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May 14, 2010 7:35 pm

Taking a look at their platform...anybody have any positives or negatives with them?  Thanks

May 14, 2010 7:49 pm

I have only heard good things about them.  I have two friends that are indy trhough them.  No specifics, but generally good feedback.

May 14, 2010 8:34 pm

I visited their office a few years back. A good outfit, but I got the impression that they are a little expensive, and the laid back marketing was "cool", but did not see how they were specifically going to help me grow my business.

Then I visited LPL, and they looked pretty good too. I decided, the cost benefit of switching broker dealers is marginal. Better to take the book and go RIA. And then, the financial meltdown, and probable scutiny of small RIAS.

Don't know your situation, consider waiting and just going RIA when your book is too big or your marketing is fun and smooth. At least, that's what I'm thinking.

I still have their football in my office. Nice football, looks expensive.

May 14, 2010 10:05 pm

I have been with CFN since 2006.  I am continually amazed.  PM me and we can discuss if you want.  I am in Texas.

May 15, 2010 1:46 pm

Care to tell us more...Requirements, What makes them different from LPL or similar, fee platform(fees)...

May 21, 2010 4:22 am

Commonwealth is a good and decent firm.  I ran up against them several times when I worked at Cambridge Investment Research (another good and decent firm too!).  It appears their payouts were just a tad on the lower side and their fee-based admin fees a touch on the higher side.  Their message from what I gather is in exchange for this, you would receive tremendous support, marketing assistance, practice management, etc., which can be a FANTASTIC deal, assuming you like everything on their menu.

If everything they offer you take FULL advantage of and see yourself utilizing in your practice; seems like a good place to call home.  If however, you feel their value-added services are not to your liking, why subsidize something you don't plan on using in the first place?  At that point you might want to explore looking at another B/D or going RIA wherby you can pick and choose your value-added resources yourself.

Not sure how supportive they are to advisors operating their own RIA; I don't believe they allow it.  Furthermore, they are very concerned with average rep production meaning if your developing your own branch and saw opportunities in a junior advisor but he didn't meet their GDC minimums; could pose problems.

Again, I don't work for Commonwealth obviously; this is just what others have told me.  I would prepare a thorough list of questions for them and inquire.  They are a good B/D and deserve the opportunity to be heard at the very least but I would venture to say it would be wise to choose from among several B/D's to compete for your business and see which one "fits."

Of course, I'd say GO RIA and be done with the B/D world altogether but that's just Fred talking. 

Best wishes whatever you choose to do.

May 24, 2010 9:41 pm

Just to clarify a couple points:

The way we look at it, you can go the Linux route, creating your own infrastructure from scratch, and you may even be able to do it cheaper if your needs are simple, you're gifted at getting disparate systems to talk to each other, or you don't mind dealing with multiple stand alone systems in your work flow.  We believe more people prefer the Apple experience of customizable, intuitive, integrated technology and support.  That's our model - advisors outsource all non-revenue producing activity to us and focus on prospects, clients, and themselves - that may be much cheaper and fulfilling in the long run. 

We do support advisors operating their own RIA, however the AUM fee based portion of their business must still run through our RIA.

Fred is right that we're very focused on average rep production - it's very difficult to run a broker/dealer on a "case by case" basis if you have a lot of little producers - you tend to create policies and procedures to keep the system manageable, and you run into the "lowest common denominator" syndrome.  That said, we have absolutely no problem if a $300k producer wants to bring in a junior producer who might even be brand new to the business - just don't bring in three if you get my drift.  We don't think that's smart for you or me, and we're partners in this.

I also agree with Fred that the key is choosing the value proposition that aligns with your needs and desires.  Narrow it down to a couple options (maybe including Fred's firm?) and visit them to make sure it's a good fit before you leap.  In my opinion it's impossible to truly evaluate a firm's value proposition without spending a day with them, and the decision is so important you simply have to make that time commitment.

Good luck in your research!