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HighTower, Focus Financial Spur More Moves From Wirehouses

HighTower, Focus Financial Spur More Moves From Wirehouses

HighTower and Focus Financial continue to snag advisors from the wirehouses. The HighTower Network picked up a Sacramento-based advisor team with $300 million under management from Merrill Lynch on Tuesday, while Focus partner firm LVW Advisors lured a $400 million advisor duo away from Wells Fargo Advisors.

In its fourth acquisition this year, the HighTower Network brought onboard the Ezzell Group. Managing director and founder Jason Ezzell, along with senior manager Alec Fisher, transitioned to HighTower from Merrill Lynch on Tuesday, specializing in wealth management, deferred compensation plans and holistic financial planning. The team plans to continue serving clients in Sacramento and San Francisco areas.

“HighTower’s culture of transparency and integrity reflects the values that inform every one of our client relationships,” Ezzell said in a statement. “The firm’s sophisticated technology and deep operational resources will be invaluable in driving our growth and enabling us to go above and beyond for our clients.”

In addition to the Ezzell Group, the HighTower Network added the Gryphon team at the beginning of May. The network also includes a $384 million trio from Wells Fargo that joined in April and another ex-Morgan Stanley team, Twickenham Wealth Advisors, with $500 million in assets, that joined in September 2013.

“The Ezzell Group will build equity in their own businesses and retain 100 percent autonomy over their practices, while leveraging the HighTower platform to lower operating risk and increase access to world-class investment solutions,” Elliot Weissbluth, HighTower’s CEO, said in a statement. “Network teams have access to the industry’s best investment solutions and a robust services and technology platform to fuel their growth starting on day one.”

Back on the East Coast, Focus Financial’s connections program helped New York-based LVW Advisors bring over Joseph Zappia and Ted Garofola from Wells Fargo Advisors on Tuesday.

The team—which was previously part of the Zappia Investment Group at Wells Fargo—has about 50 years of combined experience in the industry. Individually managing about $400 million in client assets while at Wells Fargo, Zappia joins the firm as part of the formation of LVW Family Wealth. The new platform will focus exclusively on providing wealth management and integrated financial planning services to affluent families and family offices.

Zappia says the move was based, in part, on the strong belief that as the industry evolves, becoming fiduciaries and partnering with LVW Advisors would allow the team to best serve clients’ interests. “I am excited about leveraging this partnership and using our combined experience to serve the needs of high-net-worth families, who will benefit from the firm’s state-of-the-art infrastructure that supports sophisticated investments typically unavailable to private clients,” Zappia said in a statement.

The move was facilitated by Focus Connections, a program aimed at helping wirehouse teams make transitions to independence. LVW Advisors was launched through the program in 2011 and now has $2 billion in client assets under management.

“This partnership is a collaboration between two talented and experienced teams, joined together with a common goal - our clients,” Lori Van Dusen, CEO of LVW, said in a statement Tuesday. “With the ongoing support and counsel of Focus, we continue to look for like-minded partners, like Joe, as we expand our offering and add talent.”



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