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Hightower CEO Bob Oros

Hightower Buys $2.3B Vigilant Wealth Management

In its 5th deal of the year, Hightower expands its footprint in the nation’s Northeast.

Chicago-based Hightower has acquired Vigilant Wealth Management, a registered investment advisory firm with offices in Portland, Maine, and Portsmouth, N.H., managing around $2.3 billion in client assets across 500 households and several nonprofits.

Founded in 2002, Vigilant is led by co-founding principals Jeffrey Carlisle, Daniel Mulkern and Scott Sorensen. With more than 30 employees, including 11 financial advisors, the firm provides wealth advisory and portfolio management for entrepreneurs, executives, multigenerational families, retirees, transitioning individuals, and real estate investors and developers.

Terms of the deal were undisclosed, but Hightower CEO Bob Oros said the firm's acquisitions always include a combination of equity and cash.

“We were looking for high-quality leadership teams with a proven ability to run a great business and a real focus on same-store growth,” Oros said. “Real organic growth. And the team there checked all the boxes. They run their business with incredible discipline and the fact that they happen to be in a part of the country that is attractive is also a bonus.”

Vigilant will retain branding and gain access to Hightower’s menu of administrative, regulatory, practice management and investment resources, as well as a host of M&A services. Oros said Hightower’s higher-end services and trust capabilities were particularly attractive to the firm’s leadership team.

"We chose to align with Hightower because of their partnership approach—providing scaling and strategic planning resources to our firm, while leaving us with the entrepreneurial freedom to control the identity, culture and strategic direction of Vigilant," Carlisle said in a statement.

"We also share a focus in developing next-generation talent; the practical examples they shared from the Hightower Center for Leadership, ongoing working groups, and more made it clear that it's something they have put significant resources behind," he said. 

The Hightower Center for Leadership, launched in October 2020, is an 18-month educational program for Hightower’s next-generation financial professionals across partnership, business management, operations and more.

“The program has been really well received,” said Oros. “Because not only are our next-generation leaders getting exposed to all the elements of running an advisory business, but they’re also building a cohort within the firm.”

Founded in 2008, the Hightower platform currently comprises 132 advisory businesses in 34 states and the District of Columbia. Together, the network oversees around $148 billion in assets.

Vigilant represents the third acquisition Hightower has completed in 2023, along with two tuck-in transactions for subsidiary firms, and Oros said to expect several more.

“We'll be very active on the announcements over the next couple of months,” he said. “And we have a good group of deals coming behind it. There continues to be good quality coming to market and I think it's just reflective of what a lot of us believe, which is that it's still pretty early in the consolidation of the RIA industry.”

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