Business Development Head Discusses Wirehouse Breakaways, Ownership Structure, Transparency, Trust And Recruiting Plans For 2023
As we recently covered, Commonwealth Financial Network demonstrated record recruiting success in 2022, with $11.24 billion in new client assets from 270 new advisors, highlighting a unique strategy toward both independent advisors and wirehouse breakaways.
A source for that coverage told us, “Commonwealth has bucked a broader industry trend of large firms emphasizing scale over quality of recruits. Not only does this reflect Commonwealth’s strategic focus, it’s also a testament to their ownership structure.”
In order to better understand the strategy that led to the firm’s 2022 successes, we reached out to Becca Hajjar, the firm’s Managing Principal and Chief Business Development Officer. She began at Commonwealth as Transition Coordinator, rising through the ranks during her career of almost 23 years there.
Hajjar tells us the keys to her firm’s strategy, its special approach for wirehouse breakaways, how its ownership structure contributes to success and its plans for 2023.
WSR: Your 2022 recruiting results demonstrate success in a very competitive field. What are the top keys to your recruiting that allow you to be so competitive?
Hajjar: As a leading independent RIA with broker-dealer and insurance capabilities, Commonwealth is well-positioned to provide greater choice and flexibility for its advisors. In addition to our advisor-centric approach and robust offerings, top advisors tell us that having access to our deep bench of expertise, culture and high-touch service offerings are key attractions.
We work hard to build a trusting relationship with our advisors from the first phone call and make sure we are the right partner for them. This transparency speaks volumes, and having access to senior leadership paired with our boutique feel sets us apart from our competitors.
Additionally, resuming in-person home office visits for prospective advisors has been a critical component of our success in 2022. Advisors get to see firsthand what a powerful culture we have and meet the people behind the business. Of the offices that we hosted for home office visits and moved from their prior broker-dealer, the majority of those ended up joining us.
WSR: Tell us about your firm’s unique ownership structure. How does it support organic and inorganic growth? How has that contributed to your recruiting results?
Hajjar: Commonwealth’s private ownership is a real differentiator for us, and it’s attractive to advisors because it assures them that their needs come first. Our ability to nurture a close-knit community – where advisors can grow, learn from one another and maintain accessibility to senior leadership – contributes to our recruiting success. We make our business decisions with our advisors and home office staff at the forefront, which has been a top reason advisors choose to partner with us.
As a private company, Commonwealth invests in programs that directly benefit its advisors. Our Entrepreneurial Capital program supports the inorganic growth of our advisors by giving them access to funding to grow, evolve or transition their businesses without the effort of working with an outside lender. As their trusted partner, this tailored solution supports advisors as they plan for strategic growth projects, expanding operations, M&A, debt consolidation and succession planning.
WSR: Your recruitment offerings for wirehouse breakaways include a “soft landing” with Virtual Transition Support and expanded Outsourced Business Solutions. Tell us more about those programs and why they attract wirehouse breakaways.
Hajjar: When advisors choose to leave the wirehouse world, they need a turnkey solution or guidance on becoming a business owner. Commonwealth provides the infrastructure and next-level support those advisors need to choose their path. We offer an evolving toolkit of outsourced solutions to aid advisors in areas spanning real estate, human resources, investment management, financial management, marketing, operations, RIA compliance and technology consulting, all with the goal of operating with optimal efficiency.
Our Virtual Transition Support (VTS) is critical to helping breakaway advisors seamlessly and efficiently onboard their clients. VTS collaborates with advisors and clients to gather necessary information, open client accounts, complete transfer paperwork and facilitate client signatures via e-signature. Our team of specialists understands the complexities and time commitment of the transition process. It does the heavy lifting so advisors can focus on their clients and businesses during this time of great change.
WSR: What can you tell us about your business development strategy for 2023 and beyond?
Hajjar: We will continue doing what we’ve always done but on a bigger scale. Nothing is more important to us than building personal, trusting relationships with advisor teams. We are redoubling our efforts to reach advisors by improving our ability to connect with them. We’re doing this to ensure that advisors understand Commonwealth’s vast offerings, how we can support their business now, and how it grows over time. We also have countless offices that can provide turnkey solutions, and are looking to add advisors.
In 2023, we will expand our plans to have face-to-face conversations with advisors to connect their vision with our depth of expertise. We will also expand all of our events to connect Commonwealth with advisors seeking a change on a broader scale. We’ll continue to reach wirehouse advisors who want to break away to independence, ensemble or multi-advisor practices, and independent advisors. Above all, we will remain fully committed to bringing on the most successful, business-savvy advisors to join our dynamic, supportive community.
James Miller, Contributing Editor & Research Analyst at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at ContributingEd@wealthsolutionsreport.com