With its wealthy entrepreneurs and real estate executives, the Philadelphia area is a potentially lucrative market for large independent wealth management firms. So it’s no surprise that Bethesda, Md.-based Highline Wealth Management, hired Gary Sobelman as a managing director to run its satellite office in Plymouth Meeting, Pa.

Sobelman, who was a regional director at Rockville, Md.-based Convergent Wealth Advisors, said the wealth management business in Philadelphia, like the industry at large, is very fragmented. There are hundreds of managers in and around the City of Brotherly Love, but most are one- or two-man businesses with assets under management of around $25 million.

Those firms could probably serve affluent and near-wealthy clients well, but families with $5 million to $20 million in investable assets need larger companies that can effectively negotiate prices for various products and services on their behalf. Sobelman said he joined Highline because it has that heft in the marketplace. Plus, it is an independent advisory firm, so he has a wide latitude when it comes to serving his clients.  

Highline manages more than $900 million in client assets and serves about 130 wealthy families and institutions in Maryland and the Washington, D.C. area. “Right now, the Philadelphia area does not have a strong stable of established, independent financial firms," said Neal Simon, Highline's founder and chief executive officer. "We are thrilled to have Gary on board to lead our efforts.”

The need for a large firm is especially palpable among the area’s wealth creators — property developers and other successful business owners.

“They created the wealth, so they are quite focused on preserving it,” Sobelman said. “They’ve had an opportunity, a business that created their wealth and they are focused on not squandering it.”

Further, he said, these types of clients have a reasonable and balanced expectation of risk and return when it comes to investing.

Sobelman feels particularly attuned to his future client base, because he used to run a couple of businesses. He co-founded and was managing partner of Hillview Capital Advisors, an independent wealth management firm that oversaw more than $750 million in assets. He was also principal of Philadelphia-based CMS Cos., an investment management firm that also focuses on serving successful business owners.  

Sobelman said he might eventually hire other advisors to staff up Highline’s new Philadelphia office, but there is no pressing need to do so.

“It will be a function of finding the people who fit the way we operate and think,” he said.

* * *

Also on the move this week:

Baird hired Dennis B.G. Rowland as a senior vice president, to recruit financial advisors for and open a new wealth management office in St. Paul, Minn. He will also serve as the branch manager there. Rowland managed the Duluth and St. Paul, branches of Smith Barney.  

Cambridge Investment Research of Fairfield, Iowa, promoted Ryan Reineke to senior vice president of operations and technology. He will run its brokerage operations, trading, development and technology, imaging and workflow. Jerry Oliver was promoted to vice president and chief financial officer, and will oversee its continuity partners group, which will address the challenges of acquisition and succession planning for independent RIAs. Reineke was a first vice president of technology and Oliver was vice president of finance and accounting, who also oversaw human resources.

Hartford Investment Management Co. [HIG] of Hartford, Conn., hired Joseph Darcy as an executive vice president and sector head of municipal finance. He will serve as a portfolio manager of The Hartford High Yield Municipal Bond Fund and The Hartford Tax-Free National Fund, along with Christopher Bade. Previously, Darcy spent 16 years at BNY Mellon Asset Management [BK].

Hawk Associates, a Key Largo, Fla, investor relations and financial media relations firm, hired Peter D’Agostino as a managing director and president of its research division, AMI Research. He will also open its New York office. D’Agostino, who started his career as an investment advisor for Axa Financial, was most recently a director at Sidoti & Co., an equity research company specializing in small-cap public firms. 

Neuberger Berman Group [NEU] has appointed Jason Henchman as chief operating officer of its Asia-Pacific region, and Chris Gunns as head of consultant relations for the region. Both positions were newly created. Henchman was Legg Mason’s [LM] head of legal compliance for Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan. Gunns was the regional manager of institutional sales and business development at ING Investment Management [ING] for the Asia-Pacific region.

MassMutual’s retirement services division, which is based in Springfield, Mass., has appointed Dan Caple managing director of its south/central sales team, overseeing business development and sales support for North and South Carolina and Tennessee. He was a senior vice president and senior regional 401(k) director for Putnam Investments.  

Morningstar of Chicago has appointed Hugh Zentmyer to its board of directors. He retired in December 2008 from Illinois Tool Works, where he was an executive vice president for the Glenview, Ill., company.

Weld North, a newly formed investment company based in New York City, hired Steven J. Berger as a vice chairman and chief financial officer. He was a founding partner of Richmond Park Partners, a London-based merchant banking firm.



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