process for HighTower, from a start-up to a company with stable growth.
The announcement comes ahead of HighTower’s big partner meeting taking place in Florida, Weissbluth said. The firm also wanted to get the changes in place before a “flurry of new teams” join the firm in the next 60-70 days, he added. HighTower is also expecting two more teams to join its Omnichannel in the coming months, with Weissbluth predicting that the first and second quarters of 2014 will be “extremely busy” for the firm.
In addition to his new role as president, LaMena, 40, will continue to serve as the firm’s chief operations officer. With HighTower since 2010, LaMena has almost 20 years of experience within the financial services industry. Previously, LaMena spent 14 years with Morgan Stanley, including in his role as director of the wirehouse’s wealth management division.
LaMena’s appointment comes after several other changes to the firm’s leadership in recent months. Michael Parker became the firm’s national director of the enterprise development and relationship management unit, while Mike Papedis was promoted to the national director of business development. Papedis will focus on HighTower’s Omnichannel; two teams are already set to join the breakaway advisor channel.
HighTower also recently promoted Matthew Camden to chief of staff to act as a liaison between the firm’s executive management team and departments across the firm. Larry Koehler remains in place as chief financial officer.
Although no longer president, Kornreich will remain a part of the team and retain an equity stake in the company. “He really enjoys the energy of a startup,” Weissbluth explained, saying in his new role, Kornreich will continue to work with new firms and acquisitions within that start-up phase.