Hightower Acquires $1.65B AUM TC Wealth Partners

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Hightower is acquiring the Ill.-based TC Wealth Partners, a firm specializing in wealth management and retirement plan advice with about $1.65 billion in assets under management. 

As part of the deal, Hightower acquired the TC Wealth subsidiary Trust Company of Illinois. In a statement about the acquisition, Hightower Chairman and CEO Bob Oros said he saw a “strategic opportunity” to help grow TC Wealth’s business with high-net-worth individuals and families, as well as business owners and institutions.

“TC Wealth is a highly successful business with long-standing clients and deep expertise in financial planning, investment management, trust, fiduciary and retirement plan advisory services,” Oros said. “The group has a strong footprint in the greater Midwest, with significant potential to scale nationally.”

TC Wealth has offices in both Chicago and Downers Grove, Ill. The company has 30 employees, was founded in 1993, and serves more than 800 clients around the country, with a five-person management team led by CEO William Griffin. Everyone in the firm’s management will retain their roles after the deal. 

In a statement on the deal, Griffin said joining with a “large, institutional-class RIA” like Hightower would help TC Wealth focus on assisting clients.

“As a business with a robust roster of affluent client families and a diverse range of institutional clientele, we have ambitions to grow our footprint and expand our capabilities—though of paramount importance to us is keeping the boutique feel of our business and our relationships,” he said.

The transaction between TC Wealth and Hightower closed on Dec. 31, with Cambridge International Partners advising TC Wealth during the acquisition. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

Hightower has about 122 advisory businesses spread throughout 34 states (and the District of Columbia) with about $132.2 billion in assets under advisement and $104.1 billion in AUM as of the end of September. The RIA had a busy 2021, with 13 acquisitions in total, including the mid-December announcement that it would acquire 6 Meridian, a Wichitia, Kan.-based firm with $1.8 billion in AUM. 

In November, Hightower announced the acquisition of Clear Perspective Advisors, another wealth management firm with multiple offices in Illinois and managed assets totaling $700 million. One month earlier, Hightower facilitated a deal in which Fairport Wealth, a Cleveland-based Hightower advisory firm, acquired FMA Advisory, a $500 million AUM firm based out of Harrisburg, Penn. 

The TC Wealth and 6 Meridian deals were illustrative of an ongoing trend in the M&A space, with larger, $1 billion+ RIAs increasingly willing to sell. In a prior interview with WealthManagement.com, Oros suggested that the trend was ongoing as larger firms were feeling the “impact of scale” that occurs when a firm exceeds $1 billion in assets, including a larger head count and more real estate needs.

“And that’s the point where you hit this ceiling of complexity that you either have to choose; do you want to continue to plow through yourself and make those reinvestments back in the business?” Oros said. “Or, I think what’s been commonly happening, folks are looking at a partner who could just help them get that quicker and let them focus on what they really love doing.”

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