Information for Investors

Cambridge offers information, resources, and tools for investing clients to help them as they work with their trusted advisor.

What is an independent financial professional?

Objective advice on achieving your financial goals may be best delivered by an independent financial professional. Your independent financial professional is not an employee of an investment or financial services firm – they are an independent business owner. They have the freedom to structure their business in a manner that best serves their clients. Your independent financial professional utilizes a broker-dealer who provides services that include processing investment business, marketing assistance, practice management, and education. In addition, a broker-dealer holds responsibility for regulatory compliance and adherence to securities laws.

What is an independent broker-dealer?

There are many different types of firms for your financial professional to consider in choosing a broker-dealer. You may be familiar with broker-dealers that are subsidiaries of conglomerates such as commercial banks, investment banks, and investment companies. An independent broker-dealer is different from such firms because they generally do not underwrite securities, they do not create research, and they do not engage in investment banking.

Why is independence important?

Just as you have the opportunity to choose your financial professional, they in turn choose their independent broker-dealer. We are honored that your financial professional has chosen Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. (Cambridge) as their independent broker-dealer. We believe their choice serves your best interests because we are independently owned and your financial professional has the freedom to offer you objective guidance. This means we do not force them to sell proprietary products or meet any sales quotas. Therefore, your financial professional is not pressured or distracted by corporate interests and can focus on what is best for you and your financial goals.

At Cambridge, we believe in the entrepreneurial spirit of your financial professional. Instead of asking our financial professionals to fit into a mold of how we think they should do business, we empower them with a vast menu of compliance-friendly programs, products, and services. This enables your financial professional to customize an investment strategy designed to meet your unique long-term financial needs.

 

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions for Investors

 

About You – the Investing Client, Independent Financial Professionals, and Cambridge

Independent financial professionals choosing Cambridge are financial planners, retirement planners, wealth advisors, investment advisors, fiduciary advisors, and succession planners for business owners. As a client, they can offer you a long term, trusted relationship to help you meet your financial goals. At Cambridge, we are proud that we have a shared purpose and values many financial professionals choosing our firm for the support they need in their businesses. Through Cambridge, these financial professionals have broad access to many financial solutions and types of products in order to give you choice and provide more personalized service. By working with your trusted financial professional, you can get guidance and advice on how best to develop and manage a plan that works for your goals – including savings for your children’s college funding or saving for your retirement and then spending those hard-earned retirement funds. Many of these financial professionals work closely with CPAs and attorneys regarding tax planning and estate planning – and several have been instrumental in helping their clients in the immediate aftermath of devastating natural disasters like flooding and fires.

Independent financial services professionals are not employees of an independent financial solutions firm like Cambridge – they are independent business owners. They have the freedom to structure their business in a manner that best serves their investing clients. Independent financial professionals utilize a broker-dealer and/or an RIA who provides services that include processing investment business, marketing assistance, practice management, and education. In addition, a broker-dealer and/or an RIA holds responsibility for regulatory compliance and adherence to securities laws.

Over 3,300 financial professionals throughout the country choose Cambridge, and we have over 800 associates on our team to serve them and their clients. Through these financial professionals, Cambridge serves more than 400,000 individual retirement accounts and retirement plans, as well as over 300,000 nonretirement accounts. Cambridge is proud that advisors who share our core values of integrity, commitment, flexibility, and kindness choose Cambridge as their financial solutions firm. These financial professionals live and work in communities all across the country, serving their investing clients who reflect the unique demographics of their communities.

Cambridge is located in Fairfield, Iowa, where it is the largest employer with over 800 associates in this Midwestern community of about 10,000 residents. Just over 50 percent of Cambridge’s associates live in the immediate area and Cambridge draws most of the other half of its associates from six surrounding counties in southern Iowa. Similarly, the more than 3,300 advisors affiliated with Cambridge live and work in communities all across the country, servicing investing clients who reflect the unique demographics of their communities. Cambridge and its associates live and work in a small community and the Midwestern roots and main street connection are integral to the personalized connection Cambridge has with main street financial professionals; and the personal relationship these advisors have with their investing clients – many of whom also live and work in the same communities.

At Cambridge our primary focus is the independent financial professional and you -- their client. We believe preserving our commitment to both of you must start with the stability of management and ownership within Cambridge. We’ve spent several decades establishing a flexible business model, a committed senior leadership team, a legal structure, and a formal succession plan; all in order to stay focused on both of you and remain true to our core values.

Maintaining the character and superior quality of Cambridge is the foundation that will sustain independence and private ownership for multiple generations. Years ago we embraced strategic planning for long term independence for Cambridge as a firm with dedication and enthusiasm. Cambridge has a written plan in place for independence and maintaining control – designed to enable us to better control our destiny so financial professionals can also better control their future and service to their clients.

  1. Leadership committed to culture and values: Cambridge was founded by Eric Schwartz, our Executive Chairman, more than 35 years ago. Over the last 20 years, Eric and Amy, our President and CEO, have developed Cambridge’s senior leadership team which reflects a culture and passion for independence. Together, we serve financial professionals and their clients with an unwavering dedication to our firm’s values of integrity, commitment, flexibility, and kindness. At Cambridge, culture counts, and values matter most.
  2. Financial strength through profitable growth and service excellence: as Cambridge nears into its fourth decade of financial strength and profitable growth, our commitment to financial professionals is clear with our achievement of an average of 9 out of 10 overall satisfaction rating from our advisors for over 20 years. In addition to service excellence, Cambridge has been recognized 11 times as the Broker-Dealer of the Year. Controlling our financial stability and future translates into freedom of choice as well as quality of service and expertise for your business and ours.
  3. Stock ownership by senior leadership, and an employee stock ownership plan: while it may be appealing for founders of some companies to cash out as they get older, this is not part of our succession plan or of interest to Eric, Amy, or the senior leadership team. We have spent several decades perfecting the succession plan now in place, which includes ownership by management and advisors and indirect ownership by associates of the firm.

The Main Pillars of Cambridge’s Succession Plan

The Cambridge ESOP, Advisor, and Management Ownership: Beginning in 2017, Cambridge offered a major expansion of our associate benefits with the Cambridge Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) to eligible associates. The Cambridge ESOP is intended to provide a means whereby eligible associates receive an account with equity interest in Cambridge with a focus on accumulating assets for retirement savings. The Cambridge ESOP is another step in controlling our own destiny by remaining privately-controlled based on associate, management, and advisor ownership – which includes hundreds of associates as indirect stockholders, along with management who are direct stockholders. A bonus program is in place that aligns with company, department, team, and individual performance on an annual basis, along with a 401(k) matching program for associates.

The Cambridge Foundation: Eric has formed and funded family foundations, as well as The Cambridge Foundation, which is focused on community giving at a local level. Various trusts are in place and controlled by Eric, along with Amy, and other senior executives to serve as a plan if he were to pass unexpectedly. This structure is designed to ensure that ownership of the company will remain with Cambridge management, associates, and advisors. Eric continues as executive chairman with Amy as president and CEO, along with a deep, experienced senior executive bench.

Cambridge offers Succession Solutions for independent financial professionals. At its core, succession planning creates a foundation for relationship building, inspiring action, and creating solutions. Cambridge’s continual drive for innovative solutions and preserving private control means our efforts are at the forefront of tackling the challenges of succession planning. We strive to proactively transform services and business processes with a visionary view on practical solutions to help independent financial professionals define and execute succession plans. At Cambridge, we have our succession plan firmly in place, and we stand ready to assist financial professionals with their independent journey and succession plan. Many financial professionals with Cambridge have a business continuity plan as well as detailed succession plan in place to better serve their investing clients in the event of the unexpected.

Your independent financial professional is not an employee of an investment or financial services firm – they are an independent business owner. They have the freedom to structure their business in a manner that best serves their clients. Your independent financial professional utilizes a broker-dealer, who provides services that include processing investment business, marketing assistance, practice management, and education. In addition, a broker-dealer holds responsibility for regulatory compliance and adherence to securities laws.

There are many different types of firms for your financial professional to consider in choosing a broker-dealer. You may be familiar with broker-dealers that are subsidiaries of conglomerates such as commercial banks, investment banks, and investment companies. An independent broker-dealer is different from such firms because they generally do not underwrite securities, they do not create research, and they do not engage in investment banking.

Just as you have the opportunity to choose your financial professional, they in turn choose their independent broker-dealer. We are honored that your financial professional has chosen Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. (Cambridge) as their independent broker-dealer. We believe their choice serves your best interests because we are independently owned and your financial professional has the freedom they need to best serve your needs and financial objectives. This means we do not force them to sell proprietary products or meet any sales quotas. Therefore, your financial professional is not pressured or distracted by corporate interests and can focus on what is best for you and your financial goals.

At Cambridge, we believe in the entrepreneurial spirit of your financial professional. Instead of asking our financial professionals to fit into a mold of how we think they should do business, we empower them with a vast menu of compliance-friendly programs, products, solutions, and services. This enables your financial professional to customize an investment strategy or financial plan designed to meet your unique long-term financial needs.

We believe every journey is important. Cambridge is focused on the financial professional with an independent mindset and dedication to best serving the needs of their investing clients. Whether you are experiencing major life changes, planning for retirement, or simply deciding where to invest and save your money, a financial professional can advise you, the investing client, on how to best prepare your finances for the future. Selecting an independent financial professional is an important step to achieving your goals.

At Cambridge, we are focused on the financial professional with an independent mindset and dedication to serving the best serving the needs of their investing clients. Our firm is indirectly owned by our associates through an ESOP, and directly owned by executive management. Our leadership is dedicated to maintaining a structure that enables us to control our future so independent professionals can better control their businesses.

Our purpose is to make a difference in the lives of our advisors, their clients, and our associates. We take great pride in the many financial professionals with Cambridge that share our purpose and values of commitment, integrity, flexibility, and kindness. We honor financial professionals with a Spirit of Cambridge award every – based on voting by our associates of the financial professionals with Cambridge 10 years or more that best reflect our purpose, values, and service excellence to their clients.

Cambridge Highlights as of September 30, 2019

$907M1

Gross Revenues

$106B

Assets Under Advisement (AUA)*

802

CFP® Professionals

19813

Founded In

865

Home Office Associates

3,366

Producing Advisors

*AUA reflects fee based and independent RIA assets plus commission
¹For the 12 months ending December 31, 2018
²AUA reflects fee based and independent RIA assets plus commission assets
³Cambridge and its predecessor broker-dealer