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Commonwealth Financial Network Review

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This review was produced by SmartAsset based on publicly available information. The named firm and its financial professionals have not reviewed, approved, or endorsed this review and are not responsible for its accuracy. Review content is produced by SmartAsset independently of any business relationships that might exist between SmartAsset and the named firm and its financial professionals, and firms and financial professionals having business relationships with SmartAsset receive no special treatment or consideration in SmartAsset’s reviews. This page contains links to SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool, which may or may not match you with the firm mentioned in this review or its financial professionals.

Registered both as an investment advisor and brokerage firm, Commonwealth Financial Network comprises thousands of financial advisors who often operate their own independent businesses but provide advisory services under the supervision of Commonwealth. Most of these advisors are also brokers and insurance agents, which means they can receive commissions from vendors, on top of client fees. As a result, Commonwealth is a fee-based advisory firm. 

With advisors across the country, the firm has headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts, and San Diego. In 2019, it reported that its advisors had the highest gross revenue among independent broker-dealers, according to Financial Advisor Magazine. In 2022, the firm ranked No. 6 overall for gross revenue.

Commonwealth Financial Network Background

Joseph Deitch founded Commonwealth in 1979, originally calling it The Cambridge Group. His vision was to start an independent broker-dealer that didn’t have the conflicts of interest that his former firm had. This is likely why Commonwealth does not have its own proprietary investment products. Instead, it provides advisors with technology, compliance support and tools, research support, marketing support, continuing education and more.

In 1991, Investment Advisor magazine named Commonwealth “Broker-Dealer of the Year” in the inaugural year of the award. The firm won the honor two more times that decade. Since then, Deitch has stepped away from day-to-day operations and serves as chairman. Wanye Bloom, who's been with the firm since 1989, serves as CEO. The firm is a wholly-owned subsidiary of 1979 Holding Company, LLC, which in turn is owned by Gratitute Holdings, Inc. 

Commonwealth advisors have various financial accreditations, including the certified financial planner (CFP), chartered financial analyst and chartered alternative investment analyst (CAIA) designations, among others.

Commonwealth Financial Network Client Types and Minimum Account Sizes

The minimum investment needed to open an account here varies depending on the program. At the low end, the minimum is $1,000 for a passive model portfolio in the Preferred Portfolio Services (PPS) Select program. At the high end, the minimum is $500,000 for an account in the PPS Select Fixed Income SMA program. That said, Commonwealth may waive its minimum requirements at its own discretion.

Given that these minimums are relatively low, the great majority of Commonwealth's individual clients do not have high net worths. The firm’s advisors do work with high-net-worth individuals, of course, plus businesses, pension and profit-sharing plans, state and municipal government entities and charitable organizations.

Services Offered by Commonwealth Financial Network 

Commonwealth’s advisors offer an array of investment products, asset allocation services, financial planning and consulting services. The investment programs, which can be delivered through a wrap fee program, are:  

  • PPS Custom - This program features personalized investment portfolios, usually on a discretionary basis, using one or more investment types. These can include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), UITs, variable and fixed-indexed annuities and alternative investments.
  • PPS Select - This program offers a selection of model portfolios that are managed on a discretionary basis by Commonwealth’s investment management and research team. Portfolio types include mutual fund and ETF portfolios, equity portfolios, fixed-income portfolios and variable annuity subaccount portfolios.
  • PPS Direct - This program is centered around a variety of model portfolios managed by one or more third-party portfolio managers on a discretionary basis. They may be constructed with mutual funds or ETFS, individual stocks and bonds (in a separately managed account), by third-party investment advisors using mutual funds and ETFs or as a unified managed account (multiple separately managed accounts).

Additionally, within its third-party asset management program (TPAM), Commonwealth advisors can recommend unaffiliated money managers and act as a subadvisor. Account minimums generally run from $25,000 to $50,000.

Commonwealth Financial Network Investment Philosophy

Commonwealth offers a full array of investing strategies for every kind of client profile. If its advisors don’t have the niche expertise needed, they may recommend an independent money manager. That said, the firm generally applies the concepts of dollar-cost averaging (buying fixed amounts on a regular schedule) and asset allocation. Advisors may also utilize technical, fundamental, quantitative and qualitative methods of securities analysis.

