Commonwealth opened its doors in 1979 as a small Massachusetts broker/dealer with big aspirations. The company was born from founder Joe Deitch's retail financial planning practice, the Cambridge Group. By creating his own independent broker/dealer, Joe aimed to foster the common good of advisors, their clients, and home office employees. To reflect this purpose, he named the business "Commonwealth" in 1981.
The right way to do business
We started with only two advisors. But, propelled by Joe's unique vision of conducting business the right way, our community grew steadily and we began to prosper. In 1984, as one of the earliest adopters of fee-based asset management, we introduced our first mutual fund wrap program. In 1985, 1986, and 1987, Commonwealth was recognized by Inc. magazine as one of the 500 fastest-growing private companies1.
When the stock market crashed in October 1987, we put our noses to the grindstone and worked diligently to survive the severe down market. Our continued dedication rewarded us, and we were perfectly positioned for growth when the financial markets rebounded.
The genesis of practice management
From the beginning, Commonwealth has acknowledged that advisors aren't salespeople—they're small business owners. Our advisors needed resources and support on everything from disciplined strategic planning to effective communication skills to hiring and managing staff.
In 1989, we introduced practice management assistance, offering a suite of tactical courses and plenty of personal engagement with our leadership and in-house specialists. It provided powerful fuel for growth—for both our advisors and for Commonwealth.
The path onward and upward
During the 1990s, we focused great resources on expanding our services and creating a comprehensive array of financial products for Commonwealth's advisors, including the fee-based asset management program Preferred Portfolio Services® (PPS).
In 1991, Commonwealth won its first Broker/Dealer of the Year award from Investment Advisor magazine—a recognition we've been honored to receive 10 times2. The acquisition of Kavanaugh Securities in 1992 established our national presence. In 1998, our revenue surpassed the $100 million mark.
To reflect this growth and our national community of advisors, we adopted the name Commonwealth Financial Network® in 1999. In 2000, we opened our San Diego headquarters in response to the needs of our growing community of West Coast advisors. Not long after that, in 2004, we celebrated our 25-year anniversary!
An indispensable standard of service
Providing the ultimate in service to our advisors has always been the center of our business. Everyone at Commonwealth is fully committed to being indispensable to our advisors and fellow employees. It's a standard of excellence that has won us many accolades over the years, including the following:
- For the seventh straight time (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019, and 2020), we ranked “Highest in Independent Advisor Satisfaction Among Financial Investment Firms” in the J.D. Power 2020 Financial Advisor Satisfaction Study.
- Between our two locations, we've been recognized a remarkable 43 times as one of the Best Places to Work by five top publications.
- In 2014, we were honored with the Women's Choice Award for our outreach and commitment to the women's market.
- In 2015, we were named to the inaugural Best Place to Work for Millennials in America list.
- In 2016, we ranked highest in advisor satisfaction on Wealth Management magazine's 2016 Independent Broker/Dealer Report Card, receiving an overall score of 9.9 out of 103.
- In 2017, Commonwealth was honored with the Invest in Others Corporate Philanthropy Award—Financial Institutions for our grassroots initiative, Chemo Caps for Kids.
- In 2020, Commonwealth received the highest advisor overall experience score among the "Big Players" in the independent broker/dealer space, as reported by Wealth Management magazine4.
Our ongoing achievements
Our achievements speak 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.
In 2015, Commonwealth surpassed the $100 billion mark in total account assets and reached the $1 billion mark in annual revenue. Today, Commonwealth is the largest privately held independent RIA–broker/dealer in the U.S. Some notable news from recent years includes:
In 2019, we announced that our new standalone technology company, Advisor360°, has entered into a licensing agreement with Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., making the Advisor360° suite of software tools available to MassMutual's advisors and field partners.
In 2020, in response to the COVID-19 crisis in the U.S., Commonwealth Cares, a 501(c)(3) charity operated by Commonwealth, donated $50,000 to the New England Patriots Foundation to help secure personal protective equipment and medical supplies for local health care workers. The charity donated an additional $50,000 to the San Diego Foundation's COVID-19 Community Response Fund.
Our legendary leadership
Our success has always stemmed from the visionary leadership of founder Joe Deitch. We're proud to share that:
Joe 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.
Joe was named one of the 35 most influential people in the financial planning industry (Investment Advisor magazine, May 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2015).
Over the years, our partnership group has grown and evolved:
In 2009, Wayne Bloom, a 20-year Commonwealth veteran and managing principal since 1999, succeeded Joe Deitch as CEO. Joe remains chairman of the firm.
In 2013, Rich Hunter, a 25-year Commonwealth veteran and managing principal since 1996, was appointed president and COO. Peter Wheeler assumed the title of vice chairman.
In 2018, Kol Birke, Trap Kloman, and Brad McMillan were welcomed as managing partners, spreading Commonwealth's ownership among 13 dedicated, tenured industry experts and strengthening our management ranks for years to come.
In 2019, Trap Kloman assumed the dual role of president and chief operating officer. Rich Hunter remained one of 13 managing partners—a win-win for Commonwealth and our advisors.
In 2020, Joni Youngwirth became a Commonwealth partner emeritus and assumed her newest leadership role at the helm of Commonwealth Cares, serving as executive director for the nonprofit.
In 2020, Kate Creagh transitioned to partner emeritus after spending two decades overseeing Commonwealth's employee-focused programs.
In 2020, Greg Gohr and Paul Tolley become Commonwealth's newest managing partners, adding decades of wealth management and compliance expertise to Commonwealth's ownership team of 12 partners and 3 partners emeritus.
1 The Inc. 500 is an annual ranking of the fastest-growing privately held companies in the U.S. based on average year-over-year sales growth.
2 Broker/Dealer of the Year award from Investment Advisor magazine: Results are based on advisor satisfaction; Commonwealth was the top broker/dealer in its division for 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, and 2005.
3 Wealth Management magazine's 2016 Independent Broker/Dealer Report Card: The annual survey asks advisors from independent brokerages to rate the firms they work with from 1 (unacceptable) to 10 (outstanding) on a number of factors, including service, technology, and practice management. Commonwealth ranked #1 out of 7 large firms with over 1,000 Reps.
4 Highest advisor overall experience score among the "Big Players" in the independent broker/dealer space, as reported by Wealth Management magazine: The annual survey asks advisors from independent brokerages to rate the firms they work with from 1 (unacceptable) to 10 (outstanding) on a number of factors, including service, technology, and practice management.