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Gurinder Ahluwalia
THL Exec Gurinder Ahluwalia

Hightower Names Gurinder Ahluwalia as President

Ahluwalia, an executive at Hightower's private equity investor Thomas H. Lee Partners, will serve as president, while Bob Oros continues in his role as chairman and CEO of the company.

Hightower Advisors, the RIA platform with more than $130 billion in assets, has named Gurinder Ahluwalia, lead director of the firm’s board of directors, as president, a newly created position, according to a recent Form ADV filing. Ahluwalia is currently an executive partner to the financial technology and services vertical at Thomas H. Lee Partners, Hightower’s private equity owner. He’s been registered with Hightower Securities, the firm’s broker/dealer since November.

The filing also named Michael DiBiasio, a managing director at Morgan Stanley, as chief operating officer, and Daniel Berg, an executive director of corporate finance at Hightower, as CFO, a role previously held by Dan Watanapongse. A Hightower spokesperson said Watanapongse will remain with the firm to help with the transition over the next three months.

Bob Oros will continue to serve as chairman and CEO of the company.

“Hightower Advisors continues to expand its executive team by adding talented leaders who can support our business and client objectives,” Oros said, in a statement. “With the additions of Gurinder Ahluwalia as President and Michael DiBiasio as COO, we’re supporting the structure of growth and at the same time ensuring that we can continue to drive momentum for our advisors in a way that is proactive and scalable.”

A spokeswoman for THL did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

THL hired Ahluwalia in 2016, when it launched its wealth management vertical. Ahluwalia has a long history in the industry, including serving as the former president and CEO of AssetMark and co-founder of 280 CapMarkets. He served as president of Genworth Financial’s wealth management division before that.

THL acquired “a significant stake” in Hightower in 2018. To re-establish trust with Hightower’s advisors, THL successfully negotiated transactions with each of the firm’s advisors to make them fully affiliated with Hightower. THL also brought in tenured wealth management executive Bob Oros to succeed Elliot Weissbluth as CEO; since then, Oros has led what he calls a “strategic shift,” building out and unifying Hightower’s management team, the firm’s infrastructure, and its acquisition strategy.

In 2020, THL closed on a secondary transaction with Hightower.

Oros recently sat down with to reflect on the last five years at the helm of Hightower, and he said THL has no interest in selling Hightower, despite published reports to the contrary.

“We’re not looking to sell,” Oros said. “THL has no interest in exiting Hightower. They’ve been here since 2018 when they made their original investment. We’ve already recapitalized once with them and brought in some additional equity investors. Will we bring in future equity investors? Probably, but it’s not going to be in the form of a sale.”  

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