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Commonwealth Grabs Group From LPL-Affiliated Firm

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Commonwealth Financial Network said early Thursday that Benjamin W. Wong and Associates are joining its independent broker-dealer operations. Wong, CFP, and his associates run a full-service financial planning firm near San Francisco in Pleasanton, California, with some $700 million in assets under management.

The group used to be affiliated with Financial Telesis Inc., which was recently acquired by former LPL Financial (LPLA) executive Bill Chetney, who formed a retirement-plan partnership in cooperation with the IBD’s hybrid RIA business in July.

“I knew this practice was a fit within the first 10 seconds of meeting the team. We share the same business culture and take a values-based approach to client service — that alignment is a formula for a successful partnership,” said Andrew Daniels, managing principal of business development at Commonwealth,” in a press release.

Commonwealth Financial Network has about 1,490 independent advisors nationwide.

“Commonwealth offers the boutique broker-dealer feel with the scale that gives us confidence and peace of mind in knowing we are supported across the board,” Wong said in a statement. “Commonwealth is privately held, so I feel our best interests are protected, and meeting the partners and staff at the home office visit was the tipping point.”

(LPL Financial, which is publicly traded, has about 13,700 affiliated advisors. Its Retirement Partners group supports about 5,500 advisors.)

On Wednesday, Commonwealth celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its client management system, Client360º. The platform brings together portfolio, trade/rebalancing, contact (CRM), document (imaging) and wealth-management resources.

“Industry-leading when it first rolled out in August 2004, Client360º has remained at the forefront,” said Darren Tedesco, managing principal of innovation and strategy at Commonwealth, in a statement. “The changes we prioritize to improve advisors’ experience and make their business more efficient all stem from the simple act of listening to our clients. It’s something that a lot of businesses say, but very few do.” 

In June, Commonwealth released of the Client360º dashboard for advisors to manage households, clients and accounts in a single view.

Raymond James’ News

Raymond James Financial (RJFS) said Thursday that it is continuing its “westward expansion” and recruited Barry Stern, CIMA, to its independent-advisor channel from UBS (UBS) in Westlake Village, Calif., outside Los Angeles.

Stern manages more than $107 million in client assets and had annual fees and commissions of about $1.1 million. His team does business as Ocean West Wealth Strategies.

“For some advisors, going independent is the best choice, and welcoming an advisor such as Barry is a testament to the broad platform and independent culture here at Raymond James,” explained Bill Counsman, regional director for the RJFS Western region, in a press release.

Stern joined Merrill Lynch (BAC) in 1983. He went on to work for Prudential-Bache and Dean Witter/Morgan Stanley (MS).

“During our due diligence process, we looked at a few firms, but Raymond James was the only firm that stood out,” said Stern, in a statement “We knew we wanted to be independent, but it was also important that the firm we chose wasn’t too small – that it offered the broad support areas and systems we need in order to best serve our clients. Raymond James was the best of both worlds.”

Check out Securities America Grabs 2 Advisors With $93M in AUM on ThinkAdvisor.