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The first 10 years

Joseph Deitch founded Commonwealth in 1979 as an outgrowth of his retail financial planning practice, the Cambridge Group. Previously, he had been an advisor with another broker/dealer. When that firm’s credibility was undermined by conflicts of interest stemming from its own proprietary products, he decided to start a new broker/dealer.

Back in 1979, there weren’t as many viable independent B/Ds to choose from as there are today, so the original business plan assumed that other disenfranchised financial planners would see Commonwealth as a breath of fresh air.

It took a while. While a growth rate that doubles every year sounds impressive, it means little when you have only two advisors.

Eventually, the numbers became meaningful. We started to prosper, adopting the Commonwealth name in 1981 to reflect our desire to foster the common good of our employees and advisors.

  • 1981

    A Becker Research poll acknowledges us as the most prominent financial planning firm in the area.

  • 1984

    A pioneer in fee-based asset management, Commonwealth introduces its first mutual fund wrap program.

  • 1985-1987

    Inc. magazine recognizes us as one of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. for three straight years.

    But things screeched to a halt after the stock market crash of October 1987. B/Ds, banks, and real estate businesses across the country were forced out of business. At Commonwealth, we tightened our belts and worked diligently to survive this severe down market.

Older, wiser . . . and on the right side of the street

The smoke eventually cleared and the financial markets began to sort themselves out. And an amazing thing happened as money returned to the stock market: Commonwealth was perfectly positioned for growth.

  • 1989

    We introduce Practice Management assistance. We’re one of the first firms to acknowledge that our advisors aren’t salespeople; they’re small business owners. We begin offering courses on everything from hiring and managing staff to effective communication skills and disciplined strategic planning.

  • 1991

    Investment Advisor magazine presents Commonwealth with its first Broker/Dealer of the Year award. We were pleased to receive two more awards in 1992 and 1994.

  • 1992

    We make our first (and only) acquisition: Kavanaugh Securities. With its national presence, Kavanaugh establishes Commonwealth as a national broker/dealer.

  • 1996-2000

    Onward and upward—Investment Advisor magazine names us Broker/Dealer of the Year six of the next seven years. And it seems to work. Commonwealth is the second largest, privately held independent broker/dealer in the United States. Since 1979, our revenues have grown at an extremely healthy pace. Our long-term record certainly rivals the best companies in the country.

  • 2000

    We open our San Diego headquarters to better service our West Coast advisors.

Service, service, and service

Ultimately, our success depends on our ability to satisfy the needs of the advisors who choose us as their broker/dealer. Over the years, we have consistently raised the service bar as we have grown in size and stature within our industry.

In the mid-90s, we officially changed our goal of “superior service” to “world-class service.” We believed that we had reached the point where we could deliver service as good as, if not better than, anyone in the world—certainly as good as anyone in our industry.

The never-ending quest for excellence

Behind the awards stands our fanatical desire to be the best in everything that we do, and here’s a sampling:

  • Our industry conferences
  • Our practice management counsel
  • Our initiative to answer the phones in less than eight seconds
  • COMMunity Link®, one of the most robust websites in the industry

To be the best is smart business sense, and it’s enormously satisfying.

  • 2001

    We choose to adopt a standard of excellence that no one else in our industry has yet to undertake. We have set our sights on becoming “indispensable” to our advisors and our fellow employees.

  • 2004

    We celebrate our 25-year anniversary!

  • 2004

    Joe Deitch is featured among the leading CEOs of the world in the book Leadership Secrets of the World’s Most Successful CEOs: 100 Top Executives Reveal the Management Strategies That Made Their Companies Great (Dearborn Publishing). Mr. Deitch is the only CEO from an investment brokerage firm featured.

  • 2005

    Investment Advisor magazine once again names Commonwealth Broker/Dealer of the Year, bringing our total to 10—an unprecedented record!

  • 2005

    Commonwealth’s San Diego office celebrates its fifth anniversary by adding the Commonwealth name in big, bold lights to the city skyline. This rooftop sign marks the location of the San Diego headquarters and supplements Commonwealth’s branding efforts.

