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VWG Origin Story

At age 12, Rick Weeks started a printing company in his parent’s basement and later launched a career as a commercial lithographer. Between 1985-1995, John Verfurth served around the world in the U.S. Navy and Royal Air Force and had three of his five sons. After running a small retail business for several years, Jeff Grinspoon joined Legg Mason in 1997 in hopes of finding the perfect combination of entrepreneurship and finance - building his own wealth management business while leveraging the trappings of a brokerage behemoth. 

Here, our story begins.

Pivoting away from printing and graphic design to another industry that mixes art & science, Rick joined Legg Mason as a financial advisor where he met Jeff and later, recognizing their complementary skill set- Rick an analytic trader and Jeff a thoughtful broker with a knack for strategy and relationship building- created a partnership. In the meantime, John transitioned from the military, had two more sons and started working as a financial advisor with his father, Pete, at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. 

John, Rick and Jeff’s paths collided when Rick and Jeff moved their burgeoning practice to Morgan Stanley. There, a shared vision, values and wit pulled our three founders together to create the VWG Group. Recognizing the need for deeper resources, VWG recruited Suzanne Berringer, Michelle Kuzma and Ashley Galvin, seeding a culture that embraces, supports and attracts women employees and clients. The original VWG Group thrived as a team and, by 2011, VWG was the largest Mid-Atlantic team within Morgan Stanley.  

As markets rebounded and the dust started to settle from the 2008 financial crisis, the wealth management industry started to see a shift. Groups of Registered Independent Advisors (“RIAs”) emerged who leveraged new technology to offer the sophistication of big Wall Street firms without the inherent conflicts of interest. As entrepreneurs, the independence and flexibility of a small firm, one with a fiduciary responsibility, appealed to Jeff, John & Rick, and in 2011 the VWG group left Morgan Stanley to form VWG Wealth Management. Recognizing the importance of sophisticated technology, risk management and investment diversification, VWG Wealth Management partnered with Hightower Advisors to provide back end support.  At this point, the team felt they found the best of both worlds for their employees and their clients – an independent business model supported by a fully-integrated technology platform.

As of 2022, the team has grown to include ten working mothers, nine CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals, two CFAs®, one Division I tennis player, and even another Verfurth. In 2022, we have over $2 billion assets under management and a 99% client retention rate. Our business has grown without paid advertising, thanks to our client referrals and a multigenerational focus. VWG has been rated the #2 Best Place to Work (Small Company) by the Washington Business Journal in 2019, 2020 & 2021 and has been ranked in the Forbes Top 100 Wealth Advisors from 2016-2021 Barron's Top 1200 Advisors by State 2014-2021, Barron’s Top 100 Independent Advisors from 2015-2021 and Financial Times Top 300 Registered Investment Advisors from 2015-2020.

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Hightower Advisors, LLC is a SEC registered investment adviser. Registration as an investment adviser does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Some investment professionals may also be registered with Hightower Securities, LLC and offer securities through Hightower Securities, LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. You can check the background of our firm and investment professionals on brokercheck.finra.org. Unless otherwise indicated relative to a specific award or ranking, Hightower Advisors, LLC does not pay a fee to be considered for any ranking or recognition, but may have paid to publicize rankings obtained and disseminated prior to 11.4.2022. All awards / rankings / ratings obtained and distributed on or after 11.4.2022 will be accompanied by specific disclosure as applicable.

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