Financial services firm HighTower Advisors has added one more Merrill Lynch advisor with $200 million in client assets under management to a Washington, D.C.-based team it recruited from that firm last summer.

Charles S. Holt joined HighTower on Friday, March 23. He now serves as partner and managing director at the Pagnato-Karp Group.

The Pagnato-Karp Group includes Paul A. Pagnato and David W. Karp who joined HighTower on July 29 after serving as private wealth advisors in Merrill Lynch’s Private Banking and Investment Group.

Holt most recently served as senior vice president of investments at Merrill Lynch’s Global Wealth Management Group. In his new role, Holt will work with clients on strategies including capital preservation, reducing taxes and long-term cash flow planning.

Holt’s hiring came after he had partnered for more than ten years with the team while they were at Merrill Lynch, Pagnato said in an interview with On Wall Street.

Pagnato’s team typically focuses on ultra high net worth investors. While the team was at Merrill Lynch, the minimum investment they would take was $10 million. At the same time, the team would often refer clients who had not yet reached that minimum to Holt, including family or friends of existing clients or business owners who had not yet reached a liquidity event.

Holt was familiar with the team’s procedures at the time, Pagnato said, because he sat in on all of their investment strategy meetings and followed their investment process discipline.

“It was a nice way for us to add value to these other people and be confident they were taken care of,” Pagnato said.

Now that Holt has joined their team at HighTower, the structure for working with clients will be similar, Pagnato said. The Pagnato-Karp Group continues to focus on working with entrepreneurs who have gone through a liquidity event with $10 million or more to invest. Having Holt there will also allow the team to service other clients who have not yet met that threshold.

The Pagnato-Karp Group has had a smooth transition to HighTower since last summer, with “fantastic” reception from the team’s clients, Pagnato said. The team may look to add additional hires to expand the team’s expertise in areas like asset management or non-profits.

“I get calls every week from other advisors, and what’s really important to us is our culture and chemistry on our team here,” Pagnato said. “It just needs to be the right person with the right skill set.”

Some of the movement of talent that the financial advisory industry has seen recently from large wirehouses to other more independent models makes sense, Pagnato said, because advisors want to feel like entrepreneurs.

“They don’t feel like they’re running their business,” Pagnato said. “At HighTower the business model is completely the opposite. At HighTower, you’re a partner, you have your own P and L and you’re running your business.”

Lorie Konish writes for On Wall Street.


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