Compare the market!

Toni Smith is sales operations director at First Complete


It’s always good to compare the market for suppliers every now and then.  Sometimes things are pretty much the same and we stay where we are, other times the market has moved on significantly in a way that may have passed us by while focusing on business as usual, especially in busy periods.

Changes in the network arena over the last two or three years have encouraged many networks to update their propositions to advisers, often this means that new elements have been added and there can be quite a disparity between what is offered between one network and another.

So if you decide it is time to review what you are getting from your network, what should you be looking out for now when drawing your comparison?

Fit, and who you align your business with is crucial. You must feel 100% comfortable with where you align your business and the attitude of the people you are surrounded by.  If you were an adviser dealing with wealth management for example you wouldn’t choose to be with a predominantly mortgage network, similarly if you deal predominantly with mortgages and protection it makes little sense to base yourself in a wealth management centred network, where much of the focus, understandably, is on wider issues such as RDR or investments.  Everyone needs to find the best fit for their business, but a network that specialises in what you do and helping businesses like yours has to be common sense.

It also makes sense, after several network collapses over the past few years, that the financial security of the network you choose is considered - a large financially stable parent company might  be considered a must. Much is also dictated by elements that are not as immediately visible, such as the quality of the network’s leadership and the knowledge, credibility and experience of the leadership team.  In order to help guide you and your business, the people at the top should have years of experience in the market themselves.

Of course ‘a good fit’ means what suits you best, are you just after the most attractive commission rates or do you want support to help and grow your business, or both?  Support in different networks varies hugely, it may mean a roadshow once a year to update you on how the network is doing, or at the other extreme, First Complete, for example, hold over 200 training events with lender and provider partners in attendance, around the country every year.  Whether this is something you are looking for depends what your own priorities are: How important is face to face business development to you? Do you value the opportunity to learn more?  Or how about the opportunity to meet face to face with lenders and protection providers and find out from the horse’s mouth, as it were, the best way to work with them?

Other support can include a mortgage desk to help you place difficult cases, IT support and the provision of state of the art technology to make your processes more streamlined so that you can spend more time with more clients rather than on paper work.  

Finally when it comes to expanding your business do you receive help and support to do this, including recruitment help from a team of people whose expertise you can call on whenever you need it?

Whilst compliance and keeping you safe will always be a crucial role from a network, the modern network can also offer you so much more.  It may be worth sitting down and thinking about what is important for you and your business and then, when looking for a network, find the one that best supports you in that endeavour.