Fees Under Commonwealth Financial Network 

Commonwealth’s fees for portfolio management services are based on a percentage of AUM, and they are generally paid quarterly. These fees vary by program, and they may be negotiable.

Below are the fee schedules for the PPS Custom, PPS Select and PPS Direct programs. Fees for third-party advisor-managed programs are available through the third-party manager themselves. For context, a 2018 study by RIA in a Box showed the average annual advisory fee was 0.95% of AUM.

PPS Custom Program Annual Management Fees*
AUM Maximum Fee
$0 to $749,999 2.25%
$750,000 to $999,999  2.00%
$1MM to $1,999,999 1.75%
$2MM and up 1.50%


PPS Select Program Annual Advisor Fees*
AUM Maximum Fee
$0 to $499,999 2.00%
$500,000 to $999,999 1.75%
$1MM to $4,999,999 1.50%
Next $5MM or more 1.25%


*The annual fee for the PPS Direct Program comprises both an advisor fee and program fee that will not exceed 3%.
PPS Direct Program Annual Advisor Fees*
AUM  Max Advisor Fee
Up to $250,000 2.21% 
Next $250,000 – $500,000 2.25% 
Next $500,000 – $1MM  2.27%
Next $1MM – $2MM 2.29% 
Next $2MM – $5MM 2.31% 
$5MM and up 2.33%

Clients in wrap fee programs may also have to pay program fees or platform fees. Clients not in wrap fee programs also pay transaction fees, custodial fees and other charges.

For financial planning or wealth management consulting services, fees may be annual for ongoing services, a flat fee or an hourly rate of up to $500 per hour.

What to Watch Out For

Commonwealth has 10 disclosures in its most recent SEC filings. Some had to do with affiliate advisors. Others involved the company itself, resulting in fines, penalties or restitution. In one of the most recently completed actions, which was brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the firm agreed to pay $1,426,700 in disgorgement and $210,603 in prejudgment interest for allegedly purchasing, recommending or holding mutual fund share classes that charged 12b-1 fees instead of shares classes that had lower costs.

As noted earlier, your Commonwealth advisor may also be a broker or insurance agent who receives commissions on sales. This can result in a potential conflict of interest. That said, Commonwealth’s advisors are legally bound to work in clients’ best interests due to their fiduciary duty.

Opening an Account With Commonwealth Financial Network

If you're interested in working with Commonwealth, go to the firm's website to find one of its advisors near you. You can also reach the firm's headquarters over the phone at 866-462-3638.

All information is accurate as of the writing of this article. 

Tips for Finding the Right Financial Advisor 

  • A financial advisor can help you get your money life in order. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Also, ask about the advisor’s client base. If his or her clients mostly have a high net worth, and you do not, you may want to work with someone who won’t think of you as small change. Conversely, if you do have sizable assets and the advisor mostly works with less affluent investors, you probably want someone with the experience and know-how to help people at your asset level.

How Long $1mm Lasts in Retirement

SmartAsset's interactive map highlights places where $1 million will last the longest in retirement. Zoom between states and the national map to see the top spots in each region. Also, scroll over any city to learn about the cost of living in retirement for that location.

Rank City Housing Expenses Food Expenses Healthcare Expenses Utilities Expenses Transportation Expenses

Methodology We analyzed data on average expenditures for seniors, cost of living and investment returns to determine how many years of retirement a $1 million nest egg would cover in cities across America.

First, we looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on the average annual expenditures of seniors. We then applied cost of living data from the Council for Community and Economic Research to adjust those national average spending levels based on the costs of each expense category (housing, food, healthcare, utilities, transportation and other) in each city. Using this data, SmartAsset calculated the average cost of living for retirees in the largest U.S. cities.

We assumed the $1 million would grow at a real return (interest minus inflation) of 2%. Then, we divided $1 million by the sum of each of those annual numbers to determine how long $1 million would cover retirement expenses in each of the cities in our study. Cities where $1 million lasted the longest ranked the highest in the study.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Council for Community and Economic Research