  • 2008

    In the Boston Globe’s inaugural list of the Top 100 Places to Work in Massachusetts, Commonwealth is named the #1 company to work for in the midsize category—and #2 overall. We also make Computerworld’s list of the 100 Best Places to Work in IT for the second year in a row and the Boston Business Journal’s list of the Best Places to Work in Massachusetts for the fifth consecutive year.

  • 2009

    Wayne Bloom, a 20-year Commonwealth veteran and managing principal since 1999, succeeds Joseph Deitch as CEO. Mr. Deitch remains chairman of the firm.

  • 2010

    Thank you to our advisors! Commonwealth ranks “Highest in Independent Advisor Satisfaction Among Financial Investment Firms,” according to J.D. Power and Associates. We’re constantly celebrating our achievements throughout the entire company. We’re only limited in the future by our imaginations and our resolve.

  • 2012

    For the second consecutive time, J.D. Power and Associates ranks Commonwealth “Highest in Independent Advisor Satisfaction Among Financial Investment Firms.

  • 2013

    J.D. Power and Associates ranks Commonwealth “Highest in Independent Advisor Satisfaction Among Financial Investment Firms” for the third time in a row!

  • 2013

    Rich Hunter, a 25-year Commonwealth veteran and managing principal since 1996, is appointed President and COO. Peter Wheeler assumes the title of Vice Chairman.

  • 2013

    To date, Commonwealth has been recognized a remarkable 25 times as one of the Best Places to Work by five top publications. These accolades affirm our commitment to creating a supportive environment where we all can thrive professionally and individually.

  • 2013

    Commonwealth can proudly proclaim it is the #1 Best Place to Work in San Diego among large companies, as ranked by the San Diego Business Journal, and the #1 Top Workplace among small companies, as ranked by the U-T (Union-Tribune) San Diego! We could not be more pleased to hold the top spot in both major San Diego publications. The U-T San Diego also honored us with a special award for Ethics—an acknowledgement especially gratifying to a financial services firm, and one we hold with great pride.

  • 2014

    Commonwealth is honored with the Women’s Choice Award for our existing commitment to the women’s market through community outreach, educational support, and services specific to women and couples. We partnered with WomenCertified, Inc., to help further its mission of helping women identify financial advisors who provide quality service and strong commitment to their female clientele, and we are pleased to make the Women’s Choice Award for Financial Advisors available to our advisors who can distinguish themselves as leaders in the women’s market.

  • 2014

    To date, Commonwealth has been recognized a remarkable 28 times as one of the Best Places to Work by five top publications. These accolades affirm our commitment to creating a supportive environment where we all can thrive professionally and individually.

  • 2014

    For the fourth straight time, J.D. Power ranks Commonwealth “Highest in Independent Advisor Satisfaction Among Financial Investment Firms.”

  • 2015

    Commonwealth surpasses the $100 billion mark in assets under management! This milestone achievement speaks directly to the caliber of our people and our unwavering focus on providing indispensable service to our advisors, their staff, and one another, each and every day. We consistently attract top-notch advisors and help them attain this level of success—in large part by staying true to our two founding principles of quality and community.

  • 2015

    Commonwealth is named to the inaugural Best Place to Work for Millennials in America 2015 list. As a community that prides itself on being a place where all can thrive, we’re thrilled to be recognized for our commitment to the fastest-growing generation in the workforce.

  • 2015

    To date, Commonwealth has been recognized a remarkable 32 times as one of the Best Places to Work by five top publications. These accolades affirm our commitment to creating a supportive environment where we all can thrive professionally and individually.

  • 2015

    Commonwealth reaches the $1 billion mark in annual revenue, a significant corporate milestone.

  • 2016

    Commonwealth ranks highest in advisor satisfaction on Wealth Management magazine’s 2016 Independent Broker/Dealer Report Card. In this sixth annual survey, we proudly received an overall score of 9.9 out of 10. With gratitude for our advisors’ commitment and support, we remain as dedicated as ever to providing the indispensable service and support they need to run their business their way.

Commonwealth Financial Network® received the highest numerical score in the independent advisor segment in the proprietary J.D. Power 2010 and 2012–2014 Financial Advisor Satisfaction Studies℠. 2014 study based on 3.901 total responses and measures overall financial advisor satisfaction among advisors registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) investment firms. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of financial advisors surveyed in January–April 2014. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com.