HighTower Advisors plans to ramp up its advisor recruitment in 2011 and exceed the eight new teams it took on last year, HighTower Managing Director of Business Development Mike Papedis said Tuesday.

Details of those recruitment plans come as HighTower said this week that it has hired two Bank of America Merrill Lynch advisors, Mark Masterson and David Emma, in Naples, Fla. Those hires follow four Portland, Maine-based Merrill Lynch financial advisors that HighTower announced it had hired in February.

“We will do more deals this year than we did last year,” said Papedis, who heads HighTower’s national recruiting. “Our pipeline is certainly brimming and we are enjoying an ever-increasing number of teams that we’re speaking to on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.”

HighTower plans to expand nationally, especially in cities including Atlanta, Boston, Phoenix, San Diego, Scottsdale, Seattle, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. The firm will likely add new hires in those locations in the next several months, Papedis said.

HighTower’s plans are boosted by $165 million that it has to put toward its acquisitions, Papedis said. The firm is backed by private equity investors including Asset Management Finance, Continental Investors, DLB Capital, Envestnet, Franklin Mutual Advisers, M.D. Sass-Macquarie Financial Strategies Fund and Red Eagle Ventures.

In each market, HighTower looks at the top two or three teams, Papedis said, usually with more than $300 million in assets under management. Those teams could include wirehouse or independent practices, he said, while the firm is seeing increased interest from wirehouse advisors lured by the prospect of a more independent business.

“We’re hearing from Wall Street advisors in record numbers,” Papedis said. “Right now the wirehouse environment is something that we’re keenly interested in and having a great deal of success.”

Chicago-based HighTower currently has 12 offices in 10 states. Advisors own 25% of the business, Papedis said, which has both advisory and transactional services.

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