Meet The Partners
The 13 managing partners lead Commonwealth with an unparalleled combination of industry experience and management expertise, as well as an unwavering commitment to our advisors and their clients. Please read on for more about these exceptional individuals and what each brings to our firm. Information about securities-registered professionals may be found at FINRA BROKERCHECK.
Founder and Chairman
Joe formed Commonwealth in 1979 to offer superior, independent investment brokerage services to the burgeoning ranks of financial advisors like him. Since that time, Joe and Commonwealth have remained true to the original vision of providing indispensable service and cultivating a supportive environment where all affiliated professionals can thrive. He has dedicated his professional career to the dual goals of quality and community, constantly trying to create and refine “the ideal environment.”
Joe is an alumnus of Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management Program and is ranked among leading CEOs 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). In 2010, the editors of Investment Advisor magazine selected Joe as one of the 30 most prominent leaders in and around the planning profession over the last three decades.
Wayne began his career at Commonwealth in the firm’s Accounting department in 1989. Since that time, he has gained experience in virtually every facet of the firm. As one of the pioneers of our wealth management initiative, he has an extensive background in managing the firm’s research, insurance, financial planning, retirement, and registered investment advisory divisions. As CEO, Wayne is responsible for managing our primary objective of providing indispensable products and services to our network of independent financial advisors.
Wayne is a former chairman of the IAFP’s Financial Products Advisory Council. He enjoys playing sports, coaching his children’s teams, kayaking, windsurfing, and spending time with family on Cape Cod.
Peter was hired as a due diligence officer for Commonwealth in 1984. Over time, his straightforward manner and common-sense business approach earned him more and more responsibility. From 1992 to 2013, Peter was president of Commonwealth. Today, Peter is vice chairman, oversees the Legal and Compliance departments, and focuses on long-term strategic planning.
Peter has served as vice chairman on FINRA’s District II Business Conduct Committee and currently serves as a member of the Independent Dealer/Insurance Affiliate Committee. He has also served on the board of directors for the Financial Services Institute, an organization whose purpose is to act as the voice for independent financial services firms and independent financial advisors nationwide.
Peter enjoys many sports, including skiing, surfing, windsurfing, and mountain biking.
Kol Chu Birke, CFP®
Managing Principal, Technology and Corporate Strategy
Kol has been with Commonwealth since 1999. After spending more than 15 years helping to build out our technology, he is now responsible for guiding Commonwealth's continuous improvement and strategic planning to ensure our near-, mid-, and long-term health and strength. In addition, he leads our financial behavior efforts with a hunger for making financial planning easier and more effective by helping advisors leverage the latest behavioral insights and techniques.
Kol has been recognized in Investment Advisor magazine's IA25, a list of the most influential people in our industry, for his work at the intersection of technology and financial psychology. His writing has been featured in various trade publications, and he has spoken at numerous industry conferences.
Kol received his BA in economics from Brandeis University and his master of applied positive psychology degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a Certified Usability Analyst; holds FINRA Series 7, 24, and 66 securities registrations; and has the CFP® certification.
Kol enjoys adventures with his family, playing sports of any kind, and doing mundane chores such as chopping wood.
Managing Principal, Human Resources
Kate has been with Commonwealth since 1998. She and her team are responsible for all employee-focused programs developed to attract and retain a high-quality talent pool and to make the five core values of our mission statement—indispensable service, financial strength, personal development, giving back, and fun—come alive every day in the workplace. These programs include robust professional development offerings, competitive rewards, creative staffing, clear and engaging communications, fun employee events, and effective performance management systems.
Kate is an avid swimmer. She also enjoys kayaking, pursuing her newfound love for gardening, and exploring the local live theater scene.
Managing Principal, Business Development
Andrew joined Commonwealth in 1998 as director of account services, where he worked with his team to develop process improvements; implement new, uniform training procedures; and instill a greater focus on indispensable service. In 1999, Andrew joined the Field Development team, blending his enthusiasm for Commonwealth with his outgoing personality to share the uniqueness of each corner of the firm with prospective advisors. Today, Andrew oversees the Field Development and Transition teams, as well as the firm’s Marketing organization, helping to ensure seamless integration between how the firm communicates its brand promise and how it delivers on it for all who become part of the Commonwealth community.
A former deck officer on two ocean-going tall ships, Andrew’s passions are surfing and family.
Rich began working at Commonwealth in December 1988 as the firm’s controller. He also oversaw the firm’s information systems development and technology deployment. From 1996 to 2013, Rich served as chief financial officer and managing principal. In 2013, Rich was elevated to president and COO, taking over the role from long-standing president and current vice chairman, Peter Wheeler. Rich held the president position until his semiretirement at the end of 2018.
Today, as president emeritus, Rich works part-time writing for the firm, improving advisor relations, mentoring employees, and tackling special projects. An aspiring writer, Rich pens a quarterly essay to Commonwealth employees that relates his personal experiences to the core values of the firm.
Rich is an outdoor person who enjoys golfing, hiking, and skiing. He is proud to be part of Commonwealth’s success and considers himself lucky to have a job where he “loves coming to work every day.”
Managing Principal, Trading and Brokerage Operations
Dave came to Commonwealth in 1991, serving as one of three traders responsible for handling all trading and servicing of our advisors’ client accounts. Today, Dave is the principal responsible for Commonwealth’s brokerage operations, which includes the Account Services team and the Trade Desk.
Dave enjoys spending time with his three young children. An energetic sort, he can be spotted in his off hours playing hockey, softball, or golf-or riding his Harley.
President and COO
Trap joined Commonwealth in 2015 as the senior vice president and CFO, where he worked with other members of Commonwealth’s leadership team to optimize the company’s financial strengths and collaborated on developing strategic opportunities and operational efficiencies. Today, as president and COO, Trap continues to work with the managing principals to support the continued success of Commonwealth and our advisors and evaluate growth opportunities to strengthen our competitive standing in the industry.
Trap is happiest spending time with his family—including his three daughters—hiking, golfing, playing sports, watching movies, cooking, gardening, and spending time in Maine. Trap and his wife like to try new restaurants around Boston, explore New England towns, travel, and run a few races once in a while.
Brad McMillan, CFA®, CAIA, MAI
Managing Principal, Chief Investment Officer
Brad started at Commonwealth in 2006, heading the alternative investments group. Since then, he has risen through the Investment Research ranks, to director of research and then chief investment officer. As managing principal, he oversees Commonwealth's investment and asset management groups, chairing the investment committee and acting as the primary spokesperson for the firm's investment divisions. Brad is a frequent commentator on the financial markets, U.S. economic policy, and the global economy for a range of national media outlets. He also acts as a key consultant for advisors and clients when markets get difficult.
Brad maintains a daily blog, The Independent Market Observer, and is a regular contributor to Forbes. He also is a frequent guest speaker at industry conferences.
Before coming to Commonwealth, Brad founded several companies. He has an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth and graduate degrees from MIT and Boston College. He spends his free time with his family.
Managing Principal, San Diego
John came to Commonwealth in 1988 after spending five years as a vice president at Moseley Securities in Boston. Arriving to work in the Product department, John handled mutual funds, many partnerships, commodities, variable annuities, qualified plans, and individual issues. Over time, he has helped engineer the growth of not only the Product department but also Commonwealth as a whole and is relied upon by all parties for his advice and perspective on the direction of the firm. John opened and now manages Commonwealth’s West Coast office in San Diego, California. He has been a guest on numerous television shows and nationally syndicated radio programs. In 2015, John was elected to the Financial Services Institute (FSI) board of directors and will serve a minimum of three years.
He is a graduate of Colby College with a BA in government and attended Harvard Business School’s OPM Key Executives Program. He also holds FINRA Series 7, 24, 63, and 65 securities registrations.
Besides voraciously reading about the financial industry and markets, John enjoys wine, golfing, following his hometown Philadelphia sports teams (especially the Eagles), and, most of all, spending time with his wife, Janice, and three kids, Chase, Josie, and Kellen.
Managing Principal, Innovation and Strategy
Darren’s tenure at Commonwealth began in 1994. Initially hired as a staff accountant, he has filled many roles since then, including assistant controller and director of compensation. Since moving to Technology in 2000—largely due to the infamous Y2K non-event—his focus has been on Commonwealth’s technology. In his current role, Darren creates and supports critical business strategies by setting the direction of Commonwealth’s technology. He does this by investigating the use of new technologies and spending time talking with existing clients so he can best unite how new technology can help improve the lives of those in the Commonwealth community. Darren speaks regularly at industry conferences and is frequently quoted in industry publications for his knowledge of technology in the financial advisor community.
Outside of work, Darren enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, board games, and just about any type of sport and outdoor activity, including golf, swimming, hiking, scuba diving, and skiing.
Managing Principal, Practice Management
Joni joined Commonwealth in 1998 and is a recognized expert in the financial services industry for helping advisors adopt the best practices, and develop the mindset and systems, to grow their businesses to the next level. She has written and been featured in articles for popular industry publications, including InvestmentNews, Investment Advisor, Solutions, and Morningstar Advisor Edition. She has also spoken at leading industry conferences, including the Financial Planning Association Annual Conference and the Million Dollar Round Table.
Joni attained the rank of first lieutenant in the United States Air Force. She is also an avid cyclist.