The Business We're In

    If you're not familiar with the financial services industry (and even if you are!), the following provides a basic understanding of what Commonwealth does and how we fit into the big picture.

    What it means to be an independent B/D and IA

    A dually registered broker/dealer and investment adviser is a company that buys and sells investment products on behalf of investors and/or provides investment advisory services to investors. In our case, investors don't contact us directly; rather, we receive instructions from the 1,400-plus financial advisors who are affiliated with us. We function as the unseen back office that processes client transactions for them.

    Ours is a heavily regulated business. As a dually registered broker/dealer and investment adviser, Commonwealth is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and each of the 50 states.

    The SEC regulates both broker/dealers and investment advisers. While the SEC maintains the direct responsibility to oversee SEC-registered investment advisers, it delegates the supervision of broker/dealers and their financial advisors to FINRA. FINRA, in turn, requires all broker/dealers and their financial advisors to register with FINRA for supervision purposes. In addition to that, each of the individual states requires all broker/dealers and financial advisors who solicit or transact business within that jurisdiction to register with the state as well.

    We like to think that even if our advisors were not required to work with a broker/dealer, they would choose to partner with us! The fact that we are independent means that our advisors work for themselves out of their own offices and are free to help clients choose the best investment products to meet financial goals—without pressure to sell a particular company's products. This business model differs from that of other, large financial institutions, known as wirehouses, whose advisors (stock brokers) are employees of the company and may be more restricted in the products and services they are able to offer their clients.


    Click on the links to see a list of departments in each functional area.

    • Compliance and Legal

      Compliance works with home office staff and advisors to interpret and apply state, federal, and other rules and regulations governing the securities industry.

      Legal advises the firm and our advisors on all legal and regulatory matters.

      Licensing maintains the securities registration and insurance licensing information for our advisors and our home office staff.

    • Conferences and Events

      Conferences and Events develops and stages the many educational conferences and top producer meetings offered to our advisors and their staff throughout the year, as well as all home office events.

    • Field Development

      Field Development cultivates our network of financial advisors and helps evolve and grow the firm by identifying and nurturing relationships with prospects who would be a good "fit" with Commonwealth's culture and standards.

    • Finance

      Commissions processes payments to advisors that result from the sale of securities and insurance products.

      Finance maintains the firm's financial records, recommending strategies for improving our bottom line and developing our corporate business plan.

    • Marketing and Communications

      Corporate Marketing develops strategies and creative executions in collateral; online, direct, and print advertising; and public relations to build awareness and strengthen Commonwealth's brand identity among our target audiences, which include Commonwealth advisors and their clients, as well as prospective advisors, product sponsors, and our home office staff.

    • Operations

      Cashiering processes checks, securities, wire transfers, and other transactions relating to client investments.

      Data Integrity ensures that the online data our advisors use to manage their clients' investments is accurate and up to date.

      Direct Investments comprises Trade Review, Direct Investments, and the Customer Identification Program (CIP). Together, they handle account approvals and the Advent system, conduct suitability reviews, maintain account requests, and ensure accuracy of client information.

      Document Services is responsible for imaging, storing, and retrieving all documents related to clients' investment business.

      The Human Resources department designs and delivers programs, practices, and processes to meet the needs of Commonwealth and our employees. Through innovative and solid people-oriented programs, Commonwealth is able to hire and retain the absolute best talent.

      New Accounts processes new investment accounts opened by advisors on behalf of their clients.

      Office Services manages everything that keeps our home offices running, including the reception areas, mail processing, in-house kitchens, and our entire physical plant.

      PPS Direct Operations consults with advisors on strategies for growing and transitioning their practices from a traditional commission-based model to a process-oriented model, offering personal advice and ongoing management. We call our fee-based platform Preferred Portfolio Services® (PPS).

      Retirement Operations provides retirement account support and processes distribution requests for all types of retirement plans.

      The Service Center serves as the "one-stop shop" for all operations-based calls from advisors—either by answering the question immediately or by coordinating with departments throughout the company to resolve problems.

      Transfer of Assets, also known as TOA, processes and tracks the transfer of all investor assets in and out of Commonwealth.

      The Trade Desk executes the purchase and sale of securities on behalf of our advisors' clients.

    • Practice Management

      Practice Management acts as business consultants to our advisors, helping them develop their practices and advising them on everything from strategic thinking to staffing to marketing.

    • Technology

      Business Systems Strategy ensures that all Commonwealth financial professionals and employees have the appropriate technology to help them perform their job duties most efficiently.

      Development creates, builds, and maintains software applications to help everyone associated with Commonwealth work more efficiently.

      Operations, Engineering, and Support designs, builds, and supports the entire technology infrastructure needed by everyone associated with Commonwealth.

      The Project Management Office makes sure that Commonwealth projects are run as effectively and efficiently as possible to ensure that the best possible solution is delivered.

      Strategy and Operations oversees the entire Technology department, including personnel, software, infrastructure, processes, and support. It is responsible for technology planning, strategy, architecture, security, disaster recovery, and management of Commonwealth's technology investment portfolio.

      Support Services provides home office employees with the technology support they need to do their jobs, as well as provides technical recommendations and support for all advisors and their staff regarding any technology they use.

      Web Services and Usability is responsible for all aspects of the layout and navigation of Commonwealth's web-based products and services, ensuring the best possible user experience. The team shares best practices with advisors to help them create and continually improve their own websites.

    • Transition

      Transition guides and mentors new advisors and their staff as they migrate their financial practices from their previous broker/dealer—RIAs to Commonwealth. Team members also serve as liaisons with every department to answer questions, resolve problems, and do whatever it takes to facilitate the process.

    • Wealth Management

      Advanced Planning provides expertise to help advisors help their clients with more sophisticated and complex aspects of financial planning and wealth management, including estate planning, taxation planning, and charitable giving.

      Insurance is a full-service insurance agency that helps advisors address financial risks with clients to help them meet long-term goals. Products offered and supported include annuities and life, disability, and long-term care insurance.

      Investment Consulting Services consults with advisors on strategies for growing their advisory practice and provides advisors with comprehensive investment solutions, including asset allocation, product implementation, portfolio case design, and the approved advisory platforms. We call our fee-based platform Preferred Portfolio Services® (PPS).

      Investment Research reviews and approves investment products and provides recommendations to advisors on economic analysis, asset allocation, portfolio management, individual investment managers, and the full range of investment products the advisors may use to help clients pursue financial goals.

      Retirement Consulting Services provides advanced technical, sales, marketing, and product-based support, as well as legislative updates, to help our advisors service and grow their retirement business.

      Sponsor Relation manages all of Commonwealth's relationships with our industry product partners.