Private Equity-Backed Firm Of The Year: Hightower, Kestra And Stratos

Michael Madden, Contributing Editor & Research Analyst, Wealth Solutions Report

WSR Honors Hightower Advisors, Kestra Holdings And Stratos Wealth Holdings As Private Equity-Backed Firms Of The Year

The WSR Wealth Exemplar Awards for Private Equity-Backed Firm of the Year go to the top three wealth management firms that have received significant or majority equity investments from private equity, venture capital or other institutional investors for expansion and growth purposes. There is a minimum asset level of $1 billion.

Hightower Advisors

Bob Oros, Chairman & CEO, Hightower Advisors

In 2017, Thomas H. Lee Partners invested in Hightower Advisors, and in 2020 increased its stake while bringing aboard Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Neuberger Berman and Coller Capital

With this backing, Hightower nearly doubled its assets under management (AUM) from $61.6 billion on Sept. 30, 2020, to $117.8 billion at the end of 2021 and grew its workforce by 30% during the same timeframe. The company has continued to make acquisitions and now has 131 advisory businesses. Aside from M&A growth, the firm also achieved 9% organic growth in 2021.

The firm received approval in April of this year from the OCC for Hightower National Trust Company, a trust services provider that supports holistic and multi-generational planning.

Kestra Holdings

James Poer, CEO, Kestra Holdings

With $122 billion in assets under administration (AUA), $60 billion in AUM and serving 2,400 financial professionals, Kestra Holdings maintains a strong position in the wealth management industry. 

The firm encompasses several financial services companies including Grove Point Financial, Bluespring Wealth Partners, Arden Trust Company, Kestra Investment Management, Kestra Private Wealth Services and the flagship Kestra Financial, which serves over 1,800 advisors with $51 billion in AUM.

The firm grew through the relatively difficult 2022 environment, as demonstrated by Kestra Financial and Kestra Private Wealth Services recruiting over 50 financial professionals and $4.1 billion in new assets in the first half of this year. 

In 2019, Warburg Pincus acquired a majority stake in Kestra, and in September of this year, Oak Hill Capital bought the stake held by Stone Point Capital since 2016. Kestra plans to continue investments to strengthen and grow all of its subsidiary businesses.

Stratos Wealth Holdings

Jeff Concepcion, Founder & CEO, Stratos Wealth Partners

Founded in 2008, Stratos Wealth Holdings includes Stratos Wealth Partners, Stratos Wealth Advisors and Fundamentum, all three of which are RIAs, as well as its acquisition arm, Stratos Wealth Enterprises. In total, the Stratos companies serve over 340 financial advisors.

Stratos Wealth Partners manages over $8.7 billion in advisory assets, and through LPL Financial advises on over $6.7 billion in brokerage and third-party managed assets as of Sept. 30 this year.

Lou Camacho, President, Stratos Wealth Enterprises

Stratos Wealth Advisors manages over $2.4 billion in advisory assets and over $13 million in third-party managed assets at the end of the third quarter, and Fundamentum manages over $1 billion in advisory assets as of the same date.

Emigrant Partners acquired a minority stake in Stratos in 2020, supporting it to purchase a controlling interest in Mexico City-based wealth management and investment firm NSC Asesores, with over $4 billion in client assets.

Michael Madden, Contributing Editor & Research Analyst at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at mmadden@wealthsolutionsreport.com 

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