Hightower is no stranger to acquisitions, but its latest buy is something of an anomaly.
Instead of the usual deal to acquire a registered investment advisor, Hightower has purchased a California firm that provides concierge financial services to wealthy clients.
With the purchase of Grant Tani Barash & Altman, Hightower is adding a business-management firm specializing in providing what it calls “chief financial officer services” like bookkeeping, bill payment, and tax preparation for high- and ultrahigh-net-worth clients.
So it’s not an RIA, but rather a service provider that Hightower’s sprawling network of RIAs will be able to tap to offer their own clients a new set of services and enhance their value proposition.
“We believe that to grow organically, financial advisory businesses must consider how they can add new and unique value to their client relationships—beyond the portfolio—to address clients’ holistic needs,” Hightower CEO Bob Oros said in an email. “This transaction is a key part of Hightower’s plan to provide seamless and personalized access to sophisticated services to complement our trust, estates, and other value-added capabilities.”
Based in Los Angeles, Grant Tani Barash & Altman was itself an RIA at one point, but exited that business in 2017, according to regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The firm was founded in 1992, and has an extensive roster of clients—individuals, families, and companies—that include high-profile members of the entertainment industry, business owners, and entrepreneurs.
This type of non-RIA acquisition is not unprecedented for Hightower. In spring 2020, the firm acquired Wellspring Associates, which specializes in services like estate and tax planning for ultrahigh-net-worth clients.
Oros declined to comment on the terms of the most recent deal, except to say that the sale involved a mix of cash and equity, and that “the principals maintain strategic and management control of the business.”
The acquisition fits with Hightower’s ongoing efforts to build out the menu of services it offers its advisors, spanning everything from tax planning to philanthropy. In this case, it’s adding a concierge service for high-end clients to handle their quotidian financial tasks.
“At Hightower, 40% of our assets are from families with $15 million or more in assets,” Oros said. “Partnering with Grant Tani Barash & Altman will allow our advisors to gain direct, streamlined access to a highly respected business management provider that can meet the complex, day-to-day financial needs of their clients and their families.”
Once the integration is complete, the concierge service will be available to all Hightower advisors in the same centralized model that the firm offers its other specialized services. Oros noted that while some Hightower advisors have been dabbling with the concierge concept, those offerings aren’t widely available to other advisors on the platform as a service model.
“While some of our advisory businesses offer aspects of concierge business management, in order to provide a full-service offering to our advisors and clients at scale we chose to make a strategic investment in a top-notch, established business-management firm with 80 employees delivering these services already,” Oros said. “Given how many ultrahigh-net-worth clients we have, we expect to have good utilization as we integrate this and roll it out.”
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