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Commonwealth, Cambridge, or RayJay?

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Aug 7, 2008 2:18 pm
  I have looked closely at all three of these firms, and would sure appreciate any feedback from you all...I know they are all very different, but I seek a firm like EJ was even just 10 years ago... I want to make the last 10 years or so of full time work as satisfying as possible!    If youve joined any of the above, or have comments I would love to read em!   RayJay has the best transition assistance as fars as loans, forgivable or not. LPL is just too big, (I know, RJ is big, too!) and most all recent feedback has been pretty damning.   Thanks in advance for your comments!
Aug 7, 2008 4:55 pm

I think part of it depends on your client base. I think Cambridge focuses more on the uppr-end. Am I correct? I have heard good things about Commonwealth and RJ.

Aug 8, 2008 3:42 am

[quote=Effay]I seek a firm like EJ was even just 10 years ago…[/quote]
Could you elaborate on what exactly it is you are looking for, or what in your mind EJ was like 10 years ago?

Aug 14, 2008 8:13 pm

Ray Jay reminds me so much of EDJ when I started in 1985 when Ted was alive.  Ray Jay leaves you alone to produce and gives you good research and manged money platforms.  Wait a minute, Jones NEVER had those when I was there! 

Aug 14, 2008 9:31 pm

Let’s see…Jones 10 years ago meant product pushing, no planning tools, antiquated computer systems, higher insurance costs, poorer product selection, no managed money options, slim research coverage, and close minded management. 

  You WANT to go back to the way Jones was 10 years ago?     
Aug 14, 2008 11:26 pm

[quote=Spaceman Spiff]Let’s see…Jones 10 years ago meant product pushing, no planning tools, antiquated computer systems, higher insurance costs, poorer product selection, no managed money options, slim research coverage, and close minded management. 

  You WANT to go back to the way Jones was 10 years ago?     [/quote] HEY Spiffy...Did you go Indy while we weren't looking????....Having dinner w/bspears tonight???
Aug 15, 2008 2:20 am

You’ve seen 'em all, what’s YOUR impression? The only one in that group that I did due diligence on was Ray Jay, which was a close second to LPL when I made my decision. One BIG negative for me with Ray Jay was what they decided to do on VA’s. If you do VA’s, Ray Jay literally is stealing your commissions. If you don’t do annuities, Ray Jay would be a good choice, IMO.

…and for the record, I’m pretty satisfied (at the moment) with LPL, despite the size.

Aug 16, 2008 3:53 pm

Thanks for the feed back, guys!

  Morphy, I seek a firm where I am more than an FA number. Where I can buy the services I need to serve my clients and get my moneys worth, not a preselected menu much of which I dont find useful. Where I am left alone to produce or contribute as I see fit. Where the climate is still one of "team," not headquarters, and where the firm still does what is right for the client nots CYA, or CIA (cover its ass). I want cutting edge tech and support. I want a sweet loan deal to help the first year. I produce about 400k GDC currently, and that will grow well when I move because I will be most motivated by having my own shop! IndyEDJ and IndyOne, I agree. RayJay is a huge firm, too. I think LPL may  be fixing their problems, and has the better technology. Cambridge is after whatever clients you are; Commonwealth is the higher end client firm. I know they dont offer the loan package I would like at my they are after the bigger producer, too. Cambridge helps you design the practice infrastructure from the ground up. Commonwealth brings cutting packages to the table. Interesting to be looking at thenm closely. Their recruiters are very good. 
Aug 16, 2008 5:36 pm

Effay, just so you understand, ALL firms are trying to grow - substantially. Whether they say it or not, they all need to grow to survive. Many of them will not exist in 5 years. So get used to the LPL’s and RayJay’s of the indy world, as that is really the model of the future (basically, scale). Same on the captive B/D side. How many small B/D’s will exist in 5 years? There will be SB, ML, MS, EDJ, MAYBE UBS and MAYBE Wachovia (which is doubtful given their current woes - their welath management units may get swallowed by someone once the big firms find some capital again). Most of the small local or regional B/D’s will only be niche players in certain markets or segments (not that that’s bad, but you can’t be everything to everyone with a few hundred or even a few thousand advisors). All the previous named firms (including RJ and LPL) have over 10,000 FA’s (I think). To a degree, the wires are just canibalizing each other right now (there is probably little net growth among the wires combined, as they are mostly just buying reps right now), Jones is growing at about 1,000 advisors per year organically, and RJ and LPL will always gain FA’s that are going indy each year (they are beginning to separate themselves from the pack).

Bottom line, don’t think you are going to find a little “family oriented” firm where everyone knows your name - because it may not last long. However, Cambridge and Commonwealth may well persevere. They both have good models and good reputations. They just have to make sure they can grow in order to remain competitive (size gives you access to products and services for your advisors).

Of course, this is just one man’s opinion…

Aug 16, 2008 9:44 pm

Effay, as I look at this again, it seems that Commonwealth’s payout was a fair amount lower than LPL and Ray Jay (don’t know anything about Cambridge).  Freedom is a great thing to have and was my primary motivator, but I love hitting the 92% payout bracket and watching most of my ticket charges disappear (even on cheapskate American Funds) this year.  I expect my net payout after all charges to go to about 88% this year…you can buy a lot of happiness at that level, IMO….  I’m curious as to what payouts you are finding in your search.  When I did due diligence at Ray Jay and LPL over three years ago, they were very close in net payout.

  In a somewhat unrelated aside, I just came back from LPL's summer national in Chicago, which was excellent as usual.  Sure, I can nitpick about the food not being quite as good as it was back when it was just in San Diego (man were we spoiled) and one of the scheduled speakers (Neil Cavuto, where the hell were you?) not being there, but overall, it was an excellent conference where I learned a lot and met a bunch of great people.  I got to talk with a lot of guys in very similar situations and several more who have succeeded beyond my wildest imagination.  Every one of them were great...not a jackass or bitch in the bunch.  We compared notes and shared a lot of good information.  I came back with some excellent new ideas...lots of stuff on alternative investments and a great one-hour session on social security planning that I wish had lasted three.  I'm beat, but what a great conference.  That being said, I think I'll go back to regionals next year, as the national has gotten almost too big for my liking, despite all the positives (I'd guess there were 4-5K reps there), and I can get most of the same things that I really enjoy...all the good information and networking...there.  The only things I'll really miss is hearing people like Ted Koppel and Sheryl Crowe (regionals don't have such headliners).   Sorry for going slightly askew off topic...when you come back from a good national, it seems like you have to vomit the information somewhere or bust...
Aug 21, 2008 2:45 am

Effay, Just a point of clarification. I looked at both LPL and RJ both are great firms. (I hope they merge some day). Indyone brings up the point about our lower payouts at RJ on annuities. He is accurate to an extent. Our payouts are lower but there is one big difference contracts through RJ have significantly lower expenses than the identical VA contract through LPL. One of my best friends is at LPL and we compared notes. On average our expenses, on the same contract, are 30 to 50 bps less than those at LPL and the wires. To be sold through RJ the insurance companies were required to agree to lower there expense while lowering us to 5%. Ask a VA wholesaler you trust and they will confirm this for you. Indyone’s point is valid though with other “Indies”. Finet (Wachovia) caps all annuity payouts at 5.4% while using the same VA cost structures. They keep the difference. When I asked the President of Finet about this over lunch he indicated they do this to make their VA’s revenue neutral. It doesn’t hurt their hair cutting either. Good luck in your quest!