Advisor consolidators like HighTower really hit the ground running in 2011, but as retention contracts weaken in the new year, these firms are eager to prospect plenty of talent away from the wirehouses.
Registered Rep has a nice profile on the firm that went from obscurity to $20 billion in AUM last year.
Part of the draw is HighTower's scope. It's already a national network that gives wirehouse defectors something of the "thick envelope" support they've come to expect.
The hybrid RIA/BD model is also a good set of training wheels for those looking to transition from transaction-based to fee-based business.
Everyone's looking to scale up in 2012. The question is how truly independent advisory firms will position themselves to compete with emerging national brands like HighTower.