The Great Northwest's Triad Wealth Stewardship is now Bellevue Hightower and will stick with Tamarac after a long trial period

August 1, 2014 — 6:34 PM UTC by Brooke Southall


Brooke’s Note: Just when you think HighTower is basically a fiduciary-minded mini-wirehouse, it opens an outsourcing platform. Just as you’re digesting that information, it does a wirehouse lift-out. With your head spun back the other way, it nabs a big RIA whose owner says it gives him a better sense of autonomy than all the other choices he had to partner with to gain benefits of existing scale. So here is that latter case in the most recent chapter in a Chicago company searching for itself as we search to understand it better — but buoyed in the meantime by the knowledge that it keeps hauling ahead.

Call it Lars Knudsen’s 25-year itch.

After a quarter century as an ADV-filing RIA, the founder of what became Moss Adams’ RIA has sold his latest start-up of seven years to HighTower, will tuck in under its ADV and will go by the brand of Bellevue HighTower. See: HighTower loses RIA with $1 billion of assets and Northern Trust street cred.

It is the first HighTower office in the Seattle area.

Bellevue, Wash.-based Triad Wealth Stewardship brings about $400 million of assets under management and nine employees to the Chicago-based roll-up and outsourcer — and could shift the industry’s perception of HighTower.

The David S. Pottruck-backed and Elliot Weissbluth-led venture has been seen as borrowing heavily from the RIA model in creating an open architecture of products, custody and technology. See: Elliot Weissbluth pooh-poohs the idea that HighTower faces channel conflict as 'stupid and uninformed’.

But its branding, creation of branch offices and culture call to mind wirehouses and its assets and personnel have largely been chipped away form the big Wall Street-based firms. See: HighTower hires top recruiters from Schwab and LPL to help populate five new offices.

Number 43

Knudsen, a former Cooper & Lybrand accountant, says he was simply looking for a way to ally himself with a bigger firm with a culture that would leave him alone and he found HighTower the top choice among the leading firms. “I think they’re the best of the best,” he says.

As the 43rd team to join the HighTower partnership, Knudsen believes his firm can benefit from help with compliance, research and technology. Knudsen will continue to keep his assets with Schwab Advisor Services and to use with Tamarac for his performance reporting software.

His firm converted to Tamarac about a year ago from Schwab PortfolioCenter. Knudsen was a beta client of Tamarac about six years ago when it added portfolio accounting to its rebalancing software. But he waited until last year to pull the trigger on the conversion to the Seattle-based firm, now under the ownership of Chicago-based Envestnet Inc.. See: After years of working to stand on its own two feet, Placemark staggers into the arms of Envestnet.

'Perfect union’

Michael Parker, HighTower’s national director of enterprise development says it makes sense for Knudsen’s firm to tuck in.

“Many RIA’s today are challenged by the rapid pace of technological advancements and the burden of regulatory compliance which squeeze operating margins,” he says in a release. “Our proven infrastructure and cutting-edge technology platform attract successful advisor teams like HighTower Bellevue, supplying them with the necessary resources to grow.” See: HighTower hires top recruiters from Schwab and LPL to help populate five new offices.

Parker joined Hightower from LPL in 2010 and was a complex branch manager with Smith Barney before that.

Before founding Triad Wealth Stewardship, Knudsen ran Financial Security Group , which merged 14 years later with national CPA firm Moss Adams LLP of Seattle. He works with Dan Stober who spent six years at Smith Barney before joining Knudsen at Financial Security Group. Following the merger with Moss Adams, Knudsen spun out to start Covault Wealth Advisors, which then merged with Triad Wealth Stewardship. For one miserable year before starting his RIA he sold insurance under the guise of financial planning.

Knudsen is now sold on having found a partner that gives him shelter from the storm..

“Joining the HighTower partnership allows us to be a boutique firm with institutional strength, instantly scale-up, and leverage a nationwide network of like-minded fiduciary advisors,” he says in a statement. “HighTower is a perfect union of culture and operating sophistication, affording us the opportunity to focus on serving our clients and growing our business.”

Final Note from Brooke: As proof that we know nothing, Focus Financial, the “RIA roll-up” brought aboard Dan Sontag, former Merrill chief, yesterday and today we’re reporting on somebody who left halo-embraced Moss Adams to go to HighTower, an all-RIA DNA situation. Lots of staying tuned remains.

Mentioned in this article:

Envestnet Inc
Top Executive: Jud Bergman

Envestnet | Tamarac
Portfolio Management System, CRM Software, Trading/Rebalancing
Top Executive: Stuart DePina

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