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Category: Financial Advisory
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NEW YORK, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Chicago-based independent wealth management firm HighTower Advisors has made its first hire of 2015 a substantial one, adding two UBS Wealth Management brokers who managed $550 million in assets.

Emmett Towey, 45, and Michael Cantore III, 38, joined HighTower from UBS on Jan. 2, after spending 18 months studying the business through the eyes of Emmett Toweys brother, Justin Towey.

Justin Towey joined HighTower in 2010, also from UBS, a HighTower spokeswoman confirmed. HighTower announced Cantore and Toweys move earlier this week.

Cantore said he and Towey, colleagues for over 17 years, made the switch because they wanted more independence and did not want to make selling financial products a major focus of their work.

We can purely focus on advice and solutions, rather than having to think about product the way that often happens inside the wire houses, Cantore said.

UBS, along with Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo Advisors , and Bank of Americas Merrill Lynch, are the four largest US brokerages and are referred to in industry parlance as the wire houses.

HighTower said it landed 13 groups of advisers in 2014. They included at least 23 brokers who managed $3 billion in assets, according to Reuters coverage of some of those hires.

As HighTower does not publicly announce all new hires, the actual number of brokers and assets included in the 13 groups is likely higher.

HighTower currently has more than 40 firms affiliated with it through its Partnership division, through which it buys advisers practices and gives them equity.

It also has five financial advisory groups on its Network channel, which allows firms to use HighTowers platform and technology but maintain independent ownership over their business. (Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Peter Galloway)