Commonwealth Adds Services To Attract Affluent Clients, Expand RIA Presence

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Commonwealth Financial Network announced that it would unveil several new programs and services to help its advisors offer more services for high-net-worth clients. The fast-growing independent broker-dealer is also opening an IT help desk and service center in Cincinnati.


Karen McColl, senior vice president of wealth management at Commonwealth, detailed a number of these programs in a general session at the firm’s annual conference yesterday in Aurora, Colo. Specifically, Commonwealth is seeking to exploit the convergence of retirement planning and wealth management as it tries to enable reps to capitalize on the continuing growth in the nation’s affluent market.


“Wealth management is your competitive advantage,” she said. The SECURE Act will “drive up” the number of retirement plans and the nation’s overall level of savings, she predicted.


Commonwealth is adding tools for income optimization, risk management and Medicare and other health insurance issues. The firm is also enhancing its subscription services, which are proving to be a popular compensation model for younger clients.


McColl noted that households with more than $5 million in assets now comprise more than 1.5% of the U.S. population. To offer more solutions to clients with more assets, Commonwealth is doubling its offerings of hedge funds, private equity and private credit through a partnership with iCapital.


As part of its multifamily office model, the firm will be offering banking and lending services, family governance advice, tax management and concierge services.


As the advisor industry continues to consolidate, Commonwealth is seeing more of its network firms transform themselves into larger enterprises. Accordingly, it has created a marketplace than can help older advisors monetize their businesses and growth-oriented firms make investments and outright acquisitions. Matt Chisholm, senior vice president of business solutions, said the firm made more loans last year than in any previous year. Reportedly, several enterprise firms affiliated with Commonwealth are looking to become “serial acquirers,” he said.


According to Financial Advisor’s 2023 Independent Broker-Dealer Survey, Commonwealth’s average rep produced $986,000 in revenues last year. That is more than double the average revenue per rep at most IBDs. The average advisor at the Waltham, Mass.-based firm is believed to oversee about $125 million in assets, compared with about $50 million at most of its rivals.


Although Commonwealth maintains an agnostic position on the compensation advisors choose, the number of reps who are either fee-only RIAs and investment advisor representatives continues to grow. One executive said the figure is above 300 of its 2,200 reps. There was a session on the fee-only option at the conference and, in the hallways and lunch tables at the event, it was a constant topic of conversation.

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