Argent Financial, Highland Capital Merging

By Andy Meek

Memphis-based Highland Capital Management LLC and Louisiana-based Argent Financial Group, which entered the Memphis market a few years ago, are merging.

The union gives the combined firms more than $4 billion in assets under management.

Highland is an investment advisory firm specializing in the management of equity and fixed income portfolios for clients in the public, private and corporate sectors. Post-merger, Highland will keep its name and management team, led by president Steve Wishnia, who brings more than four decades of financial industry experience.

Wishnia also is joining Argent’s board of directors.

“We believe there are significant opportunities resulting from the combination of Argent Financial Group and Highland Capital and that we fit well together, both professionally and culturally,” Wishnia said, in a statement released about the merger. “Importantly, Highland will now have access to a much broader geographic presence to deliver portfolio management services.”

Highland Capital’s extensive experience in portfolio management will expand Argent’s ability to deliver a full range of client services, including trust and retirement plan administration, comprehensive investment management, and mineral wealth management.

“We believe there are significant opportunities resulting from the combination of Argent Financial Group and Highland Capital and that we fit well together, both professionally and culturally.”

–Steve Wishnia
President, Highland Capital Management LLC

Existing Argent portfolio managers are expected to join Highland this year as the firms combine portfolio management resources under the Highland banner. And the expanded Highland team will provide oversight and ongoing management for all portfolio management functions of the combined firms.

Argent is a full-service wealth management firm that provides clients with a broad array of financial services. It’s also one of the region’s oldest full-service independent trust companies.

With headquarters in Ruston, La., Argent Financial Group has been operating since 1990. Its business lines include a range of financial products and services like trust, advisory and fiduciary consulting services.

Argent’s entry into Memphis in recent years included acquiring Memphis-based Investment Counsel and Trust Co., hiring several professionals from Regions Morgan Keegan Trust and acquiring Sector Capital Management LLC.

In 2010, Argent signed a five-year lease at the Crescent Center. And Argent still is on a growth track.

Argent will continue doing business through its other subsidiaries under the Argent brand name, according to Kyle McDonald, founder and CEO of Argent Financial Group.

McDonald said Argent’s merger of its resources with Wishnia and his team offers Argent’s client base access to additional portfolio management expertise. The company already has a significant presence in Tennessee, McDonald noted, and it felt the opportunity to combine with a “proven, respected firm” like Highland was a perfect fit.