Leaving your mark
Virgil didn't undertake her search for a new firm partner alone. Instead, her support staff was actively involved in the selection and decision process. "If you're a higher-level thinker, you have to keep your mind open and you have to invite other people's perspectives. When the input of your peers is integrated, it's going to be a more effective outcome because their ideas and input are being respected."
Shared values may have sealed the deal. "You want to leave your mark and pass on all those values, and you want everything that you're doing while you're on this earth to resonate for years to come. I think Commonwealth has been trying to do that. And I try to do that. And I want my staff to continue to do that. I might be getting a little more intangible, but I can tell you that I feel those values at Commonwealth."Q
What was coming over to Commonwealth like for you?
When you love what you do, the people you work with and rely on are even more important as you grow. I'm blessed with a wonderful staff, and my staff and I together picked Commonwealth. I wanted to make sure that everything that Commonwealth believes in was going to match the values that we believe in because then we could live happily ever after—and so far, we have.
I was impressed right from the get-go. My first impression of Commonwealth was that they were happy to help me, to get to know me, and they were going to be there for me. I felt like, wow, they treat me the way I treat my clients.
I remember I was just about ready to say yes but I was nervous. We're used to business one way. I didn't know that it wasn't as efficient as it could be because you don't know what you don't know, right? But yet, I knew I had to do something. Commonwealth said, "Just jump in; we'll catch you."
First of all, it didn't feel like a jump. It felt like walking over to another planet. It just felt like we'll just walk over here and see, hey, 75 degrees, the sun is out, there's no humidity, and there's a little breeze. And then it's like, oh, you didn't really have to jump and risk your life to do this. All you had to do is believe and trust and work together with us and it's going to work. And it did. And it is!Q
How would you describe the Commonwealth community?
What people think of broker/dealers and our industry in general, sometimes you think that it's a whole bunch of PowerPoints and presentations and pie charts and compliance and all of this stuff. But when you're inside it and you're working with Commonwealth, you realize all that stuff exists, but that's not what makes it feel like a community that you want to be a part of.
I feel like Commonwealth—and everybody who works with Commonwealth—wants to make a difference. Commonwealth wants to make a difference beyond just being a broker/dealer that supports financial advisors. You're seeing beyond the revenue of the firm or the profit or the payouts and all the business things. You're attracting the right kind of people with the right kind of heart. And if we attract the right kind of people with the right kind of heart, then we are representing the values that Commonwealth believes in. That feels like a whole lot more than a business. Community is an understatement. It just feels like the world's a better place because Commonwealth is a part of it.
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How does Commonwealth make your life as an advisor and small business owner easier?
Our questions are answered and our problems are dealt with in a timely manner. That means that you have fewer open items. And if you have fewer open items, it clears your head so you can move forward and be more focused. Less to-do items, more completed items—there's nothing like checking something off your list. If you're not working with a firm that helps you in a timely way, then you end up with a whole bunch of things that never get addressed. That's a big monkey on your back that is not good for your psyche or your relationship with your clients or with your team.
At Commonwealth, when anybody on my team calls, they're treated with respect. Commonwealth knows that everybody that works in my firm is important to the whole picture. We typically don't have to wait for some type of resolution; issues are handled and followed through. It's a happy little symbiotic team. If we need something, we know who to call. If we don't get the right person, that person is going to take ownership, and they're going to get the answer.Q
How is technology and tech support different at Commonwealth?
Commonwealth is built with great technology, but I know that everything that we use was also built with the input of advisors. You might be great at technology, but until you're working in the trenches, you don't know what we need. Commonwealth listens to us and modifies the technology over time.
Things that would normally take hours to create or reproduce are already there. One of the things I heard when I joined was that everybody's path is different, but we know that Commonwealth can save you time. And you definitely save me time—because of the technology and the integration and the support staff and the willingness to answer our calls and our questions. It all works together so beautifully, and we have been very happy.