When Greycourt & Co. financial advisor Margaret M. Towle took part in financial services industry forecast as part of her role as chair of the Investment Management Consultants Association’s advisory council, it got her thinking about where the best future fit for her practice would be.

As part of her search, Towle called HighTower Advisors, a Chicago-based firm that is part advisor-owned, earlier this summer. It turned out to be a match.

Towle, who previously oversaw more than $1 billion in client assets, joined HighTower on Tuesday, August 16. She now serves as partner and managing director based out of both Seattle and Minneapolis. She will also serve on HighTower’s Group Investment Services Steering Committee that oversees the firm’s investments strategies.

Towle previously led alternative and traditional asset class research and development as part of her role at Greycourt. Prior to Greycourt, she served at Northern Trust Global Advisors as chief investment officer. She is also a member of IMCA’s board of directors.

“I think HighTower really represents the future in that it’s really the entrepreneurial culture and environment,” Towle said, “It has the best of the independents, but it has the resources of the major Wall Street firms. I do think this is a very visionary, forward-looking firm.”

That includes HighTower’s resources that coincide with the future direction Towle sees for the market, including capital markets research, a robust compliance system and a structure that fosters intellectual curiosity and collaboration.

In the future, Towle said she expects to see a general increase in market volatility even beyond recent weeks, combined with rapidly changing global and macro economic conditions. At the same time, Towle said she sees clients also asking for more customization of their assets.

Towle, who works with endowments and wealthy families, said she has her clients invest in non-traditional absolute return strategies, which can provide a hedge during periods of market volatility.

“At the point you get into this type of environment, you really need to hang tight and maintain your portfolio positions,” Towle said.

For HighTower, which was established in 2008, the addition of Towle to the team is part of an aggressive national acquisition strategy. HighTower has raised $165 million in private equity funds, and has grown by targeting the top teams in targeted markets.

HighTower has had seven team transitions this year representing $4 billion in acquired assets, Mike Papedis, managing director and head of business development at HighTower, said Thursday. In total, the firm has about $20 billion in assets, Papedis said.

Most recently in July, the firm added two Washington, D.C.-based Bank of America Merrill Lynch private wealth advisors, Paul A. Pagnato and David W. Karp, who oversaw more than $1 billion in client assets.

“What the common theme is in the marketplace is finding HighTower to be the best of both worlds,” Papedis said. “We have the sophisticated capabilities of the major wirehouse firms, but with an open source model that provides greater autonomy for advisors.”